How a smack of jellyfish helped win a £5,000 book prize

BBC - Tue, 20/06/2017 - 13:52
An army of caterpillars and a troop of monkeys also help US children's illustrator Lane Smith win a top book award.
Categories: Education news feeds

No classrooms, lessons or homework: New Zealand school where children are free to roam

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 20/06/2017 - 07:58

Pupils at Deep Green Bush school spend the majority of their day outdoors, exploring the countryside, learning to fish, hunt and trap possums

Deep among the streams and Kauri trees of rural south Auckland, New Zealand’s newest and most alternative school is in session. The weather is fine so a bout of fishing is in order, followed by lunch cooked on an open fire. Homework and classes? Indefinitely dismissed.

“We are called a school but we look nothing like any school out there,” says Joey Moncarz, co-founder and head teacher at Deep Green Bush School, which is in term two of its inaugural year.

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 20/06/2017 - 07:20
‘I wonder if May’s advisers actually understood the electoral system,’ says the exit pollster

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

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

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 20/06/2017 - 07:10

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

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

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

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 20/06/2017 - 06:50
School budget cuts were key to the election result – the prime minister forgot teachers, parents and grandparents are all voters

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

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

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Virginia Muslim teenager's death being investigated as road rage, police say

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 19:46

Mohmoud Hassanen tells Guardian his 17-year-old daughter, Nabra, who was killed on Sunday, that he does not believe authorities’ version of events

Police say the killing of a Muslim teenager near a mosque close to Washington DC is being investigated as a road rage incident.

But the father of Nabra Hassanen rejected detectives’ theory and said he believed his 17-year-old daughter was targeted because she was Muslim.

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The self-serving myths peddled by selective and private schools | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 19:15
Michael Pyke says there is no evidence that children in selective schools have greater academic achievements than those in comprehensives; Simon Gibbs calls for the end of charitable status for private schools

In a revealing interview with Peter Wilby, Shaun Fenton asserts that the raison d’être of selective schools is “academic excellence” (The children we educate will take leadership roles and create a fairer society, 13 June). This is a self-serving myth: there is no evidence that the academic achievements of children who attend selective schools are significantly better than those of children of similar ability and social background who attend comprehensive schools. In the long term, indeed, the reverse would appear to be the case, since all the evidence shows that, among similarly qualified university students, the best degrees are obtained by those who have been to comprehensive schools.

This may be one of the many reasons why not one of the world’s best education systems employs academic selection of the kind that persists in England to the detriment of so many young lives.

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Grammar schools, the DUP and the West Lothian question | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 19:14
Will the Conservatives stick with the principle that MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should not vote on matters that affect only England, asks Raymond Crozier

Fiona Millar correctly points out (This is the moment to blast apart the tired old ‘choice’ agenda, 13 June) that the Democratic Unionist party is strongly in favour of the retention of secondary modern schools (along with grammar schools for the minority of the population) but its views ought to have little impact on votes in the House of Commons given the Conservatives’ principled answer to the West Lothian question: MPs from Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish constituencies should not vote on matters that affect only England. Presumably, the principle remains even after 12 Conservative MPs have been returned from Scotland to Westminster.
Raymond Crozier
Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan

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

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Categories: Education news feeds

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 17:33

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

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

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

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Historic violin lent by Oxford University to Syrian refugee

BBC - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 14:58
A violin is taken out of an Oxford University museum collection and lent to a young Syrian refugee.
Categories: Education news feeds

Must-see movies: E.T. and Paddington on list of films to see before you're 11

BBC - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 14:13
A list of films that children should see before they grow up is released, including Toy Story and Frozen.
Categories: Education news feeds

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 13:53

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

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

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

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Talking terrorism

BBC - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 13:34
What is the best approach for parents when the news is frightening?
Categories: Education news feeds

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 08:39
Every child should have the opportunity to learn to read music and play an instrument, not just the kids of thrusting middle-class parents

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

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

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£1.3m to expand school computer coding clubs in Wales

BBC - Mon, 19/06/2017 - 06:15
The money is part of a £100m fund to raise school standards across Wales.
Categories: Education news feeds

Name that wildflower

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 18/06/2017 - 21:30

Hardly any British children can identify a red clover, and few students take plant science for a first degree. The charity Plantlife is determined to change that

The summer flowers are in bloom, but a recent survey of 2,000 people found that 80% didn’t know a common dog violet, even though it’s found across nearly the whole UK. Less than half of young people could name a bluebell and hardly any could identify a red clover. And another sign of how children are losing touch with the names of common flowers is that the Oxford Junior Dictionary, has dropped plant names such as bluebell and blackberry from its latest edition.

Related: Five simple ways to help your child get into the wild | Patrick Barkham

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Student loans are deeply unfair | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 18/06/2017 - 19:27
The Open University always charged for tuition, says Alan Woodley, Mark Ellis notes that student loans leave women worse off, and Peter Kayes blames the Tories for above-inflation rises in fees

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

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

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Universities face looming strikes as market revolution bites

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 18/06/2017 - 00:05

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

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

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

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 18/06/2017 - 00:01
Of course sitting GCSEs can be a trying experience, but with good support, study pressure can be positive

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

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

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

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 17/06/2017 - 23:00

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

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

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

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