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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: Sun, 25 Sep 2016 10:31:25 GMT2016-09-25T10:31:25Z

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

May's schools plan would cost council taxpayers 'significantly', says LGA

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 23:00:16 GMT2016-09-23T23:00:16Z

Local Government Association says conversion to academies could cost millions in fees, and £80m a year in lost tax

Government plans for a new wave of grammar schools and academies could cost councils hundreds of millions in legal fees and conversion expenses, according to new estimates.

The Local Government Association claimed that if every school in England was converted into an academy – self-governing schools or chains with few connections to their local authorities – there would still be “significant one-off and ongoing costs to council taxpayers”.

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Secret Teacher: becoming an academy destroyed my school

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:00:24 GMT2016-09-24T06:00:24Z

The government wants schools to join multi-academy trusts, but I’ve seen the dark side: a culture of fear, failure and back-stabbing. I won’t work in one again

There is a scene in Star Wars where Darth Vader and his entourage sweep through a corridor of the Death Star. As they pass, uniformed underlings step back against the wall and avert their gaze. Others busy themselves, prodding at terminals and frowning until the caravan of evil has gone. This is how I felt working in a multi-academy trust (a group of academies governed by a single set of directors, otherwise known as a Mat).

My first contact with the trust was at a job interview. I knew that the school had been forcibly turned into an academy as the result of a poor inspection, but the headteacher was so warm and likeable that I accepted a senior leadership post without hesitation.

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Do our brains have extraordinary untapped powers?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:00:24 GMT2016-09-24T06:00:24Z

In rare cases, brain damage has unlocked prodigious mental abilities in patients. Now researchers are exploring the hidden potential in all of us

On 13 September, 2002, 31-year-old Jason Padgett, a furniture salesman from Washington, was beaten and mugged by two men after leaving a karaoke bar. He survived the vicious attack, but was left unconscious, and sustained a severe concussion. Soon afterwards, he noticed that his vision changed. He also realised he had developed remarkable mathematical abilities.

Padgett began to see patterns in everything he looked at, and to draw complex geometric figures, grids and fractals. “I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life,” Padgett explained later. “It’s just really beautiful.”

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University mental health services face strain as demand rises 50%

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 09:35:12 GMT2016-09-23T09:35:12Z

Figures show significant rise over five years, with more first-year and international students seeking counselling

The number of students seeking counselling at university has rocketed by 50% in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the Guardian.

As tens of thousands of teenagers leave their family homes this week and begin to arrive on campuses for freshers’ week, research shows that university counselling services are under increasing pressure as demand grows.

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Mental health at university: 'Students shouldn't have to suffer like I did'

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 14:47:21 GMT2016-09-22T14:47:21Z

I had OCD, depression, and an eating disorder. It went on for years. More mental health support in universities could help prevent ordeals like mine

As a student, I used to have a ritual. I would wake up and immediately jump up and down 100 times. Then I would start work at 9.21am precisely. I would eat dinner at 5pm on the dot, and I’d finish work at 10pm. Before going to bed, I would touch wood five times. Whenever the cycle was broken, I would break down.

I would tell myself that this was normal, that this was how you make a success of yourself. I wouldn’t be doing my academic work any justice if I wasn’t constantly on the verge of a breakdown, right?

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UK universities draw up plans for EU campuses ahead of Brexit

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 11:25:12 GMT2016-09-22T11:25:12Z

Higher education chiefs, struggling with uncertainty and challenges in regulation and funding, look to soften blow of EU exit

British universities are considering plans to open branches inside the European Union in an effort to soften the blow of Britain’s exit, as they struggle to navigate new challenges in regulation and funding.

Related: Bricks and mortar boards: UK universities embark on major building schemes

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How universities went on a building spree as tuition fees pour in

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 11:25:25 GMT2016-09-22T11:25:25Z

A spending spree on university buildings is great for research, but students may wonder if there are links to their debt

Students returning to the Edgbaston campus at Birmingham University, and freshers arriving for the first time, will see a couple of gleaming additions this autumn.

Related: UK universities mull EU campuses in new era of uncertainty

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The reward for good teaching in universities? We can push learners deeper into debt

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:00:01 GMT2016-09-23T06:00:01Z

The new Teaching Excellence Framework is based on crude metrics and it is both methodologically and conceptually flawed

I had high hopes for the goverment’s Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef). Not every educator wants to be research-intensive, but in recent years, it’s been the main way that we have been judged.

Related: Sexual harassment is rife in universities, but complaining means risking your career

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Five ways to create a happy form group

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:30:09 GMT2016-09-22T10:30:09Z

A class works best when pupils understand one another and know how to cooperate. Here are some simple ways to build team spirit

The new term is now well under way and if you’re a form tutor, you’ve probably got to know your new group well enough to match names with faces. But how well do they know one another?

Related: Six basic steps to becoming a brilliant form tutor

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Pledging change: the transgender college students integrating Greek life

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 10:00:31 GMT2016-09-25T10:00:31Z

Policies vary across the US but some sororities and fraternities have adopted inclusive rules – Ryan Bishop, Leigh Angel and Sean Finn tell their stories

In March of 2015, after being recruited for months, Ryan Bishop was thrilled to receive an invitation to join his university’s chapter of of Chi Phi, America’s oldest fraternity. But a week before his induction, Chi Phi’s national office notified the Ohio Wesleyan University chapter that Bishop wasn’t eligible.

Chi Phi’s official rules only allowed men, and Bishop was born a woman.

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10 things you need to know about vaginas

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:00:00 GMT2016-09-24T08:00:00Z

From the science of the orgasm to cannabis tampons, there’s a lot to learn. Warning: explicit content

Mae and I thought we were well informed when it comes to vaginas (between us, we have 58 years’ experience of them), but the more we researched the subject for our new video series, Vagina Dispatches, the more we discovered that, like most people, we don’t know our asses from our elbows – let alone our vulvas from our vaginas.

Does it matter that we don’t know what a perineum is, never mind where to find one? It turns out it does. Even though there are lots of parts of our bodies we don’t know well (neither of us can explain the full process from sandwich to stool), there is something particularly damaging about vagina ignorance.

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Should our son work during term time at university?

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:00:25 GMT2016-09-24T06:00:25Z

My husband and I are in disagreement and I see no resolution

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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‘Mental health isn't addressed properly’: students on the pressures of university

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 11:42:02 GMT2016-09-23T11:42:02Z

With the number of students seeking counselling on the rise, we asked you to tell us about your experience of dealing with mental health issues at university

Elle, 20, was studying politics but dropped out in her first term mainly due to mental health issues.

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Why can’t our leaders learn from 30 years of failure in health and education? | John Quiggin

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:35:42 GMT2016-09-23T02:35:42Z

We’ve known since the 1980s that the profit motive doesn’t work in health and education. And the reasons why are no puzzle at all

The inadequacy of competition and the profit motive in the provision human services like education and health has been established by harsh experience with consistent failures like PFI hospitals, for-profit schools and private prisons. This failure presents a puzzle: how is it that (assuming we have an adequate income) we can rely on for-profit corporations to put food on our tables and clothes on our backs, but not to educate our children or preserve our health.

In the hands of many advocates of privatisation, this puzzle is turned into a knock-down refutation: if the profit motive works well in providing something as vital as food, it must work well everywhere. The latest instance of this naive faith in the market is the Australian Productivity Commission’s call to privatise public health and housing.

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Theresa May's grammar school claims disproved by new study

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 23:01:24 GMT2016-09-22T23:01:24Z

Education Policy Institute says additional grammar schools would not improve educational standards

Grammar schools do not improve the exam results of bright students beyond what they would have achieved at a good comprehensive, while more grammars would widen the attainment gap between rich and poor, a study has found.

The analysis of GCSE performance in selective state schools, carried out by the Education Policy Institute, concluded: “We find no evidence to suggest that overall educational standards in England would be improved by creating additional grammar schools.”

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Scottish teacher killed in Auschwitz is remembered by her students

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 17:36:15 GMT2016-09-22T17:36:15Z

Jane Haining, who died in 1944, is celebrated at a memorial event in Budapest by her surviving primary school pupils

“Don’t worry, I’ll be back by lunch.” Those were the last words of a Scottish teacher who was murdered at Auschwitz for protecting Jewish schoolgirls, as revealed by the students who watched her being taken away to her death.

Jane Haining was a missionary at a Church of Scotland-run school in Budapest when she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944, having repeatedly refused to leave Hungary because she wanted to stay with her pupils. The frightened schoolgirls who watched her led away never saw her again.

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Oxford vice chancellor worried about post-Brexit funding – audio

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 11:39:22 GMT2016-09-22T11:39:22Z

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, says she has serious concerns about the future of university research funding following the EU referendum. The European Research Council provides £67m in research funding to Oxford University alone

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Oxford becomes first UK university to top global rankings

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 07:20:47 GMT2016-09-22T07:20:47Z

Institution knocks California Institute of Technology off top of Times Higher Education world university rankings

Oxford has been ranked the best university in the world, the first time an institution from the UK has taken the accolade.

It topped the Times Higher Education (THE) world university rankings for the first time, knocking the California Institute of Technology, the five-times best, into second place.

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Some universities need to triple mental health services funding, says report

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 23:01:34 GMT2016-09-21T23:01:34Z

Higher Education Policy Institute says scale of mental health problem among university students is bigger then ever

Some universities need to triple their funding for mental health services if they are to meet growing demand from students in need of support, according to a new report.

The paper by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) thinktank says the scale of the mental health problem among university students is “bigger than ever before”.

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University students across UK prepare for wave of rent strikes

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 20:19:13 GMT2016-09-17T20:19:13Z

Protests to be used as bargaining tool against ‘extortionate rents’ after increase of almost 20% in two years

Students from 25 campuses across the UK are attending pre-term workshops this weekend on how to hold a rent strike at their university, as fears grow that the spiralling cost of accommodation is making higher education unaffordable.

Shelly Asquith, vice-president for welfare at the National Union of Students, said accommodation costs had increased by 18% between 2012-13 and 2015-16 and that rent strikes were now a key tactic for students. “Extortionate rents, coupled with course fees and other rising living costs, are now preventing lots of working-class students from attending university altogether, especially in cities such as London,” she said. “According to our own figures at NUS, over 50% of students say they can’t afford their basic expenses of rent and other bills,” she told an event in south London, where students were learning how to hold a successful rent strike.

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Student entrepreneur: ‘Business opportunities aren’t found in clubs’

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 06:30:42 GMT2016-09-22T06:30:42Z

With freshers’ week in full swing, one graduate explains how he sacrificed his social life to develop his startups

When I started university, I wanted to be a banker – I hate to say it, but I wanted to don a dark suit and work in the City. As an ambitious (hungover) fresher, I sought all possible opportunities that could create a pathway into this competitive career.

At the freshers’ fair in my first week, I stumbled upon FishonToast, Southampton University’s entrepreneurship society. I joined and ignored the emails for six months (typical fresher) until I was persuaded with free pizza to attend an event. I do not remember the event, the speaker or his talk – only that I was inspired, a “road to Damascus” moment. Practically overnight, I abandoned looking for internships, I shirked my corporate dream and was filled with a passion to create something.

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Morrisons offers students 10% off groceries

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:54:05 GMT2016-09-21T15:54:05Z

Discount trial includes beer and wine, but not online shopping, and comes soon after Co-op’s student deal

Morrisons is giving students a 10% discount on food and drink, including beer and wine, in the first such move by a “big- four” supermarket.

It has linked up with the student discount specialists UNiDAYS to trial the scheme in all of its 492 UK stores. The discount, will also be available in its cafes and petrol-station kiosks, but not on online shopping.

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Want to make a difference at university? Join the clubs

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:12:07 GMT2016-09-21T13:12:07Z

University clubs and societies can be life-changing – for you and for others

It’s often said that university is as much about what you do outside of your degree as it is what you do for it. Maybe it’s that sort of cavalier attitude that leads to some of the best and worst decisions of our lives – shots from belly buttons and nights out you don’t remember with people you’ll never forget.

But joining societies in your free time can be as productive as studying, if not more so. University needn’t be a bubble, so here are some examples of societies that might make all the difference to your CV, your life – and even others’ lives.

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What does your university bedroom poster say about you?

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:21 GMT2016-09-21T08:00:21Z

The posters that adorn your walls in halls say a lot about the student. Here’s what those questionable decor choices really mean

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How to procrastinate creatively

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:21 GMT2016-09-21T08:00:21Z

Work avoidance doesn’t have to mean going on Tinder or watching Netflix. Here are some inspiring ways to waste time

Had it with studying? Recent scientific studies suggest that procrastination can actually make us more creative. So instead of another Big Bang Theory binge, here are a few inspiring internet wormholes…

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Doing it for the kids: how to start a DIY collective

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:21 GMT2016-09-21T08:00:21Z

Whether it’s a zine or a record label, students across the UK have started their own creative crews. Here are just a few…

Cut The Rent, Bristol

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'Don't drink from a rubber chicken' - and other uni advice

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:00:55 GMT2016-09-20T08:00:55Z

From investing in heating to not living with punks, here’s some sage wisdom from those who learned their lessons the hard way

Bournemouth had scant student accommodation, so those like me who applied late to halls were farmed out to local families. My first year was spent living with a monstrous couple and their sad-eyed children in a house that stank of vegetable oil. The family did karaoke at 3am, and furnished our living room with four dining chairs and a Melinda Messenger nude calendar. At one point, our landlord tried to move us in with his friend Gunner, who got his name because he had a gun and shot people. I wish I hadn’t been a latecomer. Stuart Heritage

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Culture hacks: the ultimate guide to going out and staying in on the cheap

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:00:55 GMT2016-09-20T08:00:55Z

Like free stuff? Of course you do, you’re reading the online version of our student guide. Whether it’s opera or gaming, here are more cash-saving culture hacks

Chronic ditherer? Social butterfly? Lazy sod? You may be perpetually skint but student life at least allows room for spontaneity. Live events keen to fill up unsold seats often court student patrons with substantially discounted rates, such as London’s BFI on the South Bank, where under-25s can access £3 tickets if they rock up 45 mins before the movie starts. Theatres are worth checking out, too: in Edinburgh, the Festival and King’s playhouses offer £10 student tickets from 12noon on the day of performances, while the Bristol Old Vic throws up a last-minute bat signal to local students via its free Arts Ping app.

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No grammar schools, lots of play: the secrets of Europe’s top education system

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 06:30:53 GMT2016-09-20T06:30:53Z

In Finland children don’t start school until they are seven, but what happens before that is even more important

It’s a warm September afternoon in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Out in the Franzenia daycare centre playground, groups of four- and five-year-olds roam contentedly. “Would you like an ice-cream?” asks one, having set up her elaborate “stall” on the edge of the sandpit. Kindergarten staff move among the children, chatting, observing and making written notes.

There is nothing outwardly distinctive about the centre, though with 200 children, it is the city’s largest. It is a tall, somewhat dour former university building, built in the 1930s and converted to its present role last year. Yet it is in places such as this oddly homespun centre with its strange echoes of bureaucracy, walls plastered with children’s art and piles of play paraphernalia, that the Finnish education “miracle” starts to take shape.

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Allow failing schools, not grammars, first choice of the brightest pupils

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 06:15:53 GMT2016-09-20T06:15:53Z

Risking the education of clever children is seen by the Tories as a no-no, but knocking the other kids seems to be less of a concern

No one expects a schools inquisition. But since Theresa May decided we have to have a “consultation” about bringing back grammar schools, people have been peering at me and asking in a mildly condescending tone whether I went to a comprehensive school. It seems a common trick of grammar school supporters to dismiss views on the matter from anybody who did not attend a comprehensive. I’m an annoyance to them, because I did.

Related: Dear Theresa May, here’s what grammar schools did to my family | John O’Farrell

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Universities need to do more to protect students' mental health. But how?

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:26:22 GMT2016-09-22T09:26:22Z

A new report explores the wide variety of approaches in the sector – and offers examples of good practice to follow

The Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) has released a new report today looking at the issue of mental health among students. It notes that they are less happy than the general population, that depression and loneliness now affect one in three of them, and that the number of suicides among this group is rising.

We spoke to the report’s author Poppy Brown, a third-year psychology and philosophy student at the University of Oxford, who outlined some of her recommendations for universities.

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50 Under 50 ranking: the best young universities in the world

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 09:39:55 GMT2016-09-21T09:39:55Z

The latest list sees Asian and Australian institutions excel, as well as those with science and tech expertise

Tech-focused universities in Australia and Asia dominate the latest 50 Under 50 ranking (the world’s best universities that are less than 50 years old).

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore retains the top spot for a third year, followed by five institutions in Hong Kong and South Korea, meaning that Asian universities take the top six places.

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I failed my 11-plus – but I passed my PhD

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 06:00:04 GMT2016-09-16T06:00:04Z

Rejection at the age of 11 is a bewildering blow that robs a child of opportunities. I have my mother to thank for my later academic success

I was raised in a single-parent family. My mother – having decided that I was extraordinarily bright (as they do) – took me out of comprehensive education at the age of eight and sent me to a private school, so that I could fulfil my full academic potential and prepare for the exams ahead.

Related: A lost baby taught me how little academia really meant to me

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

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 08:58:06 GMT2016-09-15T08:58:06Z

Theresa May tops the chart of politicians, writers and university leaders who are having the biggest effect on UK higher education

The prime minister, Theresa May, tops the list of 50 most powerful people in UK higher education this year.

Published by Wonkhe – a thinktank for higher education policy “wonks” – the list is dominated by politicians, but includes the vice-chancellors, journalists and thinkers who are making the most impact on the sector.

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'Socks go on feet, not smoke detectors' – a campus security guard's guide to freshers week

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 06:00:54 GMT2016-09-09T06:00:54Z

We can tell when cigarette smoke has been disguised with deodorant and we know that bong isn’t a lava lamp

You’ve just watched your dad’s car leave campus and you’re wondering what to do with yourself. It’s freshers’ week: a 14-day portal into university life. A cocktail of homesickness and Jack Daniels, capped off with a few induction presentations.

We campus security guards see the same mistakes made every September. Here are the ones to avoid.

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Graduate tax: a short history of a long-lasting bad idea

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 11:21:32 GMT2016-09-07T11:21:32Z

It’s been lauded by the soft left for more than a decade, but a graduate tax has never materialised. That’s because it doesn’t work

A graduate tax is the hipster’s choice for funding higher education. It is what politicians turn to when they want to sound alternative (but not too alternative) when it comes to paying for universities.

Related: How do we get graduates who move abroad to pay back their student loan?

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Top 200 universities in the world 2016: the global trends

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 19:12:02 GMT2016-09-05T19:12:02Z

As the latest QS world university rankings are released, we take an overview of the results – and it looks like money talks

Today, for the 13th time, the QS World University Rankings are released into the world. Although there is often particular interest in the individual institutional narratives thrown up by each iteration, closer examination of the datasets also allows us to discern trends both potential and current from the higher education landscape.

Perhaps the biggest trend this year is the regressive performance of Western European institutions. France, Portugal, Germany, and Italy all suffer to varying extents, but perhaps the most significant tremors are those felt by the UK.

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

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 06:00:32 GMT2016-09-02T06:00:32Z

Don’t breathe a word, my mentor advised me. They were right – I’ve had some odd reactions from the few colleagues I’ve told

I am leading a double life. My shameful secret is that I have published three novels before the end of my PhD. But I wouldn’t be talking about it if I couldn’t do so anonymously.

Related: Bomb threats, breakdowns and bongs: the life of a university security guard

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What makes a brilliant board of governors?

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:18:47 GMT2016-09-23T10:18:47Z

Governing boards play a vital role in schools, so they must be empowered to ask challenging questions and offer support

Putting together an effective school governing body isn’t easy. Not only are school governors unpaid – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, hard to recruit – but boards are responsible for a huge variety of tasks. They appoint headteachers, examine how money is being spent and scrutinise the progress that students make.

If a board is going to work effectively, it needs governors who are comfortable with all kinds of tasks: from sifting through hefty policy reports and picking apart data to communicating with parents.

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Teachers, your local university could be the best resource you'll ever have

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:13:28 GMT2016-09-21T12:13:28Z

From Tudor history workshops to DNA research, teachers are teaming up with academics to inspire young people

What can a dance tell us about someone’s social standing? What does their clothing and gestures reveal about their place in history?

These are the kinds of questions that eight- to 14-year-olds are exposed to when the University of Cambridge’s history faculty invites them to come and experience life in a different era. Next up is a Tudor dance workshop.

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No desks but lots of enthusiasm: what it's like to teach in a refugee camp

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 10:40:24 GMT2016-09-20T10:40:24Z

When two UK primary teachers volunteered to teach in a refugee camp in Greece, they had to start from scratch – with tarpaulin and a whiteboard

When primary schoolteachers Katie McDonald and Vicky Manning arrived to teach in the Faneromeni refugee camp in Greece, they knew they were in for a challenge.

What they were not expecting was that there would be no actual school at all. “I thought there would at least be tents or something,” says Katie, “but there weren’t.”

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Secret Teacher: I'm being punished for working part-time

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 06:00:40 GMT2016-09-17T06:00:40Z

Juggling childcare with work is hard enough, but it’s worse when unsupportive colleagues expect you to work 24/7

I only came into teaching after having children of my own. My private sector job suddenly seemed superficial and I wanted to do something to improve the lives of the next generation. So now I juggle childcare with part-time teaching. But it seems that part-time is not enough. I am being punished for my decision, and find myself starting to question whether I made the right career move.

Related: Secret Teacher: school leaders quickly forget how tough teaching is

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Is this the solution to the teacher workload crisis?

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:54:20 GMT2016-09-16T15:54:20Z

No more than two extra hours of work a day – that’s the recommendation of a new Fair Workload Charter, which launched today in Nottingham

Everyone knows that heavy workloads are a huge problem in teaching. In a Guardian survey of more than 4,000 teachers this year, 82% described their workload as “unmanageable”, with more than three-quarters reportedly working between 49 and 65 hours a week.

If we don’t do something about teacher workload, we’re not going to have enough good teachers

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Meditation made my students calmer, kinder and more focused

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:31:25 GMT2016-09-14T12:31:25Z

They were wriggly at first, but now my pupils have the relaxation techniques they need to deal with stress

I have felt for a long time that the skills we teach children in school aren’t enough. In the ever-changing world we live in, who knows what technology will be like by the time our pupils reach the working world? Will the things that we’re teaching them now even be relevant then?

Related: The art of relaxation: ideas to get students to unwind and recharge

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Sexual harassment in schools: a guide for teachers

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:58:22 GMT2016-09-13T15:58:22Z

Are you doing enough to challenge sexist comments? Are you making gender-based assumptions? Creating a safe classroom means asking tough questions

This week, the Women and Equalities Select Committee reported on its inquiry into sexual violence and harassment in schools. As the school year began last week, Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates and supporters wrote an open letter to the prime minister and education secretary demanding mandatory sex and relationships education to be taught in schools. They were responding to evidence from a BBC Freedom of Information investigation which found that more than 5,500 sexual assaults, including 600 rapes, were recorded by the police as having taken place in schools over three years.

Related: The glass ceiling in education: why are so few women becoming headteachers?

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How a global adventure can refresh your school's thinking

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 09:38:42 GMT2016-09-13T09:38:42Z

British pupils have been playing ukelele in Uganda and finding out why South Koreans are terrified of Donald Trump

A bag of jelly beans and Biros held the key to a lesson for James Priory when he visited Kikaaya College School in Uganda this summer.

The headteacher of Portsmouth grammar school (PGS) established a partnership with Kikaaya in 2009, with help from the British Council. After hosting teachers on visits, raising money and connecting pupils as pen pals, Priory decided to see the school for himself.

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#Feesmustfall: South African students clash with police – in pictures

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 15:09:30 GMT2016-09-22T15:09:30Z

Violence erupts in Johannesburg as Wits University students march in protest at annnouncement of 8% rise in tuition fees

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South African police fire teargas as university fees protests spread

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:37:51 GMT2016-09-22T13:37:51Z

Unrest erupted at a Johannesburg university three days ago after government announced an 8% rise in fees

South African police fired teargas in clashes with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday and arsonists torched a building at another campus overnight as protests over tuition fees spread.

The unrest erupted at a Johannesburg university three days ago after the government announced a rise of up to 8% in 2017 fees – well above the inflation rate.

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Freshers: is your fancy dress costume racist?

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 11:42:43 GMT2016-09-14T11:42:43Z

There’s a fine line between cultural exchange and racism – wearing sexy or ‘ironic’ versions of other people’s national dress might not go down well

There’s a moment in every student’s life when you end up at a fancy dress event, surrounded by white people dressed in saris, bindis, or native American headdresses. And you will find yourself thinking: “I’m not sure this is OK”.

Fresher events on campus are rarely a display of political correctness. But sometimes they cross the line between being “a bit of fun” (a phrase you hear a lot at uni) and full-on offensive.

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Harrison Spencer obituary

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:00:52 GMT2016-09-13T17:00:52Z

My colleague Harrison Spencer, who has died aged 71, was dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine between 1996 and 2000. He devoted his life to improving the health of people around the world.

The son and grandson of doctors, he was born in Baltimore, Maryland. After qualifying in medicine from the Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore and receiving a master’s in public health from the University of California at Berkeley, he was employed by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This was a time when those in the fight against malaria could celebrate considerable success, such as the eradication of disease from southern Europe, but were confronting significant challenges elsewhere, including concerns about the persistence of DDT in the environment and resistance to insecticides and antimalarial medicines.

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'I was in a North Korean street gang, now I study at Warwick' –​ a defector answers your questions​ ​

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 13:11:31 GMT2016-09-13T13:11:31Z

Sungju Lee agreed to answer your questions about escaping his homeland, the regime’s nuclear provocations, and adjusting to UK life

Hi all,

That’s all we have time for today but here’s a parting note from Sungju

Thank you so much for your questions and for your time. Please pay attention to the lives of the defectors who are currently suffering in China and there is more information about my personal story in my book if you are interested

What do you like to do in your down-time?
Would the answer be very different if you were still in North Korea?

I usually watch movies and play football and sometimes read books. Of course it would be different, I don’t even know if I would be alive if I was still in North Korea

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Identity of kisser and kissee in famous second world war photo remains unclear | Brief letters

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:43:01 GMT2016-09-12T16:43:01Z

Jordan’s support for Syrian refugees | School uniform crackdown | VJ Day picture | Science lessons and photographic art | Secret service agent in brahn shoes

The refugee crisis is a powerful testament to Jordan’s resolve, resourcefulness and ability to offer human solidarity to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees (Fears grow for ‘ghost refugees’ stuck at border between Jordan and Syria, 5 September). Jordan has shouldered the brunt of refugees’ burden on behalf of the whole world. It is hypocritical to negate Jordan’s response to the worst humanitarian crisis of our age at a time when the UK remains silent, ignoring the plight of Syrian children in the Calais camp and far beyond.
Dr Munjed Farid al Qutob
Amman, Jordan

• Hartsdown academy in Margate demonstrates to pupils that those in authority can exercise power brutally and arbitrarily (Police called after school turns away pupils for wrong uniform, 7 September). What aspirations does the school have for its pupils? It seems focused on nothing more ambitious than preparing them to work in a Sports Direct or Amazon warehouse without complaint.
Ros Campbell

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Armenia's school pupil engineers seek to reinvent the robot

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 06:00:21 GMT2016-09-05T06:00:21Z

Government programme aims to put robotics clubs in every school by 2019 to encourage new generation of designers

The little robot makes odd beeps as it spins around the room, detecting fires with its thermal sensors and extinguishing flames with a strong blast of air.

Its mission accomplished, the beeps die down and the machine comes to an abrupt halt.

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South African students speak out against 'aggressive' ban on afro hair

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 11:19:27 GMT2016-08-31T11:19:27Z

Students describe prejudice at prestigious Pretoria school where natural hair was deemed ‘untidy’ and ‘un-ladylike’

Malaika Maoh Eyoh, a 17-year-old student at the prestigious Pretoria high school for girls, remembers the first time she was told by a teacher that her afro was “distracting others from learning”.

Related: Racism row over South Africa school's alleged hair policy

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Kabul university attack survivors refuse to give up on dreams of building a future

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 09:00:03 GMT2016-08-27T09:00:03Z

The American University of Afghanistan has long been seen as a target for militants as it attracts young people and women committed to change

On Wednesday, beginning her second semester at the American University of Afghanistan, Narges Mohammadi was on her path to something unattainable for most girls from her rural Ghazni province: a university degree and, hopefully, a career.

Her father, defying protests from his own mother, encouraged his daughter’s dreams to become a fashion designer and start a factory employing women. He even sent her to the capital to study business administration.

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Ed Balls dances to new beat on education policy in autobiography

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 06:00:51 GMT2016-09-13T06:00:51Z

In our diary: Former minister rues pupil upheavals; plus no record of change at Durand Academy Trust

‘We need to take the politics out of education.” It’s a refrain we often hear in relation to schools policy, though not usually from recent former education secretaries. Yet here it is, in Ed Balls’s autobiography, in a lament about how quickly matters changed once Michael Gove succeeded him at Sanctuary Buildings.

Related: Ed Balls on Strictly versus politics, plus the true meaning of Brexit – Politics Weekly podcast

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The education team at the Guardian

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:40:10 GMT2014-11-24T14:40:10Z

Whom to contact and how

Here’s the full list of staff working on education news, features, analysis, multimedia and community content.

You can contact us with your stories.

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How a 3D clitoris will help teach French schoolchildren about sex

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 15:25:38 GMT2016-08-15T15:25:38Z

From bronze clitoris pendants to zines about Dracula’s, the female sex organ is having a moment in France

Paul Verlaine celebrated it in his 1889 poem Printemps as a “shining pink button”, but thanks to the sociomedical researcher Odile Fillod, French schoolchildren will now understand that it looks more like a hi-tech boomerang. Yes, the world’s first open-source, anatomically correct, printable 3D clitoris is here, and it will be used for sex education in French schools, from primary to secondary level, from September.

From Fillod’s sculpture, pupils will learn that the clitoris is made up of the same tissue as the penis. That it is divided into crura or legs, bulbs, foreskin and a head. That the only difference between a clitoris and a penis is that most of the female erectile tissue is internal – and that it’s often longer, at around 8 inches.

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How I learned a language in 22 hours

Fri, 09 Nov 2012 22:59:00 GMT2012-11-09T22:59:00Z

He's never been good with languages, so can Joshua Foer really hope to learn Lingala in a day?

"What do you know about where I come from?" That was one of the first questions I ever asked Bosco Mongousso, an Mbendjele pygmy who lives in the sparsely populated Ndoki forest at the far northern tip of the Republic of Congo. We were sitting on logs around a fire one evening four years ago, eating a dinner of smoked river fish and koko, a vitamin-rich wild green harvested from the forest. I'd come to this hard-to-reach corner of the Congo basin – a spot at least 50km from the nearest village – to report a story for National Geographic magazine about a population of chimpanzees who display the most sophisticated tool-use ever observed among non-humans.

Mongousso, who makes his living, for the most part, by hunting wildlife and gathering forest produce such as nuts, fruits, mushrooms and leaves, had teeth that had been chiselled to sharp points as a child. He stood about 1.4m (4ft 7in) tall and had a wide, wonderful grin that he exercised prolifically. He considered my question carefully.

Continue reading...Joshua Foer: 'What if, instead of tabbing over to the web browser in search of some nugget of gossip or news, we could scratch the itch by engaging in a meaningful activity, such as learning a language?' Photograph: Christopher Lane for the GuardianJoshua Foer: 'What if, instead of tabbing over to the web browser in search of some nugget of gossip or news, we could scratch the itch by engaging in a meaningful activity, such as learning a language?' Photograph: Christopher Lane for the Guardian

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Guardian University Guide 2017: the subject tables

Mon, 23 May 2016 10:00:11 GMT2016-05-23T10:00:11Z

League tables of all 54 subject areas taught at UK universities, with listings of the courses available in each of those subjects

Accounting and finance

Agriculture, forestry and food

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How to say goodbye when your child leaves home

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 15:37:00 GMT2013-09-18T15:37:00Z

When a child heads off to university the sense of loss can feel unbearable, but planning ahead can help you cope with this new stage of parenthood

Read more advice for parents

"I have had worse partings, but none that so / Gnaws at my mind still."

So writes Cecil Day-Lewis in his poem "Walking Away", written while watching his eldest son head off to school. If a child's first day at school is significant, when they leave home for university can feel like an irrevocable life change for you. Knowing how to say goodbye, and dealing with the sense of loss that can follow, is part of being a parent.

Continue reading...When your child grows up and heads off to university, letting go can be hard. Photograph: AlamyWhen your child grows up and heads off to university, letting go can be hard. Photograph: Alamy

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Jennifer Hill obituary

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:00:05 GMT2016-09-23T16:00:05Z

My friend Jennifer Hill, who has died aged 57 in a cycling accident in the Pyrenees, was the director of education for the Vale of Glamorgan. She had a lasting impact on education in the region.

Jennifer arrived in Wales in 2012. A quiet English woman of slight build in a culture dominated by dark-suited, Welsh-speaking men, she was unrelenting in demanding raised standards in the face of much resistance. She had a clear vision that her authority would become the best in Wales and match the best in England, and successfully oversaw year-on-year improvements in results. While she set high standards at work, her sense of humour and integrity earned the affection of staff and colleagues.

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The big issue: selective education helped my brother – but left me behind

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 23:05:01 GMT2016-09-17T23:05:01Z

How the discredited grammar system can limit your opportunities

My West Yorkshire working-class background offers a microcosm of the absurdities of the selective schooling debate (“Selection is bad for children, bad for society”, editorial comment, last week). After passing the 11-plus, my brother went from a suburban primary to a grammar and then on to a distinguished career as a professor of biochemistry. In contrast, I attended an inner-city primary where, from a cohort of 36, only one boy passed the 11-plus. I was the first student from my secondary modern to get to university, though the lack of modern languages at school denied me access to an arts degree; I settling for a science degree, which I struggled to pass.

I am proud of my brother but bitter about how a discredited system limited my opportunities. From a career as a comprehensive school teacher, I know that most of my working-class students thrived in that milieu, whereas I had schoolfriends, some brighter than me, who left school at 15 after feeling like failures at 11.
Philip Wood
Kidlington, Oxon

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The Guardian view on universities: facing a double whammy | Editorial

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:53:03 GMT2016-09-22T18:53:03Z

Brexit risks falling student numbers and vanishing research grants. Now a misconceived higher education bill could be the last straw

Britain’s higher education sector has probably never been held in such high international esteem. Oxford has just topped the Times Higher Education global ranking table, beating the best US universities – California Institute of Technology (better known as Caltech), Harvard, Princeton and MIT; two other British universities, Cambridge and Imperial, are in the top 10. Only US institutions are better represented in the world’s top 1,000 universities. It is boom time for higher education, as universities invest their students’ £9,000 a year fees in shiny new labs, libraries and sports facilities to compete for students after the lifting of the cap on numbers last year. But in years to come, 2016 may look like the high point before the decline: the consequences of Brexit, a slump in the number of 18-year-olds and, above all, a misconceived higher education bill, will all take their toll. As we report today, universities are making plans for a much chillier future.

Related: UK universities draw up plans for EU campuses ahead of Brexit

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Julia Gillard: 'We've made progress in education and gender equality – but more must be done'

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:26:03 GMT2016-09-22T10:26:03Z

Educating girls helps them be healthier, more prosperous and become empowered women – but enabling children to succeed requires the right kind of support

A few years ago, an outbreak of cholera and other deadly diseases swept through one of the poorest villages in the northern region of Ghana, taking the life of Ruhainatu’s mother, Jamila.

Ruhainatu was in her teens. A decade ago, Jamila’s death would have extinguished Ruhainatu’s chances of getting the education she needs to succeed in life. Instead of going to school, she would have taken on her mother’s role of caring full time for her home and family.

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My school’s broad social mix benefited all pupils. I’m glad it wasn’t a grammar | Poppy Noor

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 09:57:02 GMT2016-09-22T09:57:02Z

The beliefs of middle-class children are challenged when they’re exposed to pupils from other backgrounds. That can only be a good thing

I distinctly remember the first time I ate steak. I had just moved to a sixth-form in a posh area and a new schoolmate had offered me the pink, Waitrose-bought meat in between two slices of bread. Having been more used to processed-meat fillings, I was shocked to learn that people actually put something as luxe as a steak in a sandwich. Learning how the other half ate was one of many lessons I picked up from attending school with people who were wealthier than any I’d previously come across.

It’s a silly example, but it was one of many social benefits of going to a socially mixed school.

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The elephants in the schoolroom: what our education ministers won't confront | Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 00:33:16 GMT2016-09-22T00:33:16Z

The nation’s education ministers are about to sit down together to contemplate school matters, including funding. It’s a safe bet they’ll avoid the really tough issues

It’s hard to imagine a time when travellers from Sydney to Melbourne had to stop at a customs post at the border, or change trains at Albury. Or suffer the winding two lane highway on the NSW side until reaching the better road in Victoria. It’s all quite seamless now, you can hardly notice the border.

But local parents of school-age children and their teachers might notice. Close by on the NSW side is Albury Public School. Across the Murray is Wodonga Primary School with students who are less advantaged. After all the talk about equity in education you’d expect the strugglers at Wodonga to be better supported. Quite the opposite: while NSW annually provides over $8000 for each of the students at Albury Public, those in the Victorian school make do with $2000 less.

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'I want to be South Sudan's first female neurosurgeon' – the struggle for refugee education

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 09:56:53 GMT2016-09-19T09:56:53Z

Education for refugees is often seen as an optional extra. But getting refugee children into school will help them to thrive, not just to survive

A few weeks ago my husband and I drove our daughter, Alessandra, to university to start her first year at Sciences Po in Nancy, France.

As is usual for new students in new places, Alessandra was anxious. Would her French be good enough? Would she miss her network of close friends in Vienna? We fretted about the usual fresher things – the furnishings for her room, opening a bank account and getting her a phone contract. Everywhere she was asked for her passport. But eventually she was set – tuition and accommodation paid for, room set up. All she had to do now was work hard.

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Why do we steer so many 18-year-olds towards university before they are ready? | Danny Dorling

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 06:30:39 GMT2016-09-19T06:30:39Z

Tuition fees should be reduced for students who delay going to university: the later you go, the less you owe

This autumn, more new students are expected to enrol at UK universities than ever before. The rise is a reflection not only of young people doing better at school but of universities taking more students. They made high numbers of unconditional offers last year and will have admitted more applicants who just missed their offer. They have to, or their incomes will fall.

Related: Back home and in debt: life after university tuition fees

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Early education is key to helping migrant children thrive | Maurice Crul

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 15:44:45 GMT2016-09-18T15:44:45Z

My research across nine European countries suggests smart policies could be the key to successful integration

Second-generation Turkish children in Sweden are six times more likely to go on to higher education than in Germany or Austria. What are the three countries doing differently? The answer to that question is crucial for the future of Europe. As migrants from countries in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa continue to arrive, many Europeans seem frightened, prompting a nationalist backlash. In order to defuse this danger, we must promote better integration for newcomers into European societies.

My research across nine European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) suggests smart policies – ranging from early education to, believe it or not, fashion advice – could be the difference between success and failure.

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