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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 Jun 2017 05:44:27 GMT2017-06-25T05:44:27Z

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



Are you in with the in crowd? | Mitch Prinstein

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 05:00:20 GMT2017-06-25T05:00:20Z

The way we deal with popularity at school stays with us for life. But, asks Mitch Prinstein, is it our true self?

At an early point in childhood, we all worked out how popular we really were. Either we knew we were admired and began to worry about maintaining our special influence over others, or we recognised that others were more popular than us and began to seek more attention.

Our positions in the social hierarchy seemed so important back then, and for good reason: popularity is the most valuable and easily accessible currency available to youth. But there’s something about our popularity in youth that seems to remain a part of who we are.

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Schools teach chess to help ‘difficult’ pupils concentrate

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 21:30:11 GMT2017-06-24T21:30:11Z

Game takes off in primaries as a way to lure pupils away from their phone screens

The year 3 pupils at Park End Primary School in Middlesbrough are a bit of a rowdy bunch. Headteacher Julia Rodwell describes them as “a complex and difficult group”. Put them in front of a chess set though, and silence descends.

“The first time I saw them playing chess, I was absolutely gobsmacked. Their concentration is incredible – I’ve never seen anything like it in any other lesson,” says Rodwell.

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Secret Teacher: my school is an echo-chamber for leftwing views

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 06:00:00 GMT2017-06-24T06:00:00Z

Most of the parents and teachers vote Labour and don’t do enough to help students understand other points of view

I teach in a mixed comprehensive in a constituency where on 8 June over two-thirds voted Labour, where an overwhelming majority voted Labour in the most recent mayoral vote, and where Labour has been the largest party on the local council for decades. A large majority of staff at our school vote Labour.

As a Labour supporter, this thrills me; as a teacher, it makes me question whether my school is doing enough to help our students appreciate other viewpoints.

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Exeter school’s uniform resolve melts after boys’ skirt protest

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:56:54 GMT2017-06-23T17:56:54Z

Isca academy in Devon to ditch policy that boys must wear trousers even in a heatwave after ‘box-pleat rebellion’ caught global attention

The US constitution has long guaranteed the right to bear arms – but now the schoolboys of Exeter have gone one better and won the right to bare legs.

Britain’s heatwave this week sparked open rebellion at Isca academy in Devon, with boys wearing skirts in protest at rules that insisted male pupils wear long trousers even as temperatures soared into the mid-30s.

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Exeter’s schoolboys in skirts follow a proud tradition of breaking the rules | Anne Perkins

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:28:32 GMT2017-06-23T17:28:32Z

Those who think education is all about discipline are missing the point. Defying authority is part of growing up

Devising ways to assert autonomy is at the heart of the condition of being human. It is a powerful and necessary instinct and the more that it involves subverting authority, the more beguiling the challenge. From that point of view, the 30 boys at Isca community school in Exeter who were told shorts weren’t part of the uniform and decided to turn up for school on Thursday in skirts instead were merely on a rite of passage. They were – as the school wisely appears to have realised – on the journey to becoming good citizens.

The skirts, in the bold pleated tartan of the girls’ uniform, suited them so well you wonder why the school didn’t immediately adopt them as a hot-day option. Obviously the merit of skirts as a men’s fashion item (see Burberry spring/summer 2001) was not the point of the boys’ polite demonstration so much as the fact that they were not supposed to be wearing them at all.

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Stop censoring student journalists – we're trying to hold universities to account

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:04:34 GMT2017-06-23T17:04:34Z

Student journalists are just doing their job when they investigate university and student union matters. They shouldn’t be censored

Student journalism is often – and rightly – applauded for the work it does at universities across the country. Many of the bylines that now sit atop newsprint began their days in student newsrooms, chasing stories across campus. Jeremy Paxman began his career as the editor of Cambridge’s Varsity and William Lewis, former editor of the Telegraph, began his career at Bristol’s Epigram.

But what is not discussed are the restrictions often placed upon student journalists, who can find themselves facing censorship from the very institutions they are supposed to hold to account.

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School holidays row: Isle of Wight man loses legal fight over daughter's absence

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:48:23 GMT2017-06-23T16:48:23Z

Jon Platt’s legal battle over his daughter’s term-time holiday ends in disappointment – and bill of £140,000 to taxpayer

A father who took his child out of school for a holiday during term time, sparking a long-running legal fight, has been found guilty of failing to secure her regular attendance.

Jon Platt’s campaign had previously gone all the way from Isle of Wight magistrates court to defeat at the supreme court, at a cost of nearly £140,000 to the public purse, and his latest disappointment came in a hearing back at the same magistrates court on Friday.

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Ofsted to punish schools pushing exam targets over learning, says chief

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:50:30 GMT2017-06-23T12:50:30Z

Amanda Spielman says some schools should be ashamed of ‘badges and stickers’ tactics to bolster league table standing

Ofsted will closely monitor schools that chase meaningless “badges and stickers” and turn themselves into exam factories rather than offering a well-rounded education, the chief inspector of schools in England has said.

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, said school leaders should be ashamed of some of the tactics used to bolster their league table standings. They include primary pupils sitting mock tests for more than two years, and entering secondary students for qualifications requiring just two days of study to pass.

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Learning and performance: how to help students get in the zone

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:15:23 GMT2017-06-23T11:15:23Z

When students see school as a place to show off what they already know rather than to focus on what they don’t, it can hinder learning

Most parents, teachers, and schools encourage students to perform as best as they can, but it turns out that a focus on performance can hinder learning, improvement, and, ironically, performance.

Take Cirque du Soleil, a team that knows how to perform well. On stage, they exhibit beautiful acrobatic feats, often performed flawlessly. However, what we see is a brief slice of their day in which they focus on the skills they have already mastered and try to minimise mistakes – their performance zone.

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Term-time holiday legal battle has cost taxpayers almost £140,000 so far

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:01:08 GMT2017-06-22T23:01:08Z

Figure released as parent’s case against original £60 fine is to return to Isle of Wight magistrates court where it first began

The government spent almost £140,000 of taxpayers’ money on a prolonged legal battle against a father who took his daughter out of school for a holiday during term-time, according to new figures.

The case, which saw Jon Platt pitched against his Isle of Wight council and the Department for Education (DfE), began in 2015 when he refused to pay a £60 fine for taking his daughter on a week-long family trip to Florida.

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More grammar schools could open despite Tory U-turn, campaigners say

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:21:01 GMT2017-06-22T18:21:01Z

Schools in Kent and elsewhere are hoping to exploit loophole allowing existing grammars to open ‘satellite’ campuses

Grammar schools across England could be allowed to expand even though the government dropped its manifesto promise to revive school selection, education campaigners have warned.

Existing grammar schools remain able to exploit a loophole that bypasses the ban on any new school in England from selecting pupils based on entrance exams, despite the government’s change of heart over the policy.

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Teenage boys wear skirts to school to protest against 'no shorts' policy

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:12:22 GMT2017-06-22T17:12:22Z

Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no – shorts weren’t permitted under the school’s uniform policy.

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Top UK universities miss out on gold award in controversial Tef test

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:32:19 GMT2017-06-22T11:32:19Z

London School of Economics only managed to receive bronze award in teaching quality assessment, but industry figures urge caution over results

Many of the UK’s leading universities have failed to achieve the highest awards in a controversial assessment of teaching quality that has sent shockwaves through the traditional higher education hierarchy.

Among the elite Russell Group universities, just eight out of 21 institutions that took part in the government’s “teaching excellence framework” (Tef) were awarded the gold rating, while 10 got silver.

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Tories signal they may back down on cuts to school funding

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:13:24 GMT2017-06-21T19:13:24Z

MPs from both main parties seek clarity about education funding after pledge not to cut budgets was left out of Queen’s speech

Theresa May has indicated she is prepared to go back to the drawing board over school funding changes that Tory MPs said had been toxic on the doorstep, given how many schools would have faced significant cuts and teacher redundancies.

The Queen’s speech commits to pressing ahead with changing the funding formula for schools, a controversial measure criticised by a number of Conservative MPs. In response to the criticism, the Conservative manifesto promised the government would “make sure no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula” but that pledge was not repeated in the speech on Wednesday.

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Council drops plan to make teaching assistants reapply for jobs

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:45:56 GMT2017-06-21T16:45:56Z

Durham county council announces pay rise for 1,600 assistants after months of strikes and negotiations, but some will still see cut

More than 1,600 teaching assistants in the north-east will receive a pay rise after a council dropped plans to force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms.

Following months of strikes and negotiations, Durham county council agreed on Wednesday to introduce a new grading structure, which it says will see pay increases for 78% of TAs employed by the local authority.

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MPs are exploiting young people like me through unpaid internships | Meg Kneafsey

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:05:13 GMT2017-06-24T23:05:13Z

For too long, politicians and businesses have taken advantage of young hopefuls. This scandal must end

Two years ago, then Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to end the scandal of unpaid internships. Yet unpaid internships in MPs’ offices are still being advertised.

Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton, was forced to apologise and remove her advert last year following widespread public criticism, but this has not deterred other politicians. Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, has offered no more than expenses for a London-based internship to support his senior parliamentary assistant. On the other side of the House, Dominic Raab recently advertised for a “volunteer” to work in his office for four to six months. As the post-election Westminster recruitment drives heat up, MPs will recruit teams of people to help run their London offices, and an alarming number of these positions will not be paid.

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For students, the Queen’s speech should be a call to action | Malia Bouattia

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:54:44 GMT2017-06-23T10:54:44Z

On mental health, EU citizens’ rights and counter-extremism, there is an opportunity for student campaigners to make a real difference

The Queen’s speech was a dream come true for no one – except perhaps foxes, who will be relieved that there was no further mention of hunting. But for students, it was a mixed bag.

The speech was light on detail and heavy on Brexit. For the 84% of voting students who were opposed to leaving the EU, the future it outlined is exactly what we didn’t want. But there were silver linings: the announcement of plans to abolish letting agent fees and to bring forward legislation protecting victims of domestic violence, for instance. There are also plans to tackle the gender pay gap.

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Bane of the postgrad lecturer – teaching students your own age

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:47:26 GMT2017-06-22T15:47:26Z

As a young postgraduate teaching assistant, it’s easy to feel a lack of confidence in the seminar room. Here’s how to turn your age into an advantage

Sitting at the front of the classroom, papers arranged on your desk, hours of prep behind you and a sea of undergrads in front, you stand up to begin your first ever seminar:

“If the teacher doesn’t get here soon, shall we just go?”

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What Nujeen Mustafa did next: 'As a refugee I feel I'm in a constant test'

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 12:53:36 GMT2017-06-19T12:53:36Z

Her journey from Aleppo to Germany made headlines. Three years later, Nujeen faces a new challenge – fitting in at school

When Nujeen Mustafa arrived in Germany three years ago, she felt like a movie hero who had completed a dangerous adventure. Not only had she travelled 3,500 miles from Syria, but she had made the hazardous journey in a wheelchair. What she hadn’t realised, however, was that the biggest battle was yet to be fought: fitting in, “when everything you are is strange and foreign”.

Born with cerebral palsy, the 18-year-old left her home town of Kobani in 2014, when fighting broke out between Islamic State militants and US-backed Kurdish forces. Pushed by her elder sister Nasrine, she crossed seven borders and the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Despite the danger and exhaustion, she was photographed smiling as she was carried to shore on the Greek island of Lesbos. She was interviewed by the BBC, and her upbeat and optimistic attitude made her a poster girl for the resilience and bravery of refugees.

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Student loans are deeply unfair | Letters

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:27:08 GMT2017-06-18T18:27:08Z

The Open University always charged for tuition, says Alan Woodley, Mark Ellis notes that student loans leave women worse off, and Peter Kayes blames the Tories for above-inflation rises in fees

In your piece about the Open University (Jobs put at risk as Open University seeks £100m in savings, 14 June) you mention the impact of the introduction of tuition fees. In fact, OU students have always paid tuition fees and these increased, in line with inflation, for over 40 years.

The hammer blow came when the government forced the OU to triple fees in line with conventional universities. The sweetener offered in return was access to student loans. However, this did not work out because many did not qualify for these loans due to previous experience of higher education or a low course workload. Many who would have qualified were strongly averse to student debt. Student numbers dropped by a third almost overnight.

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Are you struggling to pay back your student loan?

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:40:55 GMT2017-06-15T11:40:55Z

Are you having issues paying back your student debt? We’d like you to help us understand the pressures you face

Figures released today show the total amount of UK student debt has topped £100 billion for the first time. We’d like to find out about the pressures people are under to pay back their loans after graduation and when in work, and how this impacts life.

Related: Young people have spoken: will they be heard over university fees and grants?

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UK student loan debt soars to more than £100bn

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:12:28 GMT2017-06-15T11:12:28Z

News of 16.6% jump in outstanding debt follows Labour’s general election pledge to scrap tuition fees

Student loan debt in the UK has risen to more than £100bn for the first time, underlining the rising costs young people face in order to get a university education.

Outstanding debt on loans jumped by 16.6% to £100.5bn at the end of March, up from £86.2bn a year earlier, according to the Student Loans Company. England accounted for £89.3bn of the total.

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What should I consider when buying a laptop for university?

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:58:03 GMT2017-06-15T08:58:03Z

Mike and Joan are planning to buy their student granddaughter a laptop for university and would like some tips before they discuss it with her

Our granddaughter is off to university this year and we will be buying her a laptop. We will discuss this with her, but some advice from you would be welcome. Mike and Joan

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What to expect when you're expecting at university

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 09:45:00 GMT2017-06-14T09:45:00Z

Having a baby at university can seem impossible – but help is available for pregnant students who know where to look

So you’ve done the test and it’s come back, not with a grade but two little blue lines: you’re pregnant. Having a baby while a student can leave you in doubt. If you can barely afford food for yourself, how will you feed another person? What about sitting through lectures with morning sickness? And is there such a thing as student parental leave?

NHS doctor and campaigner Rachel Clarke was the first pregnant medical student at her university. She recalls it was both determination and a fleet of willing babysitters in the form of her fellow students that helped get her through. Pregnancy at university doesn’t just have to be a choice between abortion or abandoning your studies. If you decide you want to keep the baby and keep studying, here is some advice on making it work:

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Prof John Curtice, the man who won the election: it’s wonderful to prove the world wrong

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 06:20:03 GMT2017-06-20T06:20:03Z

‘I wonder if May’s advisers actually understood the electoral system,’ says the exit pollster

Fifty minutes after an exit poll revealed Theresa May could lose her parliamentary majority, the poll’s author, John Curtice, appeared on a balcony above the BBC’s election night studio.

Like a donnish deity surveying the journalists and politicians scrambling to make sense of the lightning bolt launched at them, Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, calmly predicted how the night could unfold. And as time went on, commentators started to concede that it was he who had won the election. By 6am on 9 June, the results almost matched Curtice’s exit poll.

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‘We’re told we’re anti-Welsh bigots and fascists’ – the storm over Welsh-first schooling

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 06:10:03 GMT2017-06-20T06:10:03Z

With a third of schools in Wales teaching pupils primarily in Welsh, debate rages over the ethics of using the classroom to bolster a minority language

“We’ve been told we are anti-Welsh bigots and even fascists,” says Alice Morgan in her soft Welsh accent. The comments she is talking about began when she and other parents raised objections to a plan to turn their primary school in the village of Llangennech into one that teaches only in Welsh. They are worried that some children used to being taught in English won’t cope.

Feelings are running high. On one side are those who want to increase the number of Welsh speakers in the country. On the other are campaigners who say the evidence shows this method is futile and that children’s education is being sacrificed for politics.

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I was a poor kid at a wealthy private school. It gave me social mobility, but also a sense of shame

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 22:00:49 GMT2017-06-17T22:00:49Z

Scholarships at private schools might be highly sought after, but they cause otherwise progressive people to support institutions that maintain structural inequality in society

I can’t remember why or when I set my pre-adolescent sights on a fancy private high school. I certainly don’t recall being pushed into applying for scholarships when my time was winding up at the local state primary school. If anything, I was the one marching my slightly bewildered and sheepish parents around to open days, on a quest to fulfil my burning desire to make it among the Toorak set. I was an upwardly mobile 12-year-old.

I vividly remember their horror when, while touring us around her sprawling utopia for girls, one principal proudly proclaimed, “When our girls leave they’re shocked by what they find in the real world, because everything is so perfect here”. I turned down a scholarship in her promised land to take up another at a co-ed equivalent widely considered progressive ... on the spectrum of uppity private institutions anyway.

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Elite private headteacher: ‘The children we educate will create a fairer society’

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 06:30:50 GMT2017-06-13T06:30:50Z

The new chair of the Headmasters’ Conference is Shaun Fenton – the son of Alvin Stardust and now head of £17,460-a-year Reigate Grammar School

No other headteacher in Britain boasts a CV quite like Shaun Fenton’s. Born 1969, son of the pop singer Alvin Stardust and his first wife, Iris Caldwell (ex-girlfriend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison). Oxford graduate (philosophy, politics and economics). A brief City career in accountancy. Head of humanities at the Ridings comprehensive in Halifax, once branded Britain’s worst school, now closed. Head for five years of a Hertfordshire comprehensive. Head for six years of a state grammar in Gloucestershire. Since 2012, head of Reigate Grammar school, Surrey, a fee-charging selective day school. Member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), the (sort of) trade union for heads of top public schools, which recently elected him chair for 2018-19. Recreation (according to Who’s Who) includes “loving God”.

In his study at Reigate Grammar, which has a 32-acre sports ground, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and a new “state-of-the-art learning centre”, Fenton tells me he went into teaching not because he loved his subject – he doesn’t seem entirely sure what that is, saying he taught religious education, history, economics and social studies – but because he wanted to join “a community of moral purpose”.

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Young people have spoken: will they be heard over university fees and grants?

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 06:15:50 GMT2017-06-13T06:15:50Z

We ask whether the government should rethink student finance after the high youth election turnout

Student finance was firmly on the agenda in the election, with Labour pledging to scrap tuition fees, and even the Conservatives promising a “major review” of the funding of tertiary education. Student unions campaigned with vigour to get students to vote, and early figures suggest the highest turnout from young people for decades. Meanwhile, a third of university students feel their course is poor value for money, according to a survey published by the Higher Education Policy Institute last week. So what should the new government do?

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How to crack the arts as a BME student

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:33:32 GMT2017-06-12T11:33:32Z

Nish Kumar, Emmy the Great, Samuel Ross and Bridget Minamore have all gone on from university to have successful careers in the arts. They explain how they broke into an industry where BME people are significantly underrepresented

Over the last 18 months, a growing concern over the lack of diversity in the creative sectors has erupted into headlines. From the high-profile #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign, the controversial exclusion of the only ethnic minority candidate for Channel 4’s board of directors, to viral comments from celebrities including Idris Elba and Riz Ahmed, audiences are increasingly asking: why is there such a lack of diversity in the arts?

Related: When grades aren't enough: how to sell your academic brilliance

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‘I’m teaching – and I’m cheating’: confessions of a primary Sats teacher

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 06:30:16 GMT2017-06-06T06:30:16Z

‘The system is defective and discredited,’ says a teacher who admits pressure to meet exam targets has made him twist the rules
• Sats tests: why cheating and cramming mean the numbers don’t add up

Kaitlyn calls me over. “I’m not sure how to do this question, Miss,” she mumbles, looking at me pleadingly. Connor already has his head on the desk, refusing to answer a single question in the maths Sat. “It’s too hard,” he says. I’ve left the teaching assistant struggling with him, offering to read him the questions.

Related: Dear Ms Morgan: Sats tests are putting young children through hell

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Universities, don't rest on your laurels – use the Tef to improve

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:56:31 GMT2017-06-23T09:56:31Z

The teaching excellence framework may be controversial, but it’s an important resource for understanding and improving university teaching

The teaching excellence framework (Tef) results give us a unique insight into teaching quality and student outcomes across what is now an extraordinarily diverse higher education system. The Tef team is not only publishing the results, but all the data on which the assessment was based. No higher education system in the world has hitherto released such a fabulous resource for understanding teaching. Universities should use the results creatively to help them ask tough questions about what they do.

An impressive 295 institutions submitted for Tef assessment, including large multi-faculty universities and specialist institutions, research-intensive and teaching-intensive universities, further education colleges offering higher education and alternative providers. The outcomes draw together the results of an assessment of teaching excellence across all these types of institution based on evaluation of a set of statistical metrics, benchmarked for institution type and student mix, alongside an institutional submission of approximately 10,000 words.

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Universities in 2027: how will the teaching excellence framework shape them?

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:59:00 GMT2017-06-22T16:59:00Z

The teaching excellence framework has stoked controversy and shaken up the traditional hierarchy. But will it influence how universities are run?

At the risk of making myself a hostage to fortune, I’m going to look into my crystal ball to see how the teaching excellence framework will change the landscape of higher education.

It’s 2027. On the 10th anniversary of the Tef, education reporters are busily preparing pieces looking back at the controversy that raged at its introduction. Research was what mattered, not teaching, said the critics at the time.

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The Tef won't improve teaching – universities will just play the game

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:58:07 GMT2017-06-22T16:58:07Z

Assessment systems that incentivise performance lead to perverse outcomes. The new teaching excellence framework will be no exception

One day we will realise that the unintended consequences of the Teaching excellence framework are harmful not just for our universities, but also for those who are supposed to benefit - our students. We’ve seen it all before with this type of system in the public and private sector. We’ve even witnessed it already in universities through the Research excellence framework, which distributes research funding.

The idea of monitoring and incentivising the teaching and learning performance of UK universities appears to be driven by an underlying ideology that holds competition and differentiation as necessary conditions for success. These may be effective in simple situations where the aim is the pursuit of profit, but social science research tells us that differentiation leads to inequality and, together with competition, reduces trust and cooperation. These are both paramount for creating and disseminating knowledge, the core mission of most UK universities.

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Who decides whether universities should be gold, silver or bronze?

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:32:48 GMT2017-06-22T10:32:48Z

It’s the first time universities have been awarded medals for their teaching. But how did the government work it out?

The long-awaited teaching excellence framework results have arrived, both confirming and confounding expectations. Chris Millward, the director of policy at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which ran the exercise, explains how the results were calculated.

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Which universities are top at teaching?

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 23:02:21 GMT2017-06-21T23:02:21Z

The government has awarded universities gold, silver and bronze medals according to how well they performed in its new assessment of teaching quality, the Teaching excellence framework. Here’s the full list

The ratings in the controversial Tef exercise are based on six different metrics pulling together students’ views of their teaching and learning environment; dropout rates; and graduate outcomes, combined with a panel review process. Institutions which lacked the data to enter the exercise have been awarded provisional results.

Here’s the list of award-winners in alphabetical order.

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Why should I care about the teaching excellence framework? – explainer

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 16:33:04 GMT2017-06-19T16:33:04Z

Don’t know your Tef from your Ref? Thought gold, silver and bronze were medals awarded to athletes? Here’s everything you need to know

In case it’s escaped your attention, universities are getting themselves all worked up about the teaching excellence framework (pdf) results. Here’s our potted guide to what will be at the forefront of every vice-chancellor’s mind, as they decide how to capitalise on their gold rating or embark on damage limitation for their bronze.

Related: 2VCs: How worried should universities be about the general election?

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Universities face looming strikes as market revolution bites

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 23:05:51 GMT2017-06-17T23:05:51Z

Former polytechnics and colleges struggle to survive, with disadvantaged students hit hardest by campus closures and job cuts

Academics in Crewe are waiting in limbo. The campus, which is run by Manchester Metropolitan University, is the main centre for higher education in south Cheshire. But in February it was confirmed it would close in the summer of 2019, with 160 academic jobs at risk, and this week those academics will stage a two-day walkout in protest.

Students have been told they can finish their degrees, but many worry their lecturers will not be around to teach them. Unless the closure is reversed, the campus, which has 100 years of history, will become a ghost town. Welcome to life at the sharp end of the market revolution in English higher education.

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If we don't support nurse academics, we can't keep the NHS safe

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 10:34:40 GMT2017-06-16T10:34:40Z

Universities often fail to acknowledge the distinctive career path that nurse academics take. But without better support, we will lose important expertise

The nurse academic is a distinctive creature: frequently older, often having entered academia without a PhD, and lacking teaching and learning skills, while armed with considerable clinical and managerial experience. This can make the transition to academia difficult and challenging, as they move from being an expert clinician to a novice academic. It’s time for universities to recognise this gulf and do more to support nurse academics as they cross it.

Several years ago, I decided to become a nursing academic for a number of reasons. I was interested in the increased autonomy and flexibility; the opportunity to make a positive and meaningful contribution to the nursing profession; and the prospect of better professional development.

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How can universities create a carer-friendly culture?

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 06:30:32 GMT2017-06-15T06:30:32Z

Universities need to keep carers in mind if they are to foster a truly supportive working environment for academic staff

There is a significant proportion of employees who combine paid work with caring responsibilities in all professions, and academia is no exception. Yet we tend to know very little about their experiences or what their needs are. National carers week is a reminder that they need not be invisible, and that universities can do more to support staff juggling dual roles.

There are several reasons why carers can be drawn to academic careers. It offers some flexibility and usually commands salaries that are above the national average. But the two are not as compatible as would seem at first sight. In my recent research on academic carers in UK universities, I found that this group experiences a range of difficulties, including time, emotional and health issues. Over the longer term, balancing their sometimes competing responsibilities can affect retention and career progression.

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How can schools reduce teacher workload? – live chat

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:30:23 GMT2017-06-21T13:30:23Z

Join us on Thursday 6 July, 5.30-7pm, to discuss what school management and teachers can do to improve work/life balance

With budget cuts leading to redundancies, larger class sizes and longer hours with less help from support staff, teacher workloads are on the up. The number of hours teachers are working has increased significantly between 2013 and 2016, and it’s driving both teachers and school leadership to leave the profession.

A recent NUJ survey found that young teachers are leaving the job after only a few years because of the workload, with many saying it affects their mental health, and general secretary of NASUWT Chris Keates has said teachers and headteachers are dealing with “unsustainable workload demands on a daily basis”.

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Secret Teacher: now I'm a parent, my school can't see me as a leader

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 06:00:30 GMT2017-06-17T06:00:30Z

I worked hard to stay in the loop during maternity leave. But coming back part-time has meant I’m left out of decisions and am unable to progress

I had never knowingly experienced the glass ceiling in teaching, until I had children. I’ve always been career focused and, like many other teachers, teaching was very much a lifestyle choice rather than a job. Before children I had steadily worked my way up to middle leadership, with a view to moving into a senior leadership position over the next few years. But this ground to a halt following two breaks for maternity leave.

I suddenly felt very left out of decision-making and opportunities at school. There were occasions in which decisions about my area of responsibility had been discussed without me being involved. I had to work hard to stay in the loop – always checking my emails at home, and coming in for meetings on days I didn’t work.

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Britain's strictest school gets top marks from Ofsted

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 17:11:32 GMT2017-06-16T17:11:32Z

Katharine Birbalsingh’s ‘no excuses’ Michaela school praised by inspectors for behaviour policy and exemplary attitudes to learning among pupils

Michaela Community School – a controversial free school renowned for its “no excuses” behaviour policy – has been judged outstanding in all categories by Ofsted inspectors.

The school in north-west London won top marks in its first inspection since opening in 2014, with Ofsted inspectors praising the school’s “lively and engaging teaching” and “exemplary” attitudes to learning among pupils.

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Teachers as 'guides': inside the UK’s first Montessori secondary school

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:34:51 GMT2017-06-15T13:34:51Z

The Montessori Place has no year groups, no assessments, and students work in partnership with mentors to decide what to study

One student is completing a project on the rise of the emoji in modern culture. Another is making notes on the incubation of duck eggs, in anticipation of a hatching the next day. Others are outside in the garden, tending to basil, which will later be sold in a local shop.

This is an usual place to learn, and the first Montessori school for adolescents in the UK to be endorsed by AMI, although there are others that teach in the Montessori style. There are no year groups, no subject departments, no timetables and no assessments. There are also no teachers in the traditional sense: adults are “guides”, mentors who meet with students weekly or fortnightly to review their work and set a programme of learning. Students study in mixed age groups, learning from each other and working on topics that interest them.

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Teacher who used stories to tackle gang violence: 'People are fearful of talking about inequality'

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:53:16 GMT2017-06-13T10:53:16Z

Ten years ago, Erin Gruwell’s teaching style inspired a film. Now she trains educators to work with vulnerable young people – and was this year a finalist for an international award. She tells us what experience has taught her

When Erin Gruwell was told that her students were “unteachable”, she refused to give up. Her school was based in a Los Angeles community struggling with racial tension and gang violence, and her pupils were by her own admission violent themselves. But by providing reading material that related to their lives and asking them to write journals, she found a way to connect – and inspired many of them to become teachers themselves. The journal entries written in her classroom were later turned into a book, and Gruwell’s methods were the subject of the 2007 film Freedom Writers.

Related: Talking about terrorist attacks with young people: tips for teachers

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Secret Teacher: we need evidence on free schools, not blind faith

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 06:00:18 GMT2017-06-10T06:00:18Z

I was full of optimism when I took a job at a free school, but we couldn’t give students the education they deserved. Politicians must start listening to concerns

Like many teachers, I’ve experienced intermittent bouts of disillusionment with an education system that can, at times, seem to embody an exam factory. Convinced that there was something better out there, a few years ago I trawled through job adverts in an attempt to find a school that approached education differently. I decided to look at new schools. That way, I figured, I’d be part of building something from the bottom up. So I took a teaching post at a free school that had been open for just under a year.

I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Several other teachers had also decided to embark on what they assumed would be an exciting challenge. We met and quickly realised that while our experience varied significantly – ranging from NQTs to experienced teachers – we all had one thing in common: optimism about the task ahead. We eagerly anticipated the start of term, but when September arrived it became clear that we’d misjudged the situation and made a terrible mistake.

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Teachers: here's how to get your lessons off to a flying start

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 11:03:32 GMT2017-06-07T11:03:32Z

Setting learning objectives at the start of a lesson may not be the best way to engage your students. What you need is an attention-grabbing opener

How do you start your lessons? In many schools, classes will begin the same way – with the teacher explaining two or three intended learning outcomes. These are often written on the board and students will note them down in their textbooks.

Some teachers believe that this is what Ofsted wants. But in its 2012 report, Made to Measure, Ofsted highlights an example of good practice that involves a teacher deliberately not sharing a lesson’s learning objectives “until later in the lesson, at which point they challenged the pupils to articulate for themselves what they have learned”.

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Secret Teacher: the obsession with league tables cheats our children

Sat, 03 Jun 2017 06:00:46 GMT2017-06-03T06:00:46Z

My school is gaming the system for results, and it’s far from the only one. If we want to offer a meaningful education we must rethink how we measure success

Since September our school has been doing everything possible to game the system. We hand out A and B grades for coursework that would have once been worth C or D grades. Our GCSE students have had their option subjects taken away from them to concentrate solely on English, maths and science. Our weakest students have been moved on to vocational subjects so that their results do not affect league tables, and our younger students are left with supply teachers because their results don’t matter for at least another two years. Every decision is made with the league table in mind.

Related: 'There are tremendous levels of anger': why supply teachers need a better deal

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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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UK researchers lead effort to design climate-proof refugee housing

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 23:01:13 GMT2017-04-30T23:01:13Z

Bath University staff head an international team working on shelters capable of withstanding extremes of temperature

Researchers will today begin a three-year project to design housing for refugee camps in extreme climates where temperatures range from 45C to -10C. The international team behind the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project, led by Bath University, aim to improve living conditions for refugees by creating low-cost and easy-to-construct housing.

Their 20 shelter designs will moderate extremes of temperature and ensure the privacy, comfort and dignity of residents. The research will be the largest global study into thermal, social and air-quality conditions in camps housing displaced people.

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University chief appeals for EU help to fight Hungarian clampdown

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:33:25 GMT2017-04-25T16:33:25Z

Rector of Central European University hopeful EU will launch infringement proceedings against Orbán government

The head of a leading university threatened with closure in Hungary has made an emotional plea for help from the EU and accused the country’s rightwing, authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, of effectively putting a gun to his head.

Michael Ignatieff, rector of the US-linked Central European University (CEU), said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the EU would launch infringement proceedings against the Hungarian government for its “outrageous” attack on academic freedoms.

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The role of interpreter is lost in translation | Letters

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:51:20 GMT2017-04-11T17:51:20Z

The big picture (5 April) was good and the numbered captions helpful. It was a boost for our profession to have the man below the late King Abdullah’s portrait described as “perhaps the most important person in the room”. However, translators are not normally people who listen and speak (sometimes simultaneously) in meetings: that is the job of interpreters. Some translators are trained to interpret, but they usually excel at writing, keyboard skills and carefully honing text. Speech is not writing; transfer of meaning between languages and cultures requires not only accuracy, speed and clarity, but impartiality. Interpreters should have no vested interest in the outcome of a meeting. It would be useful to know whether Theresa May had a British Arabic-English interpreter in her delegation.
Jane Straker
London

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Thousands protest in Hungary over threat to Soros university

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 17:55:40 GMT2017-04-09T17:55:40Z

Demonstrators call for president to veto legislation passed by parliament targeting Central European University

Tens of thousands of people have protested in Budapest against legislation that could force the Central European University, founded by the financier George Soros, to move out of Hungary.

A bill passed in parliament by the ruling rightwing Fidesz party of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, a critic of liberal civil organisations funded by Soros, targeted CEU by setting out numerous conditions under which it must operate.

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Bhutan solves the ultimate school maths problem – and the answer is 108

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 06:15:44 GMT2017-04-04T06:15:44Z

Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy visits the mountain kingdom, which is successfully taking on the challenge of inspiring children to love maths

Every country around the world is trying to crack one of the toughest mathematical conundrums on the books. Not the Riemann hypothesis or the Navier-Stokes equations but the challenge of how to get schoolchildren to fall in love with mathematics.

One country trying an innovative approach to the challenge is the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, tucked away at the top of the Himalayas. Famous for its decision to measure its wealth not just economically but also via the idea of gross national happiness, Bhutan is trying to find a way to get its children to be happier in mathematics lessons. Having long been inspired by the Indian curriculum, which favours rules and rote learning, the emphasis is shifting to giving students an understanding of why and how these rules work.

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How sad that English-speaking parents are afraid of their children being taught in Welsh | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:53:33 GMT2017-06-22T11:53:33Z

The English colonial legacy has left its mark in Wales, and it sticks in the craw that otherwise liberal people might criticise minority-language activists in the UK

Tuesday’s Guardian article about Welsh language education caused huge controversy. In it, some parents protested about their village school switching to Welsh-language teaching. The print headline was: Welsh-only teaching – a political tool that harms children?

The framing of the teaching of Welsh to children as a question of ethics, and the suggestion that it could put any child in Wales at a disadvantage, upset me and other Welsh speakers. Focusing on a bitter row that took place last year in Llangennech, Camarthenshire, the article emphasised the concerns of one parent, with voices on the other side of the debate largely absent, leading to a rather one-sided argument.

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You messed with schools, Theresa May, so you messed with half the electorate | Laura McInerney

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 05:50:02 GMT2017-06-20T05:50:02Z

School budget cuts were key to the election result – the prime minister forgot teachers, parents and grandparents are all voters

Twelve days ago a 60-year-old woman sat in a toilet crying as she realised the career she had worked at for decades was crumbling in front of her. I wonder, as Theresa May wiped her eyes, if she glimpsed, just for a second, how the thousands of teachers and teaching assistants sacked over the past 12 months because of budget cuts felt. I wonder if her fear of becoming a pub quiz answer for the shortest-serving postwar prime minister equalled the fear felt by some of those people of losing their home because they couldn’t pay their mortgage.

Maybe, as she steadied herself, one of her advisers told her not to worry. “We’ve secured a record number of votes,” they said, in the same way that the government repeatedly told headteachers there was a “record amount of money” going into schools.

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Why not put music at the heart of education? | Stephen Moss

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 07:39:00 GMT2017-06-19T07:39:00Z

Every child should have the opportunity to learn to read music and play an instrument, not just the kids of thrusting middle-class parents

One of the most exciting commitments of the general election campaign was made in Jeremy Corbyn’s wonderful eve-of-election speech in Colwyn Bay, north Wales. The promise to give every child the chance to learn a musical instrument. There is surely no greater gift for a youngster.

Corbyn has always been good on funding for the arts, especially as it applies to children. It was part of his second Labour leadership campaign and is there again in the Culture for All section of the 2017 manifesto, though the specific promise he had made previously to pay for every child to get the chance to learn an instrument and act on stage has been massaged somewhat into an “arts pupil premium” presumably designed to let schools determine cultural priorities.

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Exam stress rising? No, pupils are just better at seeking help | Laura McInerney

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 23:01:51 GMT2017-06-17T23:01:51Z

Of course sitting GCSEs can be a trying experience, but with good support, study pressure can be positive

Across the country at the moment, young people are engaging in a practice that will give them nightmares for decades. Nope, not fidget spinners or Snapchat filters: those give only adults nightmares. The real answer is exams.

It’s almost 20 years since my maths GCSE and yet the bad dreams are still the same. No revision done, the exam hall lost in a labyrinth of corridors, the start already missed. I am not alone. Exam anxiety dreams are among the most common in adults. Is it these painful associations, then, that mean a quarter of British parents report their mental health was negatively affected by having children who are currently taking exams? Or is it, as the parents will more often tell you, because watching your child break under the pressure is enough to make anyone sick?

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Court battle looms over priests’ right to pick pupils for Catholic schools

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 00:04:22 GMT2016-11-20T00:04:22Z

Challenge follows ruling by schools adjudicator that definition of ‘practising’ religion is unclear

The Catholic church is taking the government’s schools admissions watchdog to the high court to protect the rights of priests to determine whether pupils are eligible for a place on the basis of their faith.

The schools adjudicator ruled earlier this month that a new policy across all Catholic schools under which priests certified on a pupil-by-pupil basis whether they were from a “practising [Catholic] family” was unfair.

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Kent school head defends sending home girls in too-short skirts

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 16:29:21 GMT2017-01-04T16:29:21Z

Parents of pupils at Ebbsfleet academy can have them educated elsewhere if they object to the uniform rules, says principal

A headteacher in Kent has defended sending pupils home from school because their skirts were too short, saying parents who did not like the strict uniform rules could choose to have their daughters educated elsewhere.

Girls at Ebbsfleet academy in Swanscombe were turned away on the first day of term after Christmas because their skirts did not conform to uniform policy which stipulates that skirts should be navy, A-line or pleated, and no shorter than 5cm above the knee.

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Chris Binns obituary

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:05:33 GMT2017-06-23T17:05:33Z

My partner, Chris Binns, who has died aged 74, was an inspiring lecturer with wide cultural and intellectual interests, and a warm-hearted man with a great sense of humour.

He was born in Chard, Somerset, son of Max Binns, a journalist, and his wife, Margaret (nee Perris). He attended Devonport high school for boys in Plymouth. After a disrupted childhood due to the early death of his father, Chris read classics at Oxford. From there, a travelling scholarship enabled him to visit Greece, and thus began his lifelong love of the country and its landscape.

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Cross-party alliance takes on Theresa May over grammar schools

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 22:00:00 GMT2017-03-18T22:00:00Z

Critics say selection won’t help social mobility crisis, as former Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan adds voice

Theresa May’s personal crusade to expand the number of grammar schools is in serious jeopardy today as senior Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs unite in an unprecedented cross-party campaign to kill off the prime minister’s flagship education reform.

In a highly unusual move, the Tory former education secretary Nicky Morgan joins forces with her previous Labour shadow Lucy Powell and the Liberal Democrat former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to condemn the plans as damaging to social mobility, ideologically driven and divisive.

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

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

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

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

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

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What's the point of school uniform?

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

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

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

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

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


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Top 10 podcasts to help you learn a language

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:45:01 GMT2015-02-09T12:45:01Z

From videos in Japanese to news in German, language blogger Lindsay Dow recommends her favourite podcasts to keep you motivated and inspired while improving your skills

I became a language addict way back in the early noughties thanks to Shakira. Since then I’ve gone on to pursue a degree in French and Spanish with the Open University, and I’ve also studied Mandarin, Italian, German and various other languages along the way. With formal studying never quite being enough, I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain, podcasts being one of them. Here’s a few of my favourites:

Continue reading..."I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain," says Lindsay Dow. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose"I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain," says Lindsay Dow. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose


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Ofsted chief slams Theresa May’s ‘obsession’ with grammar schools

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 19:50:14 GMT2016-10-15T19:50:14Z

Michael Wilshaw says standards for the majority of children will be lowered and PM should focus on post-Brexit skills crisis

Theresa May should stop “obsessing” about grammar schools and order a massive expansion of vocational education to address skills shortages that will worsen after Brexit, England’s chief inspector of schools says.

Related: ‘I came into teaching and into this job to raise standards for all children, not the few’ – Michael Wilshaw, scourge of ministers, bows out

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Shouting at your kids can damage their brains

Wed, 21 Mar 2001 16:19:26 GMT2001-03-21T16:19:26Z

Shouting at your kids can damage their brains, as well as hurting their ears, according to US child psychiatrists. Ouch, says Anne Karpf

I thought I was impervious to those "research shows . . ." scare stories, but this one got to me. Shouting at children, according to a recent study by psychiatrists at a hospital affiliated to Harvard Medical School, can significantly and permanently alter the structure of their brains. It was only inordinate self-restraint - of the kind I never display towards my kids - that stopped me marching them straight off for a brain scan.

Ours is a Sturm und Drang household, with shouting matches, screaming fits, and temper tantrums - and that's just the parents. The neighbours have been warned, even the kids have been warned. At two, my first-born could do a passable imitation of me yelling (and she did, to all-comers). And one of her sibling's early sentences was: "You're a lovely Mummy, but a shouty one."

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Striking out on their own – the challenges facing new students

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 11:30:06 GMT2017-06-24T11:30:06Z

It’s not just tough on the parents when uni starts – not every student copes with their new life

Will your student child sink or swim at university? Independent study, time management, personal hygiene and maintaining a healthy diet are just some of the challenges they will face. Although dropout rates have risen slightly, they’re still only at 6%, according to the Social Market Foundation – most students have a happy, successful time at university.

Mental health is high on university radars, with the number of students seeking counselling having doubled at some institutions and a quarter of students saying they’ve experienced depression, anxiety or similar conditions, according to YouGov.

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Off to uni? Leave the kitchen sink behind

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 11:00:06 GMT2017-06-24T11:00:06Z

It’s not just your offspring off to university – it’s also your towels, pillows, pens ...

If you’re eyeing up your Ford Fiesta and wondering how you’ll fit in your daughter’s vintage clothes collection, duvet and pillows, books and toiletries, to drive 100 miles up country, then now might be a good time to think about packing.

When planning what your teenager needs to take with them, it is worth considering the following:

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Your relationship is changing – and conflict is par for the course

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 10:30:05 GMT2017-06-24T10:30:05Z

Celia Dodd, author of The Empty Nest – How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child, offers some advice on parenting university-goers

Visiting your child at university can be unexpectedly challenging. You look forward to it for ages, but after the high of the initial hugs, it can all feel a little bit … well, unnatural. There’s so much resting on one or two precious days.

It doesn’t help that you have to meet in halls or a coffee shop, rather than on familiar home turf. Too often parents go back to their empty nest feeling they could have handled things better. Should we have stayed so long/longer? Why didn’t we get to meet their friends?

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How to make your university money last

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 10:00:05 GMT2017-06-24T10:00:05Z

With discounts and deals aplenty – plus some costs you need to swallow – budgeting students need to be on their toes to make their funds go the distance

Cash is often tight for students – and with a pint of beer setting them back three or four quid, it’s important to have a handle on the bills that have to be paid. Rent is by far the greatest expense for students, whether they choose catered, self-catered or private accommodation. In Manchester, one of the cheaper student cities, accommodation will cost just under £4,300 for the 40-week year, but catered will cost an extra £1,257. The price of most university rooms includes gas and electricity. Private accommodation, which students usually take after the first year, may be cheaper up front, but the price of utility bills, the internet and so on needs to be factored in to give a real idea of the cost. Students may also have to rent for a calendar year, rather than just the academic term.

Figures from savethestudent.org put average expenditure at £735 a month, with £365 of that spent on rent – although plusher accommodation could cost nearly double that in some cities. Typically, students spend over £100 a month on food, £64 on social, £58 on bills and £44 on travel. On top of that, there’s more than £20 a month each on books and photocopying, clothes, mobile and other expenses – even £5 a month on illegal drugs, according to respondents. London living costs an extra £1,300 a year, the National Union of Students (NUS) estimates.

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How to choose the uni – and the life – that suits you

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:30:04 GMT2017-06-24T09:30:04Z

The degrees our offspring take affect not just their uni experience, but the paths open to them afterwards

The first thing prospective students should bear in mind when it comes to applying for university is the course itself. However, this is easier said than done, as a course’s name can’t tell you everything – course structure and content can vary quite significantly between one university and the next. Some universities even include work experience or international placements. So, how do you find the right one?

“Higher education is a fantastic opportunity, but it really is about making sure the course choice is right,” says Victoria Azubuine, admissions manager at the University of Bedfordshire. “The search tools on the Ucas website make it a great place to start. Once you’ve made that choice, look at the university, to make sure that is a good fit too.”

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‘Pick a subject you love’

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:00:03 GMT2017-06-24T09:00:03Z

Students should think of university as an opportunity to broaden knowledge, debate with others and think about the kind of society they want to live in

I’m not a university boy and I always rather regretted that – I trained in drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and becoming the new chancellor of Bath Spa University is an adventure for me. I am a strong advocate for going to university – it’s a valuable way to fast-track the kind of experience that took me years to pick up.

There is value in studying – honing your knowledge – in a particular subject, but students need to graduate poised to take advantage of a fluid job market too. Things are moving so fast that students will change career maybe two or three times in their lives, so they need agility and a breadth of knowledge to move with the times.

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Leaving for university: ‘I did get homesick, but I didn’t linger on it’

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 08:00:02 GMT2017-06-24T08:00:02Z

Leaving home is a wrench – for child and parent. But Norah Lovelock and her mum used it as a catalyst to branch out

Norah Lovelock, pictured above right, is in the first year of a BSc in computer science at Sheffield Hallam University.
University is amazing; it’s changed my life. It’s really nice to be able to walk to the supermarket or go out to meet friends whenever I want to. It’s also really good to meet a wide range of people. Not being able to recognise everyone on the street is weird, but nice.

It was really hard leaving Mum and I did get homesick. Perhaps three or four times I felt bad because I missed home so much, but I didn’t linger over it. I reminded myself of why I came to university and that homesickness was, unfortunately, inevitable. It wasn’t a constant thing and it really didn’t last long, perhaps two or three weeks. I don’t drink alcohol, so I thought I might find it harder to make friends, but if you are willing to put yourself out there – to smile and chat to people – you will make friends really, really easily. Everyone in Sheffield is ridiculously friendly anyway.

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Get it right together – how parents can help pick the right university

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-06-24T07:00:01Z

It’s not an easy balance to strike – between wanting to help your child choose the best degree possible and meddling in their life. Here’s some tips for both parties

What to study and where is the first big decision that many young people have to make in their lives. It’s a choice that could shape their future career prospects, their friendship groups and their interests, so naturally they turn to their parents for advice.

Luckily, there is plenty of information for parents who want to support their children. So where to start? The course is number one. “My advice would be to encourage students to do what they love,” says computer science student Norah Lovelock, who chose the “wrong” subject and will swap to English literature next year. “They can always do other things to enhance their career prospects, such as volunteering or gaining work experience.”

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