Monthly Archives: February 2013

Chris Cook

Later this morning, Michael Gove, education secretary, will announce several big things. First and foremost, he is dropping his plan to introduce the EBC, his proposed new qualification for 16 year-olds, which has been attacked as fatally flawed since its announcement. Second, he will unveil details of the new curriculum. Both will deservedly absorb lots of column inches.

But Mr Gove will also announce a new pair of measures by which league tables will be constructed. This change might actually be the most important thing he does during his entire reign. League tables set out the incentives that drive schools. They define success and failure.

So what do we know? Schools will, first, be assessed on the share of pupils getting Cs or better in English and maths. A second measure will record whether children in each school do better or worse than children of similar ability – as measured by standardised tests at the age of 11.

This value-added score will gauge performance across English and maths, as well as three more core subjects and their three best ‘other’ subjects. This replaces the current measure – a crude tally of how many children get Cs or better in English, maths and three other subjects.

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Kate Allen

London cable car

(c) Bloomberg

The latest weekly passenger data for London mayor Boris Johnson’s Thames cable car is out – and it’s not good.

The cable car (sponsored by Emirates, and thus officially known as the Emirates Air Line) launched last summer and was billed as a new route for the city’s frazzled commuters, as well as a tourist attraction and a catalyst for regeneration in the areas it serves. It crosses the Thames between the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown, to the north of Canary Wharf.

The cable car cost £60m to build and will cost Londoners £6m a year to run (Emirates has contributed £36m in sponsorship, spread over 10 years). It can carry up to 2,500 people an hour in each direction* – the equivalent of 30 buses. That equates to a maximum capacity of 65,000 people per day, or 455,000 a week (for comparison London’s busiest Tube line, the Northern, carries nearly a million passengers a day).

But TFL’s passenger figures show that the cable car isn’t getting anywhere near that level of use. On average our calculations suggest it may be* running at just 7 per cent of capacity. Read more

Valentina Romei

The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.

This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly. Read more

Valentina Romei

Berlusconi, the billionaire former Italian prime minister pledged to reimburse Italians €4bn for an unpopular property tax. This is probably the first time he has promised to give money back, but it is definitely not the first time he has pledged to cut taxes.

Berlusconi lavished promises of tax cuts periodically throughout the past decade, but he failed to translate them into reality, even when he was in power from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to the end of 2011.

In fact, according to the OECD the average income tax rate increased in Italy across all types of households, whereas it was reduced in most other OECD countries. Read more

Kate Allen

Rio De Janeiro is infamous for its high crime rate.

As it prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, the city is bracing for a flood of international tourism. Given its crime-ridden reputation, how well are its police doing in tackling the problem? Read more

As you pass the shop window, a beautiful coat catches your eye. You stop, gaze at it a while, spot the price and, regretfully, move on.

Little do you know that WiFi sensors in the window have used your smartphone to detect your presence outside the shop. Not only that, but they have clocked how many people as well as you have looked at the display, how many have then entered the store, and how long they stayed there. They may even be prompting store managers to lower the price.

This scenario, described by the FT’s Companies Editor Sarah Gordon in the introduction to the FT’s latest ebook, Decoding Big Data, is not a vision of how shopping will be monitored in the future. It is how stores are tracking shoppers today.

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