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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: Wed, 16 Aug 2017 13:32:15 GMT2017-08-16T13:32:15Z

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

To be truly inclusive, universities must help prisoners feel they belong

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:14:49 GMT2017-08-16T11:14:49Z

Universities offer a crucial lifeline to people with convictions, but they could go further in encouraging and supporting their applications and studies

In the next few days, the news will be full of images of teenagers nervously opening envelopes and jumping for joy at their exam results. It doesn’t feel too long ago I was in their place. Twenty years later, I’m waiting for results again, but this time from students who have had a different educational path to mine – through the prison system.

Prisoners’ Education Trust, whose policy team I head, funds prisoners to take courses in subjects and levels otherwise unavailable to them. Amid the despair in the prison system today, with the staffing crisis and increases in violence, drugs, self-harm and suicides, there are some incredibly determined men and women working against the odds to gain GCSE, A-level and university-level qualifications.

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Have you put off applying to university because of uncertainty over tuition fees?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:03:13 GMT2017-08-16T07:03:13Z

There has been much debate about the cost of higher education in England. Have possible policy changes affected your decision to go to university?

Jeremy Corbyn pledged to abolish tuition fees during this year’s general election. If Labour won, he said new university students would be freed from paying £9,000 as early as the autumn 2017.

The policy prompted much discussion around the cost of higher education. Although Labour did not win, the Conservative cabinet minister Damian Green said the Tories need a national debate on university tuition fees.

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Universities can do more to stop the exodus from state school teaching

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:00:32 GMT2017-08-16T07:00:32Z

Almost a third of state school teachers quit in five years, but by supporting and mentoring NQTs for longer, universities can help keep people in the job

We are in the middle of a teacher retention crisis. Of the 21,400 teachers who started teaching in state schools in 2010, 30% quit within five years. There are many reasons for this, and much work is being done to try and alleviate some of the pressures teachers face, such as the government’s action plan [pdf] on reducing workload. One avenue we are exploring is the role universities could play.

Related: Should universities take control of schools? The government thinks so

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How to manage your finances at university

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 06:00:31 GMT2017-08-16T06:00:31Z

Before pitching up at university, ensure you’ve applied for student funding and, when there, make rent your top priority

Students who’ve failed to get their funding sorted out in time pose a regular start-of-term challenge for Rob Ellis, financial information support adviser at Swansea University and chair of the National Association of Student Money Advisers.

“Often they apply and think that’s it,” he says. “They don’t have a letter back and by the time they get to university they find out they were meant to supply more information.”

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Government pulls all Learndirect contracts and funding

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 19:03:32 GMT2017-08-15T19:03:32Z

Move comes after privatised adult training agency accused of paying owners millions despite ‘catastrophic’ decline in standards

The government is to cancel all contracts with Learndirect, the adult training provider that tried to suppress a damning regulator’s report into its poor standards.

The Department for Education said on Tuesday that it would withdraw all funding from the organisation, which is responsible for almost 73,000 trainees, by July 2018 and that it had already banned it from taking on new apprentices.

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Publish Prince Charles lobbying letters, Scottish government urged

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:27:08 GMT2017-08-15T18:27:08Z

Pressure comes after the Guardian revealed ministers withheld or redacted documents from prince’s office on behalf of Teach First

Opposition leaders have called on Scottish ministers to publish secret correspondence about lobbying by the Prince of Wales to reform Scotland’s teacher training system.

The Guardian disclosed on Monday that ministers have withheld or redacted documents showing the prince and his officials lobbied them on behalf of a charity called Teach First, of which which he is a patron.

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Should Hollywood do more to portray safer sex?

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:13:51 GMT2017-08-15T18:13:51Z

Last week, Insecure’s Issa Rae responded to fans who claim the show should do more to depict safe sexual practices but the show isn’t alone in its portrayal of condom-free action

There’s still something undeniably compelling about a good sex scene. Whether it’s to build intrigue, advance the plot or, well, indulge our collective wish to see Hollywood stars undress and simulate coitus, they remain attention-grabbing set-pieces.

Related: Sex education: what do today’s children really need to know?

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I went to Oxford. As a black female student, I found it alienating and elitist | Afua Hirsch

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:10:06 GMT2017-08-15T15:10:06Z

The experiences of minority students reflect new research showing the UK’s top universities need to tackle the social segregation they reflect and help to cause

I got asked a lot of annoying questions when I was a student. Some were about my hair texture (afro, kinky), libido (presumed to be supernatural) and expected ability to dance (think Beyoncé). Over time, researching the experiences of other students at Oxford, where I studied, I’ve found these interactions to be a common consequence of being black and female in an environment that is populated not just by white students but also by many who have never met a black person in the flesh before.

Related: Forget equality and diversity, my university only cares about appearances

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Clearing: broaden your scope by baccalaureate

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:00:13 GMT2017-08-15T15:00:13Z

Baccalaureate results come out before A-levels, giving students more time to explore clearing

This year, results of the international baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a qualification comprising six subjects, both science and humanities, offered by some UK schools instead of A-levels, were released on 5 July – the same day that clearing opened.

So IB students who’ve missed their first or conditional choice have had the luxury of time – an extra six weeks or more to mull their options, read up on courses, even visit and apply to universities through clearing before A-level results are out.

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Diversity is the great rightwing scapegoat for working-class woes | Maya Wiley

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:07:18 GMT2017-08-15T13:07:18Z

Trump’s base will not get the education or jobs they need, nor will anyone else, by blaming immigrants and minorities. They are starting to see that

Donald Trump has crossed the 200-day mark since his inauguration. It was a raucous run-up to this milestone, and true to his campaign style, the president has aggressively behaved as the race-baiter-in-chief.

He encouraged police brutality at a speech in Long Island, New York, using gang violence as a justification for draconian immigration crackdowns, and a few days later announced support for a Senate proposal to restrict legal immigration into the US.

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Learndirect branded inadequate in Ofsted report it tried to suppress

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 19:14:14 GMT2017-08-14T19:14:14Z

UK’s largest provider of adult training and apprenticeships fails in high court bid to quash report, which will be released on Thursday

The UK’s largest provider of adult training and apprenticeships has been branded inadequate in a damning inspection by the education watchdog Ofsted, which it then went to court to try to suppress.

Learndirect, which has almost 73,000 trainees on its apprenticeships and training programmes, went to the high court to try to quash the report in which it is said to have been awarded the lowest possible grades.

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Left-handed children 'penalised' by lack of support in UK schools

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-08-14T06:00:35Z

Campaigners claim ministers failing to recognise schoolroom struggles which hamper the development of left-handers

Children are still “penalised” for being left-handed with ministers lacking the information to understand the scale of the problem, education campaigners have warned.

It is also feared a disproportionate number of prisoners are left-handed, with calls to research whether classroom struggles trigger a “downward spiral” in which pupils get low marks, their self-esteem drops and their future opportunities are damaged.

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Nervous universities await clearing as student applications fall

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-08-14T06:00:35Z

Decline in number of UK school-leavers and less interest from EU undergraduates mean HE sector is enduring its ‘toughest season’

While hundreds of thousands of sixth-formers across Britain anxiously await their A-level results on Thursday, university leaders across the country are waiting just as nervously in what is thought to be the toughest ever student recruitment season.

Britain’s 160 higher education institutions have enjoyed a rising tide of applications from prospective undergraduates, barring a dip in 2012 when tuition fees first rose to £9,000. But this year the tide has gone out – and some vice-chancellors fear they will be left stranded.

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Jo Johnson defends 'fair and equitable' tuition fees and student loans

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 23:01:26 GMT2017-08-13T23:01:26Z

Universities minister defends student finance system as thousands of sixth-formers await their A-level results

The universities minister, Jo Johnson, has hit back at critics of tuition fees and student loans, insisting the current system is fair and equitable, as thousands of sixth-formers await A-level results that will decide whether or not they go on to higher education.

In an article published in Prospect magazine this week, Johnson vehemently defends the student finance system, which has faced growing criticism since the general election campaign when Labour pledged to scrap tuition fees, garnering widespread support from young people.

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Wrong A-level choices prevent poorer students gaining elite university places

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 20:20:17 GMT2017-08-12T20:20:17Z

Best degree courses snub vocational options popular with low-income pupils

Students from poorer backgrounds may be held back by their A-level subject choices when applying for respected degree courses, such as law, at leading universities.

New research suggests that those taking vocational A-levels in law, accounting or business are less likely to attend elite universities than students who opt for traditional academic subjects such as sciences, mathematics, languages, history and geography.

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A-level pupils feel the stress of sitting new, untested exams

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 21:54:13 GMT2017-08-11T21:54:13Z

As results day looms, students complain that changes were rushed in, with errors in papers and inadequate revision materials available

Students awaiting their A-level results next week have described the stress of sitting new, untested qualifications this summer for which many felt ill prepared, with no past papers, no mark schemes and no clarity about grade boundaries.

Many complained that the changes, introduced by the Tories, had been “rushed in”, with teachers and students struggling to master demanding new syllabuses, aided by few revision materials. The pressure was compounded by the fact that the new qualifications are solely assessed on end-of-year exams, rather than coursework and AS-levels halfway through.

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Number of pupils anticipating university place at eight-year low

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 23:01:21 GMT2017-08-09T23:01:21Z

Tuition fees and student debt are deterring many, according to research for Sutton Trust charity

The proportion of schoolchildren who think they are likely to go to university has fallen to its lowest level in eight years, with many deterred by tuition fees and student debt, according to a new poll.

The survey, carried out among almost 3,000 pupils aged 11-16 in England and Wales, suggests that the recent debate over the fairness of tuition fees and £50,000-plus student debt may be starting to have an impact on the aspirations of children before they even take their GCSEs.

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English schools excluded 700 children for sexual misconduct in past four years

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 23:01:03 GMT2017-08-08T23:01:03Z

Press Association research reveals children as young as five have been disciplined for abuse, assault and sharing indecent images

Hundreds of children, including some as young as five, are being expelled or temporarily excluded from school for sexual misconduct including abuse, assault, harassment and watching pornography, according to new figures.

The research reveals that pupils are being disciplined for a wide range of incidents described as sexual misconduct, including bullying and “lewd” behaviour, as well as sharing indecent images on social media.

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Interns beware: working for free could put a dent in your career

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 21:01:01 GMT2017-07-29T21:01:01Z

Graduates who take up placements are often worse off than their peers three years later, major study finds

They are an increasingly familiar part of the modern workplace – the unpaid interns, eager for the experience and the contacts that will help ease them into a paid job. They have even been immortalised in Hollywood movies and television series – Will Humphries, played by Hugh Skinner, became the hapless hero of the comedy hit W1A, which lampooned life at the BBC.

Each year tens of thousands of students believe that if they are to get a foot on the job ladder in highly competitive industries such as the arts, media and sciences, they will need practical experience on their CV. And this means that they have little option but to spend months working for next to nothing, raising fears of exploitation.

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A fairer way to finance university students | Letters

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:51:18 GMT2017-08-15T16:51:18Z

Margaret Sharp says a 3% graduate tax paid by all graduates earning above threshold over a 30-year period would be fairer than the current loan system. Ian Noon says there are too many barriers to deaf students. Plus letters from David Reed and Peter Elmer

What Jo Johnson, the universities minister, forgets (Student finance system is fair and efficient, 14 August) is the distorting effect of the very unequal distribution of wealth in this country. Those whose parents or grandparents can afford to pay off their student debts on graduation are not burdened, as are the majority of graduates, with repayment over 30 years via the 9% premium on income tax. In other words, many graduates from well-to-do families escape having to pay this 9% addition to income tax, whereas those from less affluent backgrounds do not. Is this really a fair system?

Nor can a repayment system in which 75% of recipients do not pay off their debts over those 30 years be called efficient. What has driven the system, and indeed its extension to adult education and nursing, is the fact that the Student Loans Company’s borrowing is, like the notorious public finance initiative, “off the books” and therefore does not register as government borrowing – until the debt is written off 30 years down the line when it comes back on to the books.

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Unconditional love: the university offers pupils can’t refuse

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:00:07 GMT2017-08-15T06:00:07Z

More A-level students than ever have received unconditional offers, many at the last minute. But is it always a good thing?
University clearing guide 2017

With A-level results looming on Thursday, 18-year-old Ashley Ford is feeling more confident about the future than many of her friends. In February two universities, Plymouth and Hull, offered her unconditional place, regardless of what she scored in her A-levels. She jumped at a guaranteed chance to go to Plymouth, a city she already loved.

“I didn’t consider Hull as I didn’t want to go there,” she says. “But when I got the offer from Plymouth I felt so special. I felt they had really chosen me and I accepted them as my firm choice straight away.”

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UK education is eroded by the Ebacc, academies and tuition fees | Letters

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:59:58 GMT2017-08-14T17:59:58Z

Kirstie Donnelly and David Ainley say the Ebacc is narrowing the curriculum in many schools, while Ron Glatter and Peter Shaw say Andrew Adonis is partly to blame for current problems

I wholeheartedly agree with the concern expressed by parents and teachers about the impact of the English baccalaureate (Ebacc) and funding constraints in schools (No more music, Spanish, tourism or engineering as the subject cuts bite, 8 August).

The Ebacc is significantly narrowing the curriculum in many schools without considering young people’s varied aspirations and educational needs. It is yet another example of the government’s fixation on academic subjects to the detriment of all others. This is particularly counterproductive when we know that employers favour attitude and experience.

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'It's easier if you're middle class': first-generation students on going to uni

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:24:05 GMT2017-08-14T12:24:05Z

What are the challenges of being the first in your family to go to university – and how does it shape your experience? Four students speak out

Is higher education still the preserve of the middle classes or have tuition fees opened up access? What are the challenges of being the first in your family to go to university – and how does it shape your academic experience?

We asked four first-generation students about their experiences. From struggling to pay for books and scrambling for a rental guarantor to not wanting to let your family down, here’s what they said.

Dalal Barahman, 21, first year medical student at Manchester University

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Clearing: how to avoid the short straw

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 09:00:40 GMT2017-08-12T09:00:40Z

Don’t just accept the first course you’re offered. Consider the modules covered and your end goal

Going into clearing can mean that you end up with something better than you’d hoped for – if you approach it with an open mind.

Fashion student Kate Hewitson, 20, from County Durham, wanted to do fashion at a university close to home, as she wanted to be able to drive back home whenever she needed to.

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The new GCSEs cut off life chances for students like my nurse, Aisha | Laura McInerney

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:15:07 GMT2017-08-15T06:15:07Z

Ministers want ‘rigour’ but that just means they want everyone to take the subjects they did at school

Next week, 16-year-olds will receive their GCSE results and proud parents will undertake the annual tradition of crowing about them to neighbours, grandparents and colleagues. This year, though, the excitement may be more muted. GCSEs begin their shift from lettered grades (As and Bs) to numbers (1 to 9), which makes achievements more difficult to understand. Only English and maths will switch initially. So next Thursday an excited dad will tell his boss: “Freya got 6Bs, a 7 and a 9!” But the boss probably won’t know if this is good or bad. (Nine is the top grade, so Freya did OK.) The government has also introduced a new “strong pass rate”, which fewer pupils will achieve, and top grades are being so stingily limited that many schools won’t see a single one among their pupils.

Related: Confusion over new GCSEs causing widespread anxiety, say teachers

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Teenage pregnancy in the US is at an all-time low. Trump could soon change that

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-08-09T10:00:05Z

Trump administration’s decision to cut nationwide sex ed programs is putting many young lives at risk

It was a muggy afternoon, and Nakesha Martin raised her voice to be heard over the rattle of the air conditioner. “Is that a high-risk behavior, or a low-risk behavior?” she shouted to the class.

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Students: how to work out what you're good at

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:05:21 GMT2017-08-08T14:05:21Z

At university, the prospect of going into the job market becomes real – and daunting. Start by pinpointing your strengths and values, say the experts

You’ve probably been answering questions about your dream career since you were too young to know what that meant. Chances are you’ve changed your goals since then (shout out to all the astronauts/cowboys/chocolate factory owners who didn’t), but as you near the end of university, that concept starts to become a lot more real. And daunting. Especially when you haven’t got a clear picture of where you are heading after graduation.

It will come as news to no one that the jobs market is a nightmare, yet the low cost of travel and rise of remote working means that in some ways, today’s graduates have many options. All you need to do is work out what you are good at. But how on earth are you supposed to do that?

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No more music, Spanish or engineering: parents angry at cuts to GCSEs

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:30:31 GMT2017-08-08T06:30:31Z

Schools’ funding crisis and pressure to raise their Ebacc scores have forced heads to cut subject options

Come through the main doors at Gateacre school in Liverpool, into an atrium with furniture in bright colours; on your right there’s a drama studio. On the door someone has put up a notice: “More than 9,994 students studying at Russell Group universities since 2012 have an A-level in drama and theatre.”

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

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Everything must be measured: how mimicking business taints universities | Jonathan Wolff

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:15:31 GMT2017-08-08T06:15:31Z

Research and teaching are suffering as a result of target-setting, casualisation and sharp practices

Often, what begins as a pet-hate fades into the background irritation of life. But sometimes it gnaws away, gets under your skin and into your bones, then flares up, causing toxic shock. The term “neoliberalism” has this effect on me. It is a lazy gobbet of pent-up, inarticulate hostility. And when someone decides that we have entered the era of the “neoliberal” university, ruthlessly seeking profit to the neglect of teaching and research, my boiling blood runneth over.

Related: Universities accused of 'importing Sports Direct model' for lecturers' pay

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Andrew Adonis: a one-man tuition fee Twitter storm

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:00:31 GMT2017-08-08T06:00:31Z

Interview: The Labour peer has been furiously tweeting about student fees and university vice-chancellors’ pay. Why now?

What has got into Andrew Adonis? The former Tony Blair guru, now a Labour peer, has spent much of his summer having a go at higher education, and particularly vice-chancellors, attacking them on Twitter, and anywhere else he can, for their “greed”, for running a “fee cartel” and for leaving students with a “Frankenstein’s monster debt”. He’s asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate why fees are so high and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) to look into governance at the University of Bath, where the vice-chancellor earns more than £450,000 a year. In any spare moment he tweets the number of university staff at individual universities on annual salaries of more than £100,000, or the six-figure earnings of managers of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, recently revealed to have run up a deficit of £17.5bn.

I think it is a genuine scandal what has happened to top pay, and that would not have happened but for the fees bonanza

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The Prevent duty is about relationships, so integrate it into pastoral support

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:30:35 GMT2017-08-14T06:30:35Z

At the University of Greenwich, we’re complying with the government’s Prevent duty by looking at it through a wellbeing lens. It’s working so far

The University of Greenwich has had our share of radicalisation-related headlines, notably the former student who murdered Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013. Our investigation into whether the student had been radicalised at Greenwich informed our approach to complying with the government’s Prevent duty, the legal obligation for universities to keep their students from being drawn into terrorism. We came up with an interpretation that focuses on the wellbeing of members of our university community.

After that case, we commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate whether there was any evidence that the students’ union, student societies, or the external environment had contributed to any radicalisation. It also considered the existing policies, procedures and controls to prevent extremism, radicalisation and violence.

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How do you finish a PhD when, as a working-class student, you don't feel you belong?

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:30:51 GMT2017-08-11T06:30:51Z

University can be intimidating for less-privileged students, no matter how much encouragement we receive

I’m in the fourth year of my PhD. My funding runs out in less than two months. I do not have a thesis to submit. How did this happen? Nobody told me that a PhD was a trial by assertiveness. And, as I will explain, I’m about as assertive as a rice-pudding.

I did an undergraduate degree in English and History. I nearly had a breakdown in my final year. It was important to me to do well in my exams to convince myself that I deserved to be at university. I came even closer to a breakdown during my master’s degree: classes were small and lecturers got to know your name. I couldn’t handle the pressure of being seen, of being judged by them.

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'It's a tough transition': why universities must plan for generation alpha

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 06:30:30 GMT2017-08-10T06:30:30Z

They may still be in nappies, but Karen Gross, author of Breakaway Learners, thinks universities should start adapting for the next generation of students

Universities are already thinking about how to accommodate Generation Z. Born from the mid-1990s onwards, they are today’s students and prospective applicants. This generation has grown up with technology, the internet and social media shaping their education and interaction, and universities are already looking to harness their entrepreneurial and collaborative learning styles. But what about their successors, Generation Alpha, who are still being born?

Karen Gross, a former senior policy adviser to the US department of education, thinks universities need to start thinking several steps ahead. She’s written a book, Breakaway Learners, arguing that universities shouldn’t just be reacting to the new students who enter their doors, but rather seeking to understand the coming cohorts as they make their way through the education system, from nursery school up.

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2VCs do we take the pressure off young academics?

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 06:30:01 GMT2017-08-09T06:30:01Z

It’s no secret that it’s tough trying to make it in academia. What can universities do to make life easier for early-career academics?

Getting a foothold on the academic ladder can be difficult, with many young academics struggling through a succession of temporary contracts before they find their feet. In the latest of our discussion series, 2VCs, Anna Fazackerley talks to Prof Michael Arthur, vice-chancellor of University College London and Prof Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England about the life of a young academic.

UCL, one of the leading members of the prestigious Russell Group, is now the third biggest university in Britain, with 39,000 students, more than 12,500 staff and 8,682 PhDs. The research-intensive institution is set to expand further, with a new campus in east London being built next year.

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The library of the future? It's digital

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 10:13:55 GMT2017-08-08T10:13:55Z

Universities looking to provide the best library service to students should prioritise digital innovation

The National Student Survey and the teaching excellence framework are placing growing emphasis on the learning environment and student experience. But discussions have moved on from thinking about physical spaces. Instead, libraries are putting digital innovation at the top of their lists.

Any revamped digital approach to libraries needs to begin by considering how student expectations vary. While hard copies of core texts will likely have a place on the library shelves for years to come, the way students consume and digest information is changing.

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There's some way to go before universities are truly parent-friendly

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 06:30:36 GMT2017-08-04T06:30:36Z

I was lucky in lots of respects when it came to my pregnancy and parental leave, yet I still found it a struggle. Academic parents need more support

Mention maternity leave in academia and a doom-laden conversation starts. It goes something like this: short-term research fellowships coincide with childbearing years; men dominate senior academic positions; women are scarce in Stem subjects and there is a serious lack of part-time positions. Surely anyone like me is who is lucky enough to have a professorial role in a Stem subject, the right to work part-time and female line managers must be living the dream? Actually, the reality is still tough.

As women, particularly educated ones, are leaving childbearing to later in life, there should be more academics, like me, in full-time continuing positions taking extended leave. But there aren’t: the number of lecturers, associate professors and professors taking maternity leave is dropping. Could it be linked to the attitudes they experience from staff and students?

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Guardian seminar – how to deliver top quality degree apprenticeships

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 07:00:09 GMT2017-08-03T07:00:09Z

Hear how universities and businesses are transforming the ways students earn and learn by joining our panel debate on Thursday 5 October 2017 at the Guardian headquarters in London

Is it your job to deliver excellent degree apprenticeships? Then this is an opportunity to hear from experts in the area about both policy and practice. The seminar, which is supported by the Open University, will unpack the policy changes that have made the new programmes possible, and discuss how to ensure that degree apprenticeships offer a high-quality alternative to traditional university courses.

Our panellists include Greg Wade, degree apprenticeships policy lead, Universities UK; Liz Gorb, director of apprenticeships, Manchester Metropolitan University; Roxanne Stockwell, principal, Pearson College London; Ellie Ulrich, apprenticeship manager, Cisco; Michael Nathan, senior emerging talent manager, Mace; and Steve Hill, director of external engagement, Open University.

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University libraries need to start putting the student first

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 06:30:08 GMT2017-08-03T06:30:08Z

With universities under pressure to show they’re worth the fees, providing a modern library service is a great place to start

The role the university library plays in supporting teaching and learning has never been more important. Exercises such as the National Student Survey and the teaching excellence framework are placing growing emphasis on the learning environment and the student experience, while students are expecting more from the institutions to which they pay £9,000 fees. There is perhaps no other area of a university that has such a high level of footfall and interaction with students than the library, so it’s an important weapon in keeping student satisfaction high. But is it as good as it could be?

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Shaky science shouldn't dictate international student numbers

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 06:30:10 GMT2017-08-01T06:30:10Z

Government needs to link datasets on international student migration to build a true picture – otherwise they could be turned away for no reason

Last week, the Office of Statistics Regulation added its voice to concerns over the quality of student migration statistics, recommending that the Office for National Statistics downgrade the official measure of the number of overseas graduates leaving Britain. Earlier, a House of Lords committee warned that without improved statistics on immigration, “the government will be formulating policies in the dark”. Why is visa policy for international students based on evidence that isn’t robust?

Controversy over the statistics on international students and graduates in the UK is not new. It has been a feature of the immigration debate for a number of years. The reason for this is that the UK’s estimates of immigration and emigration of non-EU nationals come from ONS data, which is based on the International Passenger Survey (IPS).

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Ten books every teacher should read

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:00:10 GMT2017-08-15T09:00:10Z

In the last decade, a wealth of books has brought together ideas to help teachers have the greatest impact on student learning. Here are just a few

Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s Émile and Dewey’s Democracy and Education – there’s a strong case to be made, as Dennis Hayes has, that these are the only books on education that teachers need to read.

But if I was about to enter the classroom as a teacher for the first time or was looking to improve my practice, I would probably want to read something with more practical advice on what I should be doing and, more importantly, on what I shouldn’t.

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Five tips to help students on results day

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:00:36 GMT2017-08-14T07:00:36Z

Many students will have important decisions to make after getting their GSCE and A-level results. Here’s what teachers can do to help

Results day will soon be upon us. For many students across the country, it will mark the end of one journey and the start of a new one. Most will get the grades they want and be rewarded for the many hours of revision and hard work. But some will fall short of their expectations and have to make important decisions about what to do next. Teachers are often the first point of call to help navigate this difficult moment. Here’s what your students need to know:

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Secret Teacher: multi-academy trusts want machines not mentors

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 06:30:37 GMT2017-08-12T06:30:37Z

Teachers are being told to ‘just stick to the script’ like staff in a call centre. Is this really how we want children to learn?

Ask anyone about their favourite teacher and they will, more often than not, describe the rogue teacher – the teacher who seemed to tear up the rulebook and teach the way that best suited them. They were strong personalities who left a lasting impression on you and taught you as much about the world as they did about their own subject area.

Inspirational teachers from famous films all seem to fit this model: Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, Jack Black in School of Rock. They are the teachers who inspire others to teach, yet tend to be scoffed at by other educators who are more worried about risk assessments and Ofsted visits.

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The big lesson from the world's best school system? Trust your teachers | John Hart

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 06:30:01 GMT2017-08-09T06:30:01Z

Finnish education policies are highly praised, but the real success is the level of responsibility and autonomy given to teachers to do their jobs

Finnish education is rarely out of the news, whether it’s outstanding Pisa results, those same results slipping, the dropping of traditional subjects, not dropping subjects, or what makes Finnish teachers special.

I worked in England for two years as a teacher before moving to Finland eight years ago. My colleagues in the UK were supportive and the headteacher gave me subject leadership in my second year. I didn’t want to leave but the pull of home for my Finnish wife was too strong, so we upped sticks.

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Seven tips for supporting high performers at school

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:30:31 GMT2017-08-08T06:30:31Z

From using games and activities to developing growth mindsets, experts share their advice on what parents and teachers can do to cultivate excellence

Is giftedness a case of nature or nurture? Opinion is divided. While one school of thought says that some children have an innate ability to achieve higher than their peers, others will argue that most people can reach standards of performance associated with being gifted and talented.

In our recent Q&A, experts discussed the latest thinking on how people become high performers and what teachers and parents can do to help young people excel in their chosen areas. Here’s a summary of their thoughts:

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Secret Teacher: working in the holidays devalues our profession

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 06:00:04 GMT2017-08-05T06:00:04Z

The extended holiday entitlement for teachers is fantastic, but the idea that it is an unwarranted perk is bogus

I understand why teachers go into school in the holidays. I used to, too. It would be the end of term, with everyone giddy from the sheer exhaustion of school life. “I can’t wait for a break,” I’d say, yet I would still go back in. Just a couple of days at the start of the holidays to tidy my classroom. Then before term, a couple of days to prepare. I’d hope to sort out a display or two, label some books and – what joy – laminate. Great. Whatever made me feel happy and settled seemed fair enough.

Related: Secret Teacher: in a stressful year, it's the children who have kept me going

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Professor McGonagall or Dewey Finn: which movie teacher are you?

Fri, 04 Aug 2017 06:00:35 GMT2017-08-04T06:00:35Z

From Harry Potter to The History Boys, teachers on the big screen come in all shapes and sizes

We all know that Hollywood portrays a somewhat distorted picture of real life, but how close does it get to the reality of teaching? We take a look at the some of the ways teachers are portrayed on the big screen.

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How can we create a culture of excellence in schools?

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 06:30:39 GMT2017-08-02T06:30:39Z

Amid current pressures, schools must focus on giving the best education and creating a lifelong passion for learning among pupils

Pressures on schools to perform have never been higher, with a constant focus on data, various different league table measures, exam results and the ever-present threat of Ofsted inspections at the first sign of a slip. These might not feel so onerous if they weren’t also happening against the backdrop of severe real-term budget cuts to schools, a retention and recruitment crisis, and rapid reforms to GCSE and A-level exam specifications that have left schools scrabbling to keep up.

In this climate, there is a temptation to simply try to get through the changes unscathed, to focus on the data and getting the best possible place in league tables. But this short-term outlook is a barrier to genuine improvement as each action becomes a response to the latest crisis or government diktat.

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Secret Teacher: when did I become a social worker for vulnerable parents?

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 06:00:43 GMT2017-07-29T06:00:43Z

I’m expected to make recommendations on everything from housing to debt for parents in need of assistance. I’m out of my depth

Those working in the education profession, or associated with it, know that teachers have always had to wear many hats. It’s not uncommon for us to be surrogate parents, social workers, counsellors and advisers to those we teach.

Related: The drive to get children out of foster care and into boarding school

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Put to the vote: German nursery where children make the decisions

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:20:56 GMT2017-08-11T10:20:56Z

Dolli Einstein Haus in Pinneberg is run on a democratic basis, with votes on everything from food to nappy changes

At the Dolli Einstein Haus, constitutional crises are usually solved before breakfast. When one delegate’s motion in favour of rice pudding with cherry compote was roundly defeated the delegates were left facing a hung vote over the choice of french toast or pancake with apple puree. Another council member then demanded sausages with spaghetti. But a second-round runoff broke the deadlock: 12:4 in favour of pancakes, an absolute majority that everyone could live with.

At most nurseries, parents worry that their child will pick up nits, a runny nose or bad language. At the Dolli Einstein Haus in Pinneberg, however, parents hope that their offspring catch a different kind of habit: a taste for democracy.

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What is a black professor in America allowed to say?

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 05:00:07 GMT2017-08-03T05:00:07Z

Tommy J Curry thought forcing a public discussion about race and violence was part of his job. It turned out that people didn’t want to hear it. By Steve Kolowich

One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. “Since you said white people need to be killed I’m in fear of my life,” one person had written via email. “The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done.” Curry didn’t know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.

Curry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.

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Letter: Clancy Sigal’s cure for fear of flying

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 15:15:48 GMT2017-08-02T15:15:48Z

When Clancy Sigal was in the Guardian office one day, we subs were looking for a cure for fear of flying. “Any Elmore Leonard novel will do the trick,” was Clancy’s suggestion. It works.

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George and Amal Clooney to help fund Syrian refugee schools in Lebanon

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 01:36:24 GMT2017-08-01T01:36:24Z

Donation from Clooneys, Google and HP will pay for transport, supplies, computers, content, curriculum and teacher training

George and Amal Clooney have said they will help 3,000 Syrian refugee children go to school this year in Lebanon, where the United Nations says 200,000 children are not receiving an education after fleeing the war in neighbouring Syria.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice said it has teamed up with Google and HP Inc to help the UN children’s agency, Unicef, and the Lebanese ministry of education open seven so-called “second shift” schools for Syrian refugee children.

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'Going global': China exports soft power with first large-scale university in Malaysia

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 00:29:40 GMT2017-07-07T00:29:40Z

Beijing’s push for overseas influence extends to the education sector, with the opening of Xiamen University outside Kuala Lumpur

Near the classrooms at the original Xiamen University in China, there is a pleasant hill and lake. So, when the government-owned institution set out to build the first ever large-scale international branch of a Chinese university, an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur, they found a hill and built a lake.

“We would like to keep some aspects of our parent university, because it is part of the tradition and culture,” said Wang Ruifang, president of Xiamen University Malaysia. “We would like to give our students space to think.”

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Turkish schools to stop teaching evolution, official says

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:00:16 GMT2017-06-23T05:00:16Z

Board of education chairman says subject is debatable, controversial and too complicated for students

Evolution will no longer be taught in Turkish schools, a senior education official has said, in a move likely to raise the ire of the country’s secular opposition.

Alpaslan Durmuş, who chairs the board of education, said evolution was debatable, controversial and too complicated for students.

“We believe that these subjects are beyond their [students] comprehension,” said Durmuş in a video published on the education ministry’s website.

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No classrooms, lessons or homework: New Zealand school where children are free to roam

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 06:58:49 GMT2017-06-20T06:58:49Z

Pupils at Deep Green Bush school spend the majority of their day outdoors, exploring the countryside, learning to fish, hunt and trap possums

Deep among the streams and Kauri trees of rural south Auckland, New Zealand’s newest and most alternative school is in session. The weather is fine so a bout of fishing is in order, followed by lunch cooked on an open fire. Homework and classes? Indefinitely dismissed.

“We are called a school but we look nothing like any school out there,” says Joey Moncarz, co-founder and head teacher at Deep Green Bush School, which is in term two of its inaugural year.

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George Soros attacks Hungarian prime minister for building a 'mafia state'

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:24:59 GMT2017-06-01T11:24:59Z

Financier says his Central European University is still under threat folllowing Viktor Orbán’s curbs on foreign ownership

George Soros has accused the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán of building a “mafia state”, as he warned the fate of the Central European University he founded still hangs in the balance.

The Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist said he was confident the university’s defence of its freedom would ultimately “bring the slow-moving wheels of justice into motion”, but said it and other organisations he had backed were still at risk under the Orbán-led government.

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Educational disparity in the playground | Brief letters

Tue, 23 May 2017 17:47:41 GMT2017-05-23T17:47:41Z

Private schools | Basque refugees | Sexism | Raw meat | Older Guardian readers

I saw the “privileged few” on Monday. Picture the scene: a beautiful sunny day in a village, near Northampton, all the primary school children ran the Race for Life for Cancer Research. Having only a small playground, they were allowed to run on the extensive playing fields of the private school opposite, while their children played cricket and rounders. I am afraid that my afternoon was somewhat spoilt by the contrast. No losing of valuable teachers and school lunches for them! Well done, everyone.
Marilyn Turner
Crewe, Cheshire

In 1937 Worthing accepted about 60 Basque refugees from the Spanish civil war (Letters, 23 May). A number of local businesses, such as bakeries and dairies, provided support as public money could not be used. In commemoration there is a blue plaque on the front of Beach House, and a beautiful coloured glass window on Worthing pier designed by local artist Siobhan Jones.
Geraldine Blake
Worthing, West Sussex

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Taliban teachers: how militants are infiltrating Afghan schools

Tue, 09 May 2017 04:45:52 GMT2017-05-09T04:45:52Z

Educators face pressure to give good marks to young fighters while others are swapping chalk for Kalashnikovs after lessons

When Afghan teachers are lobbied to give good marks to mediocre students, the pressure does not necessarily come from disgruntled parents. Often it comes from the Taliban.

In areas of eastern Afghanistan, militants intimidate teachers to let older boys who fight with the Taliban pass exams despite lacklustre performances, according to education experts working in the region.

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Men should be helped to cross social barriers to find prosperity – and love | Sonia Sodha

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 23:04:01 GMT2017-08-12T23:04:01Z

Our education system must do more to bring together those of different backgrounds to improve social mobility

Part of the addictive charm of ITV2’s Love Island was the opportunity it gave us to test the relationship adage “opposites attract”. The reality television show flung together a group of twentysomething singletons in a luxury villa under constant surveillance, with little in common save their desire to become stars.

Some of the unlikely pairings that transpired – a socialite charity worker and a Calvin Klein model; a farm dweller and a former motorsport grid girl – suggest there perhaps is something to that old saying.

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US history is a Pandora's box. There has never been a better moment to open it | Yuliya Komska

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 11:24:46 GMT2017-08-08T11:24:46Z

Past controversy has often been diluted. After Trump’s victory, there’s a real opportunity to discuss what counts as history and the role it plays in democracy

In divided cold war-era Germany, the last thing that an eminent historian of fascism would have hoped to do was scandalize. But scandalize Ernst Nolte did. The title of his essay The Past that Will Not Pass, published in the prominent Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in 1986, rehearsed William Faulkner’s famed dictum: “The past is never dead.” Under the unremarkable headline, however, lay a stark provocation.

The topic was Nolte’s specialty: the Nazi era. Germans had undoubtedly committed extraordinary atrocities, but how exceptional, he asked, were the crimes? And how exceptional did they render the country’s history? To make his point, Nolte suggested that Hitler’s annihilation policies were derivative, borrowed from the Bolsheviks, and reactive, triggered by the Nazis’ own anxieties about Bolshevism’s return.

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Your guide to gap-year greatness

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 11:00:00 GMT2017-08-16T11:00:00Z

A productive gap year or stint of travelling can be a voyage of discovery, whether volunteering, learning a new language or skill. You might even help your job prospects

Anyone for coral reef research in East Timor? How about a game ranger experience in South Africa, or a “summer” ski season in New Zealand? These are just some of the gap year programmes on offer for UK school leavers who choose to either postpone university application or defer enrolment.

Little wonder that some 230,000 young people (aged 18-25) in the UK take a gap year, according to the latest statistics released by About 10% will arrange their trip via a member organisation of Year Out Group (YOG), and the average time away from home is 10.5 weeks.

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Biology A-level students mark down exam board after yet another error

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 17:40:58 GMT2017-06-13T17:40:58Z

OCR apologises again after third mistake in exam paper, with pupils uncertain they will reach grades needed for university places

One of England’s main examination boards has been forced to issue an apology for the third time in a little over a fortnight after students and teachers spotted yet another error on one of its papers.

The mistake occurred on OCR’s A-level biology paper, which was sat by almost 19,000 students on Monday. A question asked students to calculate a standard deviation but failed to provide the formula needed for the calculation, as required by the syllabus.

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How to apply to university through clearing

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 11:00:43 GMT2017-08-12T11:00:43Z

This easy, step-by-step guide will take you through the clearing process, from searching for a course to the resulting university offer

The early bird ...

You can use clearing from 8am on results day. Use your Ucas personal ID number to log into your Track page. If you haven’t received any offers, or didn’t meet the conditions of your offer, your Track screen will tell you that you are now in clearing. You’ll find your clearing number on the Track home page in the top left hand corner, under the My Status section. Keep this number to hand as you’ll need it at every stage of the process.

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Rachel Somers obituary

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:04:09 GMT2017-08-15T15:04:09Z

My friend Rachel Somers, a teacher, who has died aged 65 after treatment for cancer, had many talents, but the one for which she was most celebrated was lovingly maintaining long-term friendships. I first met Rachel in the sandpit of Coram Fields nursery school, Bloomsbury, London, 62 years ago.

She was born and brought up in London, the daughter of Betty Newcombe and Julian Somers, both actors. Rachel attended St Alban’s primary school, Holborn, and Parliament Hill secondary in Camden, and then did her teacher training in Swansea.

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How physical exercise makes your brain work better

Sat, 18 Jun 2016 08:00:06 GMT2016-06-18T08:00:06Z

Research shows different activities have quite specific mental effects – here’s how moving your body could sharpen your ideas

The brain is often described as being “like a muscle”. It’s a comparison that props up the brain training industry and keeps school children hunched over desks. We judge literacy and numeracy exercises as more beneficial for your brain than running, playing and learning on the move.

But the brain-as-muscle analogy doesn’t quite work. To build up your biceps you can’t avoid flexing them. When it comes to your brain, an oblique approach can be surprisingly effective. In particular, working your body’s muscles can actually benefit your grey matter.

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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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