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Preview: Latest education news, including the university guide 2010, RAE results, higher and schools news, schools tables and further edu

Education | The Guardian

Latest education news, comment and analysis on schools, colleges, universities, further and higher education and teaching from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Sat, 21 Jan 2017 11:29:22 GMT2017-01-21T11:29:22Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

Secret Teacher: My uniform-mad school is putting style over substance

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 07:00:28 GMT2017-01-21T07:00:28Z

We have draconian guidelines and pupils are sent home for non-compliance. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that counts, but how you look

My school is in the middle of a big push on uniform. It’s always this way when the new year starts; we have a drive on lots of things, many of which are long-forgotten by the time we get to summer. We don’t seem to be letting go this year though. Uniform has really fired up our senior leadership team – so much so that there is always someone prowling the gates in the morning to check that the students are dressed appropriately.

Related: Secret Teacher: myths of the Ofsted monster keep schools in fear

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The Guardian view on education: it’s not all in the genes

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:53:37 GMT2017-01-20T18:53:37Z

Our educational attainment and when we have children is determined a little by chromosomes but much more by social and environmental conditions

Human intelligence quite obviously has some genetic component. Genes do constrain our fate, as does luck, even if development matters more. The way that our capacities develop is profoundly influenced by the environment and by the social situation in which a child grows up. Genetic influence is not genetic determinism and the interplay between genes and development is enormously complicated. A study based on the population of Iceland at first sight makes claims to show that some genes for intelligence are being pushed out of the population. On closer inspection it shows just how tangled these questions are. Researchers have identified a large number of gene variants – the evolutionary mutations associated with traits – which, taken together, correlate with educational attainment (with the caveat that some variants might simply improve self-control and foresight). The work shows these same variants are also associated with having fewer children.

Since evolution can be defined as a change in how common these variants are found in populations over time, this looks superficially as if we are evolving to be less clever. Nature however is swamped by nurture: environmental pressures are working much more strongly in the other direction. There is in IQ testing a phenomenon called the Flynn effect, in which successive generations in every population tested have shown significantly higher IQ scores than their parents. In Iceland, the Flynn effect raises IQ points by about 10 points every generation, while the genetic process identified by the latest research is 30 times as weak. If we extrapolate the Flynn effect backwards in time, so that IQ diminishes in the past at the same rate as it has been increasing in our time, it appears that the Victorians would have trouble reading and writing while Elizabethans would scarcely have been able to produce articulate speech. So much for Shakespeare. On the other hand, the genetic curve, traced back the same way, would suggest that the Elizabethans were all towering geniuses among whom Shakespeare would have been completely unremarkable. Clearly we are not measuring fixed and long-term versions of intelligence in either case.

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London university tells students their emails may be monitored

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:13:26 GMT2017-01-20T14:13:26Z

King’s College London notice about its Prevent duty prompts criticism from student and staff unions

One of the UK’s most prestigious universities has warned students and staff that their emails may be retained and monitored as part of the government’s Prevent programme to stop radicalisation on campuses.

Campaigners have raised concern after King’s College London (KCL) introduced a warning on its email login page stating that by using the system students and staff were consenting to their emails being “monitored and recorded”.

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Red flags, rulers and ropes: creative approaches to teaching gender equality

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:20:11 GMT2017-01-20T11:20:11Z

Young people are eager to explore relationships, stereotypes and confidence, and schools are responding in innovative ways

The year five class at Ronald Ross Primary School in south London is asked to imagine a girl called Asha. “What might she like doing?” asks the person leading the session. “Baking,” says one girl. “Football,” says another. “Maybe she wants to visit Greece.”

Related: My pupils are young UK Muslims – and they're scared about Trump

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I'm an academic but I took a corporate job. Should I be ashamed?

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:00:02 GMT2017-01-20T07:00:02Z

I’ve accepted a temporary job in finance after years of tireless, thankless toil in academia – but I keep it secret from my colleagues in the ivory tower

I’m going to say something that someone who wants a career in academia should never say: I was relieved when I found a corporate job outside the sacred halls of the ivory tower.

Related: Working as a casual? Zip your lip and do as you're told

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British universities employ no black academics in top roles, figures show

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 17:18:39 GMT2017-01-19T17:18:39Z

Figures record zero black academics in the elite staff category of ‘managers, directors and senior officials’ for third year in a row

No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university for the last three years, according to employment records.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency record no black academics in the elite staff category of “managers, directors and senior officials” in 2015-16 – the third year in a row that this has happened.

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Smashing it! YouTuber Korean Billy's vocab guide for non-UK students

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:25:16 GMT2017-01-19T14:25:16Z

British English is a language that’s hard to get spot on. With Korean Billy’s help, you’ll absolutely smash it

If you’re not from the UK but studying here as an international student, you’ll probably hear some words that you didn’t learn in the classroom. And if you are only familiar with American English, you may be even more confused.

Here are 10 weird phrases that British people use – and you’d better remember them if you want to understand what they’re talking about.

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Denise Lesley obituary

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:00:19 GMT2017-01-19T13:00:19Z

My wife, Denise Lesley, who has died of ovarian cancer aged 65, started her professional life as a teacher. When head of geography at Hurlingham school in Fulham, south-west London, she was seconded in 1979 to the Inner London Education Authority’s television centre in Battersea, where teachers were trained in educational broadcasting, and where she learned the trade over the next two years.

Dee went freelance in 1981 and soon became a researcher on the live children’s Saturday morning TV show No 73, made by TVS for ITV, working with Sandi Toksvig and Andrea Arnold. She was an early member of the Production Managers’ Association, which was devoted to raising professional standards. She served on its committee and for a number of years was deputy chair.

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Grammar schools lose top spots after league table shakeup

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 09:30:33 GMT2017-01-19T09:30:33Z

DfE’s latest tables, ranked using new Progress 8 measure, show schools that made greatest advances in pupils’ grades

The government’s new performance measure has upended the traditional pecking order of England’s secondary schools, knocking grammar schools out of the top spots and boosting schools that dramatically improved results among their pupils.

The Department for Education’s latest performance tables, published on Thursday — including 2016’s GCSE exams and ranked by its new Progress 8 measure — reveals that the best schools in England are those which make the greatest advances in their pupils’ grades.

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Five ways Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is terrible for students

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:41:55 GMT2017-01-18T15:41:55Z

Once again, my generation is low on the list when it comes to the government’s priorities, says our student blogger

In her landmark speech on Tuesday, Theresa May set out the UK’s priorities for Brexit – and it’s clear that young people are not among them.

Related: Key points from May's Brexit speech: what have we learned?

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Britons 'should learn Polish, Punjabi and Urdu to boost social cohesion'

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:21:54 GMT2017-01-18T14:21:54Z

Learning community languages would aid integration, boost people’s wellbeing and be good for economy, says Cambridge academic

The government is being urged to create more opportunities for British people to learn languages such as Polish, Urdu and Punjabi as a means of improving social cohesion in local communities.

Recent inquiries looking into obstacles to social integration in the UK have highlighted the importance of immigrants learning English to enable them to integrate and engage fully in society.

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Sussex University failed duty of care to assault victim, inquiry finds

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:31:54 GMT2017-01-17T19:31:54Z

The investigation found that, when assessing the danger the attacker posed, the university only interviewed him

The University of Sussex failed in its duty of care to a student who was assaulted by a lecturer, taking only the perpetrator’s account of their relationship into account when assessing the risk he posed, according to an independent inquiry.

The report comes after widespread criticism of the university’s decision not to suspend senior media lecturer Lee Salter, even after he was convicted of assaulting postgraduate student Allison Smith last June.

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Education secretary's constituency to lose out in funding changes

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:01:09 GMT2017-01-16T00:01:09Z

The government’s ‘fair funding’ formula will see 98% of state schools’ funding cut, say unions, with cities worst affected

Schools in education secretary Justine Greening’s constituency will be among thousands across England suffering steep budget cuts despite the government’s new “fair funding” formula, according to analysis released by six unions.

Related: Tory backlash grows over school funding plans

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Southwark free school in London to close after attracting only 60 pupils

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 17:45:47 GMT2017-01-15T17:45:47Z

The school, supported by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, had struggled to find a permanent site and recruit staff since 2012

A free school supported by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson against local opposition will abruptly close next month after attracting only 60 pupils since it opened in 2012, and struggling to recruit staff and find a permanent site.

Parents of pupils at Southwark free school, housed in a community hall and temporary cabins near Old Kent Road in south London, have been told the school is expected to close by mid February, meaning the pupils will be sent to other schools.

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Oxford University accused of failing to deal with admissions racism

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 16:38:44 GMT2017-01-14T16:38:44Z

Former higher education minister David Lammy tells acrimonious Oxford debate unconscious bias remains a problem

A former higher education minister has accused the University of Oxford of failing to adequately tackle racism caused by an “unconscious bias” against black and disadvantaged applicants.

The Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy provoked an indignant response from the senior representatives of Oxford colleges, with one interrupting him to call his comments absolute nonsense during a debate at the university.

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Record one in four graduates in UK awarded top degrees

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:46 GMT2017-01-12T14:00:46Z

Proportion getting a first rises from 17% to 24% in five years, but degree classification becoming less important to employers

The proportion of students leaving university with top honours has risen in the last five years to reach record levels, figures show.

Almost one in four (24%) students who gained a degree graduated with a first last year, compared with 17% in 2011-12, according to data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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Primary school teacher taped child's ankles to chair, hearing told

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:45:36 GMT2017-01-12T13:45:36Z

Matthew Brown, 38, denies professional misconduct over alleged attempt to stop eight-year-old fidgeting

A teacher taped a child’s hands and ankles to his desk and chair to stop him fidgeting, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Primary school teacher Matthew Brown, 38, is also accused of sticky-taping one girl’s hand to a rugby ball, although he claims this was an accident.

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Tougher stance towards overseas students 'could cost UK £2bn a year'

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:01:12 GMT2017-01-12T00:01:12Z

Potential gains from charging higher fees after Brexit would be wiped out if Home Office tightens visa numbers, says report

A tougher stance by the Home Office towards overseas students studying at British universities could cost the country up to £2bn a year, according to forecasts published by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Its report also found that UK higher education could increase revenue from higher fees for foreign students after Britain leaves the EU. But the potential gains would be wiped out if the government insists on tightening student visa numbers.

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Netflix: is it every student’s worst addiction?

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:46:14 GMT2017-01-17T14:46:14Z

How easy is it to give up Netflix at the weekend? Not very, when that seductive countdown timer is hell-bent on leading you astray

In the silent hours of a cold winter evening, I’m one of thousands of students around the country struggling with the same internal question: should I watch another episode?

Realising I have a problem, I’ve been trying to stop watching Netflix on the weekends. It’s easy to distract myself on Friday and Saturday by going out with friends or reading. But come Sunday, I can’t resist any longer. I start a marathon that ends up lasting five hours.

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Are students justified in banning the sale of newspapers on campus?

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:27:43 GMT2017-01-17T11:27:43Z

Four speakers to debate the student union motions in some universities to prevent the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Sun being sold

Expect fireworks next Tuesday during a panel discussion at City, University of London when four people debate whether campus campaigns against the sale of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express are justified.

On the panel will be Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World who spent five years as editor of the Sunday People; Tom Slater, deputy editor of Spiked Online; Liz Gerard, the former Times night editor who runs the excellent SubScribe blog; and Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. It will be chaired by a City, University of London student, Ghazzala Zubair.

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Missed the Ucas application deadline? All is not lost

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:30:05 GMT2017-01-14T22:30:05Z

The 6pm deadline is Sunday 15 January for students to submit their application. But there are a few options left if you miss it ...

The deadline for Ucas applications is 6pm on Sunday 15 January. But if you miss it – be it due to indecision, delayed references or technological problems – don’t worry: there’s still time to land a place. Here are your other options:

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Dear Jeremy – your work problems solved

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 06:59:19 GMT2017-01-14T06:59:19Z

Our careers expert – and you the readers – advise a worker on how to leave a failing company on good terms, and an international student seeking an internship

I work for a two-man consulting company – my boss is a friend from university and owns all the business. Over the past 12 months he seems to have lost all interest and has not been performing at all. He has had many problems in his personal life involving a bereavement, and hasn’t been interested in winning new business or seeing to it that our current client work is done properly.

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Want a master's course that's future-proof? Just do what you love

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 11:03:52 GMT2017-01-12T11:03:52Z

Don’t let career anxieties stop you delving deeper into what interests you most, says TheLitCritGuy. Bosses love enthusiasts with problem-solving skills

The announcement that you’re thinking of pursuing a master’s degree is almost certain to be met with some variation on a familiar question: “What are you going to do with that?”

Given the pressures – financial and otherwise – that come with studying at postgraduate level, the question is understandable. However, the suppositions behind it are a little misguided. Having a career plan is nowhere near as important as doing a master’s course that you truly enjoy.

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University leaders and academics warn hard Brexit could be disaster

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 15:56:15 GMT2017-01-11T15:56:15Z

MPs told of risk to decades of progress and cooperation, with German universities ‘snapping at heels’ to attract staff from UK

A hard Brexit could be the “biggest disaster” for British universities, costing decades of progress and leaving the UK’s international status diminished, vice-chancellors and senior academics have told MPs.

An education select committee hearing on the impact of the vote to leave the EU on British universities was told that German and Irish institutions were “snapping at the heels” in poaching UK-based staff, while Oxford University’s head of Brexit strategy said the benefits of centuries of cooperation were being put at risk.

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Cuts, cuts, cuts. Headteachers tell of school system ‘that could implode’

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 07:15:32 GMT2017-01-17T07:15:32Z

No textbooks, no counsellor, no support for special needs. Headteachers warn the schools funding crisis cannot go on

A report by the National Audit Office has said schools face cuts of 8% in real terms by 2019-20. While the government said school funding would be ringfenced, headteachers are facing a mountain of increased costs: higher contributions to national insurance and teachers’ pensions, the introduction of the “national living wage”, pay rises and the apprenticeship levy. There’s no extra money for these, nor is funding per pupil rising in line with inflation. The NAO warned that cuts could put students’ “educational outcomes at risk”. To make matters worse, the education services grant, worth £600m, is also being cut, which means there will be less money for local authorities or academies to provide services such as school improvement.

Meanwhile, headteachers are nervously keeping an eye on proposals for a new funding formula for schools in 2018-19, expected to redistribute money from inner-city schools to rural areas. But even schools that are likely to gain under this model say any extra cash will be eaten up by increased costs.

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Lego professor of play: apply now for the most coveted job in education

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 07:00:32 GMT2017-01-17T07:00:32Z

The world’s first professor of play – funded by Lego – is being sought by Cambridge University. What is the job description?

There are only three days left to apply for what could be the most coveted job in education: the Lego professor of play, development and learning at the University of Cambridge.

The closing date for applications for the brand new, permanent post is this Friday, 20 January. The successful candidate will not only enjoy all the perks of a typical Cambridge professor – including a job that commands an average salary of £83,981 – he or she will also lead Cambridge’s newly established Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (Pedal).

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War lessons from Ancient Rome - archive, 11 January 1917

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:30:11 GMT2017-01-11T05:30:11Z

11 January 1917: The task of the Roman Empire was not at all unlike our own to-day. Just as we in our present struggle stood, as we believed, for freedom and for civilisation, so stood the Roman Empire

Professor F. Haverfield; Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford, had prepared a paper on “The Roman Wall,” from Newcastle to Carlisle, to be read before the Chester and North Wales Archaeological Society, but was unable to make the journey north, and in his absence the paper was read on Tuesday by Miss M. V. Taylor, who assisted the Professor in the preparation of his work. The Rev. Canon Hylton Stewart presided.

Britain and Rome
The Professor’s paper stated that the ruins of the Roman wall, the northern frontier defence of Roman Britain; still stretch from Wallsend–on–Tyne, three miles east of Newcastle, to Bowness–on–Solway, twelve miles west of Carlisle. One of the best tests of an Empire’s vigour was certainly the amount of strength which it could exert, without overstrain, on its really remote frontiers. When it failed to maintain these, to defeat its distant enemies and control its distant officers, it was probably nearer to its decline and fall than when it had ceased to conquer more and more territory. Britain offered many strong proofs that the Roman Empire could guard its furthest borders till a very late date.

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From lazy to leader: unsporty girls are getting fit and spreading the word

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:18:01 GMT2017-01-10T15:18:01Z

Female students are prepared to change their lifestyles – as long as there’s no pressure. And universities are finding that non-athletes make the best ambassadors

“I’m one of the laziest people I know!” The declaration is followed by laughter, but Lauren Barkas is serious. The 21-year-old chemistry student had no interest in sport, and it took her a long time to decide to go along to one of the University of Hull’s women-only fitness sessions.

“I heard about it and thought it sounded OK, but I didn’t really want to go,” she says. “Then I thought, ‘Come on, give it a try, it’s your first year of uni,’ and I went and loved it straight away.”

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Blue state or red state, educating a child in America will drive you nuts

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:00:28 GMT2017-01-10T12:00:28Z

While I encourage everyone to be alarmed by Trump, education isn’t the top of my list of worries: for my family, it’s been a problem no matter who’s in charge

About a decade ago, when we were sending our son to a mostly-white public charter school in Los Angeles’ East Side hipness zone, I got a pure sense of what “school choice” is all about. The school had been bouncing around like a dodgeball from location to location. First, it was located at a church on Fairfax, but soon outgrew that facility. Then, it occupied the edge of a rough Hollywood elementary school, where the mostly Mexican public-school population was kept at arm’s length from the Stellas and Elijahs and Dexters of the “charter” that longed for a permanent home.

One night, we had a public meeting at an auditorium in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood that’s been plagued by gang violence since the era of LA Confidential. Our school’s bourgeois brain trust had come up with the idea of merging its resources with another charter school, which mostly served Central American immigrant families. Proposed as the location for this new merged school: a former sanitarium for unwed mothers, which had gone unoccupied since 1979 and was now certainly occupied by ghosts.

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Failing Spurs-sponsored school costs taxpayer £500,000 rent a year | Warwick Mansell

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 06:45:26 GMT2017-01-10T06:45:26Z

In our diary: the staggering cost of one secondary school. Plus: CEO’s careless conversation on train

In an age of austerity it will strike many as staggering largesse. A soon-to-close university technical college sponsored by a Premier League football club and educating only a few classes of students, is costing the taxpayer £500,000 a year in premises overheads alone, Education Guardian can reveal.

Latest accounts for Tottenham Hotspur-sponsored Tottenham UTC, in north London, show £567,612 was allocated for its “rent and rates” for 2014-15. The rent seems to go to a property company that is part of the group of firms running Spurs. The UTC rents space from TH Property Limited in a building that also houses Spurs’ offices.

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New Ofsted chief: ‘I want everyone to see us as a force for improvement’

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 15:00:20 GMT2017-01-09T15:00:20Z

In her first interview as chief inspector of England’s schools, Amanda Spielman says she will start by examining the very purpose of Ofsted

When Amanda Spielman’s appointment as chief Ofsted inspector in England was announced, there was a general shaking of heads: unlike her predecessors, she hadn’t spent a minute as a teacher.

However, unlike the half dozen previous holders of the title, Spielman can argue that her experience as a founder of the successful Ark academy chain better fits what she calls “the increasing sophistication of the education landscape”.

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Anxious international students turn away from UK

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 15:31:30 GMT2017-01-04T15:31:30Z

UK universities were the destination of choice for many global students. But the politics of immigration are forcing them to look elsewhere

Students from the rest of the world have been flocking to UK universities for decades, eager to get the most out of doing a degree here. In 2014-15 alone, some 437,000 students came to the UK from other countries to study. But this number is shrinking.

To the dismay of universities, there have been recent reports that the government is considering cutting international student numbers by nearly half in an effort to meet the immigration targets set by prime minister Theresa May.

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Gap year stories: getting a taste of communal living

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:42:56 GMT2017-01-02T11:42:56Z

From shovelling manure in Israel to supporting refugees in north London, two gap-year students recount their experiences of sharing everything

It’s the time of year for students to promise themselves a new start – traditionally they’re taking a hard look at their personal habits right now, promising themselves no more food binges, fewer late nights and more punctual essays.

But how about the state the rest of the world is is in? You could consider putting something good into a community.

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Time to take on greed: why business schools must engage in intellectual activism

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:23:38 GMT2017-01-17T14:23:38Z

The next generation of corporate leaders are being taught risky practices with little regard for ethics. Educators need to challenge the status quo

“How can you work in a business school?” The question was put to me by a professor of politics. Her own background was at an elite US art college, and we shared similar political and intellectual persuasions. “The stereotype of someone working in a business school is of one who serves the 1%,” she told me.

Related: What will happen in higher education in 2017?

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I'm a single parent and a scientist and I'm dangerously stressed

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:00:11 GMT2017-01-13T07:00:11Z

I’m responsible for two children, a research team and my own career in a competitive field. Is it any wonder I lie awake at night worrying?

Two years ago, my life took an unexpected turn: I became a single parent. Until that point, my career had followed a fantastically upward trajectory. I was more than a decade out of my PhD and was leading my own research group. Children had always featured in my life plan, alongside (I’d hoped) a flourishing career. Divorce had not. But just a few weeks after finally getting a permanent academic position, I discovered that my partner, with whom I had two children, had been having an affair. A long affair. A marriage-ending affair. Just as I thought I was coming out on top after years of juggling a young family with a fledgling career, I suddenly found myself in a newly disadvantaged position.

Related: I landed my dream PhD – and it turned into a nightmare

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Brexit doesn't have to be a disaster for universities

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-01-12T07:00:21Z

We’ve mapped the impact of Brexit and although there are changes ahead, this doesn’t mean all is lost

At the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), we have worked with London Economics and Kaplan International on the most detailed and sophisticated econometric modelling yet undertaken on how Brexit will affect universities. The results confirm that our departure from the European Union will be messy and difficult – but perhaps not as bad as feared in many respects. It is also likely to affect different universities in different ways.

Universities had a shock on 23 June – students and academics largely voted to remain. In truth, the on-campus consensus was a little stifling, perhaps even counterproductive. Had the arguments for staying in been crafted in the cut-and-thrust of fierce and open debate, they might have been more persuasive; less focused on cash and more on the benefits of collaboration across borders.

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I landed my dream PhD – and it turned into a nightmare

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:00:12 GMT2017-01-06T07:00:12Z

Cutting-edge research, international collaboration and full funding: the project sounded too good to be true. It was.

I signed up for a PhD that should have marked the start of an amazing career – it was a fully-funded position as part of an exciting project that I was enthusiastic to work on. In fact, this decision has done anything but help my career.

Related: I've left my PhD behind, but I'm being put under pressure to publish

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What will happen in higher education in 2017?

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 07:00:42 GMT2017-01-05T07:00:42Z

More strikes? Brexit brain drain? Two-for-one degrees? Check out our experts’ predictions for the next 12 months

Just in case we thought higher education would enter the new year in an orderly fashion, 2016 ended with the news of the Lords’ revolt against the government’s proposed reforms. Hours later, 2017 started with Lord (Chris) Patten’s scathing op-ed on the subject, in which he opined: “It seems particularly ham-fisted to turn the academic world upside down when universities face so much turbulence and uncertainty after the Brexit vote and the rhetoric surrounding immigration.” Game on.

So what should we expect from the coming 12 months? We asked experts from the sector for their predictions.

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Academics Anonymous: top 10 secret blogs of 2016

Fri, 23 Dec 2016 07:00:09 GMT2016-12-23T07:00:09Z

These warts-and-all accounts give us an invaluable insight into university life. Here are our favourites from the past 12 months

It’s been another fascinating year for Academics Anonymous, with our writers taking on topics as diverse as social media, strike action and sexual harassment. To all of our contributors: thank you. And if you’d like to shine your own light on some dark corner of university life, do get in touch.

It’s hard to single out favourites, but here are the 10 that struck the loudest chord this year.

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The higher education quiz of 2016

Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:22:13 GMT2016-12-22T11:22:13Z

Desert Island Discs, a death on campus and Donald Trump – how well will you do in our quiz of higher education in 2016?The two Johnson brothers hogged the headlines this year. But who did better at university?Both BoJo and JoJo gained firstsBoth BoJo and JoJo gained thirdsJoJo gained a first and BoJo didn’tBoJo gained a first and JoJo didn’t A Victorian guide to university life at St John’s College, Cambridge, published in 1893, went on display this year. What’s missing from this nugget of advice? “Don’t _______ all day, however accomplished you may be.”List your academic achievementsPlay pianoThrow pennies at paupersDrink alcohol Professor Louise Richardson chose a song from which musical icon in an appearance on Desert Island Discs in June?Joni MitchelJoan BaezCarole KingTaylor Swift Staff and students at the University of Sydney were distraught in September when what died on campus?A jacaranda treeA crocodileA cohort of mice used in researchThe Ant and Dec fan clubWhich university used Tinder to entice students through Clearing this summer?University of DurhamUniversity of ExeterManchester Metropolitan UniversityUniversity of SalfordWhat are students threatening to boycott to scupper higher education reforms?UcasLecturesOpinion surveysExams Who did Mary Beard accuse of being a mansplainer of history?Ukip donor Arron BanksLabour party leader Jeremy CorbynBroadcaster Jeremy PaxmanHistorian David Starkey How much did US president-elect Donald Trump pay out in settlements to students of his university in November?$1m$10m$15m$25mAnd, talking of Trump, why did Robert Gordon University strip him of his honorary degree?For calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”For being caught on video boasting about grabbing women’s genitals For demanding Muslims be banned from entering the USFor being buddies with Nigel FarageIt’s been a difficult year for experts. Who said: “Suspicion of experts goes back into antiquity, and it’s a very healthy thing to have”?Jacob Rees-MoggMichael GoveJeremy ClarksonTheresa May Continue reading...[...]

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A waif in a manger: Christmas on campus for the security staff

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 07:00:46 GMT2016-12-16T07:00:46Z

Students used to be dispatched home for the holidays – now they can stay in halls, so the nights are neither silent nor holy

Loads of people have their Decembers ruined by having to work Christmas. Very few of them, however, get to be Christmas: Father Christmas, that is.

The security manager approached Big Rich with a brown sack. “You’ve already got a beard and you’re big,” he said, brushing the dust off the white bits on the suit. “The staff kids’ party: you’re Santa.” Unfortunately, Santa was partial to Aldi black whisky, but no one seemed to notice.

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Christmas gift ideas for academics – in pictures

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 09:49:45 GMT2016-12-14T09:49:45Z

Everything your big-brained university friends and colleagues could wish for – from Einstein socks to clever crockery

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There's trouble with transparency in the UK's academies

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:08:15 GMT2017-01-18T15:08:15Z

Developing good relationships with business is essential for academies, but critics say the system is plagued by secrecy and conflicts of interest

On the surface, everything looked perfectly normal. In the summer of 2015, Perry Beeches academy in Birmingham hired a local business to undertake a health and safety audit. By the end of autumn, it had paid £5,000 to Lampsato Ltd, run by a woman called Lynda Scotson.

But there was a catch: Scotson happened to be the wife of one of the school’s directors. He had been on the committee that approved the contract.

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Secret Teacher: myths of the Ofsted monster keep schools in fear

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 07:00:19 GMT2017-01-14T07:00:19Z

Schools take extreme, often ridiculous, measures in the name of Ofsted approval. This obsession is bad for everyone

Schools, understandably, want to be “Ofsted-ready”. In the past three years as a supply teacher, however, I’ve seen how headteachers use the threat of an imminent Ofsted visit to create a climate of fear and control.

Related: Secret Teacher: I see Ofsted for what it is – a purposeless farce

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What I secretly want to tell my headteacher

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:31:35 GMT2017-01-12T14:31:35Z

Having difficulties with the leadership at your school? You’re not alone. We asked some teachers what they’re really thinking

It is vital to have a strong relationship with the headteacher at your school – from both a professional and emotional perspective. The best heads nurture and support staff, while also trusting them to succeed in the classroom. But as in any work scenario, the power dynamic can sometimes cause friction and disagreements – and ironing out such conflicts can be a challenge.

We asked teachers to share their personal experiences of difficult relationships with their heads, and what they privately wish they could tell them.

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From Brexit to Trump: should teachers talk politics in the classroom?

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:58:15 GMT2017-01-11T16:58:15Z

As political discourse continues to become more polarised, educators must be mindful of how they engage pupils in discussions

Teaching and politics have an uneasy relationship. The ways that educators work – from the curricula they follow to the budgets they are set – are heavily influenced by the decisions of politicians, yet expressing our views about politics in the classroom remains controversial.

Related: Why don’t more schools focus on public speaking? Discuss

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Growth mindset: practical tips you may not have tried yet

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:41:30 GMT2017-01-09T14:41:30Z

Struggling to inspire a growth mindset in your students? Try going stealth, taking different paths and talking to parents

Schools and teachers across the world have embraced Carol Dweck’s theory of growth mindset in the hope of helping students to fulfil their potential. Popular strategies include tweaking the way teachers give feedback, encouraging self-reflection through questioning and, crucially, praising processes instead of natural ability.

Related: How to be happy: a guide for teachers (and everyone else)

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Secret Teacher: cutting staff numbers to save money is a dangerous game

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 07:00:12 GMT2017-01-07T07:00:12Z

Management has decided that teachers won’t be replaced when they leave. We’re losing valuable skills and risking our most vulnerable pupils

Our latest inset was one we were dreading, and not just for the rubbish refreshments. We knew the news wouldn’t be good. The status quo – one of discontent and rock-bottom morale – was about to get even worse. And then came the announcement: as a means of saving money, the school would not be replacing staff who leave.

Instead, their duties are to be “absorbed” by other staff members, presenting several immediate problems. Firstly, these remaining staff members may not have the expertise and experience to perform these duties effectively. Secondly, they almost certainly don’t have time to give to these responsibilities.

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Sport, skills and storytelling: how charity begins at school

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 16:30:20 GMT2017-01-04T16:30:20Z

As the curriculum grows narrower, we need to develop pupils’ qualities beyond the academic – and charities can help

From donning a plastic nose on Red Nose Day to carol singing for charity at Christmas time, UK pupils are usually pretty familiar with charitable giving. But sometimes charities take on a more crucial role within the education system, forging partnerships with schools that can have a huge impact on students’ educational and social development.

Some focus on skills: Volunteer It Yourself partners with businesses like Wickes to offer teenagers the chance to learn construction skills through renovating youth clubs and community centres. Others are about wellbeing: Southend-based charity Trust Links invites small groups of pupils from local schools to its garden which it says helps improve their self esteem.

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Education quiz: how much do you remember about 2016?

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 10:27:39 GMT2016-12-30T10:27:39Z

Endless U-turns, the return of grammar schools and a leather trouser scandal. Test your knowledge of last year’s education newsBake Off winner Candice Brown has just left her teaching job. What subject did she teach?Food technologyMedia studiesPhysicsPEIt was reported that Nick Gibb, schools minister, wanted to stop children doing what?Picking their nosesUsing exclamation marksSwearingTexting in classFormer education secretary Nicky Morgan chastised the prime minister for wearing an expensive pair of leather trousers but she was soon in hot water over her own pricey leather goods. Which item came under fire?A Mulberry handbagBarbour glovesManolo Blahnik shoesTed Baker jacketMichael Wilshaw said farewell to Ofsted this year. Who has he not compared his leadership style to?Nelson MandelaHarry RedknappMother TeresaClint EastwoodSir Greg Martin stepped down as headteacher at Durand Academy in south London following concerns about the school’s use of public money. What side business had he registered at the school premises? Pizza takeawayDating agencyPop-up breweryCupcake businessThere were plenty of U-turns from the Department for Education this year. Which of the following is still going ahead?Making children who fail their Sats sit them again in secondary school Plans to force all of England’s schools to become academies The abolition of parent governors Diverting money from London schools to those elsewhereA headteacher in Darlington wrote to parents to ask them to refrain from:Shouting at the opposition on sports daysCriticising the school on social mediaTurning up in pyjamasPutting chocolates in packed lunchesTheresa May ignored decades of education policy research by ending the ban on grammar schools in a bid to restore “meritocracy”. Which author described his failure to pass his 11-plus exam as “confidence shattering”?Alan BennettMichael MorpurgoMichael Rosen Frank Cottrell Boyce Which A-level was scrapped after being dismissed as a “soft subject” by Michael Gove and then brought back after public outcry?History of artGeneral studies Media studiesClassical civilisationIn November, Jeremy Hunt proposed a ban on sexting for under-18s. How did he suggest this could be enforced?Social media companies should use software that can detect when it is happening Sex education classes should be made compulsory for all schoolsTeachers should check students’ messagesMobile phones should be illegal for children7 and above.A* – clearly you do your homework!6 and above.Satisfactory4 and above.Satisfactory0 and above.Bottom of the class2 and above.Bottom of the class Continue reading...[...]

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Chinese school allows students to borrow marks from 'grade bank' to pass tests

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:15:39 GMT2017-01-13T05:15:39Z

Students must repay their borrowed marks with even higher scores on a future exams or earn credits with extra work

Many of us have been there: hopelessly unprepared for an exam, wishing we had studied more and certain of a failing mark. Now for students at one school in China, success is guaranteed, but it comes at a price.

A high school in eastern China has set up a “grade bank”, where students who would normally fail a test can borrow points to push them over the line into a passing mark.

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Jagdish Gundara obituary

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 18:25:56 GMT2016-12-16T18:25:56Z

My friend Jagdish Gundara, who has died aged 78, was a shrewd and nuanced commentator on the theory and practice of education for diversity. He was Unesco professor of intercultural studies and teacher education, and emeritus professor of the Institute of Education, University College London. He was, from its inception in 1979, director of the centre for intercultural education at the Institute of Education.

Jagdish shared his ideas about interculturalism at conferences throughout the world, and was founder and president of the International Association of Intercultural Education. Convivial and mischievous, he was never happier than when fulminating against reactionary idiocy with friends over lunch in Bloomsbury.

Continue reading...Jagdish Gundara was an authority on education for diversity.Jagdish Gundara was an authority on education for diversity.

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Jews are world's best-educated religious group, study reveals

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 15:00:02 GMT2016-12-13T15:00:02Z

Pew report on schooling of different faiths finds disparity between religions in some areas of world such as sub-Saharan Africa

Jews are better educated than any other major religious group in the world, with an average of 13.4 years of schooling and a majority going on to higher education, a study has found.

At the other end of the educational scale, Hindus and Muslims have the fewest years of formal schooling, with an average of 5.6 years.

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Compulsory sex education is backed by eight out of 10 Britons | Letters

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:49:40 GMT2016-11-30T19:49:40Z

The government has decided it will not implement compulsory sex and relationships education despite recommendations from the women and equalities select committee (Report, 29 November). Yet, according to a poll we recently commissioned, compulsory sex and relationships education is favoured by eight out of 10 Britons.

Our 2016 report on girls’ rights concluded that the UK is failing girls. Schools should be safe environments free from violence, abuse and discrimination. However, in reality they can be part of the problem. Girls in particular report that they don’t feel safe at school due to unwanted sexual contact such as groping. Earlier this year, we revealed that one in five schoolgirls have experienced this, in or around school. If anything the picture is potentially getting worse, with reports of sexual offences in and around school more than doubling in the past four years.

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Chinese authorities make perilous cliff-face school run safer

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 17:02:06 GMT2016-11-21T17:02:06Z

New metal ladder installed on side of mountain has cut journey time by an hour for schoolchildren in Atuler, Sichuan

Authorities in south-west China have come to the aid of schoolchildren who had to climb an 800m cliff to get to and from school – by installing a thin steel ladder at the site.

Atuler, a mountainside hamlet nicknamed “cliff village”, is located on a plateau in the Chinese province of Sichuan and is home to the Yi people, a minority ethnic group also found in Vietnam and Thailand.

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Harvard ends men's soccer team season over lewd rankings of female players

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 15:10:31 GMT2016-11-04T15:10:31Z

University says ‘extremely offensive report’ on female soccer players was produced over several years by male players, who had been leading Ivy League

Harvard University has suspended its men’s soccer team for the remainder of the season because of sexual comments made about members of the women’s soccer team.

University president Drew Faust said in a statement on Thursday night that an investigation into the 2012 team found their “appalling” actions were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few, but appeared to be more widespread across the team and continued through the current season.

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Asia-Pacific students have test results cancelled in latest cheating episode

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 01:42:09 GMT2016-11-04T01:42:09Z

The ACT, used by American colleges to choose students, had been ‘compromised’, test provider tells examinees in several countries

Students in Asian countries have been notified that their scores on the writing section of last month’s ACT college entrance exam are being cancelled, in the latest example of how standardised test makers are struggling to contain an international epidemic of cheating.

The incident comes a few months after ACT Inc, the Iowa-based nonprofit that operates the test, was forced to cancel its exam for all takers in South Korea and Hong Kong. That incident, in June, marked the first time the high-stakes exam was cancelled for an entire country.

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'My son works until midnight': parents around the world on homework

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 10:21:18 GMT2016-11-03T10:21:18Z

As parents in Spain call for month-long boycott of homework due to ‘unacceptable’ workloads, we asked your views of extracurricular work

It’s a familiar phrase for anyone with children: “I don’t want to do my homework.” But in Spain it’s not just youngsters feeling like this, parents are fed up too because they say children are being set too much extracurricular work.

So much so, that they they have launched a weekend homework strike this month. It comes after a 2012 report by the OECD found Spanish school children spend 6.4 hours a week on homework, almost a third longer than the average in developed nations.

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Spanish parents urged to put children on weekend homework strike

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 14:13:55 GMT2016-11-02T14:13:55Z

Parents associations group calls for month-long boycott by state schools pupils in protest against ‘unacceptable’ workload

Parents in Spain are being urged to go on a weekend homework strike this month in protest against the “unacceptable” amount of after-school tasks their children are given.

The homework load of Spanish children has long been a sore point with some parents, who argue that the burden is too great, places too much pressure on pupils and eats into family time.

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Indonesian minister's doorless dormitories proposal sparks outrage

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 13:45:56 GMT2016-11-02T13:45:56Z

Social affairs minister says removal of doors would curb same-sex relationships but students and rights groups condemn plan

An Indonesian minister’s suggestion that doors should be removed from college dormitories to prevent promiscuity has been greeted with outrage and befuddlement.

The social affairs minister, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, said she was inspired by her visit to the doorless dormitories of a “very prestigious” university, where the activities of students in their rooms can be monitored.

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You can see the cuts in the NHS but the cuts in schools are as dire | Laura McInerney

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 06:45:31 GMT2017-01-17T06:45:31Z

Schools are heading towards mass bankruptcy yet no one photographs the incremental damage done to children

As recent weeks have shown, hospitals are in crisis, with ill people lying in corridors, in pain, as treatment is held back for hours. Those images are why the public worries about the NHS and almost always supports extra cash for it.

School crises are less visual. No one photographs the child with learning difficulty, sobbing as the teaching assistant they worked with for the past three years is booted out. No one sees the cuts in music lessons, the special needs children who are told to go somewhere else because the school cannot afford to take them, the extra pupils in a class – or 10.

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The Guardian view on schools: the cuts are hurting | Editorial

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:39:20 GMT2017-01-16T18:39:20Z

Less money, fewer teachers, little transparency and almost no accountability. A child’s education is too important for this

The last few weeks have been all about the NHS crisis, but new figures published today reveal the stark cash situation facing schools in England. Forty nine out of every 50 schools, according to research by the Association of School and College Leaders and the Secondary Heads Association, will see a real-term per pupil funding fall between now and 2020; some schools lose up to 17% of their per pupil funding. That is the sharpest cut to schools’ budgets since the 1970s. The scale of today’s problem was illustrated last month by the National Audit Office, which showed the average secondary academy is in the red by more than £350,000.

Education lacks the immediate warning lights of health: hospitals being forced to divert ambulances, cancel cancer operations and treat patients on trolleys in corridors. But these funding pressures are no less damaging than those facing the health service. They jeopardise the significant progress made in recent decades: nine out of 10 schools are now rated as good or outstanding. Without a sensible settlement inequalities will widen. Most notably, there is huge geographic imbalance in school quality. Children living in London have a far better chance of attending a good school than in Liverpool, where almost half of schools are inadequate or “require improvement”. In the northern powerhouse of Manchester the figure is one in three. This is a fundamental issue for social mobility.

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Watching porn in public is not OK. It’s harassment | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:44:25 GMT2017-01-16T16:44:25Z

Yes, there are men who watch porn on the bus. We must challenge this disrespectful and distressing behaviour – and the culture that underlies it

You’re on the train, or the bus, or the tube, or the tram. Perhaps you’re on the way to work, crammed in during the damp crush of winter rush hour. Or you’re on your way home, and it’s late, and dark, and half empty. Or maybe, even, because you are young, you are on your way to or from school. Whatever the purpose of your journey, you are sharing it with other people, and, as often happens in a public place, your eyes flicker to the screen of the device of the person next to you, and that man (because it does often seem to be a man) is watching porn, right in front of you.

After BBC Woman’s Hour producer Siobhann Tighe witnessed a man doing this on a London bus, the Radio 4 programme discussed the issue at the end of last week. The response the show received over the weekend has been – aside from the predictable sadness, disgust, and outrage – that yes, this happens. Discussing it with friends and on social media, many revealed that they had witnessed it too.

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Jeremy Irons: ‘Creativity is at the core of who we are’

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:52:22 GMT2017-01-20T16:52:22Z

He’s played everyone from terrorists to Batman’s butler, but his new role, chancellor of Bath Spa University, brings its own challenges. Jeremy Irons explains the value he places upon the arts and how he values plans to ‘disabuse students about the power of celebrity’

Jeremy Irons never went to university but he rather wishes he had. As one of the UK’s most distinguished actors, he’s forever associated with academia – a legacy of his breakthrough role as the Oxford student Charles Ryder in the acclaimed 1981 ITV series Brideshead Revisited.

Now he’s donned academic robes once again, this time as Bath Spa University’s first ever chancellor. It’s a largely ceremonial post but he’s planning to get stuck in, maybe even teach the odd masterclass when his schedule allows. “I’m learning,” he says. “I will get a feel for the place, attend as many ceremonies and talk to as many students as I can, and then I hope it will become clear how I can help. Creativity is important to the UK – it’s at the core of who we are.”

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School library book returned more than 120 years late – with no fine

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:03:49 GMT2016-12-07T19:03:49Z

Title given back to school in Hereford by granddaughter of ex-pupil Arthur Boycott, who became a distinguished pathologist

A school library book that was borrowed in the 1890s has been returned after more than 120 years – with no fine to pay.

The copy of The Microscope and its Revelations was borrowed from the library at Hereford Cathedral school (HCS) by a pupil, Arthur Boycott, who had a childhood passion for natural history, in particular conchology – the study and collection of mollusc shells.

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Top 10 podcasts to help you learn a language

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:45:01 GMT2015-02-09T12:45:01Z

From videos in Japanese to news in German, language blogger Lindsay Dow recommends her favourite podcasts to keep you motivated and inspired while improving your skills

I became a language addict way back in the early noughties thanks to Shakira. Since then I’ve gone on to pursue a degree in French and Spanish with the Open University, and I’ve also studied Mandarin, Italian, German and various other languages along the way. With formal studying never quite being enough, I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain, podcasts being one of them. Here’s a few of my favourites:

Continue reading..."I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain," says Lindsay Dow. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose"I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain," says Lindsay Dow. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose

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Forest schools: fires, trees and mud pies

Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:29:55 GMT2014-12-09T17:29:55Z

Outdoor nurseries are sweeping the UK, their focus on fresh air and child-centred learning rather than testing. But can they prepare children for our technology-obsessed world?

Golden leaves are falling, wood smoke is rising, and my daughter Milly finds a dressing-up box incongruously placed in a small paddock, puts on a silky pink top and sunhat and climbs a tree.

Below her, one boy waves a toy plastic chainsaw at another. “I’m going to chop you,” he says. “It’s a tool, not a weapon,” says his mum, making sure he is safe. Parents are shivering in the cold but no children are complaining.

Continue reading...Child-led learning … Dandelion forest school in Norfolk. Photograph: Graham Turner for the GuardianChild-led learning … Dandelion forest school in Norfolk. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

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The non-western books that every student should read

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 11:00:30 GMT2016-11-26T11:00:30Z

Leading authors pick international classics that should be on student’s bookshelves, but are often neglected by universities

I teach it to my first years and return to the book through their degree. It is the perfect introduction to complex ideas: oppressive socio-economic political structures, forms of resistance and defiance, and the point at which violence becomes justifiable. Students always find the book challenging, disturbing and thought provoking. And that is exactly what university syllabi ought to be!

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Two Blackburn faith schools top charts for GCSE progress

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:49:04 GMT2016-10-13T12:49:04Z

Tauheedul Islam girls’ and boys’ schools ranked first and second of all schools in England using government’s new measure

Two state faith schools in Blackburn topped national tables for the biggest improvement in their pupils’ performance in GCSE exams this year, with grammar schools trailing behind a string of comprehensives and faith schools.

Tauheedul Islam girls’ high school in Blackburn came top for all schools in England using the government’s new Progress 8 measure of attainment, published on Thursday for the first time.

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Progress 8 and GCSEs: will the new way to judge schools be fairer?

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 06:25:08 GMT2016-08-23T06:25:08Z

The government’s aim is to focus on pupils’ progress rather than just exam results, but schools in poorer areas still face an uphill battle

This year’s GCSE results day will be more nerve-jangling than ever for school leaders in England, who have an anxious wait to see how their school and their careers will be judged under the government’s new performance measures.

Out goes the old measure, which ranked secondary schools on the proportion of pupils gaining C grades or higher in five GCSE subjects including English and maths. It has been replaced by a new value-added metric known as Progress 8 – applauded by many as a big improvement but which has problems of its own.

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Five secrets to revising that can improve your grades

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:00:00 GMT2014-04-21T09:00:00Z

An expert on revision gives his top five tips on how to revise for exam success

Read more: students share their revision stories

How do you get the most out of your revision time, and end up with the best grades you can? Or, if you're a different sort of student, how can you get the same grades you're getting now, but spend less time revising?

Either way, you need to know how to learn better. And fortunately, decades of research carried out by psychologists about learning and memory has produced some clear advice on doing just that.

Continue reading...You need to do more than read books. Photograph: AlamyYou need to do more than read books. Photograph: Alamy

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What’s a postgrad worth to employers?

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:53:02 GMT2017-01-20T16:53:02Z

Will a postgrad course be worth all the time, effort and money? Your potential employers think so

An increasing number of students are turning to postgraduate study in an attempt to stand out to employers. Higher Education Statistics agency figures reveal that 261,600 students obtained a postgraduate qualification in 2014/15, compared to just 164,290 in 2004/05 – an increase of 59%. For undergraduate degrees, the difference is less marked: 483,405 undergraduates obtained their qualifications in 2014/15, compared with 440,775 10 years ago – representing a rise of less than 10%. So is there a story behind this discrepancy?

While there is no doubt about whether a first degree still provides value for money – a first or a 2:1 is pretty much certain to get you a foot in the door at most employers – there are some sectors where higher study is desirable, even essential.

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Online courses: your passport to a new career

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:52:53 GMT2017-01-20T16:52:53Z

Whether you’re delving into your niche subject or branching out, online courses have it covered. Plus their flexibility is second to none

Online study is booming and technical innovation in the field has allowed universities to offer more unusual and specialist courses than ever before.

So, if you fancy delving into the mysterious world of art crime, becoming a skilled food technologist, or even becoming a space scientist, you can – without even leaving the house.

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Digital arts take centre stage

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:51:57 GMT2017-01-20T16:51:57Z

Creative digital artists are in demand for everything from Shakespeare plays to VR apps – and universities are keen to provide them

In the 17th century, audiences of Shakespeare’s The Tempest were thrilled by the sound of cannon balls rolled on wood to suggest thunder. Four centuries on, in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest production of the play, actors control on-stage digital avatars via cutting-edge motion sensors.

It’s a measure of how widespread the deployment of digital arts skills has become. To feed the demand, universities are increasingly catering for the technological aspects of the creative industries with a range of master’s programmes covering film, animation, product design, marketing and more.

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Dickens degrees: a tale of two cities

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:51:45 GMT2017-01-20T16:51:45Z

How will two new specialist MAs – in Canterbury and Buckingham – approach the novelist’s oeuvre?

If you are fascinated by the work of Charles Dickens – and how an unknown reporter became the most famous novelist in the world – why not spend a year taking a master’s in the subject?

At the University of Kent, which has been running an MA in Dickens and Victorian culture for the past 20 years, you will study the miserable conditions faced by the English working classes in Victorian times. Through the novels Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit and A Christmas Carol, students explore the ways in which Dickens and other writers exposed inequality and pointed the way to reform.

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