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Microsoft Tech.Days Events Schedule - Get the latest product information awareness and training for FREE or vist http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/techdays-live.aspx :
Thursday, 12 May 2011
If you are a developer looking to take advantage of cloud computing, but you haven’t yet taken the plunge, this free half-day of training is the quickest way to get up-to-speed with Microsoft’s offering; Windows Azure
If you are a developer looking to take advantage of cloud computing, but you haven’t yet taken the plunge, this free half-day of training is the quickest way to get up-to-speed with Microsoft’s offering; Windows Azure.
Desktop technology has marched on: user needs and expectations are changing; the Internet is a different place to 10 years ago and we haven't even mentioned virtualisation!
This day is about getting you up to speed on why you should be looking at the Windows Azure Platform, what tools and services it offers and how you can start to explore it to create new solutions, migrate elements of existing solutions or integrate with existing systems.
If you're doing 'web' from HTML to MVC, then this is the place you'll want to be at Tech.Days.
Server virtualization is the starting point for building a private cloud. The automation and management of virtual machines allows for the delivery of a range of services - find out how you can use this to drive down costs and increase innovation in your organisation using Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V and System Center.
Build better Windows Phone applications and get them to market as quickly as possible.
Cloud technology, and the solutions and platforms it enables, are driving a revolution in business and IT, delivering flexibility, cost reduction and higher levels of availability. Find out how you can implement Office 365, Windows Intune and Windows Azure in order to make this revolution happen in your organisation.
What lies ahead for Windows Phone and Windows Phone developers? Find out what's in store in this fast-changing environment in a day packed with insight and inspiration. We’re very happy to announce that Brandon Watson, Head of Developer Ecosystem for Windows Phone 7 will be keynoting. Come along to get the freshest details on the Mango update as well as deep dives into developing with the Mango SDK.
Heading towards its 5th release, Silverlight has 65% adoption and key capabilities for business, media applications and casual gaming. During this day, we’ll touch on where Silverlight fits into Microsoft’s client strategy and what’s coming with the next release, and then we’ll quickly zoom in to focus on the patterns, frameworks and tools that you should know in order to build great Silverlight applications today. You can expect lots of code, lots of demos and lots of XAML.
Take a closer look at the latest Microsoft Application Platform capabilities. This evening session will cover SQL Server 2008 R2 as a mission critical platform, customer perspectives on Business Intelligence, BizTalk 2010, and a look at the next release of SQL, codename Denali.
Bing is now being incorporated into a diverse range of consumer and business applications. Join us at this afternoon and evening event to find out more, from Microsoft and external partner presenters talking on topics such as the Bing design philosophy, the Bing API and Bing Mobile Map Control. The session will finish with a Bing pub quiz with great prizes, drinks, and a chance to network!
Unable to attend Tech.Days 2011 in London? This key event is focused on IT decision makers and heads of development. We are pulling together the highlights of content from both Tech.Days and TechEd (North America). Whether you are developing for Client, Phone, Web or Cloud, this will be a great day of speakers and content to ensure your development is streamlined .
Friday, 27 May 2011
I have had a number of interesting discussions and questions this week regarding the facilitation of project based team working. From my recent Institution visits a number of institutions are now using tools such as Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project server within the teaching curriculum. They are predominantly using these applications to allow students to manage and monitor the status/progress of work on both individual and team based projects. Microsoft Project is a excellent tool however it doesn't plan development lifecycles or team activity or monitor output of individuals or as a team so I would like to suggest the use of Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010.
Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Services is the collaboration platform at the core of Microsoft’s application lifecycle management solution. Team Foundation Server 2010 automates the software delivery process and gives the students the tools they need to manage software development projects throughout the IT life cycle.
What more important is that is FREE if your a MSDNAA subscriber
For a comprehensive list of software available to your department and each student studying within it under MSDNAA see:- http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/academic/bb676724
Team Foundation Server 2010 enables everyone on the team to collaborate more effectively, be more agile and deliver better quality software while building and sharing institutional knowledge and allowing you the academic to see the status and progress and activity/commitment of each of the team members. This is facilitated by the use of project artifacts and data from work item tracking, source control, builds, and testing tools which are stored in a data warehouse and powerful reporting and dashboards provide historical trending, full traceability and real-time visibility into quality and progress against business intent.
Designed from the ground up as a collaboration platform to automate the software development process. Let Team Foundation Server 2010 manage your software development process and facilitate collaboration so that your teams are freed up from mundane non-coding tasks and empowered to unleash their creativity.
Tools, processes and project artifacts come together to simplify the collaboration of people across various functional disciplines, helping them work better together and be more productive.
Monitor quality and progress in real time. Ensure that defects and regressions are discovered at the earliest possible moment with powerful features like build automation and gated check-ins.
The collaboration platform at the core of Microsoft’s application lifecycle management solution.
Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 provides workflow automation and integrated processes, tools and project artifacts to simplify the collaboration of people across functional disciplines. The central repository enables rich collaboration in the context of the tasks the team is working on.
2. Lightweight Agile Planning Tools The new Microsoft® Excel Agile Planning Workbook makes it easy for teams to adopt agile software development methodologies like SCRUM. Use it to create and manage user stories and product backlog, estimate the team's velocity, and break the project down into iterations. The Iteration Backlog enables you to plan iterations and track progress.
Smaller teams and individual developers can choose the new Basic Install option to leverage the power of Team Foundation Server 2010 without the footprint of the full installation.
Windows Workflow-based builds with powerful features like build queuing and build agent pooling enable teams to easily customize, manage and scale out their build environments.
64-bit server support and new project collection isolation features let large teams scale Team Foundation Server 2010 installations to meet their demands giving students experience of real world applications, tools and services.
If you have students, whom are passionate about technology, ready to share their knowledge and who want to develop skills outside their academic curricula field then we want to hear from you.
What is the MSP Programme?
The Microsoft Student Partner Programme recognises top young minds from around the UK who are passionate about technology. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop real-world skills to help them succeed in their future career, to help others learn about the technology of today and tomorrow, and to connect with other like-minded students, all whilst having a ton of fun along the way.
The programme is our way of encouraging students who are interested in building a closer relationship with Microsoft, and those who are simply hooked on technology, to develop their skills further. This year's programme will officially run from June 2011 to May 2012.
What is an MSP?
The Microsoft Student Partner programme consists of the brightest and most innovative student developers and technology enthusiasts from universities around the world.
The ‘ideal candidate’ for an MSP would be a passionate and enthusiast individual who wants to learn about new tools and technologies. They would need to have a whole range of skills including excellent time management, organisation and communication skills to ensure that you could host a successful campus launch event.
An MSP should be comfortable and confident presenting in front of large audiences of both students and faculty members. You may even be asked to present in front of your fellow MSPs at an event. General business and sales skills come in very handy in order to allow you to articulate your ideas effectively when presenting.
MSPs are sociable, friendly and approachable individuals who like to meet new people. You will require the ability work as a team as well as use your own initiative. In summary, MSPs are innovative and creative students who are extremely passionate about technology.
You can download the MSP application form and more information about the programme at Microsoft Student Partners
DreamSpark is Microsoft’s way of giving free software to students. Students can simply log on and enjoy the free Microsoft products available to download.
Products available on DreamSpark include Expression Studio 4, Virtual PC, Visual Studio 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2 and more.
Simply visit www.dreamspark.com , follow the 3 simple steps and download the free products of your choice today!
The Workshop agenda is finalized and listed below for your information. I hope you can attend the Cloud Futures 2011 Workshop on Advancing Research and Education with Cloud Computing, taking place in Microsoft Conference Center, Redmond, WA, June 2-3, 2011.
Please note that Windows Azure Platform 180 Day Pass will be available for attendees who will be coming to Redmond.
However, if you are not able to attend in person, we will broadcast life all the session taking part in Cascade auditorium and will video tape all presentations. The videos will be available for view on the workshop web site and Faculty Connection after the workshop.
The Cloud Futures Workshop series brings together thought leaders from academia, industry, and government to discuss the role of cloud computing across a variety of research and educational areas—including computer science, earth sciences, healthcare, humanities, life sciences, and social sciences. Presentations and discussions will highlight how new techniques, software platforms, and methods of research and teaching in the cloud may solve distinct challenges arising in those diverse areas.
Ed Lazowska Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in CS & Engineering Seattle, WA
Dennis Gannon Director, eXtreme Computing Cloud Engagement Microsoft Research - Redmond, WA
Jim Larus Director, Research & Strategy eXtreme Computing Group Microsoft Research
Mark Russinovich Technical Fellow Windows Azure Fabric Microsoft Corporation
Michael Franklin AMPLAB Director University of California, Berkeley
Workshop Agenda (check for agenda updates on the workshop website)
June 2, 2011
8:00 Transportation from Bellevue Westin to Microsoft Conference Center
8:45 Welcome and Conference Logistics
9:00 Keynote - Jim Larus, Microsoft Research, eXtreme Computing Group (Cascade)
10:30 Systems 1 (Cascade)
· Cloud, HPC, or Hybrid: A Case Study Involving Satellite Image Processing. Marty Humphrey, University of Virginia
· Classical and Iterative MapReduce on Azure. Geoffrey Fox , Indiana University
· Data Semantics Aware Clouds for High-performance Analytics Systems. Jun Wang, the University of Central Florida
10:30 Education (St. Helens)
· Bringing the Cloud to the Classroom Using the Microsoft Imagine Cup. James L. Parrish, Jr., University of Arkansas
· Introducing Cloud Computing into STEM Undergraduate Curriculum Using Microsoft Azure. Bina Ramamurthy, University at Buffalo
· InstantLab – The Cloud as Operating System Teaching Platform. Alexander Schmidt and Andreas Polze, Hasso Plattner Institute
12:00 Lunch in Rainier
1:00 Keynote - Michael J. Franklin. AMPLAB Director University of California, Berkeley (Cascade)
2:00 Systems-2 (Cascade)
· Into the Blue: Streaming Data Processing in the Cloud. Stephen Wong, Rice University
· Stork Data Scheduler for Windows Azure. Tevfik Kosar, State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo
· Relational Data Markets in the Cloud: Challenges and Opportunities. Magdalena Balazinska, University of Washington
2:00 Windows Azure Tutorial, Part 1, Krishna Kumar, Windows Azure Academic Lead (St.Helens)
4:00 Applications 1 (Cascade)
· Using the Cloud to Model and Manage Large Watershed Systems. Marty Humphrey, University of Virginia
· Large Scale Prediction of Transcription Factor Binding Sites for Gene Regulation using Cloud Computing. Zhengchang Su, University of North Carolina
· University of Southern California, Clever Transportation Project (USC2T). Barak Fishbain, University of Southern California
4:00 Windows Azure Tutorial, Part 2, Krishna Kumar, Windows Azure Academic Lead (St.Helens)
5:30 Transfer to Hotel
6:30 Dinner at Din Tai Fung , Bellevue, WA (located in Lincoln Square, 2/F, next door to the Bellevue Westin Hotel)
June 3, 2011
8:00 Transportation to Microsoft Conference Center from Bellevue, Westin
8:30 Breakfast in Rainier
9:00 Keynote - Mark Russinovich, Technical Fellow, Windows Azure Fabric, Microsoft Corporation Cascade
10:30 Systems 3 (St. Helens)
· Multi-cloud and cloud-desktop coordination made simplified by GXP on Azure. Kenjiro Taura, University of Tokyo
· Running Large Workflows in the Cloud. Paul Watson, Newcastle University
· Towards Enabling Mid-Scale Geo-Science Experiments Through Microsoft Trident and Windows Azure. Eran Chinthaka Withana and Beth Plale, Indiana University
10:30 Applications 2 (Cascade)
· Network Display and Sharing System for Large Cultural Heritage Objects via Cloud Computing Environments. Yasuhide Okamoto, University of Tokyo
· Deep Natural Language Processing for Improving a Search Engine Infrastructure using Windows Azure. Daisuke Kawahara, Kyoto University
· A Secure Multi-party Collaboration System for Australian Coal Supply Chains. Shiping Chen, CSIRO ICT Centre
12:00 Lunch in Rainier
1:00 Applications 3 (St. Helens)
· Beekeeping Enters the Cloud. James T. Wilkes, Appalachian State University
· Scaling Document Clustering on the Cloud. Rob Gillen, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
· Microsoft Azure: The Ultimate Flexible Enterprise-Level Solution. Janet L. Bailey, University of Arkansas
1:00 Security and software development (Cascade)
· Risk Assessment and Cloud Strategy Development. Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, University of Washington
· Cloud forensics: an overview. Keyun Ruan, University College Dublin
· Cloud Based Product Development. Joris Poort, Harvard Business School
3:00 Systems 4 (St. Helens)
· Expanding the Horizons of Cloud Computing Beyond the Data Center. Jon Weissman and Abhishek Chandra, University of Minnesota
· URSA: Scalable Load Balancing and Power Management in Cluster Storage Systems. Seung-won Hwang, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)
· Achieving energy efficient computing by jointly scheduling services and batch jobs in virtualized environments. Tajana Simunic Rosing, UC San Diego
3:00 Applications 4 (Cascade)
· High through-put, low impedance e-Science on Microsoft Azure. David Abramson, Monash University
· Abstractions for Life-Science Applications on Clouds. Shantenu Jha, Andre Luckow, Rutgers University
· The Parallelization of Geoscience Apps at C3L with Azure. Craig Mudge, University of Adelaide
4:30 Cloud Research Panel - Chair Ed Lazowska (Cascade)
Windows Azure Platform Offer
For those attendees who do not currently have access to Windows Azure, Microsoft wishes to make available onsite attendees the Windows Azure Platform 180 Day Pass. This will provide you with 6 months of access to the Windows Azure and SQL Azure platforms with the following level of service:
· 3 small compute instances
· 3GB of storage
· 250,000 storage transactions
· Two 1GB Web Edition database
· 100,000 Access Control transactions
· 2 Service Bus connections
Data Transfers (per region)
· 3 GB in
· 3 GB out
Please note: the Azure Platform 180 Day Pass is not offered to remote attendees who participate in Cloud Futures 2011 via webcast/live-streaming.
The online registration for Cloud Futures 2011 is now open and will close on May 20, 2011. The registration link can be accessed off the workshop website.
If you are an academic, member of a research institute or a government employee, we are required to send notification to your institution to ensure that accepting anything provided by Microsoft (including meals, Windows Azure Platform 180 Day Pass) does not violate any applicable governmental laws, regulations, or the letter or spirit of applicable ethics policies in place at your institution. During the registration process, you will be asked to also provide your dean or department head’s name and e-mail address so that we may send this notification (In the case of Germany, we are required to seek approval from your university rector or president.)
We’d like to provide you with next steps to complete your registration.
1. Please complete your workshop registration by May 20, 2011. (Click Logistics for Participants for Information on hotels, transportation and meals).
2. For international workshop attendees traveling to the United States, the U.S. State Department's website has information on the Visa Waiver Program (allowing travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa), travel by citizens of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, and information on Visitor Visas for business or pleasure. Questions about letters of invitation for visas to the United States should be sent to email@example.com
3. If you need to cancel your registration for Cloud Futures 2011, please login to your workshop registration to complete the cancellation process. Remember to cancel your hotel room before 4 pm the day before your check in date (i.e. 24 hours notification is required).
4. Please also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to alert us of your change of plans.
Letter of invitation and Visas
A letter of invitation is not an absolute requirement for foreign nationals traveling to the United States. However, the process of entering the U.S. is subject to a great degree of scrutiny, more so than there has been in previous years. Therefore, we strongly recommend that individuals intending to travel to the U.S. for business visitor purposes (i.e. meetings, conference, etc.) request a business travel support letter by submitting a completed request form as early as possible before their travel date. For international workshop attendees traveling to the United States, the U.S. State Department's website has information on the Visa Waiver Program (allowing travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa), travel by citizens of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, and information on Visitor Visas for business or pleasure. Questions about letters of invitation for visas to the United States should be sent to email@example.com
I hope you would be able to attend and contribute to this workshop!
Cloud Futures: Advancing Research and Education with Cloud Computing
Redmond, WA | June 2-3, 2011
Microsoft is announcing the availability of a new “API mapping tool” to help iPhone developers port applications to Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft have developed a dedicated web site http://windowsphone.interoperabilitybridges.com/
The site core features are:-
Further details are via the Windows Team Blog at: http://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/wpdev/archive/2011/04/29/leveraging-your-iphone-development-expertise-to-build-windows-phone-7-applications.aspx
Students - Time is running out!
To ensure you have enough time to prepare for your academic exams and gain Microsoft professional certification.
Take advantage of the free certification offer ASAP and sit your professional certification exams now!
Simply go to http://www.dreamspark.com
Microsoft Research are doing some interesting things with parallel programming and service called Dyrad: A general purpose distributed execution platform.
What were excited about in the academic arena is the use of Windows Azure and Dryad as the combination of both these resources offer the novice parallel programmer access to a massive amount of compute power.
The combination of the the two services will leverage a huge amounts of processing power, the services can easily scale to thousands of computers running thousand instances for an hour on Windows Azure. This would be very interesting and were really excited to see that can be achieved.
Microsoft Research There is a talk here from 2007 which explains the ideas behind Dryad. So if you’ve involved in parallel programming, think about the opportunity of the cloud and Windows Azure and visit the MS Research site for more information on Dyrad.
They even have an specific academic download of something called DryadLINQ.
The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has now over 15,000 applications.
Total Apps In Marketplace
Apps By Category
Free vs Paid
Total Apps By Price
Huge thanks to Sreenu Bojja http://www.wp7appexlorer.com for the graphs.
This is amazing news as a little over six weeks ago, we were celebrating 10,000 apps in the Marketplace. Just think about that: 5,000 new apps in six weeks.
Windows Phone 7 was growing pretty rapidly before, but MIX '11 definitely had to be a strong influence on developers and the opportunity of Windows Phone 7 application development.
Additionally Student resources such as DreamSpark now provide students with a FREE AppHub accounts and the ability to upload 100 Free apps and a unlimited number of chargeable apps. The number of app created by Students have really increased the adoption of Windows Phone 7 development.
With the release of Mango the Windows Phone 7 apps will be getting a huge overhaul, with help from the new Mango toolkit as the next update provides tighter integration between the OS and apps than ever.
Additionally for academic’s wanting to teach Windows Phone 7 within their curriculum, Microsoft has released a number of curricula resources which are available to freely download from the Microsoft Faculty Connection. There are additionally lots of Free advice, guidance and best practice available from Microsoft AppHub Site.
So it's the perfect time to jump on the bandwagon!
Demand for ICT labour and skills outstrips supply for first time since 2008
The latest e-skills Labour Market Bulletin shows that demand for ICT labour and skills in the UK outstripped supply for the first time since the end of 2008, as the volume of advertised positions on offer marginally exceeded the number of 'ready candidates' in the labour market in the third quarter of 2010. Other encouraging findings included the unemployment rate for ICT staff falling to 3.1%, compared with a comparison figure of 8.3% for the workforce as a whole.
In a survey of 408 business leaders by education company Pearson only 16% thought that the education system taught the right mix of academic and practical skills.
82% warned that the recovery would fall flat unless investment was geared towards vocational learning. 80% thought young people should be taught practical skills alongside academic subjects such as Maths and English. Just 3% thought traditional academic subjects alone were most important to the UK's economic development
BESA Daily News: EU publishes education benchmarking report
The European Commission has published a report detailing and comparing the education systems of each member state in relation to benchmarks set for 2010. The benchmarks cover areas such as school dropout rates, participation in upper secondary education and literacy.
The report also establishes Europe-wide benchmarks for the year 2020.
For more detail please see the European Commission press release linked here
The Education Bill committee has completed its scrutiny and the amended Bill has now been published and passed back to the Commons for third reading.
The Committee has also published a consolidated version of all the written evidence submitted in the course of its proceedings.
Shadow Education Minister Andy Burnham has said that Labour‟s review of education policy will look again at 14-19 curriculum reform and how to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.
The review group - including Pearson UK president Rod Bristow and Professor Les Ebdon, vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire University - will consider:
o What knowledge and skills does the next generation need to be successful?
o How can we continue to improve standards in English, maths and science, but also provide a balanced curriculum that meets the needs of all children?
o What influence and control do parents want over local schools and education?
o How can we create the most professional teaching workforce in the world?
Government Budget News
The Budget and the accompanying Plan for Growth set out measures to achieve the government‟s four economic ambitions, including: “a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe”.
Stronger promotion of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills, including
· Support for the Careers Profession Alliance to improve training for careers professionals in subject-specific specialisms;
· More support for STEM promotion activities, including through STEMNET and its STEM Ambassadors programme and through industry-school visits.
An expansion of the new University Technical Colleges programme, to establish at least 24 UTCs by 2014.
£180m for up to 50,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next 4 years, including 40,000 places to support the young unemployed; and 10,000 places created by business consortia setting up advanced and higher apprenticeship schemes.
Support for a new degree-level Higher Apprenticeship, providing a route for apprentices to achieve professional accreditation.
100,000 additional work experience placements for young people to develop key work skills and get on the employment ladder.
In a survey of 669 executives involved in cloud computing initiatives, five immediate benefits were identified.
· Increased agility: At big companies, IT systems often impede rapid change. 60% of respondents said that the cloud‟s speed, flexibility and responsiveness would be its greatest benefit in the near term.
· Lower costs: 70% said they expected it to help them keep costs under control, including through fewer data centres; saving on IT staff and energy costs; and the elimination of upfront IT, particularly for start-ups.
· Better collaboration: centrally accessible processing power and common methods of finding and entering data helped to improve collaboration for 67% of respondents.
· Better customer connections: Blogs, microblogs and fan pages on social networks are among the mechanisms that companies have used to reach customers. Companies can also mine massive amounts of customer data at high speed and low cost.
· Development of new services: cited by over 60% of respondents.
Chief inspector Christine Gilbert is leaving Ofsted at the end of June, 4 months before her contract is due to come to an end in October. Ms Gilbert has headed the watchdog since 2006.
A report by the education select committee says Ofsted is too big to function effectively and should split into separate organisations inspecting education and children‟s care, with more inspectors having an education background.
Two new positions should be created within the Department for Education – a chief education officer and a chief children‟s care officer.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has launched a review of teaching standards, which he feels are too vague and don‟t focus sufficiently on improving teachers‟ skills.
The review also aims to put a greater emphasis on skills to combat bad behaviour and support low-achieving pupils, and to have a clearer focus on the importance of improving grades in English and maths.
In a 2010 survey, two out of five teachers believed the current standards made no difference to the way they taught. A third said they failed to define competence.
Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of the Young Foundation, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of NESTA from June.
Stephen Marston, formerly director general for universities and skills at BIS, has been appointed vice-chancellor of Gloucestershire University from 31 July. His post at BIS was abolished in November, but he has been leading on the HE White Paper, now due out in June. He was previously director general for lifelong learning and skills in the Department for Education & Skills, where, among other things, he set up Train to Gain.
In a 12-minute video, journalist Mike Baker talks to experts from three different continents about what the „interconnected world‟ means for education.
Does the curriculum need to be changed to ensure we are really preparing young people for a world where they may study abroad; work for transnational companies; connect online with colleagues and friends in different continents; and be world citizens?
Schools can be ranked by: the number entering each GCSE subject; the number getting certain grades in a particular subject; the number and proportion achieving five A*-C including English and maths, with and without GCSE equivalencies; the number and proportion taking each component of the English Baccalaureate and grades attained.
Research by Kings College London, highlighted in an OFQUAL report, questions the reliability of the PISA international education league tables often quoted by Ministers.
The differences between countries‟ performances are not that large and are usually statistically insignificant.
The rankings are not that meaningful, partly because the constituent comparators change from study to study and from year to year. “Overall, and over time, England‟s performance is not that worrisome.”
A number of assumptions are made about such studies: that they are an objective measure of what is best; that the pupils involved are a balanced representation of all learners at that stage of education; and that pupils in each country are equally motivated to perform well.
The West London Free School - set up by the writer Toby Young – is the first to sign a funding agreement with the government and be given the go-ahead to open in September.
So far, there have been 258 applications to set up free schools. Of these, 40 have now been approved to move to business case, and 9 have passed to the „pre-opening stage‟.
Another 162 schools in England became Academies in March, bringing the total up to 629, compared to 203 at the time of the election.
One in six of England's secondary schools is now an Academy. 272 are „old-style‟ Academies set up by Labour as a way of raising standards in disadvantaged areas. 82 primary schools have become Academies.
A poll of 1,471 heads by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) found 46% had converted to Academy status or intended to do so.
Nearly three-quarters of these were driven by the belief that it would help the school financially.
34% of those who took part in the survey were undecided about becoming an Academy and 19% had no plans to convert. Of them, half said there was not enough to gain from Academy status and 40% were concerned about the effect on other schools locally.
Some heads felt it was becoming increasingly difficult not to convert because of the number of schools likely to convert in their area.
Research by the London School of Economics suggests that turning a school into an Academy improves its performance, as well as that of neighbouring schools
The researchers only examined Academies created by Labour, which were underperforming schools in deprived areas. However, they found that increased autonomy and flexible governance may have sharpened incentives to improve performance.
The effects of conversion were largest for the 158 comprehensives which became Academies, and went from having little autonomy to lots. Converting schools with more freedom to Academy status had weaker effects.
There was “a strong relationship” between improvements at Academies and at local schools – even though higher-achieving pupils started leaving other local schools to go to the new Academy. The researchers put this down to the market effects of increased choice and competition.
It did improve their chances of earning slightly more than their parents, but that was also the case for children from middle-class homes who went to grammar schools.
Across the sample, the advantages of going to a grammar school were cancelled out by the social disadvantages experienced by those who went to secondary moderns.
The DfE has opened two parallel consultations on the funding system in maintained schools and in Academies. The consultations stem from the Schools White Paper published last November.
Both consultations close on 25 May 2011.
Further details, including links to the consultations, are available from the DfE press release here.