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News round-up 8/2: GCSE reforms slated for 2015


Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

GCSE reform

Michael Gove and the schools minister David Laws are to press ahead with major reforms to GCSEs as early as 2015, even though the education secretary has been forced to beat a retreat on renaming the exams and introducing a single examination board, according to the Guardian.

Mr Gove made the decision to pull back from ditching GCSEs and creating an English Baccalaureate Certificate after he was warned some exam boards would go bankrupt and then sue the Department for Education for breaching EU procurement rules. That might have delayed his shakeup of the exam system until 2018.

The opposition branded the move an “embarrassing U-turn” and it has been widely welcomed by Teacher’s unions. National Association of Head Teachers General Secretary Russell Hobby said “Mr Gove has seen the warning light and slammed the brakes on just in time”.


Fire services

The Financial Times reports that radical reforms to the fire service are being seen as a model for cutting costs in the rest of the public sector. An increase in efficiency has been achieved, with one in three frontline staff able to be cut since 2000 through a focus on preventing fires rather than fighting fires.

However, the same paper reports that Conservative-controlled London boroughs Kensington & Chelsea RBC and Westminster City Council have joined forces to oppose the closure of 12 fire stations as part of a planned £48m budget cut.



New flood defences will be built around the country, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary has announced, but concerns remain over whether enough money has been allocated to protect homes from the increasing risk of extreme weather, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Paterson gave the go ahead for building to start on 93 new flood defences this year, including projects in Exeter and Ipswich that will create thousands of new jobs and allow economic growth by protecting businesses. In total the Government is to spend £294 million on flood risk management in 2013. But Labour pointed out that spending is down almost £50m compared to previous years.


NHS Trusts

A study of 26 NHS Trusts discovered that more than 4,000 patients a year are dying needlessly, the Daily Mail claims.

The study carried out by hospital performance expert Brian Jarman suggests that the scandal at Stafford hospital was not be an isolated case and that 21 more trusts should be investigated.


Eastleigh By-election

An early poll on the Eastleigh by-election has given the Conservatives a three-point lead on the Liberal Democrats, writes the Guardian.

A by-election in the seat formerly held by Chris Huhne is due to take place on 28 February.


Child poverty

Today’s Guardian reports that nearly 2.3m children are living in poverty but are not included in the current measure of child poverty.

A study carried out by think tank Policy Exchange found that the Government’s current measure, which focuses on income measures did not take into account indicators such as whether a child was in the care system or was living in poor housing.

Head of Policy Exchange Matthew Oakley told the paper that “simply assessing whether a child is in poverty on the basis of household income fails to take into consideration a number of serious issues”.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I suppose the only kind thing to say about gove is that he must have had a lobotomy at some point, otherwise he could only be considered as grossly incompetent!
    Wow, cost cutting by closing fire stations, but then, unless it is a ministers residence the fire service are late getting to, they are not going to notice are they?
    The future prospects could be horrifying for some people!
    Flood defences, maybe they will save money by dredging the rivers and canals, increasing capacity, decreasing flooding!
    NHS trusts, ok some of the problems are down to poor management and not enough care to train staff in the right way, but if you make the quality driver financial, rather than clinical, more people will die needlessly, but osborne will be happy!
    Eastleigh By-election, if there is any justice in this world Labour will romp home!
    Children in poverty, I can only assume that the government do not want inconvenient statistics?

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  • Investing in flood protection is an excellent deal in producing good returns for the public sector, householders, and private companies. Unfortunately Micawber Osborne does not think like that.

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