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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, 19 Nov 2017 14:55:30 GMT2017-11-19T14:55:30Z

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



The Brexit clock is ticking - time for Hammond to boost apprenticeships

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 12:46:13 GMT2017-11-19T12:46:13Z

Budget should include measures on training and skills shortages, with British firms set to lose easy access to migrant labour

Go to university and you get a head start on your peers. In a Britain of haves and have-nots, this remains a widespread perception. But Tom Ratcliffe disproves it. Unlike his history graduate friend, who is working in Sports Direct in their home city of Derby, the 23-year-old has had more luck as an apprentice to one of the world’s oldest clockmakers.

“I have friends coming out of university without a job. There just isn’t the work out there for them,” he says. Instead of graduating with a huge debt and no guarantee of work, Ratcliffe is among thousands of apprentices in Britain being paid to learn on the job.

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Losing a child to suicide is devastating. Schools can help prevent these tragedies

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 08:00:26 GMT2017-11-18T08:00:26Z

At least 200 children take their own lives each year in the UK. Teachers are in a unique position to support vulnerable pupils, but more awareness is needed

  • Harry Biggs-Davison is a former headteacher and trustee of the charity Papyrus

The tragedy of losing a child is unimaginable. Losing a child to suicide is worse. Those who have endured such horrors will know the grief is utterly excruciating. It’s no wonder that parents who have lost children in such a way become serious risks of suicide themselves.

My son Patrick was 25 when he took his own life, although I believe his suicidal thoughts began in childhood. It’s distressing to think that an average of four schoolchildren take their own lives every week in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The majority are teenagers, but some are still in primary school – and because the official statistics don’t recognise suicides by children under 10, that number is likely to be even higher.

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Secret Teacher: as a private tutor, I'm guilty of worsening inequality

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 07:00:25 GMT2017-11-18T07:00:25Z

Private tuition is one the jobs I take to piece together a living, but I’m contributing to the widening attainment gap in our schools

Teaching is a profession that makes me feel guilty. As someone who comes from a working class background I’m painfully aware of the inequalities in our education system – and as a private tutor, I’m now part of the problem. I’m a fully paid up member of what the Sutton Trust calls “the hidden secret of British education” (pdf), but I hate that I’m contributing to the widening attainment gap in our schools.

I know what it is like to be a vaguely academic child held back by an economically and socially disadvantaged background

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Head of grammar school that forced out A-level students resigns

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:13:31 GMT2017-11-17T18:13:31Z

Aydin Önaç quits St Olave’s school in Orpington, where Guardian found policy of culling pupils who were falling below A grades

The headteacher of a top grammar school has resigned following weeks of controversy after a Guardian investigation revealed the school’s policy of forcing out pupils who were deemed unlikely to achieve the highest A-level grades.

Aydin Önaç, the headteacher of St Olave’s grammar school in Orpington, south-east London, until his suspension last month, has announced his resignation, the school told parents and staff on Friday.

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Ex-pupils criticise St Paul's girls' school over request for abuse stories

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:17:27 GMT2017-11-17T15:17:27Z

Invitation to share experiences for drama project causes anger, with some alleging sexual abuse while at the London school

A leading independent girls’ school at the centre of allegations of historical sexual abuse is facing a backlash from former students who have told the Guardian they were outraged to be asked to volunteer their experiences of abuse and harassment for a school drama project.

An email to alumnae of St Paul’s girls’ school (SPGS) in west London, soliciting stories for a documentary-style drama inspired by the #MeToo campaign, backfired spectacularly with furious responses from some former students, a number of whom alleged sexual abuse while they were at the school.

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I’m against private schools, but could a new cheap ‘no frills’ option sway me?

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:29:04 GMT2017-11-17T13:29:04Z

A plan to open a school with annual fees of £2,700 sounds superficially appealing – it wouldn’t be a place just for the rich

I must admit that I felt a slight, guilty thrill when I heard that an educational foundation in Scotland is trying to pioneer an “easyJet”-style, no-frills public school, charging £52 week – about £2,700 a year – for private education.

I have opposed private schools all my life, on the grounds that only the rich can afford them, but this idea is somewhat wrong-footing me: I find the idea of cheap private schools – costing little more than some people pay for a  satellite TV subscription and mobile phone bill – is superficially appealing.

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We enjoy independent thought, they suffer from ‘groupthink’

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:30:03 GMT2017-11-17T12:30:03Z

How the term ‘groupthink’ is a classic example of a rhetorical intervention designed to shut down argument before it even starts

There is an intellectual plague spreading among us, and only a few heroic souls are able to spot it. It is called groupthink, and it is everywhere. We are routinely told that there is groupthink in our universities, at the Bank of England and the BBC. Campaigning for leave last year, David Davis pronounced: “The Establishment groupthink on the central issues of the day has too often got it not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong.” In this he echoed Owen Jones, otherwise not a likely rhetorical comrade, who writes of “the Establishment’s groupthink”, and who recently diagnosed a fellow journalist on Twitter as suffering from “media groupthink”. Christopher Booker, meanwhile, flexibly perceives “groupthink” both in the original arguments to join the EU and in the present rush towards a no-deal cliff-edge, as well as in the consensus on global warming, tolerance of transgender people, and “political correctness”. It is as well to be warned about all this. Evidently we would be in a sorry state without such giants of independent thought. But what exactly is groupthink, and where did it come from?

Most people credit the idea of “groupthink” to the social psychologist Irving Janis, who saw it as an organisational problem. In his 1972 paper, Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign Policy Decisions and Fiascoes, he addressed the social dynamics operating in the way government groups make specific decisions, such as the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion and the escalation of the Vietnam war. For him, “groupthink” indicated “the deterioration in mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgments as a result of group pressures” towards conformity, unanimity and so on. But, he thought, organisational systems and structures could be improved to help groups make better decisions than individuals on their own. There was no sense here, as yet, of the modern sense of “groupthink” in which everyone is defenceless against being infected by the same opinion.

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Academic colleagues, where was your support for my chronic illness?

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 07:30:06 GMT2017-11-17T07:30:06Z

When I was diagnosed with a rare medical condition, it was my peer network, not my university colleagues, who helped get me through my PhD

During my part-time PhD studies, I developed a rare degenerative, chronic medical condition. Unexpectedly having major reconstructive surgery, I was told I would be unable to have children and face ongoing medical tests, therapies and care for the rest of my life. I didn’t want my condition to prevent the completion of my PhD, nor influence my global academic ambition and culturally nomadic existence. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t realise how hard the lack of support I was given from colleagues would make it.

Related: It's hard to articulate grief after a suicide – but we still need support

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Nurseries ban glitter in pre-Christmas drive for cleaner seas

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:30:05 GMT2017-11-17T06:30:05Z

Tops Day Nurseries group cracks down amid fears children’s favourite could be as harmful to environment as microbeads

Glitter, as anyone who has ever worn it knows, has a habit of turning up in unexpected places days later, even after a good scrub. However, a new peril has emerged from the sparkly substance: it is adding to the plastic pollution in our seas.

A group of nurseries in southern England has banned the use of glitter among its 2,500 children to reduce the amount of microplastics entering the seas.

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NUS to investigate sexual harassment at universities

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:01:09 GMT2017-11-17T00:01:09Z

National Union of Students to do first survey of staff sexual misconduct and universities’ responses to complaints

Sexual harassment in universities is to be investigated by the National Union of Students, which is conducting the UK’s first survey of staff sexual misconduct in higher education.

Related: Sexual harassment 'at epidemic levels' in UK universities

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London student march calls for rich to be taxed to fund free education

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 16:58:38 GMT2017-11-15T16:58:38Z

Students demonstrate in central London amid criticism of government education policies ahead of next week’s budget

Thousands of students have marched through central London demanding free education to be funded by taxing the rich, amid criticism of the government’s education policies ahead of next week’s budget.

The demonstration, supported by Labour, was marred by one minor scuffle, and turnout appeared to be lower than in previous years.

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Six UK universities break advertising rules with pitches to students

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 07:00:01 GMT2017-11-15T07:00:01Z

Watchdog warns higher education sector after institutions fail to back up claims with good evidence

Six universities have been forced to scrap their marketing campaigns as the UK advertising watchdog launches a crackdown on misleading students with false claims.

The Advertising Standards Authority examined a range of claims – including the University of Leicester stating that it is in the “top 1%” in the world – and found that none of them could prove the assertions to be true.

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Brexit threatens UK's reputation for scientific research, watchdog says

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:01:44 GMT2017-11-15T00:01:44Z

Leadership is ‘sorely lacking’ in key areas such as robotics and climate change, parliament’s spending monitor warns

Britain risks losing its reputation as a scientific research powerhouse as a result of Brexit, the head of parliament’s spending watchdog has warned.

Related: The government wants a Brexit deal on science and research, says Jo Johnson

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UK risks mass exodus of EU academics post-Brexit, finds report

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 00:01:16 GMT2017-11-14T00:01:16Z

One-third of languages and economics teaching staff are from EU, who need more clarity about their status, says British Academy study

The potential risk to UK universities from post-Brexit academic flight has been laid bare in a report that reveals there are regions where up to half of academic staff in some departments are EU nationals.

The British Academy report [pdf] warns that economics and modern language departments will be particularly badly hit if European academics leave the UK, with more than a third of staff in each discipline currently from EU member states.

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Headteachers demand more school cash in letter to Hammond

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 17:57:40 GMT2017-11-12T17:57:40Z

Group will march to Downing Street to deliver letter saying Tories’ national funding formula needs urgent reform

Five-thousand headteachers have endorsed a letter to the chancellor to demand more money for schools, warning of deep cuts to resources, soaring class sizes and further “desperate” pleas for cash if the new national funding formula is not reformed.

Heads in counties from Cornwall to Cumbria, who run schools with millions of pupils, will march to Downing Street on Tuesday to deliver the letter to Philip Hammond. It comes ahead of the budget on 22 November.

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Eton College head: our young men need to be more gender-intelligent

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 06:00:18 GMT2017-11-11T06:00:18Z

Simon Henderson says the school would support transgender pupils but it had not been faced with that particular situation

Pupils at Eton College need to be more “gender-intelligent” according to the headmaster, who indicated that any student at the all-male boarding school wishing to transition genders would be allowed to stay.

Simon Henderson, who took over the elite public school in 2015, told the Guardian that efforts to prepare its pupils for the modern world now included LGBT-awareness education and talks by the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates.

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Oxford college to launch scholarship in attempt to address slavery legacy

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:08:24 GMT2017-11-10T18:08:24Z

All Souls, which received substantial payment in 1710 from slave owner, to fund one student a year from Caribbean nations

Oxford’s All Souls College is attempting to redress the bitter legacy of slavery that for hundreds of years has helped it maintain its position as one of Britain’s richest and most prestigious academic institutions.

Following long internal debate, the college’s fellows have agreed to launch an annual scholarship scheme, funding graduates from Caribbean countries to study at Oxford, alongside a five-year grant for a higher education college in Barbados.

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Big Issue seller always with 'book on the go' wins place at Cambridge

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 19:47:22 GMT2017-11-08T19:47:22Z

Lifelong reading passion leads to Hughes Hall course for Geoff Edwards, 52, who endured jobless spells and lived on streets

A former homeless man who spent years selling the Big Issue on the streets of Cambridge has won a place to study English literature at the city’s world-renowned university.

Geoff Edwards, 52, who left school with two O-levels and few ambitions, has begun his studies at Hughes Hall, Cambridge.

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Student Loans Company sacks chief executive Steve Lamey

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:42:57 GMT2017-11-08T14:42:57Z

Lamey’s contract is terminated after ‘investigations into allegations about aspects of his management and leadership’

The Student Loans Company has sacked its chief executive, Steve Lamey, after a long-running investigation into his conduct.

A senior official from the Department for Education is to be parachuted into the company to conduct a shakeup, which may include the company’s leadership being moved from its current location in Glasgow.

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Hammond’s budget big five: cuts, pay, housing, roads and students

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:00:36 GMT2017-11-18T16:00:36Z

Does the chancellor upset some by loosening the purse strings, or imperil a government with no majority by wielding the axe? Whatever he decides, some topics will have to be addressed

Philip Hammond will face his toughest test as chancellor on Wednesday when he stands up to deliver his third and most important budget statement. By comparison, the 2016 autumn statement and this year’s spring budget were exercises in treading water. Conservative MPs expect him to set the agenda for the rest of the government’s term and deliver a vision of how Britain will prosper outside the European Union.

The task is daunting. Without an overall majority, and with factions inside the party calling for his head, Hammond is in a bind. Loosening the purse strings will upset Tories who want to eliminate the deficit some time in the next 10 years; keeping austerity in place risks further cuts to politically sensitive public services such as the NHS, schools and the police.

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Corrosive effects of the market on universities | Letters

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 18:25:12 GMT2017-11-16T18:25:12Z

Bernard Porter claims universities have been cheating on a considerable scale to improve their status and thus funding; Michael Carley writes that academics have been sold out by ‘a venal and mediocre caste’ of vice-chancellors; Jean Goodrick praises Access and Pathway courses at FE colleges for getting more socially disadvantaged people to university; Regenia Gagnier says that Cambridge University does not represent all of the UK when it comes to multicultural English syllabi

I’m not surprised at this (Watchdog tells six universities to scrap adverts, 15 November). Ever since British universities became a “market”, they’ve adopted market ethics; especially – but not exclusively – the lower-status, and so more vulnerable, ones. I first noticed this when I was directing my own university department’s submission for the “teaching quality assurance” and “research assessment” exercises in the 1990s, the outcome of which partly determined how much money we would get. Other universities were cheating on a considerable scale: literally hiding away poor lecturers when the assessors came, for example; “sexing up” their research dossiers; and so on. It’s what happens when competition, of this material kind, comes into conflict – and it is a conflict – with academia. One of an academic’s main functions should be to determine the truth of things, insofar as that is possible. The conduct of Falmouth (of which I’d never heard) and all these other institutions named by the Guardian is nothing but a trahison des clercs. Strictly, they should be closed down.

But of course it’s not only the clercs who indulge in this sort of conduct now, in this age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”. The rule seems to be, for some politicians (I’m thinking here, of course, of Boris) and others, that what you say doesn’t have to be true, but only what you can get away with. Isn’t this another example of late capitalist values spreading throughout society?
Bernard Porter
Emeritus professor of modern history, Newcastle University

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Liverpool student fights to remove Gladstone's name from building

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:14:55 GMT2017-11-16T10:14:55Z

Legacy of William Gladstone, who was British PM four times in 19th century, is ‘racially marred’ due to slavery links, student argues

A campaign has been launched to remove the name of the 19th-century prime minister William Gladstone – who defended the interests of slave owners – from a Liverpool University building.

Student Alisha Raithatha launched a poll on the Liverpool Student Guild website calling on the university to use the redevelopment of the Roscoe and Gladstone halls of residence as an opportunity to “reject a racially marred legacy”.

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'We are a force to be reckoned with': voices of newly qualified nurses

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 15:05:57 GMT2017-11-14T15:05:57Z

Those entering nursing now are faced with increased responsibility in a challenging NHS environment. Here’s what they think

Nursing isn’t what I expected it to be, there’s never enough time for patient contact which really saddens me. Nurses are now mainly office-based and have to delegate the patient contact to healthcare workers. I often class a good shift as one where I have managed to sit down and talk to someone who needed me. I finish most shifts feeling guilty and wake up in the middle of the night and remember things I didn’t have time to do. The stress of the job is unbelievable.

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New university tops green table as Oxbridge lags behind

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 07:15:24 GMT2017-11-14T07:15:24Z

Campuses have come a long way in the 10 years of the student-led People & Planet rankings – but there are surprising fails

Any ranking that puts Oxford and Cambridge near the bottom is bound to be controversial, and the student-led People & Planet network faced a barrage of criticism over its first “green” university league tables.

A decade on, the ranking has stood the test of time and is credited with helping bring about more eco-friendly practices on campus. On its 10th anniversary, the 2017 People & Planet University League shows all-round improvement, with 30 universities in the top “first class” category – double the number in 2007 – and fewer “fails”.

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Here's what to consider before choosing an online degree

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 12:13:25 GMT2017-11-13T12:13:25Z

With no open days or face-to-face meetings, how do you pick a distance learning course?

For most students, choosing a university is as simple as counting up Ucas points, checking a league table or two, and signing up to a few open days to whittle the list down. But things are more complicated for distance learners, for whom studying off-campus brings a whole new set of considerations.

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'Open the doors and let these books in' - what would a truly diverse reading list look like?

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 08:00:20 GMT2017-11-11T08:00:20Z

Following student calls for university English literature syllabuses to be ‘decolonised’, Hanif Kureishi, Arundhati Roy, Kamila Shamsie and other authors reflect on the debate and choose essential books by black and minority ethnic writers

I once wrote, “I didn’t know I was coloured until I went to school”, and it goes without saying it took me some time to work out what being “of colour” really meant. Along with many others, I’m still trying to work out what it means, and if I’ve grasped something, it was because of the libraries I visited as a kid and the books I found there. Many were American – Richard Wright, James Baldwin – but the British revelation was a short novel by an author I’d never heard of, ER Braithwaite.

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History in the making: children use clay in class to rejuvenate the Potteries

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 07:00:24 GMT2017-11-14T07:00:24Z

As part of the bid to be 2021 UK City of Culture, Stoke-on-Trent students are looking to their industrial legacy and getting their hands dirty

Late morning in Stoke-on-Trent and a class of 11-year-olds are being prepared for public speaking. You can picture the scene: a red-faced student stands mortified in front of her fellow classmates, struggling to recite a poem she had barely an hour to learn. Except, they do things differently in Stoke.

“It’s fun because I use my hands,” beams Mohammed Abouebaida, a year 7 student at Thistley Hough academy, as he squishes and moulds a wet lump of clay. All round him, Mohammed’s classmates make clay soldiers or create army tanks and barbed wire fences – symbols of the first world war poems they will later recite.

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Miscarriage research: the bioengineers taking a fresh look at pregnancy

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:32:46 GMT2017-11-10T16:32:46Z

With the help of CGI models of placentas, universities are collaborating to investigate why one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage

For an engineer, Dr Michelle Oyen has spent a lot of time with placentas recently. “It’s a really weird organ, half baby, half mother. It must begin functioning at the same time as it develops. There’s nothing else like it in the body,” she says.

Oyen is committed to discovering why pregnancies go wrong. And fascinated by applying engineering principles to medical research in her post as reader in bioengineering at the University of Cambridge. “You can’t experiment on pregnant women – it’s totally unethical and impossible.” Instead, her team take high-resolution images of donated placentas to understand the geometry of blood vessels. They then use these to build 3D online models to understand how blood flows around the placenta. “We are trying to understand how cells involved in building a placenta know how to invade the right amount into a uterus,” she says. “They have to get it just right, and it’s a poorly understood process.”

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A faculty for freedom: criminology students could help reform policy

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:32:42 GMT2017-11-10T16:32:42Z

The more we study and understand people smuggling and the complex networks of criminals that surround it, the more effective the solutions will be

How do you know if you can trust the man who promises you safe passage to Europe? How did you hear about him? Will you be safe?

Since the body of a Syrian child washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015 and brought the plight of refugees into sharp relief, thousands more have drowned trying to reach Europe. Over the past year, the death rate among people attempting the crossing has almost doubled. This is due to one of the fastest growing black markets in the world: people smuggling is now the third largest business for international criminals – after gun and drug trafficking. The International Organisation for Migration suggest people smugglers to earn about $35bn (£26.7bn) a year worldwide.

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'We saw an opportunity': postgrads who turned study into startup success

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:32:39 GMT2017-11-10T16:32:39Z

Worried about job hunting after graduation? A growing number of alumni are choosing to start their own business, en route to self-made success

Studying a master’s can open doors into industries that otherwise often remain closed to those without a postgraduate qualification. But for some postgrads, the holy grail isn’t necessarily securing a permanent job with an employer. Instead, many are taking the tools and knowledge they’ve learned from a year of digging deep into their chosen subject and using it to start their own businesses.

The lightbulb moment for Hannah Myers came while studying for a master’s in product design at Nottingham Trent University. She had worked in a bike shop after university, and saw an opportunity for a womenswear cycling brand after feeling frustrated at the lack of options. The brand was a continuation of her final master’s assignment on female-related products in the mountain bike sector.

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Is enough being done to improve access for postgrad students with disabilities?

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:32:32 GMT2017-11-10T16:32:32Z

Tighter laws and trained staff help to widen participation for postgrad students with disabilities, but barriers still exist, particularly with careers advice

The number of people with a declared disability in postgrad study has doubled over the last 10 years, according to recent statistics from the Higher Education and Funding Council for England (HEFCE). What’s changed – and what do higher education providers still need to improve?

“To some extent, the trend of more disabled students undertaking postgraduate study since 2005 simply reflects the shift to a more supportive and inclusive learning environment that began with the ‘widening participation’ agenda in the late 1990s,” says Tony Stevens, fundraising manager at Disability Rights UK (DR UK). “This was propelled by successive Conservative and Labour government policies, including the Labour target of increasing participation in higher education to 50% by 2010.”

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The dos and don'ts of writing a personal statement for languages

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 11:16:38 GMT2017-11-08T11:16:38Z

Tips for convincing university admission tutors you deserve a place on their course

Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein may have made a good case for studying languages when he said: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” But be warned: if you quote him in your personal statement, you may test the admission tutor’s patience.

Students often start by quoting someone famous, says Mike Nicholson, director of admissions at the University of Bath, who thinks it’s a “waste of space” and “just demonstrates that you can copy and paste”. Hilary Potter, a teaching fellow at the University of Leeds, adds that quotes “don’t tell us anything about the student”.

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Free speech on campus: could US violence spread to British universities?

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 07:00:28 GMT2017-11-07T07:00:28Z

With Jo Johnson threatening fines unless universities guarantee freedom of speech, UK academics are looking warily at the far-right turmoil in America

“This idea might be comical if it were not so dangerous,” says Dr Cheryl Hudson, a lecturer in US political history at the University of Liverpool, of the higher education minister, Jo Johnson’s, recent demand that all British universities guarantee free speech on campus or face fines.

Johnson’s move followed much-publicised attempts by student unions and campaigners to ban high-profile speakers — including the feminist writer Germaine Greer and the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage — from speaking at universities because of their controversial opinions.

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'I've been mistaken for the coffee lady': experiences of black female academics

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:30:23 GMT2017-11-16T08:30:23Z

A new book explores the career trajectories of women of colour – their strategies for survival and success

The underrepresentation of BAME staff in UK universities is well-documented. Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in January show that universities employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.

According to a report (pdf) from the Equalities Challenge Unit, academia can be a challenging environment for BAME staff. They describe feeling under greater scrutiny, and say that they have to work harder to prove themselves, are less likely to be encouraged to go for promotion, and are less often successful in applications for promotion when they do apply.

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Do universities have a problem with promoting their BAME staff?

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:30:22 GMT2017-11-16T07:30:22Z

There are woefully few people of colour in leadership positions at universities. While steps are being taken, genuine change requires sector-wide commitment

“Interview and promotion panels tend to be all white,” says Professor Kalwant Bhopal, the deputy director at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Research in Race and Education. “And I’m not going to shy away from saying it, at these panels – within the processes – there are covert, sometimes overt, nuances of racism.”

Bhopal’s new book, White Privilege: The Myth of Post-racial Society, documents and analyses the marginalisation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. “Much of my research suggests that black minority-ethnic academics feel the goal posts are often moved when they apply for jobs or promotions,” she says. “Fundamentally, if your face doesn’t fit, you won’t get the job.”

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Let's draw blue skies research out of our universities and into the economy | Ruth McKernan

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:30:14 GMT2017-11-10T08:30:14Z

The government’s new knowledge exchange framework can help universities commercialise their research – but we need to get the measures right

  • Ruth McKernan is chief executive of Innovate UK

A great idea often starts with a lightbulb moment, a flash of inspiration that feels like it could be something big – but for many ideas that’s as far as it gets. For successful innovators, getting to the point where things really take off is a long and often winding road of hope, promise, disappointment and renewal.

Entrepreneurs who grow a good idea into a business are critical to our economic success, but entrepreneurs are not only born and raised in the business community. There are about 1,000 businesses in the UK that are run by university academics who have taken the plunge and are commercialising the research that they have invested years of their lives in.

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It's not fair to judge lecturers on National Student Survey scores

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 07:30:12 GMT2017-11-10T07:30:12Z

Managers are holding academics to account for NSS scores, even though much is out of our control – we need a more sophisticated measure

It’s only weeks into the academic year, but already the big bosses are trying to scare us with the three initials we academics have been taught to dread: NSS. The National Student Survey may only contact students between January and February, but its impact is felt long before it actually opens. I have received pleas from senior management to do the best we can, as well as threats about what will happen if our results dip.

In theory, the NSS is a good idea. It asks a select group of third-year students questions ranging from whether marking is fair and feedback timely to how easy it is to contact staff when needed. But the problem is its use as a tool to evaluate academics’ performance.

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Lessons from London: what it means to have a diverse student body

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 09:30:20 GMT2017-11-03T09:30:20Z

London’s universities have more BAME and free school meal-eligible students than anywhere else – but they haven’t cracked how to reduce dropouts

  • Graeme Atherton is director of the National Educational Opportunities Network

Universities have been actively trying to increase the diversity of their student body for some time. At one end of the scale lies Oxford, where it was recently revealed that one in three colleges failed to admit a single black student in 2015. At the other end are many institutions in London, which collectively educate the majority of BAME students. Enrolled in the city’s universities are twice as many pupils who were eligible for free school meals as the next best-performing region, the highest number of mature students, and above-average participation by disabled students. But the capital’s success has also contributed to one of its failures: it has the highest drop out rates in the country.

A recent report from the Social Market Foundation observed that nearly one in 10 students in London drop out during their first year of study. It came only weeks after the first teaching excellence framework results, which include a retention measure, showed a clustering of London institutions in the bronze award category. While there has been much debate around how other regions can replicate London’s success in getting students from all backgrounds into university, it is essential that universities elsewhere learn from institutions in the capital about the challenges of keeping them there.

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I'm a lecturer, and I don't feel I can speak freely any more

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 07:30:18 GMT2017-11-03T07:30:18Z

As lecturers, we’re supposed to teach our students how to examine arguments critically. How can we do this when we’re accused of bias and stifling free speech?

Last week, a student of mine asked for my political views. They wanted to know what I thought about the decision by University College Dublin students’ union decision to impeach their president, after she withdrew information about abortion services from a university magazine, spawning a national debate on freedom of speech. I am not without personal opinions on these issues: I am pro-choice. Yet I felt I could not speak freely with my student about this.

Instead, I gave her the sort of non-answer that one would expect from a seasoned politician. “There are many sides to this debate,” I said, “and student politics should be the preserve of students.” I felt distinctly uncomfortable giving a mealy mouthed statement that in no way reflected how I actually felt.

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Can living abroad close the attainment gap for BAME students?

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 17:44:34 GMT2017-11-02T17:44:34Z

A new campaign aims to get universities to double the proportion of students on overseas placement, and to increase the diversity of those who go abroad

When Fatima Afzal was offered a chemical engineering job in the US, she worried what it would be like to transfer to a country where people might never have seen a British Muslim before. She moved, and found her suspicions confirmed in an environment dominated by “very big alpha males”. It was challenging, but she coped. She credits her confidence to a placement year spent abroad, in Malaysia, during her undergraduate degree at Aston University: “If I hadn’t taken that first step I would be closing doors because of my own fear.”

It’s students like Fatima who are being targeted by a new campaign to double the proportion of students at UK universities undertaking placements abroad by 2020, to reach 13% of the student body. The campaign, run by Universities UK International, is particularly focused on getting universities to make international experience accessible for students from backgrounds which are underrepresented, for instance those who are BAME, disabled or from low socio-economic households.

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2VCs on ... how do we stop part-time numbers dropping further?

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 07:30:11 GMT2017-11-01T07:30:11Z

The number of part-time learners has halved since 2010. How can the government and universities persuade more of them to enrol on courses?

When the number of full-time 18-year-olds going to university dips by a few percentage points it makes big headlines. But while the public’s attention has been focused elsewhere, the part-time higher education market has been quietly decimated.

Numbers of part-time students, who are typically older and often juggling a job or family, or both, have more than halved. They are down 56% since 2010, according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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Do you struggle to support yourself as an academic? Share your stories

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:29:56 GMT2017-10-27T13:29:56Z

Academics may be motivated by the love of their subject, but they also need to pay the bills. How have insecure contracts and low pay affected you?

It’s no secret that some academics struggle to balance insecure contracts with long hours, and low pay with moving to new, often expensive cities for work.

Our academics anonymous column regularly illustrates the challenges that staff in UK universities face. We’ve heard worries from one writer about how they will support themselves in their old age since they’ve been unable to save a pension. Another bemoaned how the focus in the press on vice-chancellor pay is obscuring the low salaries received by young researchers – they described buying a drink for themselves and a friend in a pub and realising it accounted for 10% of their disposable income for the week. This is perhaps no surprise when, according to the University and College Union, 54% of its members are on insecure contracts.

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Cutting workload isn't enough to stop teachers leaving schools

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:30:22 GMT2017-11-16T07:30:22Z

If we want to convince teachers to stay in the profession, let’s look at what inspired them to join in the first place

It seems almost impossible at present to discuss any aspect of the teaching profession without the topic of workload being raised – and rightly so. The latest Department for Education workload survey found that classroom teachers and middle leaders work 54.4 hours a week on average, with senior leaders averaging 60 hours, and workload is widely recognised as the major cause of teachers leaving their roles.

In her Caroline Benn memorial lecture last week, Dr Rebecca Allen, director of Education Datalab, looked at how a number of factors – including approaches to accountability and a culture of “keeping up with the Joneses” – may have contributed to substantial increases of teacher workload.

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Secret Teacher: I don't have the equipment and resources to do my job

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 07:00:19 GMT2017-11-11T07:00:19Z

Despite feeling my lesson plans have never been better, the lack of money makes them impossible to deliver and my students’ progress is suffering

“Sir, do want any help from Paul? He’s great with IT.”

“I’m fine,” I say, fighting the urge to defend my computer skills to my class.

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Research every teacher should know: setting expectations

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 07:00:12 GMT2017-11-10T07:00:12Z

In his series of articles on how psychology research can inform teaching, Bradley Busch picks an academic study and makes sense of it for the classroom. This time: a research project on expectations

There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students, but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access or to translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers. No one study or journal can provide a definitive answer, but they can help offer some guidance, and all seek to answer the question: how can we help our students do better at school? This time, we look at a study on expectations.

The idea that positive expectations influence performance positively is known as the Pygmalion effect – so-called after a sculptor in Greek mythology who fell in love with a statue of his own making, which the goddess of love, Aphrodite, then turned into a real-life being.

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Only 6% of care leavers go to university. They deserve better chances | Ruth Kelly

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 08:00:29 GMT2017-11-07T08:00:29Z

A radical shake-up in education is needed to help some of our most vulnerable young people continue studies after school

  • Ruth Kelly is a former education secretary and pro vice-chancellor of St Mary’s University

As those who work in education and social care will know, the issue of how we help children in care is a challenge that can sometimes feel intractable.

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

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Teaching on a film set: 'I’ve found myself in all sorts of bizarre locations'

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 10:30:32 GMT2017-11-06T10:30:32Z

Judith Phillips has taught child actors for a decade. She reveals the joys and challenges of squeezing in lessons between costume fittings and scene takes

I’d been a teacher for about 20 years when I confided in a colleague that I no longer enjoyed teaching in inner-city schools. Not long after, the lead tutor on the Harry Potter films called me to ask if I wanted to teach some of the children acting in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Since then, I’ve tutored young children working on the final Harry Potter films, on Assassin’s Creed, Jurassic World and The King’s Speech.

For Harry Potter, children would come into my classroom wearing their Hogwarts uniforms. Costumes can make lessons tricky because they’re often quite valuable and intricately designed. Even if a child just has one single piece of costume on, we’re not allowed to use things like ink, felt or glue in case it gets on the costume. Knowing this, I try to timetable any messier lessons for first thing in the day, before costume fittings.

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Secret Teacher: When my partner died, it was teaching that saved me

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 07:00:12 GMT2017-11-04T07:00:12Z

My colleagues and students will never know how much they’ve helped me through this difficult time. Being in school has meant I can carry on

Related: Secret Teacher: Class, I wish I'd told you the truth about my mental health

GCSE results day is usually the most significant day of the year for a secondary school teacher. We spend hours and hours preparing our year 11 students for the exams – and once they’re finished, there’s a short-lived respite before we’re back to worrying about their grades. But this year was different for me.

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Emotional intelligence: why it matters and how to teach it

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 07:00:17 GMT2017-11-03T07:00:17Z

Teaching young people skills such as active listening, self-awareness and empathy can equip them to succeed both academically and socially

In our work with schools, it’s now commonplace for us to hear those in education talking about helping students (and staff) develop their emotional intelligence. But what do we mean exactly? Why and how should teachers support its development in their students?

Emotional intelligence can be said to cover five main areas: self-awareness, emotional control, self-motivation, empathy and relationship skills. It is, of course, important for good communication with others – and is therefore a gateway to better learning, friendships, academic success and employment. Skills such as these developed in our formative years at school often provide the foundation for future habits later on in life.

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Let's stop relying on hunches – it's time to use evidence to fix behaviour in schools

Wed, 01 Nov 2017 13:00:17 GMT2017-11-01T13:00:17Z

Poor student behaviour is a national problem in England. We need to create more research-informed schools, with access to knowledge about what works

Many schools face a common challenge. They want to improve – grades, critical thinking, whatever – but when designing strategies that make a difference they frequently overlook issues with behaviour. I’ve been in hundreds of schools, and noticed that when behaviour is poor every other outcome suffers. When behaviour is better, children’s (and staff’s) lives and learning get better too.

Related: Secret Teacher: my school's behaviour policy makes me feel powerless

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Women’s fashion, periods and trousers | Letters

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:09:39 GMT2017-11-17T19:09:39Z

Labour peer Margaret Prosser on fashion photographers portraying women as objects, Mari Peacock on her menstrual art and Clare Hale on school uniforms

There has been much reporting over recent weeks of the disrespect and harassment of women across a variety of workplaces and areas where women are trying to make their way into their chosen careers. This is a multilayered subject, but at its most plain it is almost always about power and influence versus a desire to get a foot in the door and a great uncertainty as to how to be your own person without messing up future chances to a career, fame or just a job and an income.

Images such as the photograph of five women modelling for AllSaints (Financial, 30 October) reinforce, as have many fashion photographers over recent years, the impression that women are bodies and not people. Vacant faces, faraway looks and dead eyes all conspire to conjure a view of woman as image/object, not a human being at all.
Margaret Prosser
Labour, House of Lords 

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Commoners can wear corduroy trousers too | Brief letters

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 19:02:14 GMT2017-11-13T19:02:14Z

Yvonne Burney obituary | Italian CDs | Misuse of fortuitous | ‘Middle-class’ cords | Winter fuel allowance

Juliette Pattinson’s fascinating obituary of the remarkably courageous Yvonne Burney (11 November), the Special Operations Executive wireless operator who was parachuted into occupied France in 1944, played a key role in the resistance and survived imprisonment in Ravensbrück concentration camp, mentions that France awarded her the Croix de Guerre and made her a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. Britain deemed her worthy of nothing higher than the MBE. The defectiveness of the honours system evidently has deep roots.
David Head
Peterborough

• I too am grateful to the Guardian for inspiring me to learn a language (Letters, 8 November), Italian. Several years ago the Guardian gave away Michel Thomas’s Italian CDs which prompted me to stimulate my ageing brain by learning a new language. Many years later I am still learning. With the help of books and CDs augmented by an adult learning class with a brilliant and inspiring teacher at the Crieff Learning Centre of the University of Highlands and Islands.
Alice Collinson
Crieff, Perthshire

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Betsy DeVos may give only partial relief to students defrauded by for-profit colleges

Sat, 28 Oct 2017 19:15:59 GMT2017-10-28T19:15:59Z

  • Tens of thousands of students were deceived by now-defunct institutions
  • Barack Obama promised students full relief for more than $550m in loans

The US education department is understood to be considering only partially forgiving federal loans for students defrauded by for-profit colleges.

Related: Betsy DeVos: Trump's illiberal ally seen as most dangerous education chief ever

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The power of speech, free or otherwise | Letters

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:22:23 GMT2017-10-22T17:22:23Z

Freedom of speech on campus | Regional accents | Chinese oratory | The name game

What a thought-provoking article from Gaby Hinsliff (If millennials are wary of free speech, who can blame them?, 20 October). Defending the right to free speech has never been about hurling abuse or inciting violence. It’s about keeping debate and discussion open. Trolls, on the contrary, aim to frighten people into silence and close down freedom of expression. Controlling this online is hard, but is no excuse for giving in to it on campus. She is right to call for help for universities, not fines, in maintaining this precious basis of democracy.
Bridget Elton
London

Related: All speeches should be shorter but I wouldn't dare tell that to Xi | John Crace

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Universal basic income would help to tackle power imbalance | Brief letters

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:34:08 GMT2017-10-20T17:34:08Z

Patriarchy | Stereotyping cockneys | Welsh three-legged stools | Free speech | Cave on the moon | Coffee grounds

Reflecting on patriarchy, the excellent Suzanne Moore (G2, 19 October) identifies the problem as power imbalance – where one set of people have the power over others to dictate if they will eat or not. Answer: a universal basic income for everyone removes one part of the vulnerability that gives the Weinsteins and Sampsons their power.
Dr Anne Brockbank
Brockbank McGill Associates

• I’m a proud cockney (Leave it out! £55 East End themed dinners spark row, 20 October). I don’t smoke or wear a tracksuit, have been a director of public health and CEO of a local authority. I’ve occasionally been disrespected due to my accent, which is uncommon in high public office in the south. But living in the north for 30 years, it’s not been an issue as it’s recognised as a working-class accent.
Lee Adams
Sheffield

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Melvyn Bragg says kids should read the King James Bible. But is it too graphic?

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 17:44:34 GMT2017-10-04T17:44:34Z

The writer and broadcaster thinks the 1611 Authorised Version should be taught in schools. Teachers might struggle with its visceral violence, though

Melvyn Bragg has said that it is a disgrace that the Bible is no longer read or taught in schools – but what would it mean if it were? Bragg’s interest in the Bible is not that he thinks it is true, but that the language of the Authorised Version of 1611 is beautiful – which, in parts, it undoubtedly is.

Bragg compares the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer to Shakespeare and this captures something very important. They are all texts written to be read out loud, indeed to be acted. Both the priests and the congregation have their parts to play and it is only by reciting the words, or by listening to them as a collective action, that they can do their work.

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Oxford college removes painting of Aung San Suu Kyi from display

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 17:02:36 GMT2017-09-29T17:02:36Z

St Hugh’s puts portrait in storage after international criticism over Myanmar leader’s role in her country’s humanitarian crisis

The Oxford college where Aung San Suu Kyi studied as an undergraduate has removed her portrait from public display and placed it in storage, in a move that follows international criticism over her role in Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis.

The governing body of St Hugh’s college decided to remove the painting of the Nobel laureate from its main entrance on Thursday, days before the start of the university term and the arrival of new students.

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Time to level our elitist playing field | Letters

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

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

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

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

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‘Sugar daddy’ website targeting Belgian students faces legal fight

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

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

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

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

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Should Liverpool University remove Gladstone’s name from its building? | Michael Rosen

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 16:09:34 GMT2017-11-16T16:09:34Z

The former prime minister might have been an apologist for slavery, but it may be unfair to reduce some historical figures to just one stance

We are surrounded by monuments, roads, buildings and whole towns that are named after people and organisations. Over time and for many different reasons, these names are often changed. Change in itself is no big deal. The Grocers’ Company’s school, for example, became Hackney Downs school, not as part of a leftwing plot to do down grocers, but because the school transferred to the London County Council in 1906. When territories were settled or invaded by force, the colonisers frequently used names of European monarchs, leaders and the military as part of their settlement. The number of Victorias all over the world are one testimony to that. The once-colonised countries are surely right to assert their own languages and culture through renaming.

Related: Immigration will remain a toxic issue until Britain faces up to its colonial past | David Wearing

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The deferred promise of Islamic-world science

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 07:00:21 GMT2017-11-16T07:00:21Z

Ten years ago, there was excitement about the prospects for science and innovation across the Islamic world. Was this optimism misplaced?

Last week, almost 3,000 scientists and policymakers from 120 countries gathered on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan for the 2017 World Science Forum. It was a landmark moment for Jordanian science, and a tribute to the vision of Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, president of Jordan’s Royal Scientific Society, who is in the vanguard of a new generation of leaders championing science and innovation in the region. Jordan is also home to the Middle East’s first advanced light source facility – the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications, or Sesame – which was inaugurated earlier this year as a shared resource for researchers from Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey.

In its final declaration, the World Science Forum called for more scientific cooperation to promote peace and address regional challenges. But the meeting also provided an opportunity to take stock of the state of science across the Middle East and wider Islamic world. And while the symbolism of the Sesame project was rightly celebrated, there was little of the outright optimism that characterised these debates ten or fifteen years ago.

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Take heart – the monstrous academy system is running out of road | Fiona Millar

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 06:50:23 GMT2017-11-14T06:50:23Z

An Isle of Wight academy trust has been driven off the island and its failing school returned to local authority control

It is becoming hard to find important education news these days; between Brexit, Trump and the latest parliamentary scandals it would have to be a significant storm or reform to break through to the public.

Which is why an interesting story about the Sandown Bay academy on the Isle of Wight was barely noticed. This school, which opened as a new academy in 2011, appears to have been virtually run into the ground by one of the largest academy trusts.

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The Guardian view on school funding: pay fair | Editorial

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 19:04:31 GMT2017-11-13T19:04:31Z

The worst intergenerational unfairness starts with 18-year-olds leaving school without the right qualifications through no fault of their ownA well-aimed, well-founded campaign from the chalk face of the school system can put the chancellor under more pressure than any political assault. Jules White, a headteacher from West Sussex, has been coordinating a letter backed by up to 5,000 fellow heads of primary and secondary schools. They are all from counties that are at the lower end of the per-pupil funding league: they stretch from Cornwall to Cumbria, and on Tuesday they will call on the chancellor, to point out exactly what the Department for Education’s new national funding formula will mean in practice to their budgets. Conservative chancellors are often swift to dismiss such protest as producer interest, but if this is producer interest, it is what producers should be interested in – and what any parent would want their child’s teachers to be campaigning for: the resources available to the children that go to their schools. In the summer, more money was found to smooth the introduction of a scheme that, when it was shown to then prime minister David Cameron, was rejected instantly as an electoral disaster in the making. In fact this is a reform that is long overdue. It needs to work. For that reason alone getting it right should be high in Philip Hammond’s priorities, as he sweats through the final days of budget preparation.The new national funding formula is meant to end the unintended unfairness of some schools getting very much more cash per pupil than other similar schools in a different part of England. It ends local councils’ power to use their own formula to fund schools, and it is meant to stop the postcode lottery. Yet because of the way the system tries to limit the losses any one school can be hit with, the new formula will still see some schools getting up to 60% less than a similar school in a better-funded borough. And many schools are already struggling financially because their budgets have not allowed for rises in costs like pensions and national insurance contributions, or inflation. Nor was there extra cash for a 1% teachers’ pay rise. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that schools are set to lose nearly £2bn by 2020. Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view on homophobia in church schools: let a thousand tutus bloom | Editorial

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 19:04:10 GMT2017-11-13T19:04:10Z

A sensible report on letting all children be themselves in school should not become an occasion for transphobic hysteria

The religious use of the word “Tutu” used to be a reference to the archbishop of Cape Town and tireless campaigner against injustice, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This week a “tutu”, if you read the rightwing papers, appears to be the compulsory dress for all boys at Church of England primary schools, along with perhaps a tiara to say their prayers in. To judge from the fuss, the end times are upon us. The Church of England matters in education. It runs about a quarter of all the primary schools in England, which may be a scandal in itself. But the latest fuss is not a real cause for scandal.

It stems from a report on how to combat bullying in schools, which appeared three years ago, and was updated at the weekend to cover the bullying of children for being gay, bisexual, or trans. The passage on tutus and tiaras comes in the context of childhood as a time for imaginative play, in which children may very well explore all kinds of roles and identities. The whole report is saturated with a desire to make children feel welcome and valued for themselves, whatever their family background or orientation may be.

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The Daily Mail’s ‘boys in tiaras’ story is designed to manufacture rage | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 12:43:31 GMT2017-11-13T12:43:31Z

Reducing attempts to tackle homophobia in education to boys dressing in princess costumes and ‘transgender tots’ is simplistic and bullying

The men in frocks have told us that it’s fine for little boys to wear tiaras. Hallelujah, hallelujah. And girls can wear firefighters’ helmets or be superheroes. Not being a Christian I never knew that this wasn’t OK in the first place. Nor did any of my children’s nursery school workers or teachers. Kids dress up when left to their own devices in whatever they fancy. It’s called imagination. But the Church of England is trying to enter the modern world with its well-meaning report, on Valuing All God’s Children, an updated document that incorporates the findings of a 2017 report by Stonewall.

The intentions are good – to tackle the homophobic, transphobic, biphobic bullying that is still rife. Of the young people surveyed in the Stonewall report, 45% say that they have been bullied at school. Many say that this has affected their plans for future education and that often teachers have not intervened. The figures on self-harming and suicide are dreadful, particularly for young trans people. It is without question right that the Church of England should try to formulate a more inclusive policy. Indeed, it seems only Christian. Remember, however, that some members of the C of E do not really accept women priests or gay relationships.

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Universities now sell themselves – just like shampoo | Barbara Ellen

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 00:05:39 GMT2017-11-12T00:05:39Z

Now that education is a commodity, colleges are bound to exaggerate their standing

When something is turned into a commodity, should anyone be surprised when it starts to behave like one, even to the point of exaggeration in its marketing?

Some British universities, to be named by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in a clampdown this week, have been found to be in breach of advertising codes by making claims that weren’t wholly backed by evidence.

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How to improve the school results: not extra maths but music, loads of it

Tue, 03 Oct 2017 06:00:19 GMT2017-10-03T06:00:19Z

A Bradford primary school wants the world to know its newfound Sats success is down to giving all children up to six hours of music a week

Abiha Nasir, aged nine, walks quietly into the small classroom, takes a seat, adjusts her hijab and picks up the drumsticks. A shy smile spreads across her face as she begins to play.

She was just five when she turned up at Feversham primary academy’s after-school clubs, leaving teachers astounded by her musical ability and how her confidence grew with an instrument in hand. Last year, Abiha successfully auditioned for Bradford’s gifted and talented music programme for primary school children, the first Muslim girl to do so. The assessor recorded only one word in her notes: “Wow!”

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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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Lauded academy head Jo Shuter quits amid claims of misusing school money

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 20:57:52 GMT2013-06-03T20:57:52Z

Teacher hailed by Tony Blair but suspended amid allegations of financial mismanagement and reports of lax accounting controls

One of Britain's trailblazing headteachers, who had been lauded by Tony Blair, stepped down from her post after allegations of financial mismanagement that have overshadowed what had appeared to be a brilliant career at two schools in London.

Jo Shuter, 52, headteacher of Quintin Kynaston academy in St John's Wood, north London, since 2002, issued a statement announcing her resignation on the school's website on Monday only days after she was reinstated following a long disciplinary procedure and eight months' suspension. She was said to be on an annual salary of £170,000.

Continue reading...Jo Shuter, a former headteacher of the year. An inquiry found her school, Quintin Kynaston, incurred a £7,000 bill for her 50th party and employed seven members of her family. Photograph: Martin GodwinJo Shuter, a former headteacher of the year. An inquiry found her school, Quintin Kynaston, incurred a £7,000 bill for her 50th party and employed seven members of her family. Photograph: Martin Godwin


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

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

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

• 10 things parents want to say to teachers

1 Your kids are not your mates

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

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


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Could you pass maths GCSE?

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 08:30:15 GMT2017-08-24T08:30:15Z

Try your hand at a selection of the kind of questions teenagers faced in this year’s GCSE mathematics exam

They say that after leaving school people continue to have anxiety dreams about facing exams for the rest of their life. Now’s your chance to relive that horror, by tackling the type of questions set to test the mathematics knowledge of England and Wales’s 15- and 16-year-olds.

Sadly, in order to make the questions work online, we are not able to present the most complicated ones – and we have got to give you multiple choice options for the answers. And unlike real students, you do not have to show your working. Although you can always post it in to us if you feel so inclined.

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University guide 2018: league table for law

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:00:07 GMT2017-05-16T06:00:07Z

The study of criminal legal systems – includes criminology and jurisprudence

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How to write better essays: 'nobody does introductions properly'

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 12:45:32 GMT2017-03-07T12:45:32Z

Is Wikipedia really a no-go? Should you bother with the whole reading list? And how do you make a convincing argument? We ask the experts

As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.

Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.

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University guide 2018: league table for medicine

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:00:06 GMT2017-05-16T06:00:06Z

The study of pre-clinical medicine and clinical medicine to maintain health, diagnose and treat disease in order to become a doctor

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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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Looking forward to those 30 hours of free nursery care? Think again …

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 23:04:49 GMT2017-08-26T23:04:49Z

The government’s flagship childcare policy launches on 1 September. But already parents and providers fear that it just can’t work

At Cambridge Day Nursery, three little boys are excitedly hula-hooping around each other on the large artificial grass lawn, while their friends scurry in and out of wooden wendy houses, banging doors in their wake. At the bottom of the garden, there is a small patch of wild woodland where the nursery holds its forest school classes and encourages the children to make dens and learn about nature. “Children love it here. But providing them with all of this costs money,” said director Liz Aldous. “I don’t think anyone comes into childcare to be a millionaire – but we do at least need to be able to cover our costs.”

What is worrying Aldous is a new flagship policy from the Department for Education that is designed to help parents with the exorbitant cost of childcare but instead is already causing widespread confusion and panic.

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'Rich, thick kids' achieve much more than poor clever ones, says Gove

Wed, 28 Jul 2010 13:11:39 GMT2010-07-28T13:11:39Z

Education secretary tells MPs he had to act fast on academies because of huge gap in attainment

Inequality in Britain is so entrenched that "rich, thick kids" achieve more than their "poor, clever" peers even before they start school, the education secretary said today.

Michael Gove told MPs on the cross-party Commons education committee that a "yawning gap" had formed between the attainment of poor children and their richer peers.

Continue reading...Michael Gove said a 'yawning gap' had formed between the attainment of poor children and their richer peers. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PAMichael Gove said a 'yawning gap' had formed between the attainment of poor children and their richer peers. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA


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Should mobile phones be banned in schools?

Tue, 27 Nov 2012 20:00:00 GMT2012-11-27T20:00:00Z

A headteacher says pupil behaviour is better and bullying is down since he barred mobiles in his school. So should others follow suit? Teachers argue for and against

"You'll have someone's eye out with that" used to be the refrain of teachers in my day. In malevolent hands, a pencil, a rubber, even a piece of paper could become a lethal weapon in class, and that's before we got on to compasses and Bunsen burners.

Continue reading...‘Pupils come to school without a coat or without having had any breakfast, but they always have a phone,’ says one teacher. Photograph: Alamy‘Pupils come to school without a coat or without having had any breakfast, but they always have a phone,’ says one teacher. Photograph: Alamy


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Students: 10 ways to beat stress

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 16:20:00 GMT2013-11-06T16:20:00Z

If you're feeling stressed you're not alone. Here a student blogger shares her tips for reducing stress

Read more: my child is unhappy at university, what should I do?

Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.

Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Continue reading...smiley face balloons in blue sky Photograph: Alamysmiley face balloons in blue sky Photograph: Alamy


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