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  • New Economics A level to help students understand lessons of global financial crisis

    From September, A level Economics students will be required to learn about the global financial crisis for the first time.

    They will learn about:

    • factors that contributed to the crisis (including moral hazard, speculation and market bubbles)
    • the role of banking regulation 
    • monetary and fiscal policy instruments, including quantitative easing
    • policy responses to the crisis, comparing and contrasting these with policy responses to the Great Depression of 1929.

    Students of Pearson'€™s Edexcel syllabus will also study the use of 'national wellbeing' and '€˜national happiness' as measures of economic growth for the first time. They will compare and contrast these measures of economic performance with more traditional methods, exploring the limitations of both in comparing living standards between countries and over time.

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  • Our new draft specification for Edexcel GCSE History

    On 7 April 2015, we published our new, draft specification for Edexcel History GCSE, to be taught in schools from September 2016.

    Pearson will be offering a single, unified specification, designed to offer maximum topic choice and flexibility for teachers across three exam papers.

    The new course will include topics that teachers will know and recognise to choose from, such as ‘Russia and the Soviet Union (1917-41)’, ‘Weimar and Nazi Germany (1918-39) and ‘The American West, c1835-c1895’, as well as new topics, including:

    • Spain and the ‘New World’ (1490-1555)
    • British America: Empire and Revolution (1713-83)
    • Conflict in the Middle East (1945-95)
    • The reigns of King Richard I and King John (1189-1216).

    The new requirement for a study of the ‘historic environment’ has been embedded within the thematic studies paper, so teachers can choose from:

    • Victorian London’s East End, under ‘Whitechapel: crime and policing (1870-1900)’ in the Crime and Punishment through time thematic study
    • Conditions in which the British wounded were cared for on the Western Front, under ‘The British sector of the Western Front: surgery and treatment (1914-18)’ in the Medicine through time thematic study
    • Life in London during the Blitz, under ‘London and the Second World War (1939-45)’ in the Warfare through time thematic study.
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  • Pearson joins online resource for students who need help to read standard print

    Students with sight loss or dyslexia will benefit from text and reading books being made available in accessible formats through a free online service.

    Pearson has teamed up with Load2Learn, a web-based service delivered by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Dyslexia Action, to offer access to its titles for UK schools and colleges in alternative formats.

    Pearson is making thousands of its books available, across Early Years, all Key Stages, GCSE, A-level and BTEC. As well as PDFs, Load2Learn offers a means to access the most popular titles in Word, EPUB, audio and Braille. Teachers can now access texts within hours rather than days, saving time and allowing staff more opportunity to support students in their learning.

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  • Government should rethink primary school league table reforms, says think tank

    A new report from CentreForum says that ‘pupil progress’ should be the principal league table measure for primary schools in England.

    The report, sponsored by Pearson, argues that the government should revise its plan to overhaul primary school league tables.

    The Chair of the Education Select Committee described the report as “excellent” and said he hopes the Department for Education will “give it the consideration it deserves”.

    Government proposals

    Under coalition proposals announced in 2014, primary schools in England will be held to account by two new league table measures to replace the longstanding attainment measure.

    The present measure requires 65% of pupils in every primary school to achieve level 4 in their SATs exams at age 11. But under the new tougher regime, the expected attainment level per school will be raised to 85%.

    Those primary schools that fail to meet this more aspirational standard will instead be held to account by an alternate measure tracking pupils’ progress over time.

    The new progress measure will require a baseline assessment of pupils in their first half term of reception. This will be used to measure the progress pupils have made by age 11 compared to others who were assessed to be at a similar level of attainment at the start of primary school.

    Make ‘pupil progress’ the principal league table measure for primary schools

    While welcoming the government’s push to raise standards for all pupils, CentreForum says that the new regime should be concerned chiefly with measuring pupil progress – as the government resolved to do at secondary school level in response to CentreForum’s earlier analysis.

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  • Primary teachers to get crash course in coding and programming

    Pearson, tech start-up Kano and Naace (the National Association for the Advancement of Computer Education) are rolling out a unique new training course.

    The course will help primary teachers get to grips with teaching the new challenging requirements for coding and programming as part of the new national curriculum in computing.

    Since September, primary schools have been required to start teaching pupils how software is created, rather than just how to use it. Pupils, and their teachers, must now understand the principles of abstraction, logic, algorithms, data representation and problem-solving.

    During the one-day course, 'Teach the Computing Curriculum with Confidence', teachers will learn all about the new Computing curriculum for England, particularly the new aspect of computer science, including programming, coding and networks. They will all receive ten Kano ‘computer in a box’ kits as part of the course package and explore how it can be used to engage and motivate children in their computing studies.

    Kano, one of the UK’s largest crowd-funded organisations, have created affordable computer kits that allow children to build their own in the same way they build a LEGO model, with pre-loaded programmes, such as Minecraft, that allow children to learn about coding in a fun and intuitive way. Pearson was the first company to place an initial order of 500 kits, from the first batch produced and distributed earlier in the autumn.

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  • Technology gets boys and poorer children reading for longer

    The National Literacy Trust and Pearson release second annual survey on the role of technology in supporting children’s communication and language skills.

    Touch-screen technology could be a vital new weapon to combat low literacy in key target groups: boys and disadvantaged children. New research published today by the National Literacy Trust and Pearson reveals technology can be a more engaging learning tool for disadvantaged children at age three to five, than books:

    • Twice as many young children from DE households than from AB households read stories on a touch-screen for longer than they read printed stories (29.5% vs 17.4%)
    • More DE households than AB households use technology more for educational activities than for entertainment for their children (43.2% vs 30.4%)

    The findings also show the benefits of using touch-screen technology for boys, who engage with reading and educational activities for longer than with books alone:

    • Twice as many boys as girls look at or read stories on a touch-screen for longer than they look at or read printed stories (24.0% vs 12.0%)
    • More boys than girls use a touch screen for educational activities than for entertainment (36.0% vs. 28.2%)

    In the second Early Years Literacy Survey carried out by the National Literacy Trust and Pearson, parents and early years practitioners responded to questions on their access, use and attitudes to books and stories on touch-screen devices with children aged three to five. The research examines the influence of reading practices on children’s vocabulary aged three to five.

    The findings highlight the increasingly significant role that technology plays in the lives of under-fives, both at home and in their pre-school educational environment:

    • 91.7% of children aged three to five have access to touch-screen technology at home
    • Access to touch screens in early years settings has doubled since 2013 (from 22% to 41.3%)
    • Nearly a third of all parents (30%) say their children read stories on both a touch screen and on paper compared to 70% of parents who say that their children read books only in a typical week

    A varied reading diet could also be a route to improved vocabulary, according to the new findings. Children aged three to five have a wider vocabulary if they read stories in both print form and on a touch-screen compared to those who don’t use technology (20% vs. 15%).

    The research also looks into the use of technology in early years educational settings, and finds that the majority of pre-school teachers and practitioners say they want more access to touch-screen technology (60%). However, practitioners feel far more confident sharing stories with children on paper rather than on a touch screen (90% vs. 55%), and a quarter do not think technology has a place in their pre-school educational environment.

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  • Research reveals great numeracy divide

    Half of parents are unaware of the new national curriculum for maths and feel unequipped to help their children with the more challenging topics.

    New research released today shows that:

    • Only half (49%) of parents of primary school children knew that the national curriculum for maths had changed this September
    • Only half (47%) correctly answered a maths problem on currency conversion for 10 year olds from the new national curriculum [1]
    • Of those who expressed an opinion, only half (50%) realised that the maths content in the new curriculum is more demanding, with children expected to learn a range of challenging topics, such as long division and prime factors, at a younger age
    • Maths guru Carol Vorderman on hand to help parents and children through the changes with newly re-launched online maths school

    Commissioned by Pearson, with The Maths Factor, Carol Vorderman’s online maths school, the results of the ICM poll of 1000 parents of primary school children in England also show that 82% think that Maths is a useful subject in working life, only beaten by English (84%).

    ​​​However, half of parents (46%) say they don’t feel equipped to help their children with long division or conversion between decimals, fractions and percentages, which children are now expected to learn earlier in the new national curriculum. Maths was identified by the largest proportion of parents (34%) as the hardest subject to help their child with. By contrast, only 8% identified English as the hardest subject to help with.

    ​​​The release of these results coincides with ‘The Maths Factor Graduation Day’, for 30 primary school children who have made exceptional progress through The Maths Factor this year. Held at the London office of Pearson, the leading learning company which owns The Maths Factor, they will receive a certificate and mortar board from Carol, author of best-selling education books (4 million sold to date) and former ​government maths education adviser.

    In addition, the poll showed that:

    • 38% of parents said they found maths to be one of their most difficult subjects at school and 34% said they disliked maths at school.
    • 31% of parents agreed with the statement that “You’re either born good at maths or you’re not”; in a surprise result, 43% disagreed, suggesting the traditionally fatalistic attitude of the British towards maths skills may be starting to shift.
    • A clear majority of parents (66%) identified “confidence” as the key objective they sought for their children’s primary maths education. This massively outweighed “improved maths results”, with only 9%.

    Parents and primary school children across the country are also invited to test their own maths skills against the requirements of the new national curriculum, through a 10-question ‘Curriculum Quiz’, hosted on themathsfactor.com. This quiz spans Years 1-6 and explicitly highlights how topics are now being taught to younger and younger age groups.

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  • BTEC results 2014

    Statistics show large increases in students studying vocational qualifications in subjects most critical for UK economy.

    Today, Pearson publishes entry and achievement data for students completing level 2 (First) and level 3 (National) BTEC qualifications between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.

    The statistics show that students are choosing to study subjects identified as the most important for economic growth, revealing a 17% rise in level 3 (sixth form) students taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) focused BTECs, with an increase of students at level 3 of 27% taking Applied Science, 12% taking ICT and 17% taking Engineering. A recent report by the CBI outlined how a healthy supply of STEM-skilled employees at all levels is required for a flourishing UK economy and rising living standards[1].

    Bucking the trend that sees sciences as traditionally 'male' subjects, there was a big increase of 27% in girls taking this subject. As a result, more girls (54%) than boys (46%) gained Applied Science level 3 BTECs this year.

    ICT and Engineering remain male-dominated subjects. 83% of students taking ICT at level 3 are male and so are 95% of those taking Engineering at level 3. Nevertheless, the percentage of female students taking these subjects has increased since last year by 11% for ICT and 53% for Engineering.

    The girls that do take these subjects also out-perform their male peers:

    • 25% of girls who took an Applied Science level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 14% of boys
    • 25% of girls who took an Engineering level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 14% of boys 
    • 36% of girls who took an ICT Level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 21% of boys.
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