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INSPECTIONS

Ofsted to be investigated by the National Audit Office

An investigation assessing whether the watchdog Ofsted inspects schools efficiently and effectively is being conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO). The investigation will conclude in spring next year, Tes has reported, and will also look at how the extent which Ofsted’s approach to school inspection is providing taxpayers with value for money. The NAO will look at if the watchdog inspects its schools in an efficient manner, knows whether its inspections

are having a positive impact and will see if Ofsted is well-placed to inspect schools efficiently and effectively. In regards to the investigation, an Ofsted spokesperson told Tes: “As an inspectorate and regulator ourselves, Ofsted values independent scrutiny. We welcome the study, and look forward to working closely with the NAO.” READ MORE: tinyurl.com/y8opsgph

ADULT LEARNING

Government set to cancel Learndirect contracts The Department for Education has said that it will withdraw all funding from the adult training provider Learndirect following a report into its poor standards. According to The Guardian, the firm has paid out tens of millions of pounds to its owners despite a decline in standards since it was privatised by David Cameron’s coalition government in 2011. Learndirect had sought a court injunction to prevent the publication of a highly critical report by Ofsted. In its application, the firm stated that the publication could lead to the withdrawal of government funding which could collapse the firm into administration. However, FE Week successfully had the reporting restriction lifted and the government plan to cancel all contracts as a result. Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, told The Guardian: “It is clear that something has gone seriously wrong since the coalition government privatised this service, and the future education and training of thousands is now at risk. “If necessary, ministers should be prepared to step in directly and ensure that trainees and apprentices are protected, their courses are completed and adult education is placed on a sustainable footing. Relentless cuts and incompetence by successive Tory governments have left adult education in a mess.” Learndirect, however, challenged its Ofsted inspections over concerns that it did not give a true reflection of the company’s training quality and performance. A spokesman for the firm told The Guardian: “Learndirect Limited’s underlying business remains stable and we continue to be focused on supporting our learners as usual.”

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GCSE SUBJECTS

Vocational GCSEs may be leaving girls at an “educational disadvantage” Girls who take applied subjects like health and social care at GCSE may be facing educational disadvantage as a result, research shows. According to researchers from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education, young people who took applied GCSEs were less likely to stay on at A-level and to take ‘facilitating’ A-levels favoured by prestigious universities. Vocational subjects appeared to put both boys and girls at a disadvantage, even after taking into account the fact that less privileged young people and those with lower prior Key Stage test scores were more likely to take applied subjects at GCSE. The figures come from analysis from a Next Steps study of 16,000 people born

in England in 1989-90, and from the National Pupil Database. The research was funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council. This disadvantage linked to applied GCSEs was particularly strong for girls. In particular, the researchers found that girls studying applied GCSEs were less likely to take ‘facilitating’ A-levels such as the sciences and maths. These findings suggest that girls could be held back if their schools encourage them to take those options. Vanessa Moulton, the lead author of the research paper, published by CLS, said applied subjects can be particularly unhelpful for girls who want to progress in education: “Applied subjects are particularly

strongly gendered, with girls and boys taking completely different subjects. “Essentially what you see is predominantly working class girls taking subjects such as health and social care, which do not necessarily enhance their future prospects. Boys are more likely to take subjects such as engineering or information and communication technology, which may be less limiting post-16.” The research also examined whether pupils had taken ‘EBacc’ subjects for GCSE, and found pupils studying them were more likely to stay in education after 16. This was particularly true for girls. READ MORE: tinyurl.com/ya76hksn

Volume 22.7 | EDUCATION BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Education Business 22.7  

Business Information for Education Decision Makers

Education Business 22.7  

Business Information for Education Decision Makers