Extra curriculum / Could do better

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The Independent Online
More than one third of A-level lessons have at least as many weaknesses as strengths, according to a survey of courses in further education and sixth form colleges. Inspectors from the Further Education Funding Council who visited more than 100 co llegesfound that most offered a wide range of subjects and set appropriate levels of intellectual challenge. But they felt that there was too much emphasis on single subjects at the expense of developing comprehensive programmes for students.

`General Certificate of Education Advanced Level and Advanced Supplementary Qualifications', Further Education Funding Council, Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road, Coventry CV1 2WT (01203 863000).

Italian primaries Primary school children in Italy have twice as many teachers to attend to their needs as their contemporaries in England, according to a new study. Members of Ofsted, the school inspection body, found that Italian schools had 10 pupils to every teacher while those in England have 22. Italian teachers' lives were made easier by whole-class teaching, an emphasis on textbooks and the absence of national tests. The report says parents play a stronger role in their children's education in Italy than in England. There, the family is the child's main centre of education and while there are strong links between home and school there is a clear division of responsibilities.

`Aspects of primary education in Italy', HMSO Publications, PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT.

Liverpool learning Liverpool was designated a "City of Learning" yesterday in a unique regeneration initiative. A Merseyside Knowledge Park, for which £31,000 has been pledged, will bring together organisations concerned with learning, the media, arts and cultural activities. Organisers hope it will house conference and training facilities as well as leisure and tourist attractions.