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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
Updated: 42 min 2 sec ago

‘We feel unwanted’: an ‘orphan’ school at the sharp end of academisation

4 hours 23 min ago

Struggling Rose Hill primary was promised a sponsor back in 2016, but help has never materialised

Two years ago, Rose Hill primary on the outskirts of Oxford was branded a failing school. Ranked “inadequate” by the schools watchdog Ofsted, it was placed in special measures and staff and parents were told an academy trust would be brought in to turn around the school’s fortunes.

Two years on – and two education secretaries later – the school is still waiting.

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Better maternity leave could help universities retain women – study

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 17:36

Researchers say universities with generous policies employ twice the number of women professors

Better maternity leave could boost British productivity by encouraging qualified women to stay in the workforce, according to researchers who found universities with the most generous maternity leave employed twice the number of women professors compared with those that offer the least.

Vera Troeger, professor of economics at Warwick University, said her research found that the universities with the best maternity leave policies were better able to retain qualified women who went on to become professors and receive higher pay.

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Technology will widen pay gap and hit women hardest – Davos report

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 14:20

Research into jobs finds men’s dominance in IT and biotech is reversing trend towards equality

The gulf between men and women at work – in both pay and status – is likely to widen unless action is taken to tackle inequality in high-growth sectors such as technology, say researchers at this week’s World Economic Forum summit in Davos.

A new WEF report on the future of jobs finds the dominance of men in industries such as information and biotechnology, coupled with the enduring failure of women to rise to the top even in the health and education sectors, is helping to reverse gender equality after years of improvements.

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The school cat - cartoon

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 02:05

Chris Riddell on asset stripping in academy trusts

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May I have a word... about nouns posing as verbs? | Jonathan Bouquet

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 02:05
A regular look at the pleasures – and pains – of the English language

This country has long, and rightly, welcomed immigrants. And not just people. Our language has been enriched in diverse ways by incomers. We would be a poorer place without a leavening of French, Spanish and Italian interlopers. Where would the erudite book review be without “bildungsroman”? And look how useful the word “zeitgeist” has become. I am sure that there are also some useful American imports, although, offhand, they are eluding me at the moment. They all point to our language being ever fluid, ever changing and, for the most part, enhanced. Yet there are some constructions that still grate.

I hope that in the canon of linguistic crimes you will agree that using nouns as verbs is high on that list. Both “reference” and “impact” recur with nauseating regularity. Only yesterday, I heard a business reporter on TV use “headquarter” as a verb. Then there are the execrable coinages such as “surveill”, “euthanise” and “taxidermied”. What on earth is wrong with “monitor”, “put down” or “stuffed”?

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Observer picture archive: 24 January 1965

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 02:05

Jane Bown photographed life in British prep schools for a feature in the colour supplement at a time when state schools were denting pupil numbers

On the whole, the prep schools of England act cheerfully but sleep uneasily. All except the best and strongest of them feel vulnerable. They suspect that politicians see them as the soft underbelly of the private system. As fees edge up, impecunious parents go over to the State. Small classes are still a strong attraction, but State primary schools don’t carry quite the old stigma in the suburbs.

Cruellest of all, the prep schools fear that the public schools – the only reason for their existence – would, if pressed politically, abandon them, and settle for State-educated children.

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The joys and benefits of bilingualism | Tobias Jones

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 02:04

More than half the world’s population is now bilingual. Now thought to encourage flexibility of mind and empathy, bilingualism is also transforming societies

Everyone knows that it’s moving and melancholic to watch your children change over the years. But to hear them alter their language, over the course of a few weeks and months, is almost surreal. It’s as if the precious beings you thought you knew are completely different and the experience is both intriguing and unsettling. 

Our children were 12, 10 and seven when we moved from Somerset to their mother’s country, Italy, last summer. Until then, they had always lived in England and their English was what you would expect: the odd spelling mistake, but otherwise fluent and full of pre-teen playground slang. 

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No reds under beds, but the young are awake to the flaws in capitalism

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 02:03

The crash of 2008, not Stalinists in our universities, caused the sense of alienation among students

Are student Red Guards about to storm the quads of Oxbridge colleges? Do young people think that famines and purges and mass executions are good? Apparently so.

A ComRes poll last week showed that young people worry more about capitalism than communism: 9% of 18- to 24-year-olds thought communists were “the most dangerous in the world today” while 24% thought it was “big business”.

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More than 17,000 UK students face university rent arrears

Sat, 20/01/2018 - 23:30

Figures show 16% rise in those facing housing debt and a doubling of evictions

More than 17,000 students living in university halls of residence fell behind with their rent payments in the last year, according to figures that suggest thousands more face financial hardship during their courses.

There has been a significant 16% rise in the numbers facing rental arrears in university accommodation, new statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. A small but rising number of students are also being evicted from halls or having their tenancies cancelled after falling behind with payments.

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Use of sand vests to calm children with ADHD sparks concern

Sat, 20/01/2018 - 09:00

Experts divided over heavy weights adopted by 200 schools in Germany to curb students’ restlessness

German schools are increasingly asking unruly and hyperactive children to wear heavy sand-filled vests in an effort to calm them and keep them on their seats, despite the misgivings of some parents and psychiatrists.

The controversial sand vests weigh between 1.2 and six kilograms (2.7 – 13Ib) and are being used by 200 schools across Germany.

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Secret Teacher: the UK has a complex racial history. Why aren’t we teaching it?​

Sat, 20/01/2018 - 09:00

A controversial advert sparked debate about race among my students. But the curriculum must do more to give these issues context

Growing up as a person of colour, racism was an ever-present discussion in my circles. When you’re a minority it is, sadly, a part of life.

Race issues are increasingly being discussed more widely, thanks in part to social media and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. But the UK education system does not prepare children to have these conversations.

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East London primary school backs down over hijab ban

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 21:49

Chair of governors at St Stephen’s primary school in Newham resigns following complaints from parents

A primary school that controversially banned pupils from wearing hijabs appears to have backed down after the chair of governors announced his resignation following complaints from parents.

St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London, hit the headlines at the weekend after the Sunday Times reported it had banned Muslim girls under the age of eight from wearing headscarves, to the delight of campaigners who argued it enforces religious conformity on children.

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Tim Cook: 'I don't want my nephew on a social network'

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 20:29

Apple chief talks about tax affairs and overuse of tech at launch of school coding initiative

The head of Apple, Tim Cook, believes there should be limits to the use of technology in schools and says he does not want his nephew to use a social network.

Cook was talking at Harlow college in Essex, one of 70 institutions across Europe that will use Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum, it was announced on Friday.

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Beware of historical mythconceptions | Letters

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 18:53
Columbus did not ‘discover’ the Americas, but nor did the Vikings, the Welsh, or even St Brendan, says Dr Patrick O’Sullivan. Plus Clive Goodhead argues that Yorkshireman Sir George Cayley is the first true ‘father of aviation’

If Rebecca Rideal is to put the rest of us right (Ten historical facts everyone gets wrong, G2, 18 January), she had better get her own information correct. Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, but nor did the Vikings, the Welsh, or even St Brendan. Archaeologists continue to make finds that date human occupation of those continents in millennia rather than centuries, so the answer to the question “Who first discovered the Americas?” should be “Whoever the ancestors of the Lakota, the Apache, the Cherokee, the Maya, the Inca, the Aztecs, etc … happened to have been.” Any other answer writes over 10,000 years of human occupation out of history, and smacks of the unthinking racism all too familiar to me from my 1950s childhood.

Incidentally, it is not “carbon-dating” that suggests the Vikings occupied 11th-century Newfoundland so much as “radiocarbon dating”. Without its radioactive isotope, carbon by itself cannot presently date anything. The term was coined by Willard Libby, who invented the technique back in the 1940s, and won a Nobel prize. So if “radiocarbon dating” was good enough for him, it’s probably good enough for Ms Rideal.
Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
Trewidland, Cornwall

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The secret to getting in to a top university? Piano and ballet lessons | Anonymous academic

Fri, 19/01/2018 - 09:30

Giving students university admissions points for skills such as dance and music as well as A-level grades restricts choice and hinders social mobility

The university application season has just drawn to a close. I’ve met thousands of potential students at university open days, as they arrive bright-eyed at the prospect of their new lives on campus. It’s always an exciting, hopeful period. But once it’s over, I’m left wondering whether I should tell them about what really happens behind the scenes after A-level results are announced.

I work at a leading university. Like many others, we pay close attention to university league tables. Although these tables are designed to help students choose what university is best for them, in reality some of them restrict student choice and hold back widening participation. The problem lies in the metrics, notably entry tariff scores, which reflect more than students’ A-level results. This score is the decisive factor in who gets in and who gets turned down.

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Why wait to unleash children’s creativity? | Letters

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 21:11
Karen Eslea, Salley Vickers, Rick Hall, Mark Hebert and John Richer on a piece by the National Theatre’s Rufus Norris

Rufus Norris says “During these uncertain times we must feed any golden geese we have, and a steady stream of qualified graduates and school-leavers is the strongest investment for the future we can make” (Why are we squeezing creativity out of our schools?, 17 January). But why wait for the future? If we disregard the skills, creativity and ideas that children have at this very moment, we will be poorer for it. They also have a lot to teach.

At Turner Contemporary, we are committed to supporting children’s leadership through the arts, and recognise the enormous contribution that children of all ages can make to society. Distressingly, in 2017, in part because of lack of child participation, the UK fell dramatically in global rankings for child rights from 11th to 156th.

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John Skitt obituary

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 20:04

My friend John Skitt, who has died aged 72, devoted his professional life to further education, and was principal of Barnet College, north London, from 1985 to 2003. John believed passionately that further education provided a key means of mitigating inequality. He worked tirelessly to champion the sector, in which many working-class students obtain qualifications, both vocational and academic.

John was born in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, the son of John (Jack), a chief officer in local government, and Sarah (nee Mclellan). John attended 10 schools, the last of which was Baines grammar, Blackpool.

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Outrage over each new education policy does nothing but harm | Richard Russell

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 13:30
The polarised response to the latest Ofsted report is wearing. Teachers and academics should be able to sensibly discuss new ideas, not jump to tribal conclusions

As I sat marking maths books with the radio on in the background – I caught the end of a news report saying that more 1,850 academics, educators, opposition politicians and most notably Robert Winston had asked for a new report on how to educate our children to be withdrawn. My first reaction was to immediately agree with them – they are after all on “my team”.

But I read the actual open letter and realised they were referring to an Ofsted report called Bold Beginnings, I realised an all too familiar situation had arisen. While I am inclined to agree with Winston, and many of the others who signed the letter, on most things – the man was after all the sum total of much of the sexual education I received when at school – I just could not and still can’t see what has caused all this fuss.

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Complex engineering and metal-work discovered beneath ancient Greek 'pyramid'

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 11:21

Latest find on Cyclades’ Keros includes evidence of metal-working and suggests the beginnings of an urban centre, say archaeologists

More than 4,000 years ago builders carved out the entire surface of a naturally pyramid-shaped promontory on the Greek island of Keros. They shaped it into terraces covered with 1,000 tonnes of specially imported gleaming white stone to give it the appearance of a giant stepped pyramid rising from the Aegean: the most imposing manmade structure in all the Cyclades archipelago.

But beneath the surface of the terraces lay undiscovered feats of engineering and craftsmanship to rival the structure’s impressive exterior. Archaeologists from three different countries involved in an ongoing excavation have found evidence of a complex of drainage tunnels – constructed 1,000 years before the famous indoor plumbing of the Mycenaean palace of Knossos on Crete – and traces of sophisticated metalworking.

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Delhi to put CCTV in classrooms for parents to monitor children

Thu, 18/01/2018 - 10:18

Move follows crimes including murder of boy aged seven and alleged rape of five-year-old girl

The Delhi government has announced it will install CCTV cameras in every classroom in the region and give parents access to the feed through a mobile phone app.

The plan comes after several high-profile crimes at schools in and around the area including the alleged rape of a five-year-old girl by a member of staff in September and the murder of a seven-year-old boy at a private school in Gurgaon during the same month.

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