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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, 15 Dec 2017 08:20:54 GMT2017-12-15T08:20:54Z

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



Bullies have no place in academia – even if they're star scientists | Anonymous academic

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 07:30:11 GMT2017-12-15T07:30:11Z

My bullying supervisor damaged my mental health. But when I stood up to him, I received no support from my university

I was awarded a prestigious fellowship in 2015 and moved my family across the country to take up a postdoctoral position at a world-class biomedical research institute. Little did I know that this seemingly invaluable opportunity would set me on a dangerous path to mental ill health.

My self-confidence, scientific progress and mental health were in decline from the beginning. My supervisor belittled me in front of my peers, derided me for enacting laboratory safety measures and denied me the technical training I needed to gain traction in a new scientific discipline. I recall silently sobbing as his large frame hulked over me, and how he gesticulated wildly as he yelled, “Just do what I tell you!”. That meeting lasted 90 minutes, the culmination of months of relentless bullying from he, the principal investigator on our research project.

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The Tories are savaging libraries – and closing the book on social mobility | John Harris

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:00:09 GMT2017-12-15T06:00:09Z

Since 2010, more than 478 libraries have closed in England, Wales and Scotland. It’s the old Tory con: talk up advancement, then attack the institutions that make it possible

If they weren’t already here, we’d have to invent them: public spaces, crammed with books, computers and information points, where events and meetings regularly take place, and children in particular get an early taste of the world beyond their own immediate experience.

Related: The UK no longer has a national public library system | Laura Swaffield

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'Youthquake' named 2017 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:01:02 GMT2017-12-15T00:01:02Z

A year of political change effected by young people tipped the balance of power in a shortlist including such buzzwords as Antifa, kompromat and Milkshake Duck

“Youthquake”, defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”, has been selected by Oxford Dictionaries as the 2017 word of the year.

The term saw a 401% increase in usage year-on-year as 2017 saw the often-maligned millennial generation drive political change. The publishers cited the UK and New Zealand general elections as examples of young voters mobilising to support opposition parties.

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Teachers warned not to dismiss sexual harassment as ‘banter’

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 20:56:05 GMT2017-12-14T20:56:05Z

Government guidelines for schools and colleges call for vigilance and warn that incidents are likely to be amplified by social media

Combating sexual harassment and violence among pupils requires teachers to be vigilant on and offline, according to the government’s long-awaited guidelines for schools and colleges.

The advice covers responses to sexual misconduct between students, including those of the same sex, and warns school leaders they must be aware that sexual harassment is likely to be amplified by social media.

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Poor primary school pupils increasingly left behind by peers

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:16:25 GMT2017-12-14T19:16:25Z

Data in England shows bright children on free meals lose out as gap grows for high attainment in literacy, writing and maths

Bright primary school children receiving free school meals (FSM) are being left behind by their peers, with the gap in attainment in literacy, writing and maths widening between the two groups, according to official data.

Related: Poorest school-leavers half as likely to attend university as their peers

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Exam boards ‘in muddle’ over students challenging GCSEs

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:08:46 GMT2017-12-14T18:08:46Z

Watchdog says some boards awarding better results despite not finding errors in the original marking

Exam boards caused a “massive muddle” this summer over students appealing against their GCSE results, according to an official report by Ofqual.

The exams watchdog’s investigation showed that some boards had awarded extra marks despite not finding errors in the original marking and that re-marking rules imposed by England’s exam regulator had been ignored.

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This Christmas, don't give books to non-readers

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 13:15:45 GMT2017-12-14T13:15:45Z

For bibliophiles, it is tempting to buy books as presents to ‘fix’ people who don’t read – but this is snobbery of the worst kind

You’re making a list, you’re checking it twice, and your fall-back position will be a nice book or two for friends and family to unwrap on Christmas Day. Everybody loves a good book, right?

But wait. What about those who don’t read? (Take it from me, these people exist. I’ve seen them. I’m even friends with a few.) Now you and me, we know that books are great. Books enrich, educate and entertain. People who read books are smarter, nicer, more attractive. People who don’t read books live grey, humdrum, fiction-free lives, bereft of that essential spark that infuses the lives of us readers, allows us to walk on clouds, hear choirs of angels and piss rainbows.

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Christmas books to inform and inspire your work in universities

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 07:30:25 GMT2017-12-14T07:30:25Z

After a difficult year in higher education, the festive break is a time to reset and rethink. Here are four inspiring reads for your stocking

It’s a truth more or less universally acknowledged that universities have had it tough in 2017. Their leaders have been under fire for high pay, students have questioned whether their degrees represent value for money, and some institutions have been reprimanded for failing to diversify their student body, while others have been accused of complacency over sexual misconduct.

But 2018 is a whole new year. There are glimmers of hope on the horizon, with a Brexit deal looking likely, the promise of a review of university funding, and a new regulator which claims to have widening access at its heart. It remains to be seen how those developments will pan out, but in the meantime, four higher education thinkers have recommended books to inspire even the most hardened university pessimists during their Christmas break.

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Universities are bastions of privilege. They have to change | Simon Jenkins

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 06:00:24 GMT2017-12-14T06:00:24Z

The astronomical course fees for these bloated institutions are no longer defensible. Two-year degrees would be a good move

The ice mountain is cracking. The glaciers are loosening. The greatest cultural confidence trick since the medieval monastery is dissolving. This week the universities minister, Jo Johnson, said the unsayable: the British three-year university course, virtually unchanged in 100 years, is absurd and should end. That many foreign universities are equally conservative is neither here nor there.

To Johnson, the overwhelming majority of courses can be done in two years. The internet has transformed – or should have transformed – both teaching methods and student research. The astronomical cost of a course – averaging some £60,000 – is no more defensible than the outrageous vice-chancellors’ salaries, the inflexibility of teaching time, and curbs on free speech.

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Poorest school-leavers half as likely to attend university as their peers

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:16 GMT2017-12-14T00:00:16Z

Ucas admission data shows that entry rate for pupils on free school meals was 17% while rate for others was 34%

The gap between students on free school meals able to study at university widened this year compared with their better-off peers – making the poorer group only half as likely to attend university in England.

The figures from Ucas, the university admissions clearing house, showed that school-leavers in England from the most deprived backgrounds were the least likely to attend university, with the gap widening for the second year in a row.

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Justine Greening unveils strategy to increase poor children's opportunities

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:16 GMT2017-12-14T00:00:16Z

Education secretary attacks Labour’s ‘money and slogans’ as she launches plan including £50m for school nursery places

The education secretary, Justine Greening, has accused Labour of offering nothing but “money and slogans” to tackle schools standards, as she announces a national strategy aimed at closing the attainment gap between rich and poor children.

Greening will use a speech on Thursday to set out measures including £50m for schools to open new nursery places.

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Universities minister demands restraint over vice-chancellors' pay

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:44:18 GMT2017-12-13T19:44:18Z

Jo Johnson says pay policies should be published more openly and VCs should not sit on committees that set their salaries

Universities in England must introduce specific reforms to rein in rises in vice-chancellors’ pay, the higher education minister has said at a meeting with leaders from the sector.

In unusually blunt terms, Jo Johnson told the delegation he expected pay policies for senior staff to be published more openly, and that vice-chancellors should be barred from sitting on the committees that set their pay.

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Private faith schools are resisting British values, says Ofsted chief

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:03:37 GMT2017-12-13T10:03:37Z

Amanda Spielman says inspectors have found texts that support domestic violence in schools run by religious conservatives

Private faith schools run by religious conservatives are “deliberately resisting” British values and equalities law, according to the chief inspector of schools in England, who appealed for school inspectors to be given new powers to seize evidence during visits.

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, listed a string of disturbing policies and literature used by private faith schools, detailed in the school inspectorate’s annual report published on Wednesday.

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Grenfell fire fundraiser shortlisted for $1m global teacher prize

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:01:04 GMT2017-12-13T00:01:04Z

Deputy head Eartha Pond, who has raised more than £100,000 for disaster survivors, is among four Britons listed for award

A deputy headteacher who has raised more than £100,000 for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire is in the running for one of the world’s top teaching awards.

Eartha Pond, who combines her leadership role with teaching PE at the Crest Academy in north-west London, as well as playing professional football for Tottenham Hotspur, is one of four UK teachers up for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher prize.

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The two-year degree shows education has become just another commodity | Phil McDuff

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:00:16 GMT2017-12-13T10:00:16Z

A government does not boost access to degrees by cramming the same work into less time, for more money. The idea of education as a social good is fading fast

The two-year degree is back. The idea of increased flexibility in higher education is, in the broadest sense, a good one. But it is a sign of how captured we have been by market-centric thinking that “flexibility”, to this government, is manifested as “squeeze the same amount into a shorter period of time to maximise your financial returns later”. The sector has undergone a “catastrophe” as part-time student numbers have collapsed; that the government’s response is a degree format the polar opposite of part-time – and to charge £2,000 extra for the privilege – is indicative of its approach to governance in general.

For most demographics whose access to higher education is restricted, condensing the course doesn’t address the barriers they’re facing. If you’re balancing employment and childcare with a full-time education, especially if you’re relying on sketchy public transport infrastructure, it’s unrealistic to squeeze any more into your schedule. Many universities currently structure their courses around the reality that many students work, at least part-time, while studying. None of this is to mention those with disabilities who may face additional barriers to access.

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University vice-chancellors’ salaries in the spotlight | Letters

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:18:43 GMT2017-12-11T19:18:43Z

Academic staff and students past and present respond to stories on the salaries of vice-chancellors at Bath and Birmingham universities. Plus Sally Hunt of the University and College Union on teachers being paid less at CU Coventry

If rip-off fees guaranteed a university education of excellent quality they might be defensible. They do not. The university system is a self-serving bureaucracy whose sole aim is “bums on seats”, hence maximising financial returns and fat-cat salaries. The vice-chancellors are the most obvious targets with their grossly inflated salaries but there is a whole massive gravy train of pro-vice-chancellors, deputy-pro etc. Much of the actual work is done by poorly paid academics often on zero-hours contracts. One course I taught had 50 students in the first year, then 125 and 180 in subsequent years. The course was a nonsense with these vastly increased student numbers so I withdrew from teaching it after the first year. At another institution with which I was associated the principal spent hundreds of thousands on an unnecessary refurbishment of his suite of rooms while he was sacking “redundant” academics who were very close to retirement. All of this happened years ago but continues today. My view, based on decades of observation, is that university heads are frequently greedy, bullying incompetents with no detectable managerial skills and no commitment to the scholarship, teaching and research which are what universities are supposed to be about. Close examination of their salaries and performance is long overdue.
Dr John Cookson
Bournemouth, Dorset

• Jeevan Vasagar says protests against vice-chancellors are motivated by their being seen as out of touch and by “inequality when university pensions face a shortfall” (Britain distrusts meritocracy: that’s the lesson from Bath University, theguardian.com, 6 December).

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Universities win permission to charge £2,000 premium for two-year degrees

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

Ministers will allow higher education institutions the surcharge to encourage take-up of fast-track courses

Universities will be allowed to charge students almost £2,000 a year more in fees in return for allowing them to complete a degree over two years instead of three, ministers have revealed.

The decision to allow universities to charge a 20% premium for so-called “accelerated degrees” is the latest attempt to encourage more institutions to offer the option.

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Text alert: the ‘bank’ message that cost a student £5,400 of her loan money

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-12-09T07:00:01Z

Fraudsters have found a new way to target young people, with some losing all their funds in the first few weeks of term

When Alison Dean received a text from her bank, the Co-operative, asking whether she had just made a £999 purchase – asking her to call the bank if she hadn’t – she did what many of us would have done, and dialled the number in the message.

After all, the text had clearly come from the bank – it was listed on her handset amid previously sent texts that the PhD student knew had come from the Co-op – and she was well used to getting such messages from the bank.

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UK universities accused of complacency over sexual misconduct

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:03:14 GMT2017-12-08T17:03:14Z

Exclusive: More than one-third of universities provide no staff training on misconduct, including harassment and rape

UK universities have been accused of a complacent and inadequate response to sexual harassment and gender violence after a Guardian investigation found inconsistencies in the support and services offered to victims across the country.

The criticism by sexual violence campaigners and the National Union of Students (NUS) came after responses to freedom of information (FoI) requests sent to 120 universities by the Guardian revealed that many do not provide training to staff on sexual misconduct including harassment and assault, lack designated experts to deal with student victims, and in cases of staff harassment of students do not hold independent investigations.

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The Guardian view on universities and the market: winner takes all | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:01:27 GMT2017-12-08T00:01:27Z

Student fees were supposed to create competition for the best students and the best courses. Instead they’ve just inflated top pay and vanity building projects

On average, graduates earn more than their peers who have not been to university. But it doesn’t require a maths degree to know that averages don’t tell the full story. The potential earnings of a law student at a top university are likely to far exceed those of a media studies graduate from an institution at the bottom of the league. And neither is likely to earn anything like the £800,000 paid this year in salary, plus “golden handshake” benefits, to Christina Slade on her departure as vice-chancellor of Bath Spa university.

The case for such huge salaries is familiar enough. It is claimed that competitive remuneration is essential to recruit the best candidates. This is a natural consequence of the deliberate marketisation of higher education, of which tuition fees have become the misleading emblem. There is a lot wrong with the fee system, but although it is impossible to count those who are deterred, the number of school-leavers from poorer backgrounds going to university is rising. A new report by the National Audit Office shows that the proportion of disadvantaged school-leavers in higher education is now 26%, up from 21% in 2011 – far fewer than from richer households, but not conclusive proof that fees limit access.

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University students failed by rip-off fees, says watchdog

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:27 GMT2017-12-08T00:00:27Z

National Audit Office says if English universities were banks, they would be investigated for mis-selling, as students say they do not get value for money

Students taking out huge loans to pay for higher education are being failed by universities in England, with only one in three saying they receive value for money according to a stinging new report by the government’s spending watchdog.

Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office (NAO), said that if universities were banks they would be investigated for mis-selling.

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Top pay in universities is rising – but most staff aren't seeing any benefits | Sally Hunt

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 14:50:25 GMT2017-12-07T14:50:25Z

University staff salaries have fallen by 16% since 2009, and now pensions are being slashed. We need leaders who will look out for us – not their pay packets

  • Sally Hunt is the secretary general of the University and College Union

Higher education prides itself on its individuality, but there has always been a lot of groupthink at the top. I can remember the unending faux consultations in the run up to the Browne review when almost everyone agreed that tripling tuition fees would be the start of a fairytale that would end happily ever after.

Eight years on, here we are with universities decried as Brexit-opposing enemies of the people in the press. Our mission, ethos and – of course – who pays for us is the subject of daily debate.

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They made the education news in 2017 – but what happened next?

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:10:27 GMT2017-12-12T07:10:27Z

From the maths teacher hauled off a plane on his school trip to the US to the vice-chancellor who accused a Tory whip of McCathyism: we find out how they’re doing now

The day of the Westminster terrorist attack in March was the longest day of headteacher Lisa Farley’s life. When news of the incident broke, she knew 57 year 6 pupils from her school, St John and St Francis church school in Bridgwater, Somerset, were visiting the House of Commons. Farley tried to reach her deputy, Alexis Piper, who was with them. “I couldn’t get through at first. It must have only taken a couple of minutes before I managed to speak to him, but it felt like a lifetime.”

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School admissions in England are becoming a wild west | Fiona Millar

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:00:27 GMT2017-12-12T07:00:27Z

When some schools appear to ignore the admissions adjudicator’s ruling on unfair policies we all know which children are likely to miss out

It’s not often that I feel the need to reprise an earlier article, but the admissions arrangements of one particular academy school, covered here last summer, point to such a serious flaw at the heart of the education system that they justify a second look. To understand why, we need to go back to 1998 when the then Labour government introduced new procedures governing how oversubscribed schools should admit their pupils, namely a code of practice that schools are obliged to follow and an office of the schools adjudicator (OSA) to police that process.

Smooth and equitable oversight of admissions is vital to English education. The fair realisation of parental choice depends on it, as does the extent to which children from certain backgrounds are overtly or covertly “sorted” into different institutions.

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‘Drill and kill’? English schools turn to scripted lessons to raise standards

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 07:15:09 GMT2017-12-05T07:15:09Z

Direct instruction has been praised by the schools minister as more effective than a child-centred approach – but its use is controversial

In a converted office block in an unprepossessing corner of west London, a year 10 class is working with intense concentration. The walls are grey and virtually bare; on the whiteboard is a cartoon-style story about a pilot marooned on a desert island.

At all times eyes are either down or focused on the school’s deputy head of English, Sarah Cullen. It’s as if there’s no need for any other visual stimulation, for she’s a one-woman whirlwind: the lesson is conducted at a frenetic pace; questions are rapid-fire and answered with an instant sea of hands.

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Tackling sexual harassment on campus is about more than naming and shaming | Alison Phipps

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:37:52 GMT2017-12-13T10:37:52Z

Dysfunctional systems aren’t fixed through knee-jerk punishments. We need cultural change which makes a difference in the long term

  • Alison Phipps is professor of gender studies at Sussex University

Sexual harassment in higher education is back in the news. But this time there are signs of progress: almost two-thirds of universities provide sexual harassment training for staff, while three-quarters have trained student services advisers. Although these statistics are promising, they say little about the depth of interventions. With the history of naming and shaming on this issue, compliance may be out of fear, and some institutions may be doing the minimum they need to. The negative tone of much media coverage may also be compromising openness in the sector.

Related: UK universities accused of complacency over sexual misconduct

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If I tell my university about my disability, will I be seen as a weak link? | Anonymous academic

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 07:30:36 GMT2017-12-08T07:30:36Z

When I emerged from a period of illness, colleagues no longer saw me as a serious researcher. Now I feel too scared to disclose my chronic condition

I have a chronic, disabling condition. The symptoms are similar to those of an acquired brain injury with a sudden onset. For over a year I didn’t really know what was going on: I couldn’t process information, I couldn’t follow a conversation, I couldn’t think. I had panic attacks because I got lost and disoriented. I felt like I had lost myself.

It’s described as “brain fog”, this condition where you cannot focus, cannot remember, understand, process or think. The symptom is associated with a range of conditions: from hormone deficiencies to auto-immune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, ME, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and the side effects of chemotherapy. A friend experiences the brain fog as a constant, pervasive presence; a colleague says it can strike without warning, then lift, but it will always strike again.

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Will the UK get a Brexit deal on research? That's the €160bn question | Ludovic Highman

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:13:30 GMT2017-12-05T11:13:30Z

Eighteen months have passed since the EU referendum and the government’s position on science and research is no clearer – we need certainty

  • Ludovic Highman is a senior research associate at the Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL

The government isn’t committing to a Brexit deal for universities, but we need a new partnership in science and innovation between the EU and the UK – and we need it urgently. The stakes are high: the continued ability of British universities to produce high quality research, and of the UK to retain its status as a leading knowledge economy, depend upon it.

Related: Brexit threatens UK's reputation for scientific research, watchdog says

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As a young academic, I was repeatedly sexually harassed at conferences

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 07:30:36 GMT2017-12-01T07:30:36Z

Early in my career, older men I looked up to took advantage of their power to make sexual advances. But I never talked about it, so nobody ever knew

Ever since the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment revelations came out, reams have been written over similar allegations, across fields as disparate as politics, showbusiness and the NHS. The combination of power and vulnerability, where stakes are highest for the women, reminds me of a four- to five-year period in my life as a young scholar at academic conferences.

Academia has its own allure and power, seasoned as it is with the glitter of impact factors, fellowships, citations and tenure. I haven’t thought about that phase of my life for more than 10 years now, but the “open secret” nature of the Weinstein story, and ensuing #MeToo campaign, got me thinking. Why did I never confide in a senior mentor-like figure about my experiences? Should I have warned other young women? Most importantly, does it still happen? How would we ever know if we are not talking about it?

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Students with BTECs do worse at university – here's how we close the gap | Angus Holford

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 07:30:29 GMT2017-11-29T07:30:29Z

BTECs have been lauded for widening access to university, but once students get there they receive worse outcomes

Every so often a new study tells us privately-schooled pupils perform worse at university than their state-schooled peers, or that there are huge gaps in attainment across measures of disadvantage, gender and ethnicity. Perhaps the most significant gulf, however, lies between students who arrive holding A-levels and those who have graduated with BTECs.

My research using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that, over the past 10 years, 6% of students arrived at university exclusively with BTEC qualifications, accepted on the basis of their tariff score. This is meant to signify equivalent prior educational performance, regardless of the qualifications through which it was obtained. But student outcomes suggest otherwise.

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Study abroad is invaluable – students deserve clarity on Erasmus | Vivienne Stern

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 07:30:18 GMT2017-11-27T07:30:18Z

Our continued participation in Erasmus isn’t top of the Brexit agenda. Yet we need more graduates with the skills that the study abroad scheme fosters

  • Vivienne Stern is director of Universities UK International

As a hopeless optimist, I am finding it difficult to adjust to the growing possibility of a no-deal Brexit. For universities – as for many other sectors of the economy and society – there is a huge amount at stake. While the rhetoric on both sides in relation to higher education and research has been very positive, the frequently expressed mutual desire to maintain co-operation will be more difficult to achieve in the absence of an agreement on our future relationship with the EU.

Based on the public comments of ministers, including the prime minister, and of our European counterparts, a deal would almost certainly secure the UK’s continued participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus + until the end of the current programmes. It could also pave the way for the UK to participate in future programmes under association agreements. Without a deal, however, we could find ourselves reliving the experience of our Swiss colleagues, who were shut out of these programmes overnight in 2014.

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Want to get a promoted in a university? Learn the art of self-branding

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 07:30:24 GMT2017-11-24T07:30:24Z

Self-selection to the university promotions process prioritises those academics who put their own careers first. We need a more collegial approach

I’ve been in my post for the best part of a decade now. Despite improving my reputation with papers, books and keynote presentations at major conferences, I have yet to be promoted. Why? Because I don’t put myself forward. This has been a deliberate act because I believe the promotions system in my university – and in many others – to be not fit for purpose. It is overly bureaucratic, lacks transparency and forces academics to be individualistic and uncollegiate.

There’s a similar promotion system in many universities all over the world. Every member of staff completes a standardised CV form. It is often formulaic and asks for the usual markers of success: papers, books, grant income, successful teaching initiatives and any activity that has “enhanced the university’s reputation”. These are viable measures of an academic’s calibre, and can be undertaken collaboratively. Yet in using only these criteria, it encourages academics to pursue these at the expense of less visible, but no less important, activities.

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Lessons from 2017: what tips and tricks have helped you be a better teacher?

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:19:15 GMT2017-12-11T12:19:15Z

As the end of the year approaches, we’d like to hear from teachers who’ve made changes that have dramatically improved their time at school and home

The end of one year and the start of another is often a time for reflection, and a renewed vigour to “do things better”. We might promise ourselves we’ll go to the gym more, drink less, see more of friends or family and pay off the credit card on time.

At school, it’s often the little things that can make the big difference – whether that’s ways to approach an unruly class, a new technique that’s halved marking time, or asking a colleague for help. You may have come across an idea in a book and resolved to give it a try, or been struck by inspiration in the classroom through trial and error.

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Secret Teacher: I'm working full time but struggling to make ends meet

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 07:00:00 GMT2017-12-09T07:00:00Z

I love my job, but can barely afford to do it. A pay increase might help tackle the recruitment crisis the government is failing to address

I’m a primary school teacher and I love my job. Despite the long hours – 12 hours a day Monday to Friday and most of the afternoon on a Sunday – the rewards are significant. I had various jobs before coming to the profession and they didn’t come close to giving me the sense of achievement I now feel. My colleagues and I are working hard to improve the life chances of children. But the sad reality is that I can barely afford to do this job.

I’m a single parent of two young children and it’s almost impossible to sustain living near my school in London. I earn £32,000 a year, and my rent – the cheapest I could find in a one-mile radius of work – is £1,250 a month. After tax and student loans, my take-home pay is about £24,000. My rent eats up 60% of that. Then there’s council tax, gas, electricity, internet, food and clothes to pay for. With one week left until pay day, it’s quite normal for me to be able to count the number of pounds I have left in my account on two hands. Christmas is a particularly difficult time of the year.

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A teacher's guide to surviving school until Christmas

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 07:00:35 GMT2017-12-08T07:00:35Z

End-of-term exhaustion setting in? Here’s how to make your life easier in the final run-up to the holidays

Weary, bloodshot eyes gaze hopefully at the calendar. A sigh of resignation: still two weeks to go until the Christmas escape. The epic term continues and the to-do list doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. Students appear to be changing into manic creatures whose energy is in mocking contrast to our own. How can we survive the final stretch of this marathon?

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Teaching in a prison: 'Education has the best chance of turning lives around'

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 07:30:10 GMT2017-12-06T07:30:10Z

Emily Dewar-Langridge teaches young offenders at Feltham prison, and has won an award for the difference she’s made to students. Here, she explains her role

I’ve been a teacher at Feltham prison – an institution for young male offenders – for two years now. I work with 15 to 18-year-olds, but only a few of them stay with us throughout those years. The average sentence served here is about four months, so the group changes frequently.

The actual crimes committed vary; it could be anything from shoplifting, theft or graffiti up to rape and murder. A lot of people ask me why I do my job – and say that the boys don’t deserve an education because they’ve committed crimes. But as I see it, if you’re in prison at 15 you can’t be solely to blame. These boys have been failed somewhere along the line. I believe education has the best chance of turning these young lives around, preventing more crimes being committed on release, and enabling offenders to become valuable members of the community.

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Secret Teacher: funding cuts leave us unable to help SEN children at school

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-12-02T07:00:05Z

The sheer number of different needs in my class is staggering, but there is no budget to pay for the support my students – and I – so desperately require

Early on in my teaching career, I found myself in charge of a class with a high proportion of special educational needs (SEN) children on the register. The mystery of who would take on this group has been the topic of much discussion in the staffroom, but I was surprised when I was told it would be me.

Related: Why are so many SEN pupils excluded from school? Because we are failing them

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'We help them flourish and bloom': using nature to keep students in education

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-11-30T07:00:01Z

At a time when 790,000 young people are not in education, employment or training, a project teaching skills such as horticulture and floristry is helping encourage some to give learning another chance

In a corner of south London, a group of young people are taking it in turns to smell the leaves of a rose geranium plant in the gardens of Roots and Shoots, an environmental education centre and biodiverse wildlife park. The charity is tucked away, just off a street that you could easily walk past without noticing.

Young people who come here have never really been properly outdoors. They relax. They become more community minded

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'If she said no, he would hit her': stories of sexual harassment in schools

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 07:00:28 GMT2017-11-29T07:00:28Z

We asked teachers, parents and students to share their accounts and experiences of sexual harassment taking place among young people in schools

Sexual harassment is not confined to the high-profile worlds of film and politics – as editor of Schools Week Laura McInerney recently pointed out, it’s a problem in schools too. Reports of sexual assault on children by other children are on the rise, and there are concerns about lack of official guidance, despite sexual harassment in schools being flagged as a problem by the Women and Equalities committee.

We asked teachers, parents and students for their accounts of sexual harassment among students in their school. Here are some of the responses:

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Secret Teacher: we're no strangers to sexual harassment in the workplace

Sat, 25 Nov 2017 07:00:17 GMT2017-11-25T07:00:17Z

Teachers play an important role in educating children about consent, but don’t always feel they can report their own experiences of inappropriate behaviour

I believe that teachers play a role in educating future generations about how to respect one another. I’ve taught pupils as young as five about consent. I’ve used the NSPCC’s pants-wearing dinosaur, Pantosaurus, to teach children that their body belongs to them. We have practised saying “no” and asking for help when someone makes us feel uncomfortable. This is important now more than ever, with the reporting of sexual crimes within educational settings rising by 255% over the past four years.

My class know if a situation makes your tummy feel funny, you should speak to a trusted adult. Who do ​​teachers tell?

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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
Manchester

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Perfect match: website gives academic refugees chance to connect

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 08:00:01 GMT2017-12-09T08:00:01Z

German professor Carmen Bachmann used template of a dating site to allow users to network with other people in their field

When a record number of asylum seekers and refugees arrived in Germany two years ago, Carmen Bachmann was one of many in the country who felt compelled to help the newcomers settle in.

She did not rush down to greet them with welcome signs or pledge to volunteer at refugee camps. Instead Bachmann, 41, a Leipzig University professor, turned into something of a matchmaker. She created a website, Chance for Science, to connect refugee academics with German counterparts across a broad range of disciplines.

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Giulio Regeni murder: Cambridge tutor agrees to speak to Italian investigators

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 23:35:52 GMT2017-12-07T23:35:52Z

Maha Abdelrahman to be questioned amid accusations the university failed to keep Regeni safe in Egypt

The Cambridge University professor who served as an academic adviser to Giulio Regeni, the doctoral student who was tortured and killed in Egypt last year, has agreed to be interviewed by Italian investigators.

Angelino Alfano, the Italian foreign minister, said the development was a “significant step forward” in the case. Cambridge said dates had been mutually agreed between the adviser, Maha Abdelrahman, and Italian investigators.

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'Impossible' New Zealand maths exam even flummoxes teachers

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 03:43:23 GMT2017-11-22T03:43:23Z

Complaints being investigated after ‘geometric reasoning’ section of high school paper left brightest students despondent and in tears

A New Zealand maths exam for high school students has been criticised as “impossible” with even the brightest students left despondent and in tears at the difficulty of the questions.

New Zealand year 11 students sat the maths exams on Monday, and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has since received a number of complaints regarding the unreasonable difficulty of the paper.

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What are British values? And are faith schools really undermining them? | Catherine Pepinster

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:07:23 GMT2017-12-13T17:07:23Z

Ofsted’s latest report has given the critics of faith schools another excuse to attack them – and again they refuse to distinguish between good and bad

It was in the green room at the BBC that I first experienced the antipathy that faith schools inspire. Just as I was about to talk about religion on the Today programme, and had explained this to an eminent QC waiting to speak on another issue, he took this as a cue to let rip about how awful faith schools were and how divisive. Then, he added, getting angrier, “They wouldn’t give my daughter a place.”

This complaint – I’m opposed to them but I want my kids to go there – is one of the critiques one hears often about faith schools. People, while disliking them, find them desirable because they know that some are highly successful. And it’s often their ethos that is responsible.

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I’m quitting as a hospital boss: dire NHS funding problems give me no choice | Bob Kerslake

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:59:41 GMT2017-12-10T17:59:41Z

Our deficit at King’s College hospital, London, means we will be put into financial special measures, while what the NHS really needs is a fundamental rethink

I have this weekend decided to stand down from my role as chair of King’s College hospital, London.

This was not a decision that I took lightly. I love King’s and have the highest regard for the people who work there. But in the end I have concluded that the government and its regulator, NHS Improvement, are simply not facing up to the enormous challenges that the NHS is currently facing. This is especially true in London where the demands of a rapidly growing population are not being matched by the extra resources we need.

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What happens in your brain when you make a memory?

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:04:05 GMT2015-09-16T11:04:05Z

You might imagine memory is a Santa’s sack of life events and the first half of jokes. You would be wrong. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains all in our new series, Use your head

We all have memories, as far as I can remember. But where do these memories come from and how do they get made?

People often compare the brain to a computer, but the brain doesn’t have USB slots that allow you to pick up new information by jamming a flash drive in your ear. That would be convenient, if a little painful.

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Improbable research: the economist who theorised on corruption

Mon, 10 Oct 2011 15:29:01 GMT2011-10-10T15:29:01Z

How Professor Steven Ng-Sheong Cheung devised a theory about man's struggle with corruption and governments

Steven Ng-Sheong Cheung, because of his adventure with the legal system – not despite it – sets a high standard for economists. The economics profession is often accused of concocting clever theories that don't resonate in the lives of real people. Professor Cheung devised a theory about man's struggle with corruption and governments. He wrote about his theory, with relish. The US government shone a spotlight on Professor Cheung's thoughts, when it issued a warrant for his arrest.

Back in 1996 Professor Cheung – who was then head of the University of Hong Kong's School of Economics and Finance, and an economist at the University of Washington in Seattle, in the US – published a paper called A Simplistic General Equilibrium Theory of Corruption, in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.

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How one UK university confronted its sexual harassment problem

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:05:38 GMT2017-12-08T17:05:38Z

Goldsmiths in London has changed its reporting process and created a specific post in order to build on experience and foster long-term change

In early summer last year, the higher education sector was rocked by the resignation of the leading feminist academic Sara Ahmed from her post at Goldsmiths, University of London. Ahmed was protesting against what she claimed was a failure to address the problem of sexual harassment in the world of academia.

Related: UK universities accused of complacency over sexual misconduct

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Primary school invites in elderly people to work with young pupils

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:38:08 GMT2017-12-11T11:38:08Z

Downshall primary school in Essex hosts day centre where older people, some with early dementia, can interact with children

A primary school in Essex is piloting a new project that brings elderly people suffering from isolation, depression and early dementia into the classroom to work with four- and five-year-old children, with the aim of mutually benefiting all.

Previous projects have involved children visiting care homes, but Downshall primary school in Ilford is thought to be the first to host a day centre for older people, who read books, sing songs and do puzzles with children.

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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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Exam board rules on punctuation are wrong, wrong, and wrong

Tue, 31 May 2016 14:43:16 GMT2016-05-31T14:43:16Z

Linguistics expert David Crystal tells Hay festival that school advisers are ‘not aware of complexity of decisions they are asking kids to make’

Is that a tall, dark, and handsome man standing over there? Or a tall, dark and handsome man? The vexed question of commas, where to use them and where not to, was raised at Hay festival by the linguistics academic David Crystal.

Both of the above are correct, he said, but he criticised the Department for Education for not realising that, and for allowing exam boards to wrongly penalise children. He said the current guidance for schools “leaves a huge amount to be desired, especially in areas of punctuation.

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Poor handwriting 'may hinder students' chances of exam success'

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 23:01:29 GMT2016-08-21T23:01:29Z

Examiners say scanned answers often difficult to read on screen, particularly if student has failed to use black pen

Poor handwriting and use of the wrong colour pen may be hampering students’ chances of exam success, according to complaints from examiners marking this year’s papers.

As tens of thousands of pupils await their GCSE results due on Thursday, an examiners’ report for the AQA exam board has highlighted the struggles that markers face with onscreen evaluation and illegible answers.

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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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Vulnerable pupils abandoned by schools, head of Ofsted warns

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:04:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:04:21Z

Amanda Spielman, the new chief inspector of schools, will highlight the ‘deep injustice’ of rising exclusion rates in her first report

Some of Britain’s most vulnerable young people are being left “out of sight and out of mind” by a system that is quick to condemn them to a life without a proper education, the chief schools inspector will warn.

In a fierce denunciation of the treatment of some of the UK’s disadvantaged children, Amanda Spielman, who became Ofsted’s chief inspector at the start of the year, will say that pupils are being expelled to boost results, while young offenders are being handed a “de facto” life sentence due to the poor education they receive.

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How to appeal if you fail at university

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 10:18:00 GMT2013-01-08T10:18:00Z

Many students are preparing for January exams right now. But what will they do if their results aren't what they'd hoped for?

What do you do if you fail a university exam, or worse still, get thrown off your course completely? Usually you accept the verdict and admit that the work you produced wasn't up to scratch. But what if you are convinced you have a really good reason why you shouldn't have failed?

Here are my top tips, gleaned from first-hand experience as a barrister, for students who want to appeal without getting professional assistance.

Continue reading...Bad news? Act quickly if you want to appeal. Photograph: AlamyBad news? Act quickly if you want to appeal. Photograph: Alamy


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Andrew Hutchinson obituary

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:37:07 GMT2017-12-13T17:37:07Z

My friend and former colleague Andrew Hutchinson, who has died aged 74, was a teacher and leading exponent of development education.

Through working for Christian Aid, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the United Nations, then taking up the post of head of education for Save the Children from the mid-1980s, he earned the respect of the entire development education sector. His gift for engaging with people of whatever generation or culture, together with a flair for teaching, made him brilliant in this role.

Continue reading...In 2003 Andrew Hutchinson helped set up the Eye-to-Eye website, which enabled children in Palestinian and other refugee camps to post their stories onlineIn 2003 Andrew Hutchinson helped set up the Eye-to-Eye website, which enabled children in Palestinian and other refugee camps to post their stories online


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