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From pasta to stir-fry: foods children should learn to cook in school

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 19:28

Prue Leith is right - cookery should be on the national curriculum. Here are the dishes that young people should learn to make

Prue Leith has called for children to be taught to cook at school, and for packed lunches to be banned. Parents, she says, bow to pressure from their kids and fill their lunchboxes with junk food (never mind that, at Tesco, a six-pack of Golden Delicious costs 60% more than a six-pack of Golden Wonder, or that a £1 Pot Noodle not only saves on the time it takes to make a salad, but on the cost of a £4 plastic container to carry it).

But whatever your thoughts on Leith’s view of packed lunches, her suggestion that children learning to cook on the curriculum’s watch is sound – if idealistic. “The most important thing is to teach children to cook at schools. And not only to cook but to understand about where their food comes from,” she says.

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Batons not barriers: The disabled musicians coming to the proms

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 17:43

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound Ensemble explain why it’s not about the disability, it’s about the quality of music-making

James Rose is used to being underestimated. “Until the age of 11, I was in a special school, and then I asked my parents to move me into a mainstream one because I was getting bored,” he tells me. “I was being given work aimed at five- and six-year-olds.”

Rose’s speech is impaired by his condition, cerebral palsy; he is in a wheelchair; people who meet him assume he will be intellectually slow, but he is the exact opposite: bright, demanding, determined to achieve his dream. That dream is conducting. “From a very young age I was into music. I had a 15-year fantasy about conducting, but never took it seriously until 2012.” Now, incredibly, the fantasy is about to become reality. On 27 August, he will conduct at the Proms, at the head of his own six-piece ensemble made up of other musicians with disabilities. At 32, after decades of being patronised or ignored, Rose will command the biggest classical music stage of all.

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Can a university rescue a city when the local authority fails?

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 09:15

With Northamptonshire council bankrupt, the university is stepping in

Thanks to sour grapes and special pleading by scholars at the University of Oxford, in 1265 Northampton’s university was dissolved by King Henry III. Exactly 740 years later it was reinstated, this time in a hodgepodge of buildings on the outskirts of town. Come next month, though, the university will be reincarnated once again, this time on a 58-acre site next to the River Nene, a short walk through a tree-lined park to Northampton’s town centre.

Given that the county is reeling, with services cut to the bone after its council in effect went bankrupt earlier this year, the university’s move to its new £330m site, and the resulting influx of student talent, energy and, bluntly, cash, might be seen as the only positive for Northampton.

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No other European country tests children at 16: let’s scrap pointless GCSEs | Sandra Leaton Gray

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 09:00

It is bizarre to examine children when they still have two more years at school

We all could and should be having a relaxed summer but instead, 16-year-olds are grimly anticipating their GCSE results this Thursday. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The UK is the only European country to have high-stakes testing at 16, with others adopting a more enlightened approach. This I discovered while leading a research project in 2016 that involved watching polyglot pupils in the European schools mill around their airy buildings in jeans and T-shirts.

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Should schools be judged by their exam results?

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 08:45

Ofsted now says inspectors should pay less attention to exam outcomes. We ask whether it’s right

Ofsted has clashed with the Department for Education over how important exam results are as a measurement of a school’s quality. Earlier this month, an Ofsted source suggested that from next year “exam factory” schools that narrowly “teach to the test” would be marked down and the emphasis on exam results would be downgraded. In response, the DoE reiterated that exams would continue to be one of the measures used to judge a school’s performance.

The furore follows research, commissioned by Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, and published last October, into how schools implement the curriculum. It concluded that there is a serious risk of the curriculum being denuded by the approach some schools take to preparing pupils for exams.

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The inescapable weight of my $100,000 student debt

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 08:00

MH Miller left university with a journal full of musings on Virginia Woolf and a vast financial burden. He is one of 44 million US graduates struggling to repay a total of $1.4tn. Were they right to believe their education was ‘priceless’?

On Halloween in 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City, fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a guarantor. My father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she would have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

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Poorer pupils far more likely to be in failing schools, finds research

Τρίτη, 21/08/2018 - 02:02

Data shows 9% of poor English children go to an inadequate school against 1% of wealthiest

The poorest pupils in England are nine times as likely to attend an inadequate school as the wealthiest pupils, a Labour analysis has revealed.

And within some regions inequalities are even more marked, with the most deprived children in the east Midlands 18 times more likely to go to one of the worst performing schools as their most privileged counterparts.

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I’ve no idea what I want to do when I leave school

Δευτέρα, 20/08/2018 - 14:00

The world is your oyster, says Sharmadean Reid – and a mix of the humanities with technology is perfect

I’m about to go into my final year at school and have no idea what I want to do. I enjoy the humanities and I love technology. Where do I start?

I’m so jealous: the world is truly your oyster. And you love the humanities? Even better – you can do anything with those subjects, trust me. Cultural studies, theology, philosophy, behavioural economics and the arts are all incredibly important for the new technology jobs you will encounter once you enter the adult working environment.

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New GCSEs put pupils under more pressure, say school leaders

Δευτέρα, 20/08/2018 - 08:00

Students to receive results with grades 9-1 after changes initiated by Michael Gove

The tougher standards demanded by the new style of GCSEs being awarded for the first time this year have put pupils under a great deal of additional pressure, according to school leaders.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils in England will receive their results this week, with grades from 9 to 1 replacing the familiar A* to G.

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Here is the expensive truth about private schools and student learning | Peter Goss and Owain Emslie

Δευτέρα, 20/08/2018 - 06:39

Many parents believe they are ‘purchasing’ a better education for their children by choosing a private school. Are they wrong?

When Australian parents shell out fees to send their children to private schools, they like to think they’re getting many things for their money. So they may be surprised to learn that superior student growth in literacy and numeracy is not one of them.

Conventional wisdom holds that private schools generally perform better than government schools academically. Many parents believe they are “purchasing” a better education for their children by choosing a private school. But new Grattan Institute research suggests the conventional wisdom may be wrong.

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An educational system not fit for purpose | Letters

Sun, 19/08/2018 - 19:37
Distinctions between academic and vocational qualifications are increasingly outmoded argue Pam Tatlow and Roy Boffy

Government reforms to the curriculum and exam assessment are out of kilter with good educational practice and the wider skills and competencies that employers’ organisations like the CBI have identified as being a desirable outcome of the education system (We need an alternative to universities, 17 August). To this list can be added the fragmentation of the school system, an obsession with academies and grammar schools, school performance indicators fixed to favour progression to a limited number of universities and the Ebacc, which has undermined the study of art, design and other creative subjects in schools.

In spite of the media’s obsession with A-levels, thousands of students study for BTecs each year and the majority who enter university now do so with a vocational qualification. Many study for higher education qualifications that are vocational and professionally and technically focused, include placements and projects with employers as well as degree apprenticeships. A third of students enter university when they are over 21, having spent time in the workplace, while others combine study with part-time work and caring responsibilities. These students are more debt-averse and the real national scandal is that their numbers and opportunities are declining as a result of high tuition fees in England. 

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How the gap year became a 'gap month' – and the best ways to spend it

Sun, 19/08/2018 - 16:00

A year abroad between A-levels and university is now a thing of the past. Instead, frugal would-be students are saving up for a life-enhancing month away

Who remembers the viral skit Gap Yah? Probably not Generation Z, which will be too young to remember it. Gap Yah (“I’m literally in Burma”) took aim at posh kids called Tarquin who went on “spiritual, cultural, political exchange things”. This was back (eight years ago!) when making fun of Old Etonians was as vicious as the internet got.

But for Gen Z students, who picked up their A-level results last week, a gap year in a far-flung place may be looking like a far-flung idea. Witness the rise of the “gap month”, the result of an economic climate in which teens are preparing for up to £27,000 worth of student debt and, after that, stagnant wages and soaring rental costs. These gap months are alternatively marketed as “micro gap years”, in the way that bedsits with the square footage of a porch are now “micro flats”.

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Learning German is just the job for savvy millennials

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 19:30
Growing numbers of under-30s are attracted to the language to better their career options

Learning European languages may no longer have much cachet among schoolchildren, but for millennials eyeing the job market, German appears to be more attractive than ever. Growing numbers of young adults aged between 18 and 30 in Britain are learning the language of Friedrich Schiller, Christa Wolf and Thomas Mann, according to the Goethe-Institut, with more than 3,000 people signing up for courses run by the cultural institution.

About the same number of students took a German A-level this year, a 16% drop compared with last year that has caused further angst among education professionals who are concerned that Britain is sliding further into monolingualism as it prepares for a future outside the European Union. Research by the British Council shows that 34,300 students took A-levels in French, German or Spanish in 1997, compared with 19,200 this year and just 17,505 applications for next year.

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The UK’s creative industries are being choked off by bureaucracy

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 19:00
Fewer children will collect GCSEs in arts subjects this week, as education reforms stifle a sector also hit by petty regulations

This week thousands of young people will learn how they performed in their GCSEs. One thing we already know is that the number of GCSE music entries is down over the last five years by 8%.

Worse, performing and expressive arts entries have slumped by 26% over the period, while the number sitting exams in media, film and TV studies has dropped by 22% and drama entries are down 14%.

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How to cope with disappointing A-level results

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 15:00
Thousands of students missed out on their university choices last week. Five people talk about their experiences and why a setback can be a spur to succeed

Pictures of elated teenagers jumping with joy and stories about high-achieving students gaining places at Oxbridge were all over the news last week. But not everyone has been celebrating A-level success and the publication of the results of new, tougher GCSEs on Thursday will undoubtedly see more pupils unhappy with their grades.

The overall A-level pass rate (grades A*-E) was 97.6% this year, the lowest figure since 2010, and the proportion of students gaining C grades or above dropped from 79% to 78.4% in England, following the introduction of more challenging exams.

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What laptop would be best for a student?

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 09:00

Our daughter is off to university next month and needs a reliable machine for essays and emails

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

Our daughter is off to university next month and is demanding a new laptop. She needs a basic, reliable, hard-wearing machine on which she’ll write essays and do the usual laptop stuff – without costing a fortune. I know nothing about computers – please tell me what to buy her.

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‘I went a little crazy as many freshers do’ – students on spending

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 09:00

First years tell us what they learned about loans, overdrafts – and how to fund nights out
Student finance: here’s how to plan for the start of term

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Student finance: here’s how to plan for the start of term

Sat, 18/08/2018 - 09:00

From loans to accommodation, here’s our guide to managing your money at university
Students on spending: ‘I went a little crazy as many freshers do’

The long wait was finally over this week, with tens of thousands of young people finding out on Thursday morning that they had got into their first-choice university. Thousands of others whose A-level results didn’t go to plan will pick up a place on a course through the clearing process.

But whether they are celebrating this weekend or drowning their sorrows, the next few days and weeks are crucial when it comes to the financial side of getting ready for university.

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Prestigious universities edge out rivals in UK's battle for students

Fri, 17/08/2018 - 20:09

Less selective institutions bear brunt of demographic decline in number of school leavers

Prestigious universities are squeezing out their rivals in the battle for undergraduates, setting a trend that could continue for several years and place some institutions under greater pressure to attract students to secure their funding.

The shift comes as the university admissions clearing house, Ucas, reported that record numbers have been placed on university courses a day after hundreds of thousands of students received their A-level results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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‘Teens get a bad rap’: the neuroscientist championing moody adolescents

Fri, 17/08/2018 - 17:07
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s studies of the adolescent brain have won her awards. So when she says GCSEs are damaging to teens’ health, perhaps we should listen

Annual media coverage of August’s exam results has traditionally conformed to an unwritten rule that all photos must show euphoric teenagers celebrating multiple A*s. This year, the images may tell a different story. Radical reforms to GCSEs are widely predicted to produce disappointment, and many teenagers are bracing themselves for the worst.

Parents may be unsympathetic, however, if their 15- or 16-year-old spent the exam year ignoring all their wise advice to revise, and instead lay in bed until lunchtime and partied all night with friends. Even if the exam results turn out to be good, many will wonder why their teenager took so many risks with their future.

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