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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: Fri, 28 Apr 2017 06:26:13 GMT2017-04-28T06:26:13Z

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

'Schools are in jeopardy': teachers renew funding plea in run-up to polls

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 23:01:31 GMT2017-04-27T23:01:31Z

Headteachers say budgets must be top of election agenda amid fears that cash woes could destabilise entire education system

Headteachers in England have called for school funding to be at the top of the political agenda in the run-up to the general election, warning that widespread budget cuts threaten to undermine the education system.

As political campaigning gathered pace, teachers predicted that progress in education would stall and academic standards would start to decline if schools continued to come under “unacceptable levels of financial pressure”.

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Rowan Williams urges removal of Holocaust denier's books

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:45:43 GMT2017-04-27T15:45:43Z

Former archbishop backs move to get David Irving’s works off Manchester University public shelves amid ‘extremist views’

Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has backed a campaign to get books by David Irving, a Holocaust denier, removed from open display at Manchester University library.

Williams has written to the university’s vice-chancellor to express concerns that Irving’s books are available “alongside routine historical texts”.

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What does the general election mean for universities? | Andy Westwood

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:35:21 GMT2017-04-27T15:35:21Z

As a number of higher education policies risk being thrown off course, universities must make themselves heard

Higher education policy is expected to be a key campaigning point for some parties in the run up to the general election on 8 June, with free university tuition central to Labour and SNP campaigns. But the more important issues to universities – in England at least – are likely to be the promises made by the Conservatives.

Related: Put this in your party’s election manifesto

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As the new NUS president, I know how vital it is for students to vote | Shakira Martin

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:20:16 GMT2017-04-27T15:20:16Z

Education gave me – a black woman and single mother – a voice. Now the voices of all students must be heard at the heart of every election manifesto

We millennials are pegged as generation apathy: inactive at the ballot box, allowing others to decide our future. Youth voter turnout has been in decline in this country since the 90s. In just six weeks’ time, it will be critical that the voice of the students I have been elected to represent is heard. The absolute priority for students across the country must be to get registered to vote in the general election. Over the past three days, the NUS conference has promised to run the biggest voter registration drive we have ever held – and as the president-elect for the NUS, I plan to make sure we do exactly that over the next four weeks.

Related: Divisive NUS president Malia Bouattia defeated in election

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Harvard 'pausing' investments in some fossil fuels

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 14:33:07 GMT2017-04-27T14:33:07Z

University stops short of fully divesting its $36bn endowment from coal, oil and gas but green groups welcome the breakthrough after a five-year campaign

Harvard University is “pausing” investments in some fossil fuel interests following a five-year campaign by some students and environment groups to pressure the university to divest itself from coal, oil and gas.

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Bursaries are vital for the future of nursing | Anonymous

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:32:43 GMT2017-04-27T13:32:43Z

I felt it was time to do something practical with my life so I trained to be a nurse. I couldn’t have done it without financial help

As a nurse in accident and emergency I’m the first person you’ll see. I’ll triage you, order your bloods and x-rays, interpret results, get you painkillers, take your blood pressure and pulse and escalate any issues to senior staff. If I suspect or you disclose abuse, I report this. If you are not looking after your health I’ll help you realise this. I put on your plaster cast, change your dressings, suture your cuts and take you to the toilet.

Before I trained to be a nurse I worked for four years as a parliamentary researcher after graduating with a degree in international relations. My calling, as such, hit me after the result of the 2010 election. I felt it was time to do something practical with my life and not sit in an office telling other people what they should be doing.

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Theresa May’s stance on foreign students betrays her weakness | Polly Toynbee

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 11:04:15 GMT2017-04-27T11:04:15Z

In rejecting a move to exclude foreign students from immigration targets the prime minister has shown a worrying lack of flexibility

What do we really know of the tight-lipped prime minister about to sweep all before her for the next five long years? Very little. No debates, no scrutiny, avoiding encounters with press and public, we have only her repetitive mantras buzzing like wasps on the eardrum.

Related: What are the Tories hiding in this election? Two words: Boris Johnson | Jonathan Freedland

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How can companies cut the UK's class pay gap?

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:30:08 GMT2017-04-27T05:30:08Z

Professionals from poorer families earn almost £7,000 less per year than those from wealthier ones, despite businesses claiming to act on social mobility

It’s no surprise that social class can affect your life chances, but recently the education secretary highlighted the problem with a stark statistic.

Children who show signs of low academic ability at the age of five, but who come from high-income families, are 35% more likely to become high earners than those who show signs of high ability but come from poorer families, said Justine Greening.

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Wipe out teachers' student debt after seven years, says thinktank

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:01:01 GMT2017-04-26T23:01:01Z

‘Forgivable fees’ for those who remain in profession among ideas for attracting more graduates amid shortage

New teachers should have their outstanding student debt wiped out after they have been in the profession for seven years, says a report on attracting more graduates into teaching.

The introduction of a policy of “forgivable fees” could mean a teacher who started work in their early 20s could be free of university tuition fee debt by 30.

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Medieval Jewish papers tell vivid stories in Cambridge exhibition

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:38:45 GMT2017-04-26T17:38:45Z

11th-century documents from Genizah store in Old Cairo synagogue cover whole range of human life, co-curator says

From the faded brown ink on the yellowed paper of a document going on display this week in Cambridge, a startling picture emerges of a young man who lived and loved in 11th-century Cairo.

Toviyya wanted to marry Faiza, but he evidently had quite a reputation. The document, translated into English and on show for the first time in an exhibition at Cambridge University Library, records at great length that Toviyya swore in front of witnesses that his life would henceforth be blamelessly dull.

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Divisive NUS president Malia Bouattia defeated in election

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 16:10:05 GMT2017-04-26T16:10:05Z

Shakira Martin takes 56% of vote to unseat Bouattia, whose one-year term was dogged by allegations of antisemitism

The president of the National Union of Students has been defeated in an election by a candidate who promised to unite the fractured student body.

In a three-way race, the union’s current vice-president for further education, Shakira Martin, unexpectedly beat Malia Bouattia.

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MPs condemn free schools policy as incoherent and wasteful

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 23:01:18 GMT2017-04-25T23:01:18Z

Report says DfE must use funding more cost-effectively and notes 60% of schools are more than 40 years old and in disrepair

The government’s funding of its free schools programme has been denounced as “incoherent and too often poor value for money” in a hard-hitting report by a cross-party committee of senior MPs.

The report by the public accounts committee accuses the Department for Education of spending “over the odds” on unsuitable sites and building free schools in areas where extra places are not always needed.

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Fears Israeli ambassador's visit to Soas may spark unrest

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 10:04:31 GMT2017-04-25T10:04:31Z

Some university staff and students say invitation to Mark Regev is provocative and urge director to stop meeting

Students and academics at Soas University of London have said a visit by the Israeli ambassador Mark Regev this week could lead to serious tension and substantial distress on the campus.

Related: One hundred years of Soas - in pictures

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Brexit brain drain threatens UK universities, MPs warn

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:00:39 GMT2017-04-25T05:00:39Z

Commons education committee’s warning of an exodus of EU staff from UK universities is echoed by senior academics

The government is being urged to act swiftly to halt a post-Brexit brain drain which threatens the international competitiveness of the UK’s university sector.

A significant new report by MPs sitting on the Commons education committee says the rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to continue working in the UK should be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

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A-level language grades skewed by results of native speakers – study

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:50:20 GMT2017-04-21T17:50:20Z

Ofqual estimates 17% of students taking German A-level in UK are native speakers achieving about half of A* grades

For years the British stereotype of Germans has been that they get the best of everything, from sun-loungers to football trophies – and now it seems they have been achieving the best A-level grades.

Research published by the exam regulator Ofqual has found that German-speaking children in the UK have been sitting A-level exams in their native language – and winning a disproportionate amount of A and A* grades on offer.

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Thousands in England still losing out on first-choice primary school

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:00:17 GMT2017-04-18T16:00:17Z

Call for better long-term planning to deal with increased demand for places but problem easing in some areas, figures show

Thousands of children are continuing to lose out on getting their first choice of primary school in some areas of England, although the problem is getting better in some parts, according to figures from local authorities.

About 600,000 families found out on Tuesday whether their four-year-olds had been awarded a place in reception class at their first choice of primary school in September.

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Unions urge parents to turn education cuts into election battleground

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:22:42 GMT2017-04-18T14:22:42Z

National Union of Teachers says snap poll offers opportunity to fight funding shortages affecting schools in England

Teaching unions say they will carry the fight against budget cuts affecting schools directly to parents and voters, with the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary vowing to make education funding a key election issue.

Kevin Courtney told the union’s annual conference the snap election was an opportunity to challenge the funding shortages in England.

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Super-parties: the hot, new youth craze that never was

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:17:25 GMT2017-04-26T17:17:25Z

According to Newcastle city council and the national press, the student house party has spiralled into an extra-strength cocktail of dangerous drugs, overcrowding and injury. So, what do the partymakers say?

You may have been to a regular house party, complete with the blue plastic bag of paint-stripper Bulgarian wine and the constant YouTube-ing of the same DJ Pied Piper deep cut. Workaday. But have you ever been to a super-party?

Well, wise up grandaddy-o. Super-partying is a hot, new youth craze, at least according to Newcastle city council, which this week issued a public-safety video to warn of the dangers. A joint release by the council and the fire and police services also noted that the city was seeing an uptick in the kind of parties where 200 or 300 students pack into a house at one time, adding that these were often ticketed affairs with bouncers. The authorities warned that the average Victorian terrace was designed for no more than a standard Victorian family of 12, and that swollen party attendance could risk floor collapse. Apparently, promoters have been blocking fire exits with mattresses to seal out noise in residential zones, causing major fire hazards. Such super-parties, they announced, are highly dangerous.

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The NUS doesn't represent the average student – because there's no such thing

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 14:35:06 GMT2017-04-24T14:35:06Z

The union may have its flaws, but let’s not pretend there’s a mass of students it’s forgotten about, says Richard Brooks

A few articles, including a student blog for the Guardian, have recently criticised the National Union of Students (NUS) for failing to represent the average student. The organisation stands accused of fixating on supposedly irrelevant debates on global politics, while ignoring real student issues. But this argument has a fundamental flaw: the average student doesn’t actually exist.

Related: The NUS is a mess. As president, Tom Harwood could clean it up

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I’m concerned that my children are no longer employable

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 05:00:04 GMT2017-04-23T05:00:04Z

Mariella Frostrup advises a mother how to stop her adult children living off the fruits of her labour

The dilemma My ex-husband and I have always encouraged our children to pursue their talents and dreams. We supported their learning throughout school and university; we have never pressured them towards any particular career and have always encouraged extracurricular activities.

Following in their father’s footsteps, they have now acquired two buy-to-let properties. The rental yield has been disappointing, with most of the money consumed by upkeep on the property, or petrol money back and forth to the Midlands, where their investments are located. They speak about building multi-million pound property portfolios and devote time to social enterprises in Cambodia and the developing world. Any scepticism on my part is inevitably met with anger and accusations that I am jeopardising the venture by affecting their “mindset”.

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Growth in unpaid full-time internships raises fears for social mobility

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:28:24 GMT2017-04-21T18:28:24Z

With unpaid roles for up to a year being openly advertised, critics claim that only the privileged can afford to accept them

Wanted: an undergraduate to take a full-time position with a major international fashion retailer. The job will last for a year. The pay? Zero.

This fantastic opportunity, available only to those with independent means, wealthy parents and access to free accommodation, was advertised this week by US-based fashion chain Urban Outfitters.

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For academics with depression, the student feedback process is hell

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:10:59 GMT2017-04-21T12:10:59Z

We need a conversation about the impact of student evaluations of teaching on the mental health of professors

Related: I wish we could talk more openly about mental health in academia

I find teaching incredibly rewarding, but because of depression and anxiety there is one area where I have particularly struggled: student evaluations.

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Put this in your party’s election manifesto

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 06:00:40 GMT2017-04-25T06:00:40Z

Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities … we asked people in education what they want politicians to promise

All the evidence suggests the more funding the better at the early years stages, and that represents the greatest return on investment. So the first thing has to be a promise not to cut in early years. I would love to see the people who are genuinely experts in education in charge of what goes into our kids’ education – it doesn’t feel that way now – and the focus placed on the importance of teachers so they have the time to plan properly.

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'I don't think anything can prepare you for seeing a patient die'

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 13:05:07 GMT2017-04-19T13:05:07Z

Student nurses share their experience of dealing with death for the first time

I saw my first patient death a few months ago, during my first placement on a medical ward. It was a woman with dementia. I was there when the doctor made the decision to remove her oxygen mask. We drew the curtains and I rubbed her leg, just to let her know that someone was with her. I was glad to be there as she took her final breaths.

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Can a new technique stem England’s rising tide of school exclusions?

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 06:14:21 GMT2017-04-18T06:14:21Z

A Gloucestershire academy is bucking the national trend by offering disruptive pupils and their teachers an alternative

A girl is studying quietly at a desk just outside the headteacher’s office at Gloucester academy. “Hi Freya, everything all right?” Ian Frost, the head, asks as he passes. The pupil gives a quick smile and nods before turning back to her exercise book.

Freya, 16, a year 11 student, has been having what she describes as “a bad week” and was disruptive in class. Now she’s in isolation for a day, but Frost has decided he wants to oversee her work rather than putting her in a room with other pupils who have been excluded from lessons.

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Amy Winehouse, Adele and Jessie J are no reason for new grammar schools | Laura McInerney

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 06:00:21 GMT2017-04-18T06:00:21Z

If creative pupils can go to performing arts schools, why can’t we have selective schools for clever clogs? But it’s not the same

If some children attend specialist performing arts schools, why shouldn’t smart kids attend grammar schools?

That’s a useful question for politicians who want more selective schools. After all, if there’s no data to suggest grammar schools improve educational outcomes (and on grammars there isn’t), and no logical reason for your idea (why would a separate building make smart kids smarter?), then the simplest way to win people over is point to another kind of specialist schooling and shout: “Doesn’t your child deserve special treatment too?”

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University mergers: academics fight to be heard in marriage of minds

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 05:45:21 GMT2017-04-18T05:45:21Z

As financial difficulties take their toll, more mergers like that between UCL and the Institute of Education look inevitable – or will private equity firms step in?

When academics at the Institute of Education were told that they would be merging with University College London, they were assured it would boost their profile. The IoE was already ranked as world-leading in education. But in a climate of squeezed research funding and highly competitive student recruitment, the merger was seen as a sensible move by many in the sector, who felt that smaller institutions might be at risk.

The alliance crowned UCL as the biggest university in London, with more than 35,000 students, and the largest postgraduate institution in Britain. But two years on, angry educationists say they are underpaid and undervalued in their new institution.

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‘A unified voice terrifies the government,’ says teachers’ union leader

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:30:21 GMT2017-04-11T06:30:21Z

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, on school funding cuts, workload and the creation of a new super-union

At an imposing six feet seven inches, Kevin Courtney, the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary could easily be mistaken for an old-fashioned trade union boss. But looks can deceive, as many of Courtney’s opponents can testify after being on the receiving end of his deft debating skills – even in hostile circumstances.

One example: at the 2013 Conservative party conference, at the height of Michael Gove’s reign, Courtney single-handedly deflated a fringe meeting calling for performance-related pay for teachers, winning grudging respect from a roomful of opponents.

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Don’t believe the hype – grammar schools won’t increase social mobility | Fiona Millar

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:15:21 GMT2017-04-11T06:15:21Z

Despite the slick campaign promoting grammars, hard evidence shows selection is wholly negative for the poorest pupils

Brexit has been all-consuming and somewhat obscured the government’s much trailed grammar school plans. However, a white paper is said to be due any minute and could take many forms. So far hints seeping out of Whitehall suggest anything from full repeal of the 1998 act (which banned new selective schools) to plans for a handful of new selective schools in some disadvantaged areas or multi-academy trusts simply reassigning one school for higher attainers using a non-test-based process.

Much depends on the government’s stomach for a parliamentary fight. But it is in a bind. Having sold new grammars as a route to greater social mobility, it must overcome the hard evidence that the net impact of selection is wholly negative for the poorest children.

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Schools battle to support special needs as teaching assistants lose jobs

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:00:21 GMT2017-04-11T06:00:21Z

Pupils are at risk of being turned away from mainstream schools as classroom support falls victim to budget cuts

It’s a sunny, blustery day and four-year-old Thomas Tovell is well zipped into his anorak and wearing an expression of intense concentration as he helps a little gaggle of boys build a foam brick wall in his school’s outdoor learning area.

Thomas’s teaching assistant at Hilton primary school in Derbyshire, Rebecca Kerry, looks on and makes encouraging noises: Thomas has Down’s syndrome and Kerry is one of two who support him all day at school – one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

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What's it like to study in Germany?

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:51:06 GMT2017-04-07T16:51:06Z

Germany has been named the most attractive country for international students. Here’s what to consider before you make the move

Brexit is on its way, and with it come doubts about the ability of students to go on a European year abroad so easily in the future. Whether you want to do a full-time degree, or just get out to the continent on a year abroad while we’re still part of the EU, Germany – named the most attractive destination for international students in a recent survey – could be the place to go. Here’s everything you need to know about studying in Deutschland – and why it might be worth considering if you want a cheaper, grown-up and relaxed approach to education.

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2VCs: Will the Tef do serious damage or just puncture a few egos?

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:30:14 GMT2017-04-19T06:30:14Z

When the first official rankings for university teaching come out in June, there will be certainly be some red faces. But could the future of students and institutions hang in the balance?

The government’s new system for rating university teaching, the Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef), has raised temperatures across the sector. The first results are expected in June, but there is already little doubt that the new ranking could shake up traditional hierarchies, as it accords gold, silver or bronze status to each institution.

Early modelling of likely outcomes suggests that some modern universities – such as Aston, De Montfort and Coventry – could be thrust to the top of the table. Meanwhile world-renowned members of the Russell Group – including the London School of Economics, Bristol, and King’s College London – could find themselves ignominiously near the bottom.

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Conferences are intellectual lifelines - but as a single parent I often miss out

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 06:00:25 GMT2017-04-14T06:00:25Z

With few academic conferences making an effort to be family-friendly, those of us parenting alone can’t always access the same opportunities as others

“Make sure you actually go this time,” called my head of department as I left the office. “I will,” I yelled back. “I’m actually going to do it.” I was about to go to my first international conference in a decade.

As anyone who travels for work knows, having children adds a layer of complexity to even one night spent away from home. But as a single parent living thousands of miles away from my family, the logistics around professional travel can be especially difficult.

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How can universities tackle religious discrimination? | Kristin Aune

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 09:54:04 GMT2017-04-13T09:54:04Z

Religion-based harassment of students on campus is growing. This is a diversity and equality issue, and should be treated as such

Related: UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus

A few months ago, concerns were raised about antisemitism and racism at the University of Exeter, after a swastika and a “Rights for Whites” sign were found in halls of residence. The incident followed reports of students wearing T-shirts bearing slogans such as “the Holocaust was a good time” and “Don’t talk to me if you’re not white”.

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Disability services transform students' lives – we must protect them

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 06:00:03 GMT2017-04-07T06:00:03Z

As if cuts threatening crucial services in universities aren’t bad enough, the word ‘disability’ is itself now at risk – despite its key role

Back when I was a student, disability services changed my life. They gave me the tools to build on my inquisitive nature and expand my critical thinking skills. They helped me to identify strategies I had simply not learned at school and allowed me to regain independence in my learning. In many ways, disability services helped me to find my voice.

These days I work for disability services within a university. But what we offer is at risk – both from government cuts and changes within higher education.

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The automated university: bots and drones amid the dreaming spires

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 06:00:44 GMT2017-04-04T06:00:44Z

After centuries of chalk and talk, universities are finding themselves at the centre of a technological revolution

University teaching is under the microscope as institutions brace themselves for the first Teaching Excellence Framework, which will accord them gold, silver and bronze status.

The biggest developments in university teaching are being driven by technology. The old techniques of talk and chalk are being challenged by lecture capture, flipped learning and decision-making based on data analysis.

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Dear anonymous peer-reviewer, your criticism made me a better researcher

Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:00:48 GMT2017-03-31T06:00:48Z

When I first received one of your reports, I lay on the couch hugging a cushion. Then rage set in and I wanted to prove you wrong

For 10 years, you’ve ripped apart most of the articles I have submitted to journals, as well as my two book proposals. Because of the anonymity of the peer-review process, I can’t know for sure whether it’s always been you behind all of those red pen-filled reports – but our research field is small and over the years I have learned to recognise certain trademarks.

There’s your ridicule of even the slightest ambiguity in my English (a third language for me); the vitriol you unleashed at generalisations meant solely to provide context and hence of limited relevance to my overall argument; your sarcastic intolerance of the smallest loose end, admonishing me to prove it, refute it or leave it out altogether.

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Generation game: what can students and the elderly teach each other?

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-04-24T06:00:04Z

Schools are bringing together different generations to tackle issues such as bullying and bereavement. And teachers are seeing the benefits

Septuagenarian Reggie Harper* was working with a 12-year-old pupil at The Radclyffe School in Oldham to create a book about his life when he suddenly felt sick with fear. He went to speak to Maggie Hurley, community development and volunteer services manager for Age UK Oldham.

“We’re now on the chapter where we talk about relationships,” he said to Hurley. She looked at him blankly. “Well, I’m gay. If I tell her and her parents find out, they’ll make a complaint that she’s working with a gay man.”

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Secret Teacher: I'm tired of justifying the value of vocational subjects

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 06:30:06 GMT2017-04-22T06:30:06Z

Vocational education offers an alternative to traditional subjects, and is right for certain students. It should be encouraged, not dismissed

One consultation evening, a parent told me that their child was no longer considering health and social care as an option. They had been informed by one of my colleagues that there was no point in doing it and to take a “real subject”. While I was shocked, I shouldn’t have been surprised: my subjects were always included at the back of the options booklet, with English, maths and science at the front.

I moved from lecturing at a further education college to a secondary school because I believed I could encourage more students to take vocational subjects. After working in early years for the best part of a decade, I had the knowledge and experience of child development and social care, and I wanted to share this with the next generation of learners. I was eager and enthusiastic, but I was taken aback by the stark contrast between working in secondary education and in post-16 education – the lack of creative freedom and the onus on structure.

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Teachers on Twitter: why you should join and how to get started

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 06:30:20 GMT2017-04-20T06:30:20Z

Thanks to inspiring and generous teachers on the social media site, my passion for my job has been renewed

I’ve been using Twitter for six months and it’s already one of the best career decisions I’ve made.

For a while, it seemed that my relationship with teaching was going to be short lived (the first rush of excitement and energy was gone and in need of resuscitation). But thanks to some of the inspiring educators on Twitter, I have fallen back in love with teaching.

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Secret Teacher: Class, I wish I'd told you the truth about my mental health

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 06:30:18 GMT2017-04-15T06:30:18Z

Few people are brave enough to talk about mental health issues. I wasn’t and I passed up on perhaps the most ‘teachable moment’ of all

Last year, I quit teaching. I had completed my NQT induction, and despite the years of self-doubt and tears I’d finally come to recognise that I was a competent teacher, and had started to believe my positive feedback.

I had also come to realise, however, that teaching was an unhealthy career choice for me. I am a perfectionist – or now, I hope, a recovering perfectionist – who is prone to anxiety. Unfortunately, I could not reconcile these aspects of my mentality with the never-ending pressures of being a teacher.

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The best books about green living for children of all ages

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 06:30:26 GMT2017-04-14T06:30:26Z

Talking about environmental issues with young people can be tricky, but literature and non-fiction can help start the conversation

When the future of the planet is tied into decisions the younger generation make today, it’s crucial to have classroom conversations about the environment. But how do we talk about such complex issues, bound up with science and politics, in an engaging way? Books with a green theme can provide a useful starting point in these discussions. Here are some of our favourite options, for children of all ages.

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Five proven hacks to help students tackle revision

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 12:00:34 GMT2017-04-12T12:00:34Z

We know more about the science of learning than ever, but too few pupils use these strategies when preparing for exams

We know more about the science of learning than ever. Working smarter involves using your time and energy efficiently, but many students still do not use many of the most effective strategies. So what techniques can pupils use to improve their long-term memory, and help them to flourish in exams?

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An inspector calls: is it time for a rethink on Ofsted visits?

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 06:00:21 GMT2017-04-11T06:00:21Z

School inspections have seen a shift in style over the years, but Ofsted’s relationship with teachers remains fraught. Is the approach still fit for purpose?

For primary teacher Sophie Wilson*, a recent Ofsted inspection was the worst experience of her career so far.

“The lead inspector was rude and didn’t do what we’d been told to expect. Instead of observing the lesson for 20 minutes and interacting with the children, he stayed in my classroom for an hour-and-a-half and didn’t talk to any children,” she says. “We had good feedback, but it was a really horrid experience. If I didn’t love being in the classroom I would’ve left teaching there and then.”

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Secret Teacher: I won't be a foot soldier of a broken regime – I'm striking

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 06:00:31 GMT2017-04-08T06:00:31Z

For too long schools have accepted top-down diktats from the government. That’s why we will continue to strike until our demands are met

We’re going on strike. For three days later this month, the NUT membership in my school will be downing tools and walking out. Why? Because we believe that a proposed restructure of the school will be devastating for teachers and students.

More than 20 support staff have been sacked since September, and a dozen teachers are on the chopping block this term – all to alleviate a spending deficit. For those who remain, workloads will increase even further and looming government cuts to comprehensive community education mean the problem will only be exacerbated.

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Technology in schools: money saver or money waster? – seminar

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 11:59:00 GMT2017-04-06T11:59:00Z

On 15 June 2017 , the Guardian is hosting a seminar to discuss whether schools should invest in bringing technology into the classroom

From iPads to educational apps, technology has become commonplace in the classroom, but it is also the source of much debate.

Benefits are said to range from student engagement to behaviour management. “We are moving away from simply ‘learning’ a subject or topic to ‘feeling’ the content,” wrote Graeme Lawrie, director of innovation and outreach at Sevenoaks School, earlier this year. “[Technology] allows a student to explore, to experience or to be involved in something, as if they are actually present in that environment or place.”

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Want to teach ethical fashion to kids? Here's how

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 06:30:34 GMT2017-04-06T06:30:34Z

The clothing industry can harm people and the environment. But schools are in a position to help bring about change

How much did your outfit cost? Chances are, much more than you think. The clothing industry is the second-largest global polluter – after oil – and its complex production techniques and supply chains create a myriad of environmental issues. It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one t-shirt, and an estimated £140m worth of clothing [pdf] goes to landfill sites in the UK annually.

The need for change is urgent – and education can play a key role in championing new attitudes towards clothing. Some schools are now working with organisations to explore the impact of the fast fashion industry.

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University chief appeals for EU help to fight Hungarian clampdown

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:33:25 GMT2017-04-25T16:33:25Z

Rector of Central European University hopeful EU will launch infringement proceedings against Orbán government

The head of a leading university threatened with closure in Hungary has made an emotional plea for help from the EU and accused the country’s rightwing, authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, of effectively putting a gun to his head.

Michael Ignatieff, rector of the US-linked Central European University (CEU), said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the EU would launch infringement proceedings against the Hungarian government for its “outrageous” attack on academic freedoms.

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The role of interpreter is lost in translation | Letters

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:51:20 GMT2017-04-11T17:51:20Z

The big picture (5 April) was good and the numbered captions helpful. It was a boost for our profession to have the man below the late King Abdullah’s portrait described as “perhaps the most important person in the room”. However, translators are not normally people who listen and speak (sometimes simultaneously) in meetings: that is the job of interpreters. Some translators are trained to interpret, but they usually excel at writing, keyboard skills and carefully honing text. Speech is not writing; transfer of meaning between languages and cultures requires not only accuracy, speed and clarity, but impartiality. Interpreters should have no vested interest in the outcome of a meeting. It would be useful to know whether Theresa May had a British Arabic-English interpreter in her delegation.
Jane Straker

• Join the debate – email

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Thousands protest in Hungary over threat to Soros university

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 17:55:40 GMT2017-04-09T17:55:40Z

Demonstrators call for president to veto legislation passed by parliament targeting Central European University

Tens of thousands of people have protested in Budapest against legislation that could force the Central European University, founded by the financier George Soros, to move out of Hungary.

A bill passed in parliament by the ruling rightwing Fidesz party of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, a critic of liberal civil organisations funded by Soros, targeted CEU by setting out numerous conditions under which it must operate.

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Bhutan solves the ultimate school maths problem – and the answer is 108

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 06:15:44 GMT2017-04-04T06:15:44Z

Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy visits the mountain kingdom, which is successfully taking on the challenge of inspiring children to love maths

Every country around the world is trying to crack one of the toughest mathematical conundrums on the books. Not the Riemann hypothesis or the Navier-Stokes equations but the challenge of how to get schoolchildren to fall in love with mathematics.

One country trying an innovative approach to the challenge is the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, tucked away at the top of the Himalayas. Famous for its decision to measure its wealth not just economically but also via the idea of gross national happiness, Bhutan is trying to find a way to get its children to be happier in mathematics lessons. Having long been inspired by the Indian curriculum, which favours rules and rote learning, the emphasis is shifting to giving students an understanding of why and how these rules work.

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Ode to the joy of Je t’aime franglais | Letters

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 17:46:03 GMT2017-03-30T17:46:03Z

The quote from Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy (Letters, 30 March) should read “der stehle weinend sich aus diesem Bund” and not “der stehe weinend aus diesen Bund”. Apart from being grammatically incorrect, this version messes up the rhythm. The meaning becomes starker, too. It would not merely be “remain weeping outside” but “those who have been unable to establish such a bond, should sneak/steal away weeping”.
Daisy Hammerbacher-Shaw

• You show the front page of Libération with its headline “Vous nous manquez déjà!”, and caption this as saying Britain is missing the EU already (30 March). Non! It is the other way around – “we miss you already”. A less than perfect basis for opening Brexit negotiations. As a nation, our understanding of French language and culture has never really progressed beyond “Michelle, ma belle …” by the Beatles and Jane Birkin’s “Je t’aime” – iconic gems of the 1960s, but we appear to have learnt nothing new over the intervening half century.
Tim Sanderson

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US-linked top university fears new rules will force it out of Hungary

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:00:43 GMT2017-03-29T16:00:43Z

Central European University, which was founded by financier George Soros, says it is being targeted by Hungarian government

One of the top universities in central and eastern Europe may be forced out of Hungary under a draft law being prepared by the hard-right government, which has also accused eight British institutions of “operating unlawfully” in the country.

The US-linked Central European University (CEU), founded in 1991 to support the region’s transition from communist dictatorship to democracy, has cultivated a generation of statesmen and women, academics, and leaders in the arts. But the institution and its alumni are alarmed by new rules that it says are targeted at CEU directly and would “make it impossible … to continue its operations” in Budapest.

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Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:19:22 GMT2017-03-23T16:19:22Z

A district will drop the Mercator projection, which physically diminished Africa and South America, for the Peters, which cut the developed world down to size

When Boston public schools introduced a new standard map of the world this week, some young students’ felt their jaws drop. In an instant, their view of the world had changed.

The USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk. Africa and South America appeared narrower but also much larger than usual. And what had happened to Alaska?

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Canadian wins $1m Global Teacher Prize for work with Inuit students

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 19:50:57 GMT2017-03-19T19:50:57Z

Maggie MacDonnell praised for ‘transforming her community’ in village of Salluit, which has a high rate of suicide

A Canadian who teaches at a school in a fly-in-only village in the Arctic has won a $1m (£800,000) Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai.

Maggie MacDonnell, praised for “changing the lives of her students and transforming her community”, was among 10 finalists chosen from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.

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Malala Yousafzai receives offer to study at UK university

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 19:06:52 GMT2017-03-11T19:06:52Z

The 19-year-old Nobel prize winner did not reveal which institution had offered her a conditional place during a Birmingham talk

Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai has told an education conference that she has received an offer to study at a UK university.

The 19-year-old is currently preparing for her A-Levels at a girls’ school in Birmingham.

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'Russia's soul is monarchic': tsarist school wants to reverse 100 years of history

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 13:58:56 GMT2017-03-06T13:58:56Z

Patriotic financier known as the ‘Orthodox oligarch’ funds school that seeks to prepare students for the ‘inevitable’ return of monarchy

“We are raising a new elite here,” said Zurab Chavchavadze, the dapper 74-year-old headteacher of St Basil the Great School, sitting beneath a large portrait of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II. “The students will be morally sound, religious, intellectual and patriotic, and will have every chance of getting into power.”

A collection of grand buildings set around a new cathedral in an upmarket suburb of Moscow, the school harks back to Russia’s tsarist traditions to inculcate a sense of patriotism in its 400 students.

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How are the cuts affecting your school? Share your experiences | Sarah Marsh

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 11:21:56 GMT2017-04-26T11:21:56Z

We want to hear how the slashing of education funding is hitting schools. Tell us your stories, for Frances Ryan’s Hardworking Britain column

In Frances Ryan’s Hardworking Britain column each week, she focuses on stories of individuals who are affected by the government’s austerity agenda.

The National Union of Teachers has approved industrial action over the school funding crisis in England, after delegates at its annual conference were told of children at one school who spent two weeks wearing hats and coats in their classroom this winter because of budget pressures.

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Plastic-eating bugs? It’s a great story – but there’s a sting in the tail | Philip Ball

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:41:37 GMT2017-04-25T18:41:37Z

Breeding wax moth caterpillars to devour our waste sounds good. But they would attack bee colonies too, and ultimately put crops at risk

Caterpillars that can munch up plastic bags have just been identified, fuelling excited speculation that this could one day eliminate global pollution from plastic waste. The chance discovery, initially made by a scientist and amateur beekeeper whose plastic bag had been eaten through by the moth caterpillars, was reported this week by researchers at Cambridge University and the Spanish National Research Council.

Related: Plastic-eating worms could help wage war on waste

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Dear Justine Greening, aren’t you worried young people won’t believe politicians? | Michael Rosen

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:45:40 GMT2017-04-25T05:45:40Z

If your side wins, you will claim there is a ‘mandate’ for grammar schools, never mind the evidence

I fully understand you won’t have time to read this as you have more pressing things to do than worry about a little thing like education. Young people everywhere had just got on board your Brexit-negotiation train, accepting that it was full steam ahead, top priority, nothing could be allowed to obstruct the path, especially not by people going to the polls, such as those people north of the border – when, hey presto! – we are having an election, after all.

Does it bother you that when young people discover that something a politician says one day is the opposite of what that politician said a few weeks earlier, they might think you folks are not entirely truthful?

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What do Britain’s younger voters see as the key issues this election?

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 23:05:27 GMT2017-04-22T23:05:27Z

It’s not only Brexit that will determine who gets the support of those whose futures will be most affected. Below, we ask a cross-section of twentysomethings what most exercises them

Alice Muir, 22

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If children want to run free, let them | Patrick Barkham

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:01:15 GMT2017-04-18T17:01:15Z

My children were allowed to entertain themselves on a long hike, with a few cunning diversions, and it ended up the best moment of our holidays

Five years of fatherhood has made me familiar with the blissful sensation that is settling down at my desk after an exhausting holiday with my children. Today, though, I have a nagging suspicion that the feeling is mutual. According to research by Gundi Knies at the University of Essex, Easter holidays are the unhappiest time of year for children: exams loom, they miss friends and have less control over their activities.

Dr Knies studied children aged between 10 and 15, so I hope mine (five and three) are still having a rather lovelier time at home, although when one discovered that our Easter Sunday egg-rolling involved the destruction of her beautifully painted egg, she declared that she’d like to be back at school.

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Richard Evans interview: the film Denial ‘shows there is such a thing as truth’

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 07:00:36 GMT2017-02-14T07:00:36Z

The historian, a key player in the libel case involving Holocaust denier David Irving, talks about Trump, Goebbels and why he agrees with John Bercow

Towards the end of Denial, released in cinemas this month, the lead character, played by Rachel Weisz, argues passionately that historical truth exists. “Slavery happened. The Black Death happened,” she says. “Elvis is not alive.”

It is a point that historian Richard Evans, president of Wolfson College in Cambridge, provost of Gresham College in London and a key player in the events that inspired Denial, has been making for most of his professional life. It is also something that, he argues, has become even more important in the era of “alternative facts” and Donald Trump.

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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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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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Want to 'train your brain'? Forget apps, learn a musical instrument

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:03:12 GMT2016-10-24T09:03:12Z

Musical training can have a dramatic impact on your brain’s structure, enhancing your memory, spatial reasoning and language skills

The multimillion dollar brain training industry is under attack. In October 2014, a group of over 100 eminent neuroscientists and psychologists wrote an open letter warning that “claims promoting brain games are frequently exaggerated and at times misleading”. Earlier this year, industry giant Lumosity was fined $2m, and ordered to refund thousands of customers who were duped by false claims that the company’s products improve general mental abilities and slow the progression of age-related decline in mental abilities. And a recent review examining studies purporting to show the benefits of such products found “little evidence ... that training improves improves everyday cognitive performance”.

While brain training games and apps may not live up to their hype, it is well established that certain other activities and lifestyle choices can have neurological benefits that promote overall brain health and may help to keep the mind sharp as we get older. One of these is musical training. Research shows that learning to play a musical instrument is beneficial for children and adults alike, and may even be helpful to patients recovering from brain injuries.

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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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Does music really help you concentrate?

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 06:30:06 GMT2016-08-20T06:30:06Z

‘I won’t be able to focus if you turn that off,’ a gazillion teenagers have whined at their parents. Is it possible that they’re right?

Many people listen to music while they’re carrying out a task, whether they’re studying for an exam, driving a vehicle or even reading a book. Many of these people argue that background music helps them focus.

Why, though? When you think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. Why would having two things to concentrate on make you more focused, not less? Some people even go so far as to say that not having music on is more distracting. So what’s going on there?

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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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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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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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Private schools do nothing to improve social mobility | Letters

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 18:55:11 GMT2017-04-25T18:55:11Z

While I was pleased to see that the headmistress of my old school, James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, reads the Guardian (Letters, 25 April), I agree with Tim Lott (Opinion, 22 April) that private schools should be abolished. When I attended Jags in the 1950s it was grant maintained and at least half the pupils post-11 were paid for by the local authority, including me. The remaining half who did not reach the academic standards demanded by the 11-plus and who had often attended the private junior sector (as I did) continued to pay fees. There was some genuine social mobility with many girls going on to successful careers.

The situation is now very different. Girls at Jags have an excellent and highly privileged education and are among the elite 7% who make up the very small but extremely powerful private sector in this country. I would remind the head that approximately 50% of students at Oxbridge come from that 7%.

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