GCSE results: The great balancing act

GCSE results
Image caption Pupils getting their results on Thursday were part of a huge exam operation with five million entries

The results have been published for more than five million GCSE entries - which will be five million different stories of exam dreams, dramas and disasters.

But the overall national picture for GCSE grades is very similar to last year. The proportion getting A* to C grades has nudged up from 68.8% to 69%.

That represents an improvement for more than 10,000 exam entries. But the overall message - and the even smaller decline in the proportion of top A* and A grades - is that there is "stability".

This isn't an accident. The annual exam results are not like going outside and measuring the temperature as a natural phenomenon which might fluctuate.

It's more like setting the central heating to an agreed level and then holding up a thermometer to see if the temperature is where it should be.

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What are the lessons of this year's A-levels?

Students get results in London
Image caption Students in London finding out their A-level results

A-level results have arrived, distributing good news and disappointment.

And it's important to remember that behind all the statistics about hundreds of thousands of grades are personal stories of hopes and fears.

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Can you make schools integrate?

David Cameron
Image caption David Cameron delivered his message against extremism in a speech at a school in Birmingham

David Cameron last week warned against the pernicious isolation that comes with "segregation" in schools.

"It cannot be right," the prime minister said, "that people can grow up and go to school and hardly ever come into meaningful contact with people from other backgrounds and faiths."

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Schools put on front line against extremism

Watching
Image caption Head teachers are divided about their role in countering extremism

How do you stop extremism among young people? How do you challenge the ideology that encourages teenagers to ghost themselves away from Yorkshire or London into war zones in Syria and Iraq?

From the beginning of next month, head teachers will be expected to play a much bigger part in providing answers.

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Last Oxford vote on admitting female students

Oxford University
Image caption This will be the last stage in ending single-sex institutions at Oxford University

On Thursday afternoon a vote in Oxford University will mark the symbolic last step in a journey that began in 1879.

St Benet's Hall is set to become the last academic institution in Oxford University to change from single-sex to co-educational, when it is expected to formally decide to admit female undergraduate students.

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One school, four catchment areas

University of Birmingham
Image caption The Birmingham school has four separate locations for measuring distance for admissions

One school, four catchment areas? Would that be a fairer way of running admissions or a recipe for an even more Byzantine way of prioritising applications?

The rising school population is putting more pressure on places at popular schools - and raising the thorny question of school admissions.

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Nicky Morgan: Olive branches or burning bridges?

Morgan
Image caption Nicky Morgan can now stamp her own identity as education secretary

When Nicky Morgan became education secretary last year her biggest strength and biggest problem were the same thing - not being Michael Gove.

Her predecessor had cast a long shadow, having dominated the education landscape and in many ways re-made it in his own likeness.

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Why can’t the world keep its promises?

open air classroom
Image caption Open-air classroom in Guinea in 2001: Even such basic education is still unavailable to millions

In April 2000, in a wave of new millennium optimism, world leaders promised to deliver something at the beginning of the 21st Century that in many developed countries had been taken for granted by the end of the 19th Century:

Primary education for all children.

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Why is teaching the most unionised job?

Teachers' strike
Image caption Teachers are more likely to be in unions than transport staff or mine workers

Why is education the most unionised jobs sector in the UK?

More than transport, energy, health or mining, education has the highest level of union membership, according to the most recent government figures.

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Free schools: Successful experiment?

Cameron in a free school
Image caption David Cameron wants to carry on with the formula of free schools and academies. But what's the difference?

When people argue about free schools, they're often not really arguing about free schools.

What they're arguing about is what they think free schools will become.

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