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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: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:57:15 GMT2017-09-26T18:57:15Z

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

‘Sugar daddy’ website targeting Belgian students faces legal fight

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:43:44 GMT2017-09-26T09:43:44Z

Ministers accuse Richmeetbeautiful of inciting debauchery and prostitution after posters appear near Brussels campuses

Belgian ministers have said they will take legal action in an attempt to force a website that links young women and rich men to remove huge adverts near the country’s universities.

Trucks bearing large posters promoting Richmeetbeautiful, which describes itself as a “sugar daddy and sugar baby dating site”, have appeared on the outskirts of campuses in Brussels in recent days. The promotional campaign suggests: “Improve your style of life. Get a sugar daddy”.

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My school relationship survived university – yours could too

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:17:59 GMT2017-09-26T09:17:59Z

I defied the doubters and stayed with my boyfriend when we went to university. Three years on, I don’t regret it

Before starting university, my boyfriend Sam and I had been dating for two and a half years. We were young, naive and madly in love.

It wasn’t until our offers to different universities were confirmed on results day that we began to realise how tricky the future could be. We knew few long-distance relationships survive at university, but we were adamant that we could defy the odds and decided to stay together.

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Labour would reverse £500m of Sure Start cuts, says Angela Rayner

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 09:13:46 GMT2017-09-26T09:13:46Z

Shadow education secretary will use conference speech to promise ringfenced grant as part of plans for national education service

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, will pledge to reverse £500m cuts in funding for Sure Start centres, in her Labour conference speech, which will draw on her experiences as a teenage single mother.

Rayner will promise a ringfenced grant from the Department for Education of an additional £500m a year for the children’s centres and early intervention services, as well as outlining Labour’s plans for a national education service promised in the party’s manifesto.

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Gay and Northern Irish: ‘Teachers called me sissy and compared me to a plague’

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 06:15:35 GMT2017-09-26T06:15:35Z

Campaigners call for swift action as report on LGBT pupils reveals the scale of homophobia faced by young people in the region

David, 15, sporting a Goth-style haircut, is explaining how support at secondary school helped him come out as gay and how the school is a comfortable place for LGBT students. “In primary school, and even in my first year here, I got called ‘gay’ or ‘fruit’ quite a lot,” he says. “A lot of the kids learn these attitudes in primary school.”

David’s school, Shimna integrated college, under the shadow of the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle, Co Down, set out to eradicate such homophobia. It has a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) group, developed after an English teacher, Shirley Anne McMillan, heard about the GSA groups in US schools. David explains: “What we have been trying to do is change attitudes from when people first come here, so what happened to me doesn’t happen to others.”

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University conferences at risk as academic speakers refused UK visas

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-09-26T06:00:35Z

Warnings Britain is closing the door on academic collaboration after a Nigerian lawyer and at least 14 overseas experts are denied entry for one event

When Christiana Ejura Attah, a barrister and academic from Nigeria, applied for a visa to speak at a renowned international African studies conference held at Cambridge University in September, she was denied entry to the UK.

British embassy officials decided Attah was likely not to return to Nigeria, because her husband, also an academic, had been granted a visa to the same three-day conference. Officials chose not to take into account that she would be leaving four children in Nigeria, or that she had a letter from her vice-chancellor at the Joseph Ayo Babalola University confirming her credentials and that she had been supported to make her UK visit with a £2,500 grant.

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Ministers are suffering from ‘Pisa-envy’ and think the cure is for children to learn more and more facts | Michael Rosen

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 05:45:34 GMT2017-09-26T05:45:34Z

Ministers appear to have Pisa-envy, concluding from the international tables that what children need is more and more facts

One of the features of being a parent of more than one child is that you can view the curriculum of an older child through the eyes of a younger one. On the basis of my observations, can I share with you my impressions of what’s happening in secondary education?

The story starts with Pisa-envy: the misplaced view that the international Pisa tables represent a useful and valid way to compare education systems, and that politicians should command a country to fit the Pisa worldview.

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Student accused of rape banned from university classes for a year

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 17:38:18 GMT2017-09-25T17:38:18Z

Liam Allen has been barred from University of Sussex campus since October 2016 while awaiting trial, as a result of bail conditions

A university student accused of rape has been banned from attending classes for a year while he awaits trial, it has emerged.

Liam Allen, 21, was accused in October 2016 and made subject to a ban barring him from the University of Sussex campus while an investigation was under way.

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University 'turned down politically incorrect transgender research'

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:10:24 GMT2017-09-25T15:10:24Z

James Caspian says Bath Spa University approved but then rejected his proposed research into gender reassignment reversal

Bath Spa University is conducting an internal inquiry into claims that it turned down an application for research on gender reassignment reversal because it was “potentially politically incorrect” and would attract criticism on social media.

James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specialises in working with transgender people, proposed the research about “detransitioning” to the university in south-west England, which, he said, initially approved the application.

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Anonymous 'honesty' websites: safety experts tell parents to be vigilant

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:35:59 GMT2017-09-25T13:35:59Z

Proliferation of anonymous feedback apps such as Sarahah is prompting concerns about cyberbullying among schoolchildren

Online safety experts have warned parents to be vigilant about teenagers’ use of anonymous feedback apps that allow users to leave unnamed comments about others, amid new concerns over cyberbullying.

As policymakers analyse the roots of teenage depression, in response to research published last week indicating that 24% of 14-year-old girls and 9% of boys are depressed, the role of social media has come under scrutiny, particularly the soaring popularity of “honesty” sites.

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Universities must do more to stop the graduate brain drain

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:48:10 GMT2017-09-25T11:48:10Z

Most students move away after graduating but universities can persuade them to stay by building links with employers and improving local housing

  • Paul Marshall is a director at UPP

Britain’s universities are among the best in the world, distributed across the country creating pockets of excellence and ingenuity. But too often our universities act as mirrors rather than solar panels – taking in the best and the brightest and then bouncing them out again rather than retaining them to add energy and value to the local economy. At a time of debate over whether higher education delivers value, universities must work harder to demonstrate the positive impact they have on their local area.

Related: Regional growth and universities – a link that's more than academic

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What next for England’s troubled universities?

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 23:04:29 GMT2017-09-23T23:04:29Z

The new academic year has begun amid rows over soaring student debt, the size of vice-chancellors’ salaries and the modern value of a degree. What’s the mood at freshers’ week in Liverpool?

By Friday afternoon, in Liverpool’s universities, freshers’ week was just starting to feel a bit stale. The farewells to family already seemed like ancient history, while the city’s new intake of 17,000 students appeared to have mostly followed an intense journey from bewildered to boozy to bonded. They wandered campuses in tight groups, mingling accents. Along with the inductions and official welcomes, some had negotiated an arms race of “celebrity” club nights: the University of Liverpool boasted the appearance of Love Island’s Marcel Somerville, Liverpool Hope offered Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing.

After all that excitement, Liverpool students had been offered address wristbands to remind them where they lived after long nights out. Now they had their bearings, there was a sense of three years about to start in earnest. Freshers’ week was once quite a rarefied rite of passage; it’s now a transition shared by nearly half of all 18-year-olds across the country. Over the last 30 years, our universities have engaged in a radical experiment in growth. In 1990 there were 46 universities in the UK educating about 350,000 students. Now there are at least 130, accommodating more than two million.

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Schools should not be afraid to promote British values, says Ofsted head

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:55:36 GMT2017-09-22T21:55:36Z

Amanda Spielman says the education system has a vital role in upholding values of tolerance and fairness, while countering extreme views

Schools should not be afraid to promote British values because some children are being brought up in environments “actively hostile” to them, the head of Ofsted has said.

Amanda Spielman said the education system has a vital role in upholding the principles that “make us a beacon of liberalism, tolerance and fairness to the rest of the world”.

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Proportion of students taking arts subjects falls to lowest level in decade

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:00:18 GMT2017-09-20T23:00:18Z

Education Policy Institute says schools in England have cut number of pupils taking subjects such as dance and fine art after cuts and policy changes

The proportion of 15- and 16-year-olds in England studying arts subjects such as music and drama has fallen to the lowest level in a decade as a result of government policies and education cuts, figures show.

A report by the Education Policy Institute suggests schools have whittled down the number of pupils taking the likes of dance and fine art at key stage four, after reforms pushed pupils towards more traditional academic subjects such as geography and English.

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Writing off student debt cheaper than claimed, says IFS

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 16:40:20 GMT2017-09-15T16:40:20Z

Decision could cost the government as little as £10bn, well below the £100bn quoted by ministers

Writing off existing student loans could cost the government as little as £10bn, well below the £100bn figure quoted by politicians, according to new analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The IFS calculated that immediately scrapping the debt for university tuition would add £20bn to government debt, but that delaying the decision until the end of the current parliament in 2022 would add £60bn.

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Dozens of university vice-chancellors getting pay rises over 20%, figures show

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 18:08:49 GMT2017-09-14T18:08:49Z

Findings will be of concern to universities minister Jo Johnson, who says he wants to curb inflated vice-chancellor salaries

The issue of vice-chancellor pay looks set to remain at the top of the political agenda after analysis revealed that dozens of university leaders have seen their salaries increase by more than a fifth over a five-year period.

Of the 114 universities for which there was comparable data, 44 saw the cost of vice-chancellor pay settlements, including wages, pension and benefits, go up by 20% in five years (12% in real terms after being adjusted for inflation).

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Sats for seven-year-olds in England to be scrapped

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:20:16 GMT2017-09-14T16:20:16Z

Government announces controversial tests will not be compulsory from 2023, as part of overhaul of primary school assessment

Compulsory national tests for seven-year-olds are to be scrapped as part of a radical overhaul of the way progress is measured in England’s primary schools, the government has said.

The controversial standardised tests in reading, writing and maths for year 2 pupils – known as Sats – will become optional from 2023, the education secretary, Justine Greening, has said. They will be replaced with an assessment of children’s abilities at the start of reception year.

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New funding formula for English schools is 'recycling', say heads

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:10:32 GMT2017-09-14T16:10:32Z

Justine Greening unveils increased funding, with money going directly to schools rather than councils from 2020

The government has unveiled the details of its new national funding formula for schools in England but headteachers have accused it of “recycling” the funds from other parts of the education budget.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, told parliament schools would get an increase of 0.5% per pupil from the next school year, and a 1% increase from 2019-20, confirming the £1.3bn increase in funding she announced back in July.

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'Slave auction' for Loughborough freshers leads to outcry

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 15:56:26 GMT2017-09-14T15:56:26Z

Students at Loughborough University apologise for planning ‘slave night’ and ‘cowboys and Indians’ entertainment

Students organising freshers’ events at Loughborough University have apologised after planning a “slave auction” and “slave night” as part of the entertainment laid on for new students.

The events were organised by Faraday Hall – one of the university’s halls of residence – and were included in a schedule of freshers’ events which also featured “cowboys and Indians”, a Hawaiian night and an ABC (anything but clothes) evening.

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U-turn over threat to charitable status of private schools

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 19:02:26 GMT2017-09-13T19:02:26Z

DfE appears to water down manifesto pledge that independents should get tax breaks only by supporting state schools

The government appears to have watered down plans to remove the charitable status of private schools if they fail to support neighbouring schools in the state sector, in a yet another education U-turn.

The Conservative election manifesto and the Schools That Work for Everyone consultation document said independent schools would be required to sponsor an academy or set up a free school to share their expertise. If not enough progress was made, then ministers would “keep open the option” of changing their tax status.

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Time to level our elitist playing field | Letters

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 17:50:51 GMT2017-09-26T17:50:51Z

The representation of black and ethnic minority people is getting better, writes Peter Riddell. The Social Mobility Employer Index is a step in the right direction, says Catherine McGuinness, and Julian Dickens fact-checks Oxbridge entrance statistics

Your report (Revealed: Britain’s most powerful elite is 97% white, 25 September) on the low representation of black and ethnic minority groups among Britain’s most powerful people omits public appointments, where the picture is slightly more positive. As commissioner for public appointments, one of my roles is to champion diversity in the roughly 2,000 public appointments made each year by, or on behalf of, ministers to the boards of public bodies and to various public offices. The latest figures for 2016-17 show that just over 9% of appointments and reappointments were made to black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates, with 10.2% of new appointments going to BAME candidates against a BAME population of some 14%. While this is still not good enough – and only 5.2% of chair positions are made to those declaring as BAME – it suggests that the position is not totally negative.

From my discussions with Whitehall departments and others I would, however, agree with many of the points made about the obstacles holding back BAME candidates: a lack of confidence and, in many cases, knowledge about the opportunities. Moreover, BAME candidates who make it to the interview and appointment stages worryingly do less well than their white counterparts. From my observation there is no shortage of suitably qualified BAME candidates and I am encouraging government departments to do more to expand their networks and put in place mentoring and shadowing schemes as NHS Improvement has been doing successfully for several NHS trusts. Some 45.5% of appointments and reappointments were made to women in 2016-17, a roughly 10-point improvement on only five years ago. Which goes to show that with sustained focus, real improvements in the diversity of our institutions is entirely possible.
Peter Riddell
Commissioner for public appointments

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Nine rules for your first days in student halls

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 09:25:16 GMT2017-09-25T09:25:16Z

Settling into your accommodation is the first big challenge at uni. Here are some tips to help you through

It’s almost three years ago to the day that I moved into my university halls of residence, and it remains one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done.

It wasn’t the (admittedly strenuous) early-morning move from the Isle of Man that made it so tough, but the anxiety that came after. Meeting the strangers that you have committed to live with is often strained, awkward and a bit weird for everyone involved. Here are some golden rules to help you through those jittery first days.

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Drug dealers play their trump card | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 23:05:29 GMT2017-09-23T23:05:29Z

If pushers are handing out business cards to freshers, it sounds like they know their market

Drug dealers have been discovered targeting freshers at Manchester University, particularly in the Fallowfield area, near some of the halls of residence. According to reports, dealers have been handing out free samples of cannabis, even their business cards.

Those business cards sound rather new. No drug dealer I ever heard of, back in the day, ever got around to printing out business cards. Had they done so, it would have been quite interesting to see what they’d have put on them (“Skunky, from near the bogs in the Dive Club, Esq.”). At the grave risk of over-sharing, one might muse that such cards probably wouldn’t have lasted very long; if they’d been pressed into service regarding, say, “chopping duties”, they would have been mulched into pulp within the hour.

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'I was kicked out of halls after one night' – your freshers' week regrets

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 15:00:19 GMT2017-09-23T15:00:19Z

Readers tell us what they got wrong in their first week of university

The very first night at university I had a few drinks (of course). I went to bed and I was woken up in the early hours by the fire alarm in my halls of residence. Being tipsy, as well as young and foolish, I punched the fire alarm control panel and dented it. The next day the hall manager gave me a massive telling off and evicted me from the accommodation. I spent the next two months living with a strict vegetarian family who set me a 10pm curfew. Alistair, West Midlands

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Freshers' week: how tutors can help students cope

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 06:30:27 GMT2017-09-21T06:30:27Z

Starting university can be an intimidating experience. But there are plenty of ways tutors can encourage students to tackle the challenge constructively

This week, nearly 420,000 young people will make one of the biggest transitions of their life: they will start university. For many, it won’t be easy. For some, it will be nightmarishly hard. In my research, I’ve interviewed many students who told me they found their early days at university challenging because they didn’t feel equipped to cope. As one student said: “Arriving at university has made me realise that I don’t feel I have the skills I need. It’s not like school where my teachers were there every step of the way and I was always told what to do next.”

Students need to develop new academic, social and independent living skills. For many, the struggle to balance the competing demands of study, work and personal commitments feels overwhelming and they report significant declines in their overall health and wellbeing. So what can tutors do to help students cope with the stress of the first few weeks of term?

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Post-results university admissions would be a step backwards | Letters

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 18:39:15 GMT2017-09-20T18:39:15Z

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, says that changing the admissions system would harm most those from socially excluded backgrounds; Nick Hillman of the Higher Education Policy Institute writes that the government must publish its research on tuition fees; while Dave Hunter says universities’ adoption of corporate practices is dehumanising their institutions

Anyone who has been through the long summer of waiting for their or their children’s A-level results will have some sympathy with the idea that it would be far better if the business of university admissions was dealt with after you knew your results (Historians will laugh at us when they look back at the university application system, 19 September).

However, I honestly believe this would do more harm than good. Moving to a post-results application system with the academic year starting in January would place young people from the most socially excluded backgrounds at a further disadvantage, denying them the support of teachers during the school year and leaving them to navigate the applications process alone in households where often there may be no adult who has previously been to university or college.

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How to eat well for £3.50 a day – by the scrimping experts

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:02:04 GMT2017-09-20T15:02:04Z

Students spend an average of £24.32 on food a week, according to a recent survey. Here’s how to improve your university menu without overspending

Students aren’t best known for their cooking. It’s an unwritten rule, in fact, that any article about freshers must also mention baked beans. But you can hardly blame today’s undergrads when, according to a recent National Union of Students (NUS) survey, nearly half are worried about being unable to afford basic groceries such as bread and milk.

Related: Students struggling with finances in 'desperate state', claims union

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A very modern marriage: super-union leaders plan to ratchet up school cuts fight

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:30:10 GMT2017-09-19T06:30:10Z

Interview: Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, leaders of the combined National Education Union, are looking for politicians to ‘do some big work with us’

Kevin Courtney has Mary Bousted on speed dial. Being a self-confessed technophobe, she hasn’t done the same, even though she calls him rather often. They’ve been talking about getting together for about two years; their union finally took place on 1 September. Now, the former general secretaries of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are settling in as co-leaders of the National Education Union.

The marriage follows a ballot of the two unions this year. With a combined membership of more than 450,000 across the UK, the NEU is now the country’s fourth largest union, and reportedly the biggest education union in Europe. This offers the potential not only for greater clout with politicians and employers, but for efficiencies of scale and more members and activists in individual schools. “It will strengthen teachers and other professionals in education enormously,” says Courtney.

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School trousers or skirts for all: ‘Children should experience equality’

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:15:10 GMT2017-09-19T06:15:10Z

As John Lewis removes girls’ and boys’ labels from children’s clothing, gender neutral uniform is already sweeping through schools

For headteacher Jamie Barry, introducing a gender-neutral school uniform policy at his Bristol primary school was just basic common sense. “Why would we define our children by the clothes they wear? We still have the same uniform, we simply removed all references to gender in our uniform policy.”

Girls at Parson Street school already had the option to wear whatever the boys could wear, but Barry’s new policy enabled boys to wear skirts and dresses for the first time. The fact that not a single boy has chosen to do so in the year since the policy was introduced doesn’t matter to Barry. “For me, this was about creating a culture of acceptance. Children are not born homophobic or discriminatory, they are exposed to those influences as they grow up. At Parson Street, we believe children should grow up seeing and experiencing equality, before any stigmas are created.”

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Freshers' regrets – do you have a few?

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:58:20 GMT2017-09-18T15:58:20Z

Tell us what you got wrong in your first week of university

University is simple. Turn up, work hard, keep a handle on your finances, and in three short years you’ll be posing for photos with a scroll under one arm and a proud parent under the other.

But things rarely go so smoothly. There’s something about the combination of brand-new surroundings and no-brand vodka that seems to produce a slew of questionable decisions.

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Nudge, nudge: mind tricks to stretch your student budget

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 11:00:22 GMT2017-09-18T11:00:22Z

Simple changes to your behaviour can help you spend smarter at university

What if you could make tiny changes to your student life that would make a big difference to your cash flow?

Nudge techniques have been used by behavioural economists to improve health and safety, get people to pay their taxes on time, and even to make men pee straight. They could also help you manage your finances at university – and the best part? It takes very little effort to implement them.

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Vice-chancellors may be winning big from tuition fees – but academics aren't

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 06:30:40 GMT2017-09-22T06:30:40Z

The vice-chancellor pay scandal is concealing the real problem within universities: talented young researchers are leaving because of low salaries

A scandal has rocked Britain’s academic establishments and exploded across the media this summer. The government is now involved too, with MPs describing the financial compensation as disgraceful, and the Lords asking for an enquiry. I’m talking – of course – about vice-chancellor pay. The idea that these senior academics are paid so much appears abhorrent, and has elicited appropriate responses.

Related: Dozens of university vice-chancellors getting pay rises over 20%, figures show

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2VCs is Brexit impacting universities?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:30:00 GMT2017-09-20T07:30:00Z

The government has revealed its Brexit negotiating position on research and some of the post-withdrawal plans for EU university staff. But are universities already experiencing the effects of last year’s referendum vote?

Brexit is a huge issue for British universities. Nearly 34,000 academics working in the UK have come from elsewhere in Europe, and vice-chancellors say being able to net the very best staff from abroad is crucial to their ongoing success.

Last month the Russell Group of elite research universities demanded urgent clarity for both their European staff and students. But what exactly does it feel like on the ground? Strikingly many vice chancellors (vcs) have chosen not to speak out individually about Brexit, preferring to leave campaigning to their national mission groups.

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Power list: the 50 people with most influence over UK universities

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 06:30:39 GMT2017-09-20T06:30:39Z

Office for Students chair Michael Barber claims the top spot in the chart of politicians, thinkers and university leaders shaping UK higher education

Michael Barber, the chair of the new higher education regulator, the Office for Students, has topped the list of the 50 most powerful people in higher education this year.

Published by Wonkhe – a thinktank for higher education policy “wonks” – the list includes the policymakers, lobbyists, politicians, vice-chancellors and thinkers who wield most influence over the sector.

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How can universities help international students feel at home?

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 06:30:02 GMT2017-09-18T06:30:02Z

Brexit and harsher visa rules are making overseas students feel unwelcome. It’s up to universities to help them settle in

There’s never been a more important time for UK universities to nurture their international student population. With the number of applications from EU students falling after Brexit and the government’s approach to immigration deterring some of those from further afield, the quality of the student experience is key for recruitment and retention.

As the British Council’s Anna Esaki-Smith explains, the global education sector is becoming more competitive. “China, Japan and Malaysia are now aiming to increase inward mobility by providing international students with English-language curriculums, scholarships and less-expensive tuition fees when compared to those of the UK or US,” she says.

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I voted for Brexit – why do academic colleagues treat me like a pariah?

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 06:30:00 GMT2017-09-15T06:30:00Z

Universities are supposed to welcome open debate. Yet I worry that admitting I voted for Brexit might harm my prospects

Shortly after last year’s referendum on Britain’s EU membership, I attended a conference on global politics at a high-ranking university. In one of the panel discussions, I “outed” myself: I admitted I had voted leave. There was a nervous silence, before the discussion swiftly moved on. Afterwards, a member of the panel who was also a good friend approached me. Her voice was strained. She uttered one simple word: “Why?”

In her mind, I had just cast my vote for a third world war and for deporting all EU migrants, including several mutual friends working in British universities. I tried to explain my reasons to her as best I could: that the majority of European wars were not started by populists, but by unresponsive and non-accountable elites. That the EU was a product, not a cause, of peace and prosperity in Europe. That British people, having never lost their democracy in the 20th century, didn’t see the EU’s political project in the same light as other member states. After a deep breath, she was silent. We left things on an awkward note.

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How can universities help solve the creative arts crisis?

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 06:30:35 GMT2017-09-14T06:30:35Z

The creative arts have come under fire for poor graduate outcomes. But universities need to defend the important skills they provide

  • Jennifer Tuckett is a course leader at Central Saint Martins

The creative arts are in crisis in the UK. At school level, arts A-levels, including creative writing, are being dropped, while the new Ebacc prioritises Stem subjects. For universities, the increasing focus on graduate salaries as a measure of success is undermining courses in the creative arts. However, it is crucial that we protect creative education – it provides the skills our knowledge economy will need in a future where jobs will be increasingly automated.

These points were all highlighted in a recent Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) paper on the crisis in creative arts in the UK. It warns that fewer pupils studying arts subjects translates to fewer options for creative subjects at university level. The problem is exacerbated by the disincentives for universities to offer creative arts courses: low graduate salaries in the creative industries harm their performance in the teaching excellence framework and in new longitudinal data on educational outcomes.

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Two-year degrees: the solution to the drop in mature student numbers?

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 06:30:04 GMT2017-09-13T06:30:04Z

Two-year degrees won’t be right for every university. But for those they suit, they’re a great way to reach underrepresented student groups

  • Debi Hayes is provost and chief academic officer at GSM London

Accelerated two-year degrees have caused a serious stir among universities. Many institutions – especially the more traditional – are concerned about set-up costs, including investment in facilities and additional staff required for teaching and admissions. Some have questioned the value of two-year degrees more broadly. It’s clear that they’re not for everyone – but that doesn’t mean they’re a bad idea.

Introducing two-year degrees in February, universities minister, Jo Johnson, said they would offer students greater levels of flexibility in learning. After his announcement, the Department for Education responded with a consultation. It elicited mixed views [pdf]. While there were signs of demand from students and employers, traditional universities argued that the complexity of each year’s learning material in the three-year degree corresponds to the growing maturity of students over those years, and that this system can’t be adapted.

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Graduate employability ranking: the best university for getting a job

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 20:21:20 GMT2017-09-11T20:21:20Z

Stanford University retains its top spot in the ranking, which sees six UK universities in the top 50

Three UK universities are among the top 20 in the world for graduate employability, according to a ranking by higher education think tank QS.

California’s Stanford University retained its top spot in the ranking, which is in its second year. Meanwhile, the University of Cambridge, the UK’s highest-ranking institution, slipped down a place this year to number 6. The University of Oxford holds onto its place at 8 and UCL enters the top 20 at number 17.

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Into Film Awards: entries open for young film-makers and their teachers

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:15:43 GMT2017-09-25T11:15:43Z

Schools invited to enter creative work by students and examples of exceptional use of film for learning by teachers

The Into Film Awards 2018 – celebrating achievements in film by young people and the work of those who teach them – are open to entries from schools across the UK.

Run by charity Into Film, with the support of partners the Guardian Teacher Network and NATE, the awards invite schools to champion their best film-makers, reviewers, film clubs, and teachers using film for learning.

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Secret Teacher: I was forced to claim benefits over the summer holidays

Sat, 23 Sep 2017 06:00:08 GMT2017-09-23T06:00:08Z

I’m committed to my job, but my school’s temporary contracts left me struggling to pay the bills

I recently found myself out of a job. On the whole, I’d enjoyed working at my school – the dreaded Ofsted inspection went well and exam results were predicted to be positive. But on the final day of term, I walked out of the school gates with a bitter taste in my mouth.

I’d first interviewed for a maternity cover contract, with the promise that there would be an opportunity for a permanent position at a later date. But on my first day I was handed two separate contracts – one for the summer term of that academic year, and one for the next academic year. Over the summer holidays, the school effectively considered me unemployed and I wouldn’t be paid.

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How my school takes the stress off teachers

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 06:00:39 GMT2017-09-22T06:00:39Z

My school has found ways to reduce the workload burden on teachers – while also helping us become more effective in the classroom

We all know that stress is a problem in teaching, with workloads and other pressures affecting the health of many across the UK. But I’ve experienced a variety of different approaches to teaching during my career, and I’ve seen that working long hours doesn’t necessarily equal better performance in the classroom.

At my current school, Torquay Academy, I’ve noticed that staff are far more positive about the impact they’re having on their students than those in previous schools. While it’s difficult to measure staff wellbeing in a statistical sense, staff absence levels are at a record low, which suggests that stress levels are manageable. Our recent Ofsted inspection [pdf] noted that staff take pride in being part of the school and “overwhelmingly” support the principal’s leadership. Meanwhile, our results have improved for the third year running.

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Mouldy cheese and minibeasts: tips for teaching science in primary schools

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:55:13 GMT2017-09-19T11:55:13Z

Research from the Wellcome Trust shows that science is losing out to other subjects at primary level. So what can teachers do to bring it into the classroom?

Scientific investigation develops flexible thinking and problem-solving abilities, alongside more obvious science-specific skills and knowledge. Yet science is taught relatively little in UK primary schools (typically for one hour and 24 minutes a week compared with an international average of two hours a week for OECD countries).

It also receives much less attention than English and maths. According to new research from the Wellcome Trust, part of the reason is that its perceived importance is comparatively low: more than eight in 10 teachers say that maths (84%) and English (83%) are “very important” to the senior leadership team of their school, compared to just three in ten (30%) when it comes to science. In addition, it may have something to do with the fact that schools are not held to account for science provision in the same way as they are for English and maths.

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5 ways teachers can challenge inequality in the classroom

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 07:00:05 GMT2017-09-16T07:00:05Z

Research shows that everyday teaching practices exclude already marginalised groups of students, but teachers can take steps to redress the balance

Schools produce inequality. Work carried out by educational sociologists such as Kalwant Bhopal, David Gillborn and Deborah Youdell shows that the everyday practices of teaching and learning exclude already marginalised groups of students while guaranteeing success for others.

Related: How to help students settle into the new school year

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Secret Teacher: too many of us teach subjects we're not qualified for

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-09-16T06:00:04Z

More and more teachers I know are expected to take regular classes in subjects they know nothing about. Don’t students deserve to be taught by experts?

I got a phone call one morning from the supply agency. The conversation started well: the job was in a secondary school with a good Ofsted rating, only half an hour’s drive away. But the recruitment consultant was selling it to me hard. “Sounds great,” I said. “What’s the catch?”

Related: Secret Teacher: becoming a parent has changed me as an educator

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Why teachers should make sleep a priority

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 06:00:27 GMT2017-09-12T06:00:27Z

Are you getting enough quality sleep? Here’s why it matters – and what you can do to get into a good routine

We all know the stereotype of the coffee-guzzling, yawning teacher – but that image has its roots in the very real stress that early starts and long hours can put on your body. So how can you look after yourself as you adjust to the demanding schedule of school life? We spoke to sleep expert Dr Frances Le Cornu Knight from UCL to find out how to get enough rest.

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Secret Teacher: becoming a parent has changed me as an educator

Sat, 09 Sep 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-09-09T06:00:00Z

Being a parent and a teacher can feel like you’re on a conveyor belt of incessant chatter and snotty noses. But it’s transformed how I work

I recently returned to work part-time as a primary school teacher, having spent several years at home with two small children. I felt like I needed a change and many of my friends had extolled the joys of returning to work: “You get a bit of time to yourself!” they cried. “You can go to the toilet whenever you want without small children calling you!” Except, as a teacher you can’t, can you?

Related: Secret Teacher: I love my job but why does it feel like I’m the only one?

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7 tips for Sencos on managing the demands of the job

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:20:37 GMT2017-09-08T10:20:37Z

Being a schools special educational needs coordinator is rewarding, but comes with significant challenges. So what can you do get organised?

Being a special educational needs coordinator (Senco) and meeting the needs of young people can be truly rewarding. But learning to juggle shifting daily demands while keeping an eye on the bigger picture and maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky. So how can you set yourself up to have the best possible year? Here’s my advice.

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How to help students settle into the new school year

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:29:31 GMT2017-09-06T14:29:31Z

The start of the academic year can be a challenging time for students. What can teachers do to ease the transition to a new class or school?

The beginning of the school year can be a difficult time for students. Evidence suggests that the stress may lead to an initial reduction in grades and problems with self-esteem and attitudes towards teachers. But there are steps teachers can take to make things easier.

Ideally, some work to help minimise this would have already happened in the weeks and months leading up to the start of the school year – useful strategies (pdf) include taster days, giving out clear information to set expectations, and using some of next year’s material in advance. However, there may be some students who struggle to adapt. So what are some strategies teachers can use once the year has begun?

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Far-right 'Free Speech Week' at Berkeley collapses in recrimination and discord

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 10:58:10 GMT2017-09-24T10:58:10Z

  • Organizers call off far-right festival less than 24 hours before it was due to start
  • University says Berkeley Patriot group had not given reason for cancellation

Organizers of a week-long far-right festival planned for the University of California, Berkeley called off the event on Saturday, less than 24 hours before it was due to start and amid suggestions the event may have been little more than a student stunt.

Related: The far right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it?

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Cordelia Fine: ‘If women aren’t sweet, then they’re called bitches’

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:16:25 GMT2017-09-22T16:16:25Z

The award-winning psychologist and writer is taking on the pervasive idea that all differences between men and women can be explained by biology. But would a man be as self-effacing about his success?

If you have ever worked alongside both men and women, you will almost certainly have seen for yourself some of the classic gender differences in behaviour. Anyone still in doubt about their existence could have observed how Cordelia Fine conducted herself this week. On Tuesday night, the distinguished neuroscientist was awarded the Royal Society’s science book prize. One of six nominees, she had flown into London from her home in Melbourne on Monday, and is trailing her suitcase behind her when we meet the following afternoon, before heading back to Heathrow for the 24-hour journey home. I assume she must have known she would win, as who would come all this way otherwise? She looks surprised and shakes her head. “No, no. I was just really, really thrilled and excited about being nominated.”

At 42, Fine is enormously successful. After graduating with a first from Oxford in experimental psychology, she took a masters at Cambridge, followed by a doctorate from University College London. Her first book was nominated for the Royal Society prize in 2007, while her second, Delusions of Gender, was listed by the Huffington Post under: “Books women think men should read”. Her third, Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds, was acclaimed by the judges this week as an “original”, “very funny”, and “cracking critique of the ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ hypothesis”. With a cheque for £25,000 in her case, Fine could have been forgiven for swaggering – or at the very least strutting – across the hotel lounge to be interviewed.

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More balance needed in debate over statues | Letters

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 18:38:55 GMT2017-09-20T18:38:55Z

In every age, people will find ways to justify and celebrate what is in their economic interests, writes Joseph Cocker, while Jenny Blackwell says controversial statues should remain, but context should be provided

Toppling statues of everyone who supported racist and discriminatory views effectively whitewashes history (White supremacist statues must fall, 19 September). We could start with Plato and St Paul. And who is going to decide and how grave does the offence have to be? Far better to make people understand the context. The fact is that in every age, including our own, people find ways to justify what is in their economic interest, hence slavery and apartheid, and in many cases religion supported them. (I would make an exception where statues are erected long after the event with the deliberate aim of stoking old conflicts, as with some of the confederate statues in the US.)

Yarden Katz singles out Crick and Watson regarding eugenics. The word has acquired an aura of horror, but in practice we abort foetuses known to have abnormalities. They may have been misguided but the early proponents of eugenics genuinely wished to reduce the human misery that was all too apparent in Victorian times.

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Thea Jones obituary

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:05:00 GMT2017-09-18T17:05:00Z

My grandmother, Thea Jones, who has died aged 93, was a teacher, lecturer and management trainer who gave up her career in her early 60s to become ordained as a minister in the United Reformed Church.

Thea (short for Dorothea) was the daughter of David Higham, a senior accountant at the Phoenix Building Society, and his wife, Dorothy (nee Barnes). She was born and brought up in Woodford Green, Essex, until, when the second world war started, the family moved to Brighton. Thea attended Abbotsford school, Broadstairs, and then Malvern school for girls.

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Oxford graduates’ calamitous CVs | Brief letters

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:24:48 GMT2017-09-08T17:24:48Z

Margaret Thatcher | George Osborne | British Virgin Islands | The Fife | Racing tips | Walter Becker

Perhaps there was no room for M Thatcher, MA Oxon (Letters, 7 September). She had at least half a dozen failings: Proposed withdrawal of HMS Endurance from the South Atlantic, precipitating invasion of the Falkland Islands; squandering North Sea oil and gas revenues; premature closure of coal pits; refusing EEC matching funding for regional aid; refusing to renew social housing; imposition of the poll tax first on Scotland, undermining the union…
David Nowell
New Barnet, Hertfordshire

• One major omission from David Beake’s list of outstanding Oxford graduates: G Osborne, MA Oxon (austerity calamity)!
Hugh Macmillan (MA Oxon)
Wallingford, Oxfordshire

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Betsy DeVos to overhaul 'failed' guidelines on campus sexual assault

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 18:19:18 GMT2017-09-07T18:19:18Z

  • Education secretary to revamp Obama-era policy for investigating assaults
  • ‘The current approach does a disservice to everyone involved’

The Trump administration will overhaul Obama-era guidelines for schools investigating sexual assaults on campus, education secretary Betsy DeVos said on Thursday.

DeVos waded into the controversy that has embroiled US higher education for almost a decade and pitted survivors of sexual assault against critics who say the system is unfairly tilted against the accused.

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Jacinda Ardern says Labour would make tertiary education free in New Zealand

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 03:16:53 GMT2017-08-29T03:16:53Z

Students cheer $6bn plan to phase in free study starting from 2018 and increase living allowances as opposition also plans $25 tourist tax

Jacinda Ardern has made a bid to secure the youth vote in New Zealand’s upcoming elections by announcing that she will fast-track a Labour party policy to phase in three years of free tertiary education and boost student allowances by $50 a week.

Announcing the policy in her Mount Albert electorate in Auckland, Ardern said that from next year students starting tertiary education would get one year of free study under a Labour government. From 2021 those starting tertiary education would get two years free, and from 2024 three years. The overall cost of the package is $6bn.

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Cambridge University Press accused of 'selling its soul' over Chinese censorship

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:52:34 GMT2017-08-19T03:52:34Z

Academics and activists decry publisher’s decision to comply with a Chinese request to block more than 300 articles from leading China studies journal

The world’s oldest publishing house, Cambridge University Press, has been accused of being an accomplice to the Communist party’s bid to whitewash Chinese history after it agreed to purge hundreds of politically-sensitive articles from its Chinese website at the behest of Beijing’s censors.

The publisher confirmed on Friday that it had complied with a Chinese request to block more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly, a leading China studies journal, in order “to ensure that other academic and educational materials we publish remain available to researchers and educators” in China.

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How smearing a woman’s reputation was irresistible for the media | Nick Cohen

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:28:36 GMT2017-09-25T10:28:36Z

Many news organisations published Robbie Travers’ claims to have been victim of a PC stitch-up. If only they had dug a little deeper into the murky racial politics behind the story

On 12 May, Robbie Travers sent Esme Allman, a fellow student at Edinburgh University, a Facebook message.

“Hey Esme, just to let you know multiple news agencies have been delivered [sic] your comments on calling black men trash. You might want to think about saying that in future, some have been linked it [sic] to neo-Nazism.”

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You are your looks: that’s what society tells girls. No wonder they’re depressed | Natasha Devon

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:02:12 GMT2017-09-22T14:02:12Z

Children as young as seven believe that they are valued more for their appearance than for their character. It’s time to break down these stereotypes

A study published by Girlguiding this week has revealed that half of girls feel stifled by gender stereotyping, with children as young as seven believing they are valued more for their appearance than for their achievements or character. It is not, I believe, a coincidence that in the same week a government-funded study has shown a quarter of girls exhibit symptoms of depression by the age of 14.

Related: One in four girls have depression by the time they hit 14, study reveals

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Shame on Harvard for welcoming Sean Spicer – but spurning Chelsea Manning | Francine Prose

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:00:44 GMT2017-09-22T10:00:44Z

Its time to withdraw support from the university after it invited Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski, but rescinded a fellowship for Chelsea Manning

I graduated from Harvard in 1968. (Officially, my diploma was from Radcliffe, the now disbanded women’s college, but all of our classes were at Harvard.) That year, Harvard’s graduation speaker was the shah of Iran, and many of us wore black armbands and boycotted the ceremony to protest against the oppressive Iranian government’s human rights violations.

In 1993, I returned for our 25th reunion. The graduation speaker was Colin Powell, the defense secretary, who had supported the Clinton administration’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay members of the military. And my class (along with the rest of the audience) gave him a standing ovation.

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Tech's push to teach coding isn't about kids' success – it's about cutting wages

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:33:35 GMT2017-09-21T16:33:35Z

Today’s hi-tech wages threaten Silicon Valley’s bottom line. What better way to drive down coders’ pay than by investing in a new generation of cheap labor?

This month, millions of children returned to school. This year, an unprecedented number of them will learn to code.

Computer science courses for children have proliferated rapidly in the past few years. A 2016 Gallup report found that 40% of American schools now offer coding classes – up from only 25% a few years ago. New York, with the largest public school system in the country, has pledged to offer computer science to all 1.1 million students by 2025. Los Angeles, with the second largest, plans to do the same by 2020. And Chicago, the fourth largest, has gone further, promising to make computer science a high school graduation requirement by 2018.

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The F-word: feminism must be reclaimed by today’s teens – they’re our future

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:50:37 GMT2017-09-19T10:50:37Z

With feminism a dirty word for some, the suffragettes’ struggle to secure rights we take for granted is not only inspiring history – it’s a guide for other fights

When I was a teenager, I knew little about the suffragettes. I’d heard of Emmeline Pankhurst, and had a vague idea of women in silly hats hitting things with toffee hammers and going on hunger strikes, but that was about it. So when I started researching early feminism for a novel I was writing, I was astonished. The suffragettes were bloody amazing. They flew in dirigibles and got themselves posted to Downing Street. They wrote suffrage speeches, newspapers, novels and plays. They organised a woman’s peace congress in 1915, with representatives from all warring nations, and met world leaders including Woodrow Wilson to try to negotiate peace. The British government was so worried about their activity that it cancelled all North Sea shipping until the congress was over. Did you know about that? I didn’t.

It may be the case that today’s teenagers don’t know about it either: two years ago, the government announced that it was axing feminism from the politics A-level. While it reversed the decision a few months later after a public outcry, it is a worrying sign of how little women’s history is valued today.

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Historians will laugh at us when they look back at our university application system

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:00:10 GMT2017-09-19T06:00:10Z

Teachers’ predicted grades are notoriously inaccurate – so let’s use A-level results instead to end the crazy telephone lottery of clearing

In the future we will laugh at things we currently take for granted. How we all carry around big slabs of glass as phones and then act surprised when we smash them. Or how we let people get sick, rather than using data analytics to predict illness and get in early. But a special sort of befuddlement will be retained for the future historian looking back at how we run university entry.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of young people apply to university using a system built on smoke and mirrors. They apply before they take their exams and their teachers attempt to guess what grade they might get, to help universities to select their undergraduates. These “predicted” grades are notoriously inaccurate – only one in six applicants achieve what is surmised. While most teachers are busy over-predicting, they under-predict for young people from poorer families, which leads to injustice, lost opportunity and a lack of diversity in higher education.

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

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

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

• 10 things parents want to say to teachers

1 Your kids are not your mates

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

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

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Sexual harassment is constant in clubs and it must stop, students say

Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:59:12 GMT2013-11-05T09:59:12Z

From 'underhanding' to 'violate a fresher' nights, sexual assault is common in clubs – but students won't put up with it any more

"In clubs there's a game called 'underhanding', where a boy stands behind a girl and tries to put his fingers inside her," says Stephanie Davies-Arai, one of the campaigners behind the No More Page 3 campaign.

"At a Feminism in London workshop recently there were about 70 people in the room and when someone brought this up, all the young women knew what the word meant."

Continue reading...Have you been sexually harassed in a nightclub? Photograph: AlamyHave you been sexually harassed in a nightclub? Photograph: Alamy

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Universities abroad headhunting 95% of UCL’s top EU researchers, provost says

Tue, 29 Aug 2017 06:15:00 GMT2017-08-29T06:15:00Z

Head of University College London fears UK’s world standing will slip after Brexit as a third of his staff are from other EU countries

As Europeans living in the UK worry about their future rights following Brexit, European universities are using the opportunity to headhunt the brightest and best academics, warn UK vice-chancellors. The head of University College London, Michael Arthur, now says an alarming 95% of UCL’s senior researchers from other EU countries have been approached by institutions across the channel.

Currently nearly a third of UCL’s academics are from other EU countries.

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What's the point of school uniform?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Student who stabbed ex-boyfriend deletes Facebook page after abuse

Fri, 19 May 2017 16:21:16 GMT2017-05-19T16:21:16Z

Lavinia Woodward is perceived to have been treated leniently by the judge because she is so bright, even though she has yet to be sentenced

The Oxford medical student at the centre of a public outcry over allegedly lenient sentencing after she wounded her ex-boyfriend with a knife has been forced to deactivate her Facebook account because she and her lawyer have received abusive threats.

Lavinia Woodward, 24, has been told that if she stays off drugs and does not reoffend, she may avoid a prison sentence – immediate or suspended – when she returns to court in September.

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Students: just say no to sugar

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 11:42:31 GMT2013-03-18T11:42:31Z

Forget illegal drugs, students are overdosing on sugar. Little do they know that binging on sweet food is a serious form of substance abuse

When people talk about substance abuse at university, they generally think of recreational drugs. But even if you think you're keeping your time as a student relatively clean, research suggests you will probably fall victim to one highly addictive drug innocently consumed in large quantities by millions. That drug is sugar.

We don't think of sugar as a drug: it's found in most of the foods and drinks we encounter every day. And at university, where stress levels can be high and fast food is cheap, it's all too easy to reach out for the comfort blanket it provides.

Continue reading...Step away from the sweet stuff. Photograph: AlamyStep away from the sweet stuff. Photograph: Alamy

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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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Does music really help you concentrate?

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

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

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

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

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