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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: Sun, 21 Jan 2018 07:22:57 GMT2018-01-21T07:22:57Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

More than 17,000 UK students face university rent arrears

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:06:00 GMT2018-01-21T00:06:00Z

Figures show 16% rise in those facing housing debt and a doubling of evictions

More than 17,000 students living in university halls of residence fell behind with their rent payments in the last year, according to figures that suggest thousands more face financial hardship during their courses.

There has been a significant 16% rise in the numbers facing rental arrears in university accommodation, new statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. A small but rising number of students are also being evicted from halls or having their tenancies cancelled after falling behind with payments.

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May I have a word... about nouns posing as verbs? | Jonathan Bouquet

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:05:06 GMT2018-01-21T00:05:06Z

A regular look at the pleasures – and pains – of the English language

This country has long, and rightly, welcomed immigrants. And not just people. Our language has been enriched in diverse ways by incomers. We would be a poorer place without a leavening of French, Spanish and Italian interlopers. Where would the erudite book review be without “bildungsroman”? And look how useful the word “zeitgeist” has become. I am sure that there are also some useful American imports, although, offhand, they are eluding me at the moment. They all point to our language being ever fluid, ever changing and, for the most part, enhanced. Yet there are some constructions that still grate.

I hope that in the canon of linguistic crimes you will agree that using nouns as verbs is high on that list. Both “reference” and “impact” recur with nauseating regularity. Only yesterday, I heard a business reporter on TV use “headquarter” as a verb. Then there are the execrable coinages such as “surveill”, “euthanise” and “taxidermied”. What on earth is wrong with “monitor”, “put down” or “stuffed”?

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Observer picture archive: 24 January 1965

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:05:06 GMT2018-01-21T00:05:06Z

Jane Bown photographed life in British prep schools for a feature in the colour supplement at a time when state schools were denting pupil numbers

On the whole, the prep schools of England act cheerfully but sleep uneasily. All except the best and strongest of them feel vulnerable. They suspect that politicians see them as the soft underbelly of the private system. As fees edge up, impecunious parents go over to the State. Small classes are still a strong attraction, but State primary schools don’t carry quite the old stigma in the suburbs.

Cruellest of all, the prep schools fear that the public schools – the only reason for their existence – would, if pressed politically, abandon them, and settle for State-educated children.

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The joys and benefits of bilingualism | Tobias Jones

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:04:06 GMT2018-01-21T00:04:06Z

More than half the world’s population is now bilingual. Now thought to encourage flexibility of mind and empathy, bilingualism is also transforming societies

Everyone knows that it’s moving and melancholic to watch your children change over the years. But to hear them alter their language, over the course of a few weeks and months, is almost surreal. It’s as if the precious beings you thought you knew are completely different and the experience is both intriguing and unsettling. 

Our children were 12, 10 and seven when we moved from Somerset to their mother’s country, Italy, last summer. Until then, they had always lived in England and their English was what you would expect: the odd spelling mistake, but otherwise fluent and full of pre-teen playground slang. 

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No reds under beds, but the young are awake to the flaws in capitalism

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:03:05 GMT2018-01-21T00:03:05Z

The crash of 2008, not Stalinists in our universities, caused the sense of alienation among students

Are student Red Guards about to storm the quads of Oxbridge colleges? Do young people think that famines and purges and mass executions are good? Apparently so.

A ComRes poll last week showed that young people worry more about capitalism than communism: 9% of 18- to 24-year-olds thought communists were “the most dangerous in the world today” while 24% thought it was “big business”.

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Use of sand vests to calm children with ADHD sparks concern

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 07:00:45 GMT2018-01-20T07:00:45Z

Experts divided over heavy weights adopted by 200 schools in Germany to curb students’ restlessness

German schools are increasingly asking unruly and hyperactive children to wear heavy sand-filled vests in an effort to calm them and keep them on their seats, despite the misgivings of some parents and psychiatrists.

The controversial sand vests weigh between 1.2 and six kilograms (2.7 – 13Ib) and are being used by 200 schools across Germany.

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Secret Teacher: the UK has a complex racial history. Why aren’t we teaching it?​

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 07:00:45 GMT2018-01-20T07:00:45Z

A controversial advert sparked debate about race among my students. But the curriculum must do more to give these issues context

Growing up as a person of colour, racism was an ever-present discussion in my circles. When you’re a minority it is, sadly, a part of life.

Race issues are increasingly being discussed more widely, thanks in part to social media and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. But the UK education system does not prepare children to have these conversations.

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East London primary school backs down over hijab ban

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 19:49:29 GMT2018-01-19T19:49:29Z

Chair of governors at St Stephen’s primary school in Newham resigns following complaints from parents

A primary school that controversially banned pupils from wearing hijabs appears to have backed down after the chair of governors announced his resignation following complaints from parents.

St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines at the weekend after the Sunday Times reported it had banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious conformity on children.

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MPs call for overhaul in oversight of England's academy school chains

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:54:04 GMT2018-01-17T18:54:04Z

Extent to which failing trusts are ‘stripping assets from their schools’ is of particular concern

Parents are being “left in the dark” over who really runs schools in England, according to parliament’s education committee. It has called for the government to overhaul the oversight of academy chains after a string of high-profile failures.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, signalled to the the new education secretary, Damian Hinds, that the system of regulation had created overlaps and confusion, allowing some multi-academy trusts (Mats) to escape oversight.

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Brexit uncertainty prompts employers to cut graduate jobs

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:01:38 GMT2018-01-17T00:01:38Z

Number of new graduate jobs falls for first time since financial crisis as leading recruiters downgrade hiring plans

Uncertainty over Brexit has caused many of the UK’s most prestigious employers to significantly cut their recruitment of graduates, resulting in a fall in the number of new graduate jobs for the first time since the global financial crisis.

A survey of the UK’s leading 100 graduate recruiters – including Goldman Sachs, Unilever and BP – found many had downgraded their hiring plans after the Brexit referendum vote, with private sector organisations recruiting 10% fewer graduates by the end of 2017.

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Bath University panel says vice-chancellor must leave post now

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 23:00:09 GMT2018-01-16T23:00:09Z

Glynis Breakwell had been due to take a sabbatical and give up her job in February 2019

The body that scrutinises the running of University of Bath has passed a motion calling for the immediate departure of its vice-chancellor following a row about her pay.

Dame Glynis Breakwell, whose pay package of £468,000 sparked a national debate around vice-chancellors’ pay and how universities are run, agreed to step down in November.

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UK training body took out superinjunction to block critical report

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 10:22:15 GMT2018-01-16T10:22:15Z

Learndirect got special treatment to suppress damning assessment of its training, says Ofsted chief

Britain’s biggest training provider successfully applied for a superinjunction that stopped official inspectors from passing on a critical report to the government, it has emerged.

It allowed Learndirect, which is mostly funded by the Department for Education, to suppress a damning assessment of its training for four months, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, told the House of Commons public accounts committee.

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Ofsted's call for more teaching in reception year prompts backlash

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:30:18 GMT2018-01-16T07:30:18Z

Robert Winston among signatories of letter warning against moves to increase formal maths and literacy teaching

The TV scientist and IVF pioneer Robert Winston has warned against moves to increase formal mathematics and literacy teaching of four- and five-year-olds, arguing that children will have less opportunity for play which is vital for their development.

Lord Winston is one of 1,700 signatories to a letter published in the Guardian on Tuesday that expresses concern about a report published by the schools watchdog Ofsted on the reception-year curriculum.

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The secret to getting in to a top university? Piano and ballet lessons | Anonymous academic

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 07:30:17 GMT2018-01-19T07:30:17Z

Giving students university admissions points for skills such as dance and music as well as A-level grades restricts choice and hinders social mobility

The university application season has just drawn to a close. I’ve met thousands of potential students at university open days, as they arrive bright-eyed at the prospect of their new lives on campus. It’s always an exciting, hopeful period. But once it’s over, I’m left wondering whether I should tell them about what really happens behind the scenes after A-level results are announced.

I work at a leading university. Like many others, we pay close attention to university league tables. Although these tables are designed to help students choose what university is best for them, in reality some of them restrict student choice and hold back widening participation. The problem lies in the metrics, notably entry tariff scores, which reflect more than students’ A-level results. This score is the decisive factor in who gets in and who gets turned down.

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Why do black students quit university more often than their white peers?

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:56:21 GMT2018-01-17T10:56:21Z

Black students are 1.5 times more likely to drop out than their white and Asian counterparts. Understanding why is vital

Kaya is one of a worrying number of black higher-education students who have failed to make it to graduation day. A recent study found that 10.3% of black students quit university early in England, compared with 6.9% for the student population as a whole.

“I had so many racially-tinted, miserable experiences at my university,” says Kaya, who has asked the Guardian not to use her real name. “My male housemate used to say the ‘n-word’ in front of me, bragged about the fact he’d once racially abused a man in a club, and was so aggressive when I asked him to stop. Yet when I told my university counsellor, she said I couldn’t know for sure if my housemate was actually racist ... that I needed to live and let live.”

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Late to law: studying another degree first is a sensible option

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:35:15 GMT2018-01-16T11:35:15Z

An in-depth knowledge of an arts or science subject is an advantage to young lawyers, experts advise

Studying law. That’s like medicine, isn’t it – you need to decide early that you want to be a lawyer and make sure you do the right subjects at school?

Actually, not quite. Law firms don’t ask that you study law as your first degree, and they don’t mind what A-levels you do. Their only requirement is high grades. Laura Yeates, head of graduate talent at the prestigious law firm Clifford Chance, says the split between their solicitors who do a law degree and those who study something else is about 50:50.

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What do students want from the Office for Students?

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:45:17 GMT2018-01-16T06:45:17Z

The regulator – brought into the spotlight by Toby Young – has only one student on its board. We asked those it seeks to represent what the priorities should be

It has been a rocky start for the Office for Students, the government’s new regulator for the higher education sector in England, launched to champion the interests of students. It has already faced criticism for having only one student on the board and has lost Toby Young, who resigned as a board member after an outcry over tweets that suggested more interest in regulating women’s cup sizes than university teaching quality. So what would students like to see from the body that seeks to represent them?

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Proposed tests for reception children ‘verging on the immoral’

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:30:18 GMT2018-01-16T07:30:18Z

Teachers are rebelling and companies refusing to tender for a planned assessment of infants in England that many say will crowd out play

It’s a chill, sunny winter’s day with seagulls soaring on a stiff breeze, and small children wrapped up against the cold are serving from a kitchen in the outside play area at Friars primary school and nursery at Shoeburyness on the Essex coast. On the menu are soup, jacket potatoes, jelly and juice – all made of mud.

As a teacher observes and questions, these happy four- and five-year-olds are learning through play the foundations of literacy, numeracy and writing: phonics as they sound out the letters on their menu, fine motor skills as they shape mud and numbers as they count the things needed for their “cooking”.

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Fancy earning £332,000 a year? Try being a top university vice-chancellor

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 07:00:49 GMT2018-01-15T07:00:49Z

The average salary for bosses at the 24 Russell Group universities has been revealed – but not everyone thinks they’re worth the cash

Name: £332,000

Also known as: A Sue Barker, an Eddie Mair or a Lauren Laverne.

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What makes a good postgrad open day?

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:57:20 GMT2018-01-12T16:57:20Z

Attending an open day, on campus or online, is the best way to ensure the university is the best fit for you

Open days have long been the traditional way for undergraduates to decide where and what they want to study. Now, more universities are offering open days to prospective postgrads, too. So, how do you get the best out of them?

A good open day will take into account the different needs of postgraduate students. “The most crucial element,” says James Hadfield, postgraduate marketing officer at Nottingham Trent University, “is detailed course content. Prospective students will have a desire to understand how the course is going to enhance their existing knowledge and, therefore, their career.

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Our world is changing. It's time for historians to explain why | Cormac Shine

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:30:08 GMT2018-01-18T07:30:08Z

Historians need to ditch their aversion to public discourse. By looking to the past, they can teach us about our future

• Cormac Shine is a societal researcher at UBS thinktank and historian. He writes in a personal capacity

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a surge in civic engagement after decades of apathy. Just as established media outlets have a renewed sense of purpose, in academia, too, social scientists find themselves publicly confronting the social dynamics and technological disruptions that have led to our changing politics and society.

But historians are almost entirely absent from this conversation, barring the efforts of Yuval Noah Harari and a few others. In their manifesto for historians, Jo Guldi and David Armitage lament that experts in the field are reluctant to engage with contemporary debates on an ambitious scale, with many favouring narrow specialisation, and arcane disputes far removed from the concerns of society in the present and future.

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All the facts you need to answer tricky questions about higher education

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 07:30:47 GMT2018-01-17T07:30:47Z

Education journalist Fran Abrams tackles 10 of the most challenging questions about universities by looking at the latest research

The last year in higher education has seen misconceptions abound in the media. Here’s everything you need to know to set the record straight, based on new research findings you may have missed.

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Trolling on social media is never a good look – that applies to academics too

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 07:30:23 GMT2018-01-12T07:30:23Z

Academia should be collaborative, not competitive. So why do I feel like some junior colleagues are rushing to tear each other’s work apart online?

I had always imagined academia to be a collegial environment. I pictured teams of researchers putting heads together to solve real-world problems, collaborating on new discoveries. After completing my PhD, I realised it was more about academics competing against each other for grants and jobs. Even then, I thought optimistically that our shared experiences of unsuccessful applications might bond us together. But a recent experience online has confirmed for me that, actually, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Earlier this year, I published a book based on my research but aimed at the general reader to supplement my income from academic work. A few months after publication, I was idly scrolling through the Facebook page for an academic group I’m a member of, and caught sight of my name on a new post. It was from a young academic researcher, publicly proclaiming that my book was “useless”. Another researcher responded, and what started as an attack based on my book’s lack of endnotes – which they viewed as unacademic – descended into a personal attack on me.

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Universities – take back control of your vice-chancellors' spiralling salaries | Mike Ratcliffe

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:44:09 GMT2018-01-11T14:44:09Z

A new code aims to move the media spotlight away from vice-chancellor pay by increasing transparency. But to work, the overhaul must be radical

  • Mike Ratcliffe is an academic administrator at the University of Oxford

High vice-chancellor pay has captured the public imagination this year. This isn’t a new issue: there’s been an escalator effect for years, linking senior pay to rising tuition fees, while pay for the rest of staff remains static. Suddenly, subject to public scrutiny, universities have been forced to take action with a new voluntary code asking them to justify senior pay over 8.5 times the institution’s average salary. But first, remuneration committees will have to take a long, hard look at themselves and tackle the processes that have led to swelling salaries.

How did we get to this point? As the executive head of the university, vice-chancellors are answerable to their governors, who are normally a mix of internal and external members. A subset of those governors form a remuneration committee and this is where the problems with pay-setting start.

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New universities minister Sam Gyimah has a battle on his hands | David Morris

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:59:51 GMT2018-01-10T08:59:51Z

Jo Johnson has swept off the stage leaving behind him a jittery sector, battered by radical policy changes and media hostility

Universities minister used to be an easy job, by ministerial standards. Unlike schools, prisons, local government or the health service, the office rarely held much direct power over its sector. The funding councils, combined with a tradition of self-regulation, formed a barrier between ministerial demands and institutional activity.

The job was often given to an up-and-coming backbencher hoping to move on to greater things, though sometimes it was farmed out to a wonkish, technocratic sort; the sort of minister reluctant to appear on newspaper front pages but happy to manage civil servants and behave soberly at the ceremonial openings of new laboratories or lecture theatres.

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University Awards 2018: terms and conditions

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 10:30:24 GMT2018-01-09T10:30:24Z

Read the T&Cs here before sending in your entry

1. The Guardian University Awards (the “Awards”) recognise excellence in the UK’s best universities and is open to all recognised higher education institutes and university professionals in the UK. The Awards are not open to employees or agencies of Guardian News and Media Limited (“GNM”), GNM group companies or their family members, or anyone else connected with the creation or administration of the Awards. All entrants must have a registered office in the UK or have a place of business in the UK.

2. Entrants to the Awards shall be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions. For more information about the awards, please see here including the Awards FAQ page.

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University Awards 2018: FAQs

Tue, 09 Jan 2018 10:30:19 GMT2018-01-09T10:30:19Z

Find out all you need to know about entering and how the judging process is run

Who can enter?
Any representative of higher education institutions (those with degree awarding powers) in the United Kingdom.

How much does it cost to enter?
It costs £250 for one entry and £150 for every entry after that. If you enter before 31 January you can save £50 on your first entry, the early bird rate is: £200 for one entry. There are also a number of offers for higher entry numbers, please see the Guardian University Awards entry page for more detail.

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Bullying is still rife in schools. Here's how teachers can tackle it

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 12:01:00 GMT2018-01-17T12:01:00Z

The most effective interventions for bullying involve the pupils themselves – and build empathy between those affected

Many people will know what it feels like to be bullied. Despite a wealth of research and well-meaning interventions at a local level, bullying is still a common problem in UK schools (pdf) – and associated with depression, anxiety and even suicide.

Related: Why onlookers hold the key to standing up to bullies

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Secret Teacher: why can't my school just trust us to do our job?

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 07:00:51 GMT2018-01-13T07:00:51Z

Strict directives and endless inspections add strain to an already stressful role and rob us of any autonomy. This must stop

When I started my career in teaching, I was encouraged to be creative and experiment. I loved that freedom and I think it helped to make me a good teacher. I got used to reading around my subject and trying out different ideas. I made some mistakes, but I was always thinking, always learning, always trying to do better with my students. I got good results. I enjoyed my work.

My school has a head teacher, two deputy heads and 12 assistant heads ... there are just too many chiefs

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Quiz: test your knowledge on the species at risk of extinction

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 07:00:41 GMT2018-01-10T07:00:41Z

Factors such as climate change, rising human populations and unsustainable farming and fishing practices are threatening the planet. But what’s at stake?

Thousands of animal species are at risk of extinction, according to the latest red list from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Researchers found that species are becoming extinct at a faster rate than at any time in human history due to factors such as rising human populations, unsustainable farming and fishing practices, and climate change. The new list also includes two of the world’s most important food crops – rice and wheat – which threatens food security.

But how much do you know about what’s happening? Take our endangered species quiz for teachers, students and anyone wanting to educate themselves on what’s at stake.

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Secret Teacher: subjects like art are being sidelined – but they matter

Sat, 06 Jan 2018 07:00:06 GMT2018-01-06T07:00:06Z

In trying to improve outcomes in a limited range of subjects, we may struggle to realise the potential of those whose strengths lie elsewhere

It’s Monday afternoon and I’m teaching a class of 10- and 11-year-olds French. Last week they wrote a set of descriptive sentences about animals and today they’re going to turn their descriptions into picture books.

“Once you’ve finished with your sentences, you’re going to illustrate them to reflect what you’ve written,” I tell the class.

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'I feel completely in control': stress-busting teaching strategies for 2018

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 14:13:07 GMT2018-01-05T14:13:07Z

We asked teachers for the tried and tested tricks that have dramatically improved their time at school and at home

For many teachers, the start of a new year and new term is the ideal time to pause and reflect. What’s working well with your class? What should you abandon in favour of another approach? What do you want to achieve this year? We asked readers for the tips that have made them happier and more effective at school in 2017, and were inundated with responses. Here are a few of our favourites.

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Research every teacher should know: growth mindset

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 07:30:08 GMT2018-01-04T07:30:08Z

In his series of articles on how psychology research can inform teaching, Bradley Busch picks an academic study and makes sense of it for the classroom. This time: an influential research project on growth mindset

There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students, but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access or translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers, as we all seek to answer the question: how can we help our students do better at school? This time, we consider growth mindset.

Growth mindset – the idea that intelligence can be developed rather than it being set in stone – is arguably the most popular psychological theory in education at the moment. It was launched into mainstream consciousness after a seminal growth mindset study almost 20 years ago and has since spawned many assemblies and form tutor-time activities. But what were the findings of this influential study?

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Our top 10 Secret Teacher blogs of 2017

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 07:00:06 GMT2017-12-30T07:00:06Z

After another year of uncovering the reality of school life – and stimulating some lively debate – we pick some of our favourite Secret Teacher blogs

As another year of Secret Teacher blogs draws to a close, we celebrate some of our favourites from 2017. From behind-the-scenes thoughts on some of the really big issues in teaching to surprising and emotive stories, there’s been plenty to spark discussion and debate.

We’d love to hear your personal favourites, too. Let us know in the comments, via Twitter (@GuardianTeach) or on Facebook which ones struck a chord with you. And if you’d like to be a Secret Teacher in the new year, get in touch.

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Secret Teacher: doctors said MS would end my career – they were wrong

Sat, 23 Dec 2017 07:00:15 GMT2017-12-23T07:00:15Z

I was in my first year of teaching when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I knew life would never be the same, but desperately wanted to keep working

It was New Year’s Day when I woke with pins and needles in my hand. I didn’t think much of it at first, but two days later my hand had seized up and I couldn’t even hold a pen. The day after that, I was struggling to walk in a straight line. I saw the GP and was admitted to hospital for a series of tests. By this time, I couldn’t even feed or dress myself.

The consultant neurologist was blunt in his delivery of my diagnosis. “There are lesions on your brain,” he said. “It’s clearly multiple sclerosis (MS). You should follow a different career – you won’t be able to be a teacher.”

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Complex engineering and metal-work discovered beneath ancient Greek 'pyramid'

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 09:21:06 GMT2018-01-18T09:21:06Z

Latest find on Cyclades’ Keros includes evidence of metal-working and suggests the beginnings of an urban centre, say archaeologists

More than 4,000 years ago builders carved out the entire surface of a naturally pyramid-shaped promontory on the Greek island of Keros. They shaped it into terraces covered with 1,000 tonnes of specially imported gleaming white stone to give it the appearance of a giant stepped pyramid rising from the Aegean: the most imposing manmade structure in all the Cyclades archipelago.

But beneath the surface of the terraces lay undiscovered feats of engineering and craftsmanship to rival the structure’s impressive exterior. Archaeologists from three different countries involved in an ongoing excavation have found evidence of a complex of drainage tunnels – constructed 1,000 years before the famous indoor plumbing of the Minoan palace of Knossos on Crete – and traces of sophisticated metalworking.

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Delhi to put CCTV in classrooms for parents to monitor children

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:18:29 GMT2018-01-18T08:18:29Z

Move follows crimes including murder of boy aged seven and alleged rape of five-year-old girl

The city government in Delhi has announced it will install CCTV cameras in every classroom in the capital and give parents access to the feed through a mobile phone app.

The plan comes after several high-profile crimes at schools in and around the city, including the alleged rape of a five-year-old girl by a member of staff in September and the murder of a seven-year-old boy at a private school in Gurgaon during the same month.

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Let’s say Auf Wiedersehen to England’s embarrassing tuition fees

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 07:00:20 GMT2017-12-19T07:00:20Z

Just look at Germany: no university tuition fees, no fat-cat pay scandals. The UK system is indefensible

As pay scandals continue to embarrass British higher education, with university chiefs receiving eye-watering salaries and golden handshakes, it’s time to ask: why can’t we be more like Germany?

A scandal erupted there a few years ago when the vice-chancellor of Cologne University increased his salary from €78,876 (£69,403) a year in 2006 to €133,781 in 2012. In 2014 a table revealing this was leaked, prompting outrage. Since then top salaries in German universities have been held in check. Germany is far from perfect, but we can only wish we had its problems.

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Ofsted, faith schools and ‘British values’ | Letters

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:36:57 GMT2017-12-14T19:36:57Z

Readers respond to Catherine Pepinster’s article about Ofsted’s criticism of faith schools

Does Catherine Pepinster really see no difference between teaching ethical debate for GCSE and teaching children that abortion is wrong (Ofsted is wrong to criticise faith schools, 14 December)? “Fundamental British values” may be hard to define: such is the nature of values. We may criticise the law of the land, and particular laws, and criticise the national curriculum or particular exams. In doing so we help to realise and hope to establish what is valuable. Even if the influential Ms Pepinster believes there is no difference between her two examples of teaching ethics, this is not an argument against faith schools. It does though suggest the schools find friends in the media who think more clearly about these important matters.
Janet Dubé
Peebles, Tweeddale

• Catherine Pepinster appeals to “freedom to choose”, yet she ignores precisely that value in asserting the “wrongness of abortion” halfway through the same article. That’s what people really object to about faith schools: the hypocrisy, the bias, the meddlesome mixing of religious doctrine (not faith, which is universal) with what should be open-ended education for its own sake.
(Fr) Alec Mitchell

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Outrage over each new education policy does nothing but harm | Richard Russell

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:30:13 GMT2018-01-18T11:30:13Z

The polarised response to the latest Ofsted report is wearing. Teachers and academics should be able to sensibly discuss new ideas, not jump to tribal conclusions

As I sat marking maths books with the radio on in the background – I caught the end of a news report saying that more 1,850 academics, educators, opposition politicians and most notably Robert Winston had asked for a new report on how to educate our children to be withdrawn. My first reaction was to immediately agree with them – they are after all on “my team”.

But I read the actual open letter and realised they were referring to an Ofsted report called Bold Beginnings, I realised an all too familiar situation had arisen. While I am inclined to agree with Winston, and many of the others who signed the letter, on most things – the man was after all the sum total of much of the sexual education I received when at school – I just could not and still can’t see what has caused all this fuss.

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Creativity can be taught to anyone. So why are we leaving it to private schools? | Rufus Norris

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:00:46 GMT2018-01-17T06:00:46Z

The UK’s creative industries are world leading. Excluding state-educated people from the arts will throw that excellence away

The myth goes that the true artist is born, mysteriously fully formed in their own exceptional talent. A second myth holds that creativity thrives in adversity; a third that creative sorts are somehow morally wayward, something to be tolerated as long as the results are diverting, but not a model for citizenship. These three combine gloriously in the icon of a lascivious and poverty-stricken Mozart, writing sonatas while still in the womb.

Related: Creative industries are key to UK economy

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Theresa May is preparing for another election with the same old education policies I Laura McInerney

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:50:17 GMT2018-01-16T06:50:17Z

Damian Hinds’ appointment shows the prime minister has not given up on more grammar schools despite lack of enthusiasm by experts or voters

The new education secretary, Damian Hinds, is an unknown quantity for most teachers and parents, but we do know he is a grammar-educated former strategy consultant who would like to see an “elite” selective school in every town and reportedly said that only “mums” can really make a difference to children’s learning in the early years.

The controversial removal of the comprehensive-educated Justine Greening and her replacement by Hinds makes sense only if you believe, as I do, that the prime minister is preparing for another election based on the same key commitments as last time. Yes, even though they didn’t go down hugely well with the electorate.

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The Guardian view on contemporary art in schools: a joyful idea reborn | Editorial

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 13:42:06 GMT2018-01-14T13:42:06Z

In the 1940s, School Prints were a visionary notion to bring affordable, adventurous artworks into classrooms. Reinvented for the 21st century, they still are today

In 1946, a letter was sent out to a number of British artists. It began: “We are producing a series of auto-lithographs … for use in schools, as a means of giving school children an understanding of contemporary art. By keeping the price as low as possible, we are able to bring this scheme … within reach of all Education Authorities.” This was the beginning of a project called School Prints. The idea had been that of a dashing Etonian (and European federalist) called Derek Rawnsley, who died in 1943 while in the RAF. It was carried through by his young widow, Brenda – an equally dashing figure who, fluent in Arabic and French, had served during the war as an intelligence officer in Algiers, Cairo and Palestine, and undertook missions such as a clandestine visit to a bombmaking factory in Germany.

Not knowing a great deal about art, she co-opted someone who did: the critic Herbert Read. Between them they persuaded artists including John Nash, Tom Gentleman and Barbara Jones to contribute to the project. Schools enthusiastically embraced their gentle, playful images, which included a harvest scene, dray horses and a fairground. In 1947, having already persuaded Henry Moore to make an abstract work for her, she broadened the series to French artists and – by dint of hiring an aircraft and employing her considerable charm – convinced Dufy, Picasso, Léger, Matisse and Braque to take part. Though less popular with postwar British schoolteachers, the French set is the one that has best stood the test of time.

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How to improve the school results: not extra maths but music, loads of it

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 06:00:19 GMT2017-10-03T06:00:19Z

A Bradford primary school wants the world to know its newfound Sats success is down to giving all children up to six hours of music a week

Abiha Nasir, aged nine, walks quietly into the small classroom, takes a seat, adjusts her hijab and picks up the drumsticks. A shy smile spreads across her face as she begins to play.

She was just five when she turned up at Feversham primary academy’s after-school clubs, leaving teachers astounded by her musical ability and how her confidence grew with an instrument in hand. Last year, Abiha successfully auditioned for Bradford’s gifted and talented music programme for primary school children, the first Muslim girl to do so. The assessor recorded only one word in her notes: “Wow!”

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Beware of historical mythconceptions | Letters

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:53:30 GMT2018-01-19T16:53:30Z

Columbus did not ‘discover’ the Americas, but nor did the Vikings, the Welsh, or even St Brendan, says Dr Patrick O’Sullivan. Plus Clive Goodhead argues that Yorkshireman Sir George Cayley is the first true ‘father of aviation’

If Rebecca Rideal is to put the rest of us right (Ten historical facts everyone gets wrong, G2, 18 January), she had better get her own information correct. Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, but nor did the Vikings, the Welsh, or even St Brendan. Archaeologists continue to make finds that date human occupation of those continents in millennia rather than centuries, so the answer to the question “Who first discovered the Americas?” should be “Whoever the ancestors of the Lakota, the Apache, the Cherokee, the Maya, the Inca, the Aztecs, etc … happened to have been.” Any other answer writes over 10,000 years of human occupation out of history, and smacks of the unthinking racism all too familiar to me from my 1950s childhood.

Incidentally, it is not “carbon-dating” that suggests the Vikings occupied 11th-century Newfoundland so much as “radiocarbon dating”. Without its radioactive isotope, carbon by itself cannot presently date anything. The term was coined by Willard Libby, who invented the technique back in the 1940s, and won a Nobel prize. So if “radiocarbon dating” was good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for Ms Rideal.
Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
Trewidland, Cornwall

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10 things teachers want to say to parents, but can't

Tue, 10 Jun 2014 06:20:00 GMT2014-06-10T06:20:00Z

The long school year is coming to an end and one primary teacher has a few things to share

• 10 things parents want to say to teachers

1 Your kids are not your mates

Something I'm starting to hear with worrying frequency within the primary school setting is "my daughter's my best friend". Often, this rings alarm bells. Your kids aren't your mates. You're their parent, and your responsibility is to provide them with guidance and boundaries, not to drag them into your own disputes. Your nine-year-old doesn't need to know about your bitter feud with his friend's mother, or which dad you've got the  hots for at the school gate. In the years to come he or she may realise that some of  their own problems (social alienation, in its various forms, being a prime example) might have something to do with exposure to that sort of talk at an early age. Continue at your own risk.

Continue reading...Clockwise, from top left: let them get their own breakfast, John Terry's not such a good role model, be careful with video game age ratings and PE is compulsory.Clockwise, from top left: let them get their own breakfast, John Terry's not such a good role model, be careful with video game age ratings and PE is compulsory.

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What's the point of school uniform?

Thu, 03 Oct 2013 08:50:00 GMT2013-10-03T08:50:00Z

You might hate your school uniform, but I think it's there for good reason, says 15-year-old Chloe Spencer

A shirt, tie and blazer may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of school uniform. Wearing a uniform is a badge of pride, creates an identity for a school and is an important part of being a school student.

“Uniforms show that you are part of an organisation. Wearing it says we’re all in this together,” Jason Wing, head teacher at the Neale-Wade academy in Cambridgeshire, says.

Continue reading...Why wear a school uniform? Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the GuardianWhy wear a school uniform? Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

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Should mobile phones be banned in schools?

Tue, 27 Nov 2012 20:00:00 GMT2012-11-27T20:00:00Z

A headteacher says pupil behaviour is better and bullying is down since he barred mobiles in his school. So should others follow suit? Teachers argue for and against

"You'll have someone's eye out with that" used to be the refrain of teachers in my day. In malevolent hands, a pencil, a rubber, even a piece of paper could become a lethal weapon in class, and that's before we got on to compasses and Bunsen burners.

Continue reading...‘Pupils come to school without a coat or without having had any breakfast, but they always have a phone,’ says one teacher. Photograph: Alamy‘Pupils come to school without a coat or without having had any breakfast, but they always have a phone,’ says one teacher. Photograph: Alamy

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Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on reception class curriculum is flawed | Letters

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 07:30:18 GMT2018-01-16T07:30:18Z

Educationists and politicians say introducing overly formal teaching practices is a potential disaster for children’s learning

We are deeply concerned about Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report. The report infers that reception classes should be taught like year 1. This would mean narrowing the curriculum to focus more heavily on literacy and mathematics, overly formal teaching and less opportunity for play. It asserts that “successful” schools already teach in this way. However, the report is based on visits to less than 0.25% of schools. It appears that Ofsted only visited schools where teaching was congruent with the recommendations the report would later make.

Thousands of reception children make excellent progress following a broad and balanced curriculum where play is the central feature. Here, children engage in purposeful activities, both adult-guided and child-led, with teachers who are highly skilled in moving learning forward. The basic architecture of a child’s brain is forming during reception year. Introducing overly formal, unsuitable teaching practices is a potential disaster for children’s learning.

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Dear Sir, I'm sorry: letters of apology to former teachers

Tue, 23 Oct 2012 19:00:00 GMT2012-10-23T19:00:00Z

Education secretary Michael Gove has written a letter to an old teacher, expressing regret for his behaviour at school. We asked some writers who they would apologise to and why

Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, Connecticut

Continue reading...Education secretary, Michael Gove has apologised to a former teacher. What would you say? Photograph: Gideon MendelEducation secretary, Michael Gove has apologised to a former teacher. What would you say? Photograph: Gideon Mendel

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Students: 10 ways to beat stress

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 16:20:00 GMT2013-11-06T16:20:00Z

If you're feeling stressed you're not alone. Here a student blogger shares her tips for reducing stress

Read more: my child is unhappy at university, what should I do?

Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.

Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Continue reading...smiley face balloons in blue sky Photograph: Alamysmiley face balloons in blue sky Photograph: Alamy

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Get a job or get out: the tough reality for international students

Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:21:16 GMT2015-07-02T09:21:16Z

Visa controls make life difficult for international students who want to stay in the UK after graduation

International students account for almost a fifth (18%) of those in higher education, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). However, unlike their British and EU-national peers, non-EU students have only four months after the end of their course to find a job, or they face deportation.

Most non-EU graduates go home after their studies, but of those who want to work in the UK, many apply for a Tier 2 visa. To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa:

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Should you study something you love or a degree that will get you a job?

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:40:00 GMT2014-08-27T09:40:00Z

Two students debate whether you should follow your head or your heart when it comes to picking your degree

• Visit our Students and employability hub

Choosing what to study at university is one of the biggest decisions you'll make as a young person. So how do you decide what's right for you? Should you follow your heart and study something you're really passionate about, regardless of where it might lead you, or should you instead opt for a degree with a more secure career route? Here two students argue both sides of the debate.

Continue reading...What's the best route when picking your degree? Photograph: AlamyWhat's the best route when picking your degree? Photograph: Alamy

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Parents: not happy about something at school? Here’s how to complain

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 07:30:02 GMT2015-02-24T07:30:02Z

Your daughter’s homework isn’t being marked. Your son’s been put in detention for no real reason. What’s the best course of action? A teacher writes …

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain to people on whom you’re relying – unless there’s no way they can wipe your steak on their bum or drop a bogey in your soup.

As with restaurants, so with schools. The difference with schools is that you’re likely to be stuck with them for a lot longer than one meal. So think carefully before putting on your Mr Angry face and marching into the school for a spot of ranting.

Continue reading...Don’t lose sight of your objective. You’re trying to get something to change. That requires a little more reason and a little less shouting. Photograph: DNY59/Getty ImagesDon’t lose sight of your objective. You’re trying to get something to change. That requires a little more reason and a little less shouting. Photograph: DNY59/Getty Images

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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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How to write better essays: 'nobody does introductions properly'

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 12:45:32 GMT2017-03-07T12:45:32Z

Is Wikipedia really a no-go? Should you bother with the whole reading list? And how do you make a convincing argument? We ask the experts

As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.

Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.

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University guide 2018: league table for law

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:00:07 GMT2017-05-16T06:00:07Z

The study of criminal legal systems – includes criminology and jurisprudence

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Focus: ecstasy after-effects that could last a lifetime

Sun, 20 Jan 2002 10:54:57 GMT2002-01-20T10:54:57Z

Britain's half-million pill-poppers could face after-effects that last a lifetime. Anthony Browne reports

Staring intently in the dim light, the music rocking his body, James snapped the little white tablet in two. Pressed against the wall, his back sheltering them from the dancing crowds, he took half for himself and gave half to his girlfriend. They swallowed, and the weekend's clubbing started.

'It makes you feel so positive about everyone and everything. You feel so open - you can talk to strangers like they are your closest friends. You feel so sensual, so tactile. I want to touch people's skin, stroke their clothes. And I want to dance, dance, dance,' gushed James. 'It's the best, the most positive experience in my life. It's life-enhancing.'

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