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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, 02 Dec 2016 20:25:33 GMT2016-12-02T20:25:33Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016
 



Scheme to place 'elite teachers' in struggling schools scrapped after a year

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:33:38 GMT2016-12-02T18:33:38Z

The national teaching service was announced last November but since then only 24 teachers have been placed through the programme

A scheme designed to parachute “elite teachers” into struggling schools, launched with much fanfare last year, has been scrapped by the government after just 24 teachers were placed through the programme .

The national teaching service was announced last year by the then education secretary Nicky Morgan. It was supposed to help solve the perennial problem of schools in difficulty being unable to recruit the experienced teachers they needed to thrive.

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Art history A-level saved after high-profile campaign

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 12:24:37 GMT2016-12-01T12:24:37Z

Schools minister says A-level being developed by Pearson exam board will be available from September – and statistics survives too

Just weeks after it was announced that art history A-level was to be dropped – an act described by the historian Simon Schama as “a big dull axe wielded by cultural pygmies” – the government has said that the qualification will be saved after all.

Related: Goodbye art history A-level, you served the elite well | Jonathan Jones

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So you feel like dropping out of uni. What are the options?

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:55:08 GMT2016-12-02T12:55:08Z

Sometimes leaving higher education is the right move. But it’s worth considering the other possibilities

A few days before I was due to return to university for my first-year exams, I decided not to. At the time, I felt like I was living in a solitary hell.

I’ve always struggled with my mental health, and this only worsened once I went to university. I lost my support network of family and friends and failed to find a new one. I went from being an extroverted, happy person with a love for my subjects to being completely withdrawn, spending days at a time in my room without leaving.

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Ofsted chief calls for radical shakeup to close widening skills gap

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:49:52 GMT2016-12-01T10:49:52Z

Schools continue to improve but staffing and further education are major concerns, says Sir Michael Wilshaw in final speech

Sir Michael Wilshaw has called for a radical shakeup of education for those who do not go on to university, using his last speech as chief inspector of schools in England to warn of a skills gap threatening the country’s prosperity.

The inspector and former headteacher said further education was a “Cinderella” sector overlooked by policymakers, and queried whether class prejudice was the reason. “Is that because this is a sector that educates other people’s children?” Wilshaw said.

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Academia is now incompatible with family life, thanks to casual contracts

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:00:09 GMT2016-12-02T07:00:09Z

I want to be a good scientist but that means I can’t be anything else, as all my time is taken up trying to find contracts

I have just returned from my last conference of the season – half a dozen in total, across the UK and Europe. One theme kept cropping up in conversations with fellow attendees: job insecurity, and the impact it is having on our families and lives.

Related: Teaching at a university means constant pressure - for about £5 an hour

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The 'snooper's charter' is a threat to academic freedom

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:28:45 GMT2016-12-01T16:28:45Z

Increasing online surveillance has serious implications for researchers and study participants. Academics need to be more careful than ever

The UK Investigatory Powers Bill has passed into law. This bill legalises a variety of tools for intercepting and hacking by security services and was waved through without complaint by both houses. Academics should be concerned – and engage in some serious discussion about the (mis-)use of technological advances.

Related: 'Snooper's charter' bill becomes law, extending UK state surveillance

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May wanted to 'deprioritise' school places for children of people illegally in UK

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:25:52 GMT2016-12-01T09:25:52Z

Leaked documents show that as home secretary, her department suggested policy move in contravention of current laws

Theresa May wanted children of parents unlawfully in the UK to be dropped to the bottom of lists for school places, according to reports of leaked Cabinet Office letters.

As home secretary, May’s department suggested to the Department for Education that schools could withdraw children’s places if their families did not have the right to remain in the UK, according to documents leaked to the BBC.

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Being a black drama student: 'The fear of stereotyping is crippling'

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:53:44 GMT2016-12-01T11:53:44Z

Recent graduate Leah Harvey shares her experience as the only black female student in her year at drama school

I was the only black girl in my year when I started at Lamda (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). There were only nine girls out of about 30 students. Now it’s changing; now it’s about half and half. It’s an effort that Lamda is making, which is really lovely to see. I remember feeling very much like I was the only one like me there.

Related: Andrew Lloyd Webber warns of diversity crisis in British theatre

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Journey of the Future competition: vote now

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 14:45:49 GMT2016-11-17T14:45:49Z

The judges have selected their five favourite entries – choose your winner from the shortlist

Last month, we asked students to pitch us their innovative transport ideas in 300 words or less. Our expert judges looked for a combination of originality, creativity and practicality, and ideas had to be based on technology that exists, or has the potential to exist.

Below are their final five shortlisted entries – and now it’s up to you to pick a winner. Have a read and vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page.

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Ministers ditch anti-lobbying proposals for charities and universities

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:42:04 GMT2016-12-02T13:42:04Z

Climbdown follows criticism from charities and scientists, who feared experts would be stopped from advising MPs and ministers

Ministers have dropped controversial plans to gag charities and universities as a condition of receiving public money after widespread alarm from academics and the voluntary sector.

The government announced the “anti-advocacy clause” without consultation in February, presenting the proposal as a ban on taxpayers’ funds being used for political lobbying.

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Australian students describe how they made copycat Malaria drug – video

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:38:19 GMT2016-12-02T12:38:19Z

Students from Sydney grammar school describe how they created a version of Daraprim, a drug used to treat malaria, in a school laboratory. Student Brandon Lee tells how the team had to work after school hours on the project. The students made the drug for around $2 a pill

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Tesco Bank cyber attack involved guesswork, study claims

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 00:01:00 GMT2016-12-02T00:01:00Z

Academics say working out card number, expiry date and security code of Visa card takes ‘as little as six seconds’

A team of academics claims an unsophisticated type of cyber attack that exploits “flaws” in the Visa card payment system was probably used to defraud Tesco Bank customers of £2.5m last month.

Related: Cyber attack: hackers 'weaponised' everyday devices with malware to mount assault

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The Guardian view on Sir Michael Wilshaw: ruffling the right feathers | Editorial

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:49:52 GMT2016-12-01T18:49:52Z

The outgoing Ofsted chief has an appetite for controversy but his comments are underpinned by evidence

Recent political campaigns have shown beyond reasonable doubt that dry statistical claims that things are getting better don’t work when the public suspects that they are not. So the claim that the percentage of schools ranked good or outstanding has increased in the past five years is unlikely to be reassuring to anyone who frets about the condition of education in England. Technically, though, that is true. For primary schools, the rise is from 68% to 89%; for secondary schools it is from 66% to 78%. One person keener than most to advertise those numbers is Sir Michael Wilshaw, since they reflect his four-year tenure as chief inspector of schools. He is standing down at the end of the year.

It is easy to find fault with the inspection regime, to challenge the criteria on which judgments are made, to criticise the way data is collected, to lament the imprecision of verdicts expressed in crude categories and league tables. But it is also easy to forget that an imperfect system for upholding standards and giving parents a tool to monitor progress came into being because previously there was no system at all that allowed parents to judge how their child’s school was doing.

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Don’t help the state bully migrants – boycott the school census | Gracie Mae Bradley

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 17:03:41 GMT2016-12-01T17:03:41Z

Government plans to use parents and schools to police immigration are an attempt to blame children for problems created by its own austerity measures

Today brought confirmation of what we at the Against Borders for Children campaign have suspected for months: the government is trying to make schools part of its agenda to create a “hostile environment” for migrants accused of entering the country illegally.

The BBC revealed that Theresa May, as home secretary in 2015, had planned to use the last immigration bill to introduce a requirement on schools to check children’s immigration status, and to shunt the children of the migrants to the back of the queue for school places. The then education secretary, Nicky Morgan, intervened to block the proposals.

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What can state schools learn from Eton?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:58:25 GMT2016-12-01T16:58:25Z

Amanda Wray has spent two years collaborating with top private schools, developing strategies to help pupils in state schools excel

I thought we all knew why independent school students do better than those in the state sector. They have more money, more funding and better resources and they don’t have the more challenging students we get in the state sector.

Related: Is competition between schools restricting collaboration?

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Sir Michael Wilshaw: Ofsted's 'Dirty Harry' bids farewell to a colourful career

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:00:43 GMT2016-12-01T10:00:43Z

Unafraid to upset pupils, parents and ministers, the 70-year-old former headteacher will be remembered for telling the truth to power

After five years in the job of chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw will deliver his final annual general report as head of Ofsted on Thursday morning – possibly to his own regret and almost certainly to the regret of education journalists, for whom life can sometimes be a little drab.

The 70-year-old former headteacher, whose reputation was forged in the classrooms of some of the most challenging schools in the country, and who nicknamed himself Dirty Harry after the Clint Eastwood character, has been a colourful figure in the education world, unafraid to upset pupils, parents, teachers and government ministers.

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Ofsted chief links divide in education to 'malaise' behind Brexit vote

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:33:32 GMT2016-12-01T09:33:32Z

Michael Wilshaw says failure to raise standards in parts of England feeds into sense of being treated unfairly

The head of the schools watchdog has linked the Brexit vote to the failure to raise education standards in parts of England.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, speaking before the publication of the Ofsted annual report on Thursday, highlighted the continuing geographical divide in education, with schools in the north and east Midlands continuing to lag behind those in London and the south.

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Brexit a 'significant risk' to income of universities

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:31 GMT2016-12-01T00:00:31Z

After £30bn bumper year, warning issued saying that leaving the EU could come at big cost

British universities have been warned that Brexit presents a significant risk to their income, after a year in which a bumper crop of postgraduate students, campus construction and rising research income lifted their turnover to £30bn.

The annual report by the Association of University Directors of Estates found that while undergraduate numbers remained static in 2014-15, an influx of 10,000 postgraduate research students, higher research fees and a surge in building work pushed up turnover by £2bn in the space of a year.

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Pressure mounts on ministers to make sex education compulsory in schools

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:22:38 GMT2016-11-30T12:22:38Z

Chairs of five parliamentary committees write to education secretary demanding change in policy

Pressure is mounting on the government to introduce compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools after five chairs of parliamentary select committees sent a strongly worded letter to the education secretary demanding a change in policy.

The letter criticises the government’s “lacklustre” response earlier this week to a new report by the women and equalities committee in parliament, which revealed that sexual abuse of girls had become “accepted as part of everyday life” in England’s schools.

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Government 'must take zero-tolerance approach' to school sexual harassment

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 07:00:11 GMT2016-11-30T07:00:11Z

Teaching unions call for extra resources to teach pupils about personal relationships after MPs’ report says sexual harassment is commonplace

The government should demand a “zero-tolerance approach” to sexual harassment and violence in schools, and give extra resources to teach pupils about sex and personal relationships, according to England’s leading teaching unions. The calls from the teaching unions came in the wake of a new report by parliament’s women and equalities committee in which the MPs said sexual abuse of girls had become “accepted as part of everyday life” in England’s schools.

The MPs’ report called for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) to be made a mandatory part of the school curriculum, but the government’s response made it clear it would not make it compulsory, and declined to include specific topics on combating sexual harassment and sexual violence in training for new teachers.

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English pupils improve results in international maths and science exams

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 09:00:44 GMT2016-11-29T09:00:44Z

Pupils score more points in latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study but international maths position falls

English children recorded improved results in a set of prestigious international maths and science exams published today, although the maths scores of English primary and secondary pupils remain far behind those in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Primary school pupils in Northern Ireland again showed remarkable maths prowess, holding the 2011 ranking of sixth overall, and the nation’s exam results were the best in Europe among the 49 countries taking part.

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The Guardian view on international students: too valuable to limit | Editorial

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:52:39 GMT2016-11-30T19:52:39Z

The statistics on immigration in general and overseas students in particular are not good enough to be the basis for a potentially ruinous British policy

Tomorrow’s official statistics are expected to show that immigration to the United Kingdom continues to be far above the government’s often-repeated and recently re-adopted target of “tens of thousands”. So far, so familiar. In the ever more politicised context of Brexit, however, the figures – and the arguments about how they are compiled – are taking on a new and sharper significance. This is only likely to grow as the Brexit arguments deepen and become more intense, even though anxiety about immigration was just one element in June’s referendum vote. But Theresa May has now staked her prime ministership on being able to resolve it. She aims to show voters that, once out of the European Union, Britain can control its borders with measures and resources that will bring down the numbers coming into the country in the long term. Others in the Conservative party have differing Brexit priorities, but it is hardly an exaggeration to say that in Mrs May’s mind, every aspect of the forthcoming negotiation is subordinate to the goal of reduced immigration.

Migration numbers are not the only weapons available to Mrs May to help her make that case but they are undoubtedly one of the most important. This makes two things about her approach to the statistics both odd and unsustainable. The first is that the UK’s official migration data is so unreliable. The second is that she continues to resist calls to remove students from the overall migration numbers.

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Can't afford an NYU dorm? School to offer 'Grandma's spare room' instead

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 12:00:00 GMT2016-11-27T12:00:00Z

To address prohibitive costs of attendance, the Manhattan university is piloting a scheme helping students save money by lodging in elderly people’s homes

Studying at New York University has become so prohibitively expensive that the historic Manhattan school is introducing a scheme to help students save money by lodging in elderly people’s spare bedrooms.

Andrew Hamilton, NYU’s new president, has approved a pilot scheme to pair up students with low-income older people struggling to make ends meet. The scheme – dubbed “Grandma’s spare room” – may sound like the premise of an intergenerational sitcom but it will begin in fall 2017, and university officials said initial demand had been so strong that it could be extended to hundreds of students and perhaps other schools in New York and other expensive cities across the country.

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'They tell me not to speak Polish': students on life after Brexit vote

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 09:00:56 GMT2016-11-27T09:00:56Z

A rise in racist incidents and a crackdown on visas leave overseas students nervous about studying in the UK

When Maciej Fabrycki, a student at Warwick University, spoke to his parents over the summer, they told him to be careful. His parents, who live back home in Poland, had read about a rise in racist abuse following the vote for Brexit.

“They tell me when I’m coming back from a night out not to speak Polish or not to show off the fact that I’m Polish because it might provoke some British people,” says Fabrycki, who came to the UK to study management and finance. “But they’ve never lived here, so what they hear is from the media, and the image in the media is negative.”

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The non-western books that every student should read

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

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

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

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Bristol student deaths highlight campus crisis in mental health

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 07:00:25 GMT2016-11-26T07:00:25Z

University counselling services face rise in demand from students struggling to cope with academic and social pressure

Nathan is a 20-year-old arts student. He had depression before he came to university, and felt well-supported by his family, but it has been difficult living and studying away from home.

“Suddenly you come to university and you’ve not got your family around you. So you need your friends, which is tricky because they are busy and stressed themselves.”

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'We're looking for raw intelligence': law tutors share Oxbridge interview tips

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 14:46:52 GMT2016-11-24T14:46:52Z

December means one thing for Oxbridge law applicants: the interview. So what can you do to prepare?

December brings not only the countdown to Christmas, but a nerve-wracking time for the students invited to interview for a place to study law at Oxbridge and several other universities. So if you are one of the chosen few, how can you give yourself the best chance of winning a place? Four law tutors provide an idea of what to expect and tips for making the most of the opportunity.

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Three Bristol University students die within weeks of term starting

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 17:56:24 GMT2016-11-23T17:56:24Z

Coroner is investigating deaths of students, all believed to be first years, but university says they are not thought to be suspicious

A coroner is investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden deaths of three students, all believed to be first years, at one of Britain’s top universities within weeks of the new academic year beginning.

Though the causes of the deaths will have to be established by the Avon coroner, online tribute and fundraising pages for two of the three suggested they had taken their own lives.

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Can Welsh schools make up for ‘lost decade’ to climb in Pisa league?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 07:00:40 GMT2016-12-01T07:00:40Z

After a poor showing in the 2013 international tables of 15-year-olds, and strenuous efforts to improve, Wales awaits its new Pisa scores with bated breath

Heather Nicholas, headteacher of Ferndale community school, is matter of fact about the difficulties her pupils face growing up in a deprived part of Wales. “I think every child should own a book,” she says. One book may not sound like much but it is in Maerdy, a former coalmining village along the main road that snakes up the Rhondda Fach valley, where a good house can be had for less than £30,000.

Ferndale has a lot riding on it. Local government spending cuts saw the school take over running the local library and swimming pool, to keep them open. And Nicholas is about to meet officials to discuss what more the school can do when the area’s generous EU funding disappears, post-Brexit.

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Should new schools be able to select all children by faith?

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 07:15:42 GMT2016-11-29T07:15:42Z

The government is consulting the public over plans to drop the current 50% cap on religious admissions. We consulted our readers

The government is proposing to allow new free schools to select up to 100% of pupils according to their parents’ religion, and has a public consultation open until 12 December. Since 2007, in a bid to increase diversity, no new academy or free school has been permitted to admit more than 50% of its pupils based on faith. The Catholic church, however, has refused to open any new schools on this basis, saying it needs to be able to select up to 100% of pupils on their faith.

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Universities struggle to meet green goals

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 07:30:29 GMT2016-11-22T07:30:29Z

Government blamed for stalling of energy saving, as People & Planet table reveals 75% of campuses are set to miss carbon targets

UK universities are helping lead the world on environmental research – but when it comes to their own back yard they appear to be falling behind.

Only a quarter are on track to meet their carbon reduction targets by 2020. Teams leading environmental initiatives are being cut and sustainability strategies have not been renewed, according to the results of the 2016 People & Planet University League, published on Tuesday (see below).

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Universities and NUS plan boycott of flagship teaching rankings

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 07:00:29 GMT2016-11-22T07:00:29Z

Vice-chancellors and students protest over government ranking system, the Teaching Excellence Framework, which will be linked to tuition fees

Top British universities may boycott the government’s new league table for teaching quality, Education Guardian can reveal. The Teaching Excellence Framework, due to be introduced next year, will rank universities as gold, silver or bronze based on what they offer students – with top rankers allowed to raise tuition fees. But big names, including the London School of Economics, Bristol, King’s College London and Liverpool, are predicted to score badly.

Related: The Teaching Excellence Framework: can higher education up its game?

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‘Low life’ in education department sparks grammar school Twitter storm

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 06:30:28 GMT2016-11-22T06:30:28Z

In our diary: Conservative peer slates DfE for misleading use of stats. Plus: how many Catholics does a new school need?

The Department for Education’s press office is coming in for heavy criticism over tweets that experienced observers have described as misleading the public in a bid to promote grammar schools.

Two weeks ago, the department tweeted: “70% of white working class boys from grammars go to uni vs 54% from comprehensives. What do you think about grammars[?]”. But the UK Statistics Authority [pdf] said the tweet was “not a fair representation of the underlying statistics” and that grammars’ ability to select pupils meant the statistics were not based on a like-for-like comparison with comprehensives.

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How students are striking for affordable university rent - and winning

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:45:13 GMT2016-11-15T15:45:13Z

What exactly does it take to run a successful rent protest? Student activists explain it’s all about strength in numbers

For some, making banners and going on demos is as much a staple of student life as beans on toast and essay all-nighters. But recently, growing numbers of students have been protesting in a different way – by putting their money where their mouth is and refusing to pay rent.

Students across London took part in one of the largest student rent strikes in British history last Spring, and 1,000 first-years at University College London (UCL), who withheld their rent as part of a five month dispute, succeeded in getting management to offer rent freezes and a £350,000 accommodation bursary for disadvantaged students.

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Everyone’s talking about the Tef, but no one is listening to students

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 07:00:56 GMT2016-11-25T07:00:56Z

The sector has a lot to say about the teaching excellence framework. But what about the people it is supposed to benefit?

The number of articles discussing the teaching excellence framework (Tef) now easily eclipses the official government documentation describing it. People are bashing it, praising it, arguing about the metrics it uses, and prophesying about how it will shake up higher education for good. Academics, university management, reporters and government officials are all weighing in. Everyone has something to say about how the Tef will change student life for better or worse.

Everyone, it seems, except the undergraduate students it is supposed to benefit. Stand at the lectern in any lecture hall and ask the assembled students what the Tef is. I doubt many will know.

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Tef: don't equate contact hours with teaching quality

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 15:39:39 GMT2016-11-23T15:39:39Z

Contact hours could be used as a metric in government rankings – but that may damage, not improve, student experience

In some parts of higher education, contact hours have become synonymous with quality. Students want more of them, as the annual Hepi-HEA student academic experience survey [pdf] highlights year after year. Universities point to them when showing applicants that they offer value for money. And now, the government is considering including a measure of contact hours in the Teaching Excellence Framework [pdf].

Related: Imagine a Tef that actually measured teaching excellence...

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Universities wise up to the needs of staff with disabilities

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:11:43 GMT2016-11-21T16:11:43Z

Managers are starting to take responsibility – and making sure people get the adjustments they need

Small changes can make a big difference to the lives of staff with disabilities, according to Margaret Stone, principal lecturer at the Leicester school of pharmacy at De Montfort University. She co-chairs De Montfort’s staff disability group, which the university consults when planning new buildings or travel policies.

“Often someone introduces a new idea which is wonderful but there might be one little thing that they haven’t thought about. It’s really rewarding to be able to mend that for other staff,” says Stone, who has repetitive strain injury.

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Academics aren't lobbyists – so our research changes nothing

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 07:00:10 GMT2016-11-18T07:00:10Z

I want my work to influence policy and change lives, but there’s little hope that politicians will even read it

Many years ago during a conversation with a supervisor, I was asked why I went into research. I said I wanted to help people. His reply was a belly laugh. I was confused. I know that it’s not open heart surgery, but my research – looking at the causes of and treatments for mental health problems – is still about helping people.

Related: My dirty little secret: I've been writing erotic novels to fund my PhD

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In the age of Trump, why bother teaching students to argue logically? | David Tollerton

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 07:00:10 GMT2016-11-15T07:00:10Z

Brexit and the US election showed that slogans count for more than facts, and demagogues outrank experts. For universities, it’s a vision of hell

Two things that happened on Wednesday morning. First, the world woke up to the reality of a Trump victory in the US presidential election. Second, a group of undergraduate humanities students handed in essays for a module I’m teaching at the University of Exeter.

Related: What will Brexit mean for Britain’s world-class universities?

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Too flirty? Too fertile? It's tough to be the right kind of woman in academia

Fri, 11 Nov 2016 07:00:13 GMT2016-11-11T07:00:13Z

Sexism is rife on the university conference circuit, where powerful men treat women with casual unkindness

“I wouldn’t do a session with you,” a colleague said at a conference. CC, we can call him. Prior to this, I had met him at a handful of other conferences in a handful of other UK cities. Which is a lot, really, considering I had not been in the UK long. But I guess that’s what happens when you work in a relatively small field that draws the same crowd to each of its events.

At first, I was confused by his comment.

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Tef: dump the pointless metrics and take a hard look at casualisation

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 12:26:24 GMT2016-11-08T12:26:24Z

US research shows that putting staff on insecure contracts affects the success of students. The least the UK government could do is some studies of its own

The government claims that its new Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef) will put students at the “heart of the system”. Unfortunately, the metrics being used for the Tef tell us little about teaching quality and nothing about how we could improve things.

For example, what does a “future employment” metric actually tell us about teaching quality? If we look closely at the data, we are most likely to learn that a graduate’s chances of landing a decent job are heavily shaped by things such as social class, ethnicity, geographical location, institutional reputation and subject choice. That would hardly be revelatory.

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'We've fought for decades' – US graduate teachers win workers' rights

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 07:00:38 GMT2016-11-07T07:00:38Z

PhD students who teach at private universities like Yale have finally been recognised as employees and have the right to unionise. It’s a historic moment

Two months ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that PhD students who are also teachers at private universities in the US count as employees under federal labour law. This means they are entitled to vote for a union. A change in labour law may not seem very exciting – but the day of the ruling was one of the most thrilling of our lives.

Related: Academic staff: we graduate teaching assistants need you to fight for us

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Should universities take control of schools? The government thinks so

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:22:07 GMT2016-11-30T17:22:07Z

Every university could be made to sponsor a school, in exchange for raising fees. But critics say it won’t work

It’s not surprising that students at King’s College London Mathematics School sometimes sit in class looking a bit baffled. “In how many ways can 105 be written as the sum of consecutive positive integers?” asks headteacher Dan Abramson. The question is taken from a list set by PhD students, which forms part of the school’s specially designed problem-solving curriculum.

“You could give that question to a GCSE student and they could make progress, because you don’t need to know lots of maths,” he says (*if you’re intrigued, the answer is below).

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It's official: your school's marking policy is probably wrong

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 17:24:21 GMT2016-11-29T17:24:21Z

Ofsted is once again trying to bust the myth that extensive marking is best for students. When will the message get through?

Ofsted’s latest update for inspectors stresses – again – that inspectors should not be passing judgement on marking in schools. In the update, Sean Harford, HMI National Director for Education, explains: “There is remarkably little high-quality, relevant research evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning.”

Related: Is this the solution to the teacher workload crisis?

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Secret Teacher: I moved to Africa – and realised how flawed British education is

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 07:00:25 GMT2016-11-26T07:00:25Z

I am paid less than ever before and work with scant resources but it is bliss compared with my old schools in Britain

Ten years ago, I took my first job as an English teacher in an east London comprehensive next to a large council estate. I had gravitated towards the profession because it was in my family. My father was a lifer at his school and vastly improved the chances of thousands of students over 30 years; I wanted to be able to say the same for myself when I reached retirement age.

Related: Five myths about teaching in international schools

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'It's not all anal sex': the German schools exploring love, equality and LGBT issues

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 07:00:58 GMT2016-11-23T07:00:58Z

Sex education classes are mandatory in Germany, but they aren’t the only way students learn about diversity – LGBT topics are taught across the timetable

Last month in Wiesbaden, the picturesque German city famous for champagne and hot springs, around 2,000 parents protested over changes to the school curriculum. The cause of the furore? That children would be bombarded with lessons about anal sex, dildos and dark rooms.

Related: How to teach … sex education

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Five ways to help migrant children settle in your class

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:02:24 GMT2016-11-22T16:02:24Z

The experience of school can vary enormously for migrant pupils. Here’s how to give them a successful, inclusive education

The issue of migration is rarely out of the news at the moment, but migration is nothing new to the UK. Despite having decades to ensure policy and practice helps migrant pupils settle and feel included, research shows that migrant pupils in our schools have varying experiences of education.

Related: How to teach … English as a foreign language

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Alternative careers for teachers: what to do if you need a change

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 15:59:11 GMT2016-11-21T15:59:11Z

If you’re feeling unhappy and overwhelmed, it may be time to go down a new path – and there are plenty of other professions to consider

Lots of teachers have wobbly career paths. They often change direction a few times, sometimes moving sideways, sometimes backwards. If you’re not happy in your job, start by considering small changes first as these will cause least disruption to your life. Discuss your career plan (and concerns) with important people in your life. Stressed teachers can often retreat into a bunker mentality, which only exacerbates issues.

Related: Five alternative careers for teachers

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Secret Teacher: An invasive alien species is taking over education

Sat, 19 Nov 2016 07:00:01 GMT2016-11-19T07:00:01Z

Like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, humourless pod people are sucking the joy out of learning, in a monotonous march towards target grades

In The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr Miles Bennell realises that more and more of his patients and friends have been replaced by extraterrestrials. They look and act human, but they are not – and nobody is safe. I have noticed something similar happening in secondary education.

Related: Secret Teacher: let the government think I'm a failure, I've got my own success criteria

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Want your students to love learning? Get them to the library

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 10:13:43 GMT2016-11-16T10:13:43Z

Local libraries are under threat from funding cuts, but the services they offer to children and schools are invaluable

Libraries across the UK have faced devastating funding cuts recently, with hundreds closing and a quarter of jobs lost. In August, plans were announced to close more than 20 libraries in Lancashire alone, prompting a government review.

Related: Teachers and TAs: how to create the perfect partnership

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

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 11:02:07 GMT2016-11-14T11:02:07Z

My school works hard to create a culture of acceptance, so the US election has raised difficult questions. All we can do is promote tolerance

I started talking about the US election at school in September, particularly in assemblies, because children were asking about it. They were worried about the things they were hearing. My primary school is in the Saltley area of Birmingham and 98% of our children follow the Islamic faith.

Related: How to teach ... political campaigning

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

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

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

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

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Chinese authorities make perilous cliff-face school run safer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spanish parents urged to put children on weekend homework strike

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

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

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

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

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Indonesian minister's doorless dormitories proposal sparks outrage

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

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

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

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

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University College London is determined to tackle racism | Letters

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:48:18 GMT2016-11-01T15:48:18Z

We read the interview with Dr Kehinde Andrews (Universities accused of institutional racism, 24 October) and there is not much to disagree with. There are clearly race-related issues in higher education that need to be tackled, but things can be done and we do not have to accept the status quo.

At UCL, we are determined to tackle inequality in all its facets. We achieved a bronze race equality charter mark in 2015, enabling us to begin the difficult work of ensuring equality of opportunity and outcome for all staff and students. We are working in a number of areas, including curriculum review, widening participation, academic promotion, implicit bias training and recruitment.

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Universities do not challenge racism, says UK's first black studies professor

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 19:55:45 GMT2016-10-23T19:55:45Z

Dr Kehinde Andrews says ‘universities produce racism’, as just 60 of all UK professors are black and teaching often focuses on ‘dead white men’

Institutional racism in Britain’s universities is harming the performance of minority ethnic students, the UK’s first professor of black studies has said.

Kehinde Andrews, an associate professor at Birmingham City University (BCU), told a conference last week marking Black History Month that universities are “no less institutionally racist than the police”, and criticised the curriculum for being overly “white”.

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Roll call: school says children need to bring own toilet paper

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 01:28:28 GMT2016-10-18T01:28:28Z

Argument breaks out after unorthodox request from Spanish school, which told parents it could not afford to provide children with the sanitary product

A row over a public’s school’s toilet paper supply has broken out in a Spanish town, prompting local officials to step in.

Related: Jamie Oliver's paella brings fractured Spain together … against him

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Want to know why young people are sexting? Try asking them | Iman Amrani

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 14:07:15 GMT2016-12-01T14:07:15Z

Jeremy Hunt, parents and teachers fail to understand how teenagers use technology to experiment sexually. Proposing a sexting ban is just puritanical

On hearing about the health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s suggestion that tech companies should prohibit young people from sexting, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Even at the best of times younger people feel that politicians don’t really understand them, and on the sticky subject of sexting, Hunt is way out of his depth.

At school I, like many of my peers, felt that sex education missed any kind of practical information regarding the kind of activity that some had already started engaging in. I can remember them getting us to put a condom on a banana, but nothing about consent, sexting or pornography.

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Arabic? Polish? Dutch? Your views on the languages schools should teach

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 11:50:33 GMT2016-12-01T11:50:33Z

The Polish prime minister has called for Polish to be taught in English schools. We asked our readers about other languages that should be on the curriculum

What languages should we teach children in schools, and why? The question came to the fore on Monday after the Polish prime minister, Beata Szydło, called on Theresa May to introduce Polish classes in British schools.

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Nativity play-per-view: it’s a sure sign there’s a financial crisis in schools | Geoff Barton

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:59:50 GMT2016-11-30T15:59:50Z

Hit by cuts, schools are understandably desperate to boost their budgets. But as a headteacher, I fear ideology has now trumped all ideas of fairness

The annual season of goodwill already looks fragile at one Worcester primary school. Parents and carers at St Joseph’s Catholic primary are apparently dismayed at being asked to pay £1 a ticket to watch their child in this year’s nativity play. Offering an explanation for the decision, headteacher Louise Bury, said: “With ever-tightening budgets and growing numbers, we saw this as an opportunity to be able to invest in some valuable reading and learning resources for key stage 1 and early years.” It is a bleak but not unexpected sign of how desperate the financial landscape is looking for England’s schools and colleges.

In some ways there’s nothing new about parents being expected to stump up cash. Many of us have spent long hours hoping not to win dubious bottles of cheap wine at school raffles. We’ve shuffled unenthusiastically around windy playgrounds peering into car boots. We may even, in the sanctuary of flickering darkness, have strut our self-conscious stuff to dodgy soundtracks at school discos.

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Public schools may not survive Trump's billionaire wrecking crew | Nikhil Goyal

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:30:18 GMT2016-11-30T12:30:18Z

His education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, is a fierce supporter of private schools and the voucher movement. She could end education as we know it

Related: My dad's Reagan protests inspire me to stand up to Donald Trump | Steven W Thrasher

Donald Trump, a self-described billionaire, wants billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos to take over the Department of Education. These two ultra-rich people have never attended public schools. Nor have they sent their kids to them. Yet they will likely accelerate the bipartisan dismantling of public education as we know it.

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Which languages should be taught in schools and why? | Sarah Marsh

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:30:53 GMT2016-11-29T15:30:53Z

The prime minister of Poland has said that Polish should be taught in British schools. Tell us if there are any languages you’d like to see on the curriculum

The Polish prime minister Beata Szydło has called on Theresa May to introduce Polish classes for children in English schools.

It raises interesting questions about what languages we teach in schools and why. Szydło also called for more support for the 831,000 Poles living in Britain. Introducing the language could help communities feel more integrated.

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Have you been affected by sexual harassment at school?

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:35:04 GMT2016-11-30T18:35:04Z

We’d like to hear from young people, parents and teachers about the impact of sexual harassment on school life in England. Share your experiences

Pressure is mounting on the government to introduce compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools after five chairs of parliamentary select committees sent a strongly worded letter to the education secretary Justine Greening demanding a change in policy.

The letter says sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools is having an impact on young people and school life. Consequences include “physical and emotional harm, including teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; girls feeling unable to participate in educational and extra-curricular opportunities; teachers spending valuable time dealing with incidents of sexual harassment and bullying; and young people developing a sense that sexual harassment and sexual violence are acceptable behaviours and learning social norms that are carried through to adult life.”

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Vagina Dispatches: what you didn't learn in sex ed - video

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:00:57 GMT2016-11-17T20:00:57Z

It’s not just about sex. Sex education should be giving us the information we need to feel in control of our bodies and make informed decisions about them – but it’s failing. In episode four of Vagina Dispatches, we speak to our moms, friends and sex educators to find out why. Then we give the basics on some topics that are missing from the curriculum, from discharge to menopause.

And if you want the latest on what’s up down there, sign up for our email newsletter!

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70 million children get no education, says report

Mon, 20 Sep 2010 09:52:57 GMT2010-09-20T09:52:57Z

Those living in north-eastern Africa are least likely to go to school, according to new world rankings

Almost 70 million children across the world are prevented from going to school each day, a study published today reveals.

Those living in north-eastern Africa are the least likely to receive a good education – or any education at all, an umbrella body of charities and teaching unions known as the Global Campaign for Education has found.

Continue reading...Somali children, such as this boy and girl in a displaced persons camp, are least likely to get an education. Photograph: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty ImagesSomali children, such as this boy and girl in a displaced persons camp, are least likely to get an education. Photograph: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images


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Words you can write on a calculator

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 11:48:15 GMT2014-01-10T11:48:15Z

If you were ever bored enough in a maths class to turn a number on your calculator into a word you may have only been scraping the surface. There is much more to this art than meets the eye

I own a Casio fx-85gt plus. It can perform 260 functions in less than a second, it can tell me when I've got a recurring decimal and it has a slide-on protective cover so that the buttons don't get pressed when it's in my bag. And even if the buttons do get pressed, I've got two-way power – solar and battery – so I'm sorted.

But as soon as I bought it I was disappointed. If I happened to be bored in a maths class, typed out 0.1134, turned my calculator upside down and slid it across to a friend I wouldn't get so much as a smile. The numbers look too much like normal typeface. 

Continue reading...Did you know that there's so much more to 0.1134 than first meets the eye?Did you know that there's so much more to 0.1134 than first meets the eye?


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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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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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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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Michael McGinty obituary

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:04:59 GMT2016-12-01T18:04:59Z

My friend Michael McGinty, a soldier, teacher and remarkable man, who has died aged 73, was once asked at an interview if he wasn’t a little on the old side for a teaching job at a college in China. He was in his mid-60s at the time.

“See that running track out there,” he said to his youthful interviewer. “I’ll beat you comfortably over a couple of laps.” The interviewer agreed to the challenge. Michael proved his point and was given the job.

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