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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: 57 min 17 sec ago

Schools pushing children into home schooling, say councils

1 hour 24 min ago

Watchdog told that parents are coerced into home educating, often before GCSEs

Local authorities in England say some parents are being “coerced” by schools into home educating their children, often before GCSE exams, and that there has been a sharp increase in the number of pupils being removed, according to the government’s admissions watchdog.

The annual report of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) says that more than 52,000 children were registered as being home schooled in 2017-18, using figures supplied by the 152 councils in England. But it notes that, because there is no requirement on parents to register, the figure is an underestimate of the real total.

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St Andrews find may be oldest surviving wall chart of periodic table

3 hours 3 min ago

Chart appears to date from 1885, and was found under lecture hall during clean-out

A crumbling roll of canvas-backed paper discovered underneath a lecture theatre in Scotland may be the world’s oldest surviving periodic table chart, experts have said.

The chart was found during a clean-out at the University of St Andrews in 2014 and appears to date from 1885 – 16 years after the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev published his method of showing the relationships between the elements in 1869.

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University should be free for all students, not just the wealthiest | Eric Lybeck

4 hours 24 min ago

We now know that 10% of the wealthiest students get to go to university for free. This compounds inequality

Advocates of the current university tuition fee system in Britain argue it is fair and progressive because only a fraction of students will ever pay the government back in full. Until graduates make more than £25,000, they pay nothing, and thereafter – once in higher-income work – they pay no more than 9% of their salary. Of course, interest continues to accrue, but only around 30% of students will pay back all of their loan.

The problem with the view that tuition fees are progressive is that we only look at those students who take out loans. According to a report published by the Intergenerational Foundation, we now know that at least 10% of the wealthiest students from the UK have their fees paid upfront by their parents. At Oxbridge, the percentage climbs to 16%. This means they avoid accruing the considerable interest paid by their less well-off peers.

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Ofsted inspections find three Steiner schools to be ‘inadequate’

10 hours 28 min ago

Concerns raised about safeguarding, bullying and high exclusion rates

The future of state-funded Steiner education has been thrown into doubt after a series of snap Ofsted inspections found that three of the four such schools set up under the Conservatives’ free school programme were “inadequate”.

The four have been inspected in recent weeks – alongside private Steiner schools, a number of which have also been found to be inadequate – following an intervention by the education secretary, Damian Hinds, over concerns about safeguarding.

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Damian Hinds to lobby Treasury for multi-year education funds

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 20:58

Education secretary agrees DfE needs something similar to recent NHS long-term plan

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, is to lobby the Treasury for a multi-year funding settlement for education in England similar to the 10-year package announced for the NHS, MPs were told.

Hinds, who appeared before parliament’s education select committee, said he would make a “a very compelling case” for more funding in this year’s spending review, agreeing that something similar to the recent NHS long-term plan was needed.

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Egyptian universities reinstate students expelled for hugging

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 18:03

Mansoura and Al-Azhar universities backtrack after video of celebratory embrace goes viral

Two students expelled from university in Egypt for the “immoral act” of hugging in celebration of their engagement have been reinstated after a viral video of their embrace drew widespread public sympathy.

The universities of Al-Azhar and Mansoura initially told both students they would be thrown out after footage emerged showing the male student kneeling and proposing to the teenage woman before presenting her with a bouquet of flowers. The video, shot on the campus of Mansoura University, then showed the pair embracing, a moment greeted by cheers from their friends.

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Young mothers at university: 'I breastfed at 5am while writing essays'

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 16:19

Pregnancy can be seen as a barrier to university – and young student mothers say they lack support

I started university, aged 19, with my 12-week-old baby. While other freshers were getting to know each other, I was squeezing my breasts into a pump and cursing the price of nappies. My life as an Oxford student and mum was so unexpected that one student thought the “baby” I talked about was a doll. It’s 2019: women earn scholarships while pregnant and mothers study at top universities while raising children, but the existence of student parents still goes unacknowledged.

I crammed a full academic schedule into my daughter’s nursery hours. It was exhausting. I breastfed at 5am while trying to finish essays. My tutors were very kind but, as an institution, Oxford does not expect you to be a mother. More than 700 Oxford students had children in 2016, but many feel they are not on the university’s radar. Ash Mohanaprakas, who discovered she was pregnant during her undergraduate degree, says she felt “constantly lonely” trying to reconcile motherhood with her studies.

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Video games can turn university graduates into better employees | Matthew Barr

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 09:00

Video games improve communication, adaptibility and critical thinking – just the attributes that employers are looking for

In recent years, Boris Johnson has excelled at making ignorant pronouncements and illiterate blunders. From offensive remarks on burqas to reciting Kipling in Myanmar and his ludicrous statements on Brexit, Johnson has perfected the art of getting it wrong. It feels like he’s managed to offend just about everyone. For video game educators like myself, that moment arrived way back in 2006, when Johnson attacked video games as a learning tool.

“They [young people] become like blinking lizards, motionless, absorbed, only the twitching of their hands showing they are still conscious,” he wrote. “These machines teach them nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory – though some of them may cunningly pretend to be educational.”

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Norfolk council rebuked over special needs provision

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 02:01

Ombudsman has upheld 11 complaints against county council in two years

The local government ombudsman has reprimanded a local authority over its provision for children with special educational needs after upholding 11 complaints against the council over the last two years.

The ombudsman’s office said the number of complaints upheld against Norfolk county council was one of the highest in England, particularly given the relatively small population.

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Ofsted plans overhaul of inspections to look beyond exam results

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 02:01

New guidelines will shift focus towards quality of education rather than ‘outcomes’

The way nurseries, schools and colleges in England are inspected is to undergo its biggest overhaul in a decade, with proposals by Ofsted aiming to address concerns that education has been too narrowly focused on exam results.

The new guidelines will be launched by Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, in a speech on Wednesday, with a consultation on revised inspection frameworks for state and independent schools as well as early years settings and further education colleges.

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Junior high school students caught forming swastika with their bodies

Wed, 16/01/2019 - 00:01

California youths traded racist and violent messages in county called ‘hotbed for white supremacists’

A group of California junior high students were caught forming a swastika with their bodies on school grounds and exchanging racist and violent messages on a group chat, administrators said.

The scandal at Matilija junior high school, which culminated in an emotional meeting with parents and school officials Monday night, has sparked intense debate in a region that has experienced a sharp increase in reported antisemitic incidents.

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London state school says 41 students offered Oxbridge place

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 21:10

Many of the successful applicants at Brampton Manor academy are from minority ethnic backgrounds

A state school in east London is celebrating after 41 of its students – almost all of them from minority ethnic backgrounds – secured offers to study at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge later this year.

Brampton Manor academy in Newham opened its sixth form in September 2012 with the objective of increasing progression rates to Oxbridge and other elite Russell Group universities among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Impact of social media on children faces fresh scrutiny

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 17:08

UK researchers study 40,000 households to explore biggest risk factors for mental health

Barely a day goes by without concerns being raised about the effect of social media on children’s mental health. Now a study aims to delve behind the headlines to ascertain whether it has been unfairly vilified.

By analysing data from a longitudinal survey of 40,000 households, researchers from Portsmouth and Sheffield universities hope to identify the biggest risk factors for children’s mental health. This could help determine whether social media are negative or positive for children’s wellbeing and in what circumstances.

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Britain’s university offers system is unfit for purpose and needs replacing | Graeme Atherton

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 10:00
If universities based offers on actual – not predicted – grades, disadvantaged students would get the break they deserve

The decision regarding which university to go to and which course to choose is the biggest that most young people will have faced in their lives, and it’s made even more significant for those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the eye-watering debt most will accumulate. They need the support to help choose the course that is best for them, and avoid dropping out, which would leave them with the cost of higher education without the benefit. Unfortunately, the majority are not getting this support, as students in these nations remain tied to an archaic process based around predicted grades governing university entry.

The present process, whereby the majority of students receive the offer of a university place based primarily on their expected grades rather than actual ones, is a product of a process designed for a time when less than 5% of the population went to university. Unfortunately, it has become seen by too many inside the higher-education sector as the only way to admit students in an era when nearly 50% of young people, rather than 5%, are going. The consequence is that students are making decisions earlier than they need to, and those whose grades don’t match the offer, are forced into the peculiarly homegrown phenomenon of clearing, where a decision that will shape your future career (and, given what we know about marriage patterns, your personal life as well), is made in a frenzied search at the end of August.

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One in 10 students in England 'rich enough to avoid big debts'

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 09:36

Richest undergraduates escape hefty fees by paying for university in one go, study reveals

About 10% of students in English universities avoid having to rack up large debts and pay “sky-high” interest rates because they are rich enough to pay their fees upfront, researchers have said.

Approximately 110,000 undergraduates are “escaping” the student fee system by paying for university in one go thanks to a “get-out-of-jail-free card” from their wealthy families, according to a think-tank.

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Student loan ban: some universities could lose a third of their intake

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 09:16

New figures show up to 36% of freshers have fewer than three Ds at A-level – and would be barred under leaked proposals

Some modern universities could lose about a third of their students and face a struggle to survive if plans go ahead to stop young people with lower grades qualifying for loans, data obtained by Education Guardian suggests.

The prime minister’s review of post-18 education, due to report next month, is expected to recommend a cut to tuition fees. But another idea that has been leaked is to limit numbers by stopping young students qualifying for a loan if they get fewer than three Ds at A-level.

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A century of adult education has been tossed aside – is it too late to rescue it? | Laura McInerney

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 09:15

In 1919 local councils were given the task of educating the public. Now a centenary commission is looking to salvage what is left

The face of a man I met just once, 15 years ago, still haunts me. He was around 40, pale and thin, with no distinguishing features beyond obvious exhaustion. I was working in the enrolment office at a further education college when he slumped into a chair opposite my desk.

“I want to retrain,” he told me. “As what?” I asked. “As anything,” he said. Good at school, he had dropped out early to become a builder and earn his family some cash. Now a foreman, he wanted more from life: to be a teacher, or an accountant, or anything that didn’t involve heaving pallets from place to place.

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To save the rainforest, we need to work with the palm oil industry | Jennifer Lucey

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 09:00

As a tropical field ecologist in Borneo, I learned why science must work with industry to protect the planet

Lots of academics worry that focusing too much on the real-world impact of research threatens pure, curiosity-driven science. But really the two go hand in hand, especially when it comes to solving the complex question of how we achieve sustainability despite increasing human pressures on our planet.

As a tropical field ecologist studying rainforest destruction in Borneo, I saw the impact of the expanding palm oil industry on tropical biodiversity first hand, and so it was always a high priority to ensure the research I was doing made a difference. I was driven by scientific curiosity about how nature responds to the most drastic human activity, but also by the motivation to find solutions.

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UK classrooms take lessons from Sandy Hook school shooting

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 09:00

A bereaved American mother is bringing her emotional learning programme, downloaded in 60 countries, to British schools

On the morning of 14 December 2012, six-year-old Jesse Lewis stepped out of his house on his way to school, pausing to etch the words “I love you” in the frost on his mother’s car. He walked down the driveway to where his father was waiting, got in the car, drove off, and never returned.

Jesse was one of 26 victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty of the dead were aged six and seven; their killer, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, was a former pupil at the school who turned the gun on himself after bringing horror and heartbreak to all those affected.

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Women and men are losing virginity before they are ready – study

Τρίτη, 15/01/2019 - 08:30

Contraceptive use and peer pressure can affect whether first sexual experience is positive, says research

More than half of women and two in five men are losing their virginity before they are ready, potentially affecting their wellbeing and health, researchers say.

The team add that focusing only on age is misguided, noting the research showed issues around willingness, peer pressure and contraceptive use can all affect whether the first experience of sex is positive, regardless of age.

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