"Rome" series 2 starts 20th June

You will have seen the trailer by now, but even such an infrequent TV watcher as myself knows that the second series of Rome is starting on 20th June.

I learn from Rogue Classicism that the DVD goes on sale in August.

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GCSE home coursework is scrapped

Not specifically a Classics matter, but worth noting.
From the BBC

GCSE home coursework is scrapped

Traditional GCSE coursework is to be scrapped for most academic subjects following a report by exam watchdogs.

From 2009, it will be replaced by what is being called
“controlled assessment”, where pupils will do projects under
supervision in class.

The changes come amid concerns about pupils cheating by copying from the internet or getting help from parents.

They will apply across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Science coursework will not be affected.

This is because science GCSE courses changed last year and much of the coursework involved is already done in school.

Reliable

The changes follow a review by the exams and curriculum
body for England the QCA, working closely with counterparts in Wales
and Northern Ireland.

They will affect nine subjects, including English literature, geography and history.

A QCA report, published last autumn said GSCE coursework had become “less valid”.

Two-thirds of teachers surveyed for the study had said they did not think coursework was valid and reliable.

The QCA says pupils doing supervised projects in class
may work on their own or in groups, but they will be monitored by a
teacher and access to books, the internet and other sources of
information will be controlled.

Consultation is taking place about what kind of supervision there should be for this work, ranging from direct to loose.

There will also be reforms to the way coursework is set
and marked. Currently teachers in each school design the work and mark
it, and outside moderators check samples of results across the country.

In future the exam boards will set the coursework as
well as the exams. Teachers will continue to mark that work, but the
regulators say once coursework is more streamlined, it will be easier
to moderate effectively .

Ken Boston, the head of England's QCA said: “The ability
of the GCSE to stretch and challenge young people has been reinforced
by the proposals that examinations must include extended writing and
more varied question types.

“Controlled assessments will increase public confidence
in the GCSE and allow the integration of new sources of data and
information, including the Internet, under supervision.”

Problems of plagiarism

Head teachers say they are pleased that coursework will
not be lost altogether and will remain in the form of extended work
done in school.

John Dunford, of the Association of School and College
Leaders, said: “Coursework has a major contribution to make to exam
grades because it can be used to test a much wider variety of knowledge
and skills than a written exam lasting a couple of hours.”

“I am pleased that calls for coursework to be abolished
have been headed off by this proposal for it to be done under more
controlled conditions and for that reason I support it.

“The internet has changed the parameters of coursework
and the continued credibility of coursework marks depends upon the work
being done under more controlled conditions. It's important that we do
not lose the positive side of coursework because of the problems of
plagiarism”.