Dealing with empty nest syndrome

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:47

It’s a difficult adjustment for most parents once their children have left home. Here we offer advice on how to cope with the feeling of loss

You’ve looked after them for 18 years through the good times and the bad. You’ve been a teacher, mentor, confidant, taxi service, chief cook and bottle washer and now they have gone. There’s a strange stillness around the home as you take down the to-do list.

You miss them, of course, but university terms are short and the holidays long so, you can get the best of both worlds. There’s more time to spend on yourself, your partner and friends and, before long, the children are back for reading week or Christmas as young adults with a new appreciation of home comforts.

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Choosing student accommodation

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:46

First-year students face a choice of where to live: the parental home, a hall of residence or a privately rented flat. We consider the pros and cons

The bright lights of London may seem appealing, but students soon notice they’re paying a price for the privilege. The cost of accommodation in the capital can seriously dent any loan, so it’s no wonder – according to 2014-15 figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency – almost a quarter of students choose to live at home with mum and dad.

The benefits of living in the parental home include a full fridge, dirty washing sorted, the comfort and support of your family, and debts increasing more slowly. Living in halls or a flat is a luxury some students simply can’t afford.

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Leaving home and starting university

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:45

Moving away from home and living and studying independently can be a big step for young people – and their parents. Here we offer some guidance on adapting to university life

Almost half a million first-year students will be packing their bags this September and waving goodbye. While university is now seen as a rite of passage for many sixth-formers, it’s not just seeing them off safely that concerns parents.

It’s natural to want young adults to cope well with the changes and demands of a new independent life; after the comforts of home and the structure of school, university can be unnerving even for the most confident.

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Making best use of university open days

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:45

A visit is essential for you to scope out the campus and meet current students, so you can base your decision on more than just the university’s prospectus

Open days are your chance to get behind the cleverly angled photos on university websites and get a feel for the place. They are usually tightly structured, so it helps to work out in advance what you want to see and the sessions you plan to attend.

Parents and friends are welcome to accompany applicants and most universities put on separate sessions for parents while their children take part in other activities, such as mock lectures and subject talks. Accommodation tours are always very popular, so book one in advance or as soon as you get there. Subject talks are very important and provide a chance to find out such things as the number of teaching hours, seminar sizes and the weighting of marks given to exams, project work, timed essays or presentations.

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How to write your personal statement

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 14:44

University applicants will need to write a personal statement. But what should you write and how do you strike the right note? Here we offer some advice on what tutors like to see

The personal statement is the part of the application form where students can “sell” themselves to admission tutors. Applicants must write up to 4,000 characters, or 47 lines, to convince universities to offer them a place. But finding the right tone is tricky. Boasting is out, modesty is self-defeating and trying to be funny can be dangerous. No wonder that applicants turn to family and teachers for advice. But are they getting the right guidance?

A study by the Sutton Trust found that the academic focus of the personal statement is not always understood by teachers, who tended to praise general passages about subjects. The tutors liked to see more detailed discussion and analysis of particular aspects of the subject that had caught the student’s interest and made them think.

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The Grand Pancake Race, a winning story – in pictures

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 11:02

William Thompson is the winner of the Reading Zone’s picture book competition. Read his story right here!

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Categories: Education news feeds

Kenyan girls get on their bikes in pursuit of an education | Robert Kibet

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 24/06/2016 - 09:00

A scheme that provides bicycles to children who would otherwise face long journeys to school is enabling kids to spend more time learning

Jacqueline Nasimiyu used to wake in the early hours and, after making breakfast and fetching water, she would trek down valleys, push through bushes and wiggle under barbed wire fences to cover the 6km to Mahanga K secondary school in western Kenya.

There were no school buses and no paved roads around her village of Mawa in Kakamega county. The 17-year-old’s parents could not afford to pay for the only form of transport, motorbike taxis, known as boda boda.

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Teachers in England to hold one-day strike

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 17:39

NUT says action being taken over impact of funding cuts on teacher contracts, workload and children’s education

Members of the National Union of Teachers have voted to hold a one-day strike next month, in protest at cuts to school budgets as well as workload concerns.

The ballot, the result of a motion aiming to protect pay and working conditions passed at the NUT’s annual conference in Easter, will see the union taking industrial action on 5 July.

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Trojan horse school case based on misinformation, tribunal told

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 17:34

Lawyer for two former Park View principals says government handling of affair marred by fear and incompetence

The government’s handling of the Trojan horse affair involving schools in Birmingham was marred by fear and incompetence, creating a febrile atmosphere in which innocent explanations were rejected in order to blame “bad Muslims”, a tribunal has been told.

Andrew Faux, representing two former principals of Park View academy, the school at the centre of an alleged takeover by conservative Islamists in 2014, told the National College of Teaching and Leadership tribunal that the case against his clients rested on “snippets of misinformation”.

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A moment that changed me: being sent away to my loveless boarding school | Kate Morris

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 14:45
When I was 11 my parents split up, I lost my teddy bear and I was exiled. It was like falling off a cliff with no one to catch me at the bottom

My childhood as I had known it changed forever when I was sent to a girls’ boarding school in the seventies. My parents were in the process of splitting up, and my mother had gone abroad to look after my terminally ill granny – neither subject was discussed with me.

A few months before I left for my new life, aged just 11, I lost my teddy bear at an airport. The small bear had been my constant companion, and as my parents said goodbye there was nothing to cling to. The first night away, I sobbed in the small, unfamiliar bed. It was like falling off a cliff into the unknown with no one to catch me at the bottom.

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Disabled people are frustrated at being denied the chance to work

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 14:18

Around the world there are huge employment gaps between disabled and non-disabled people. How can this be addressed? What actually works?

The employment gap for disabled people around the world

Mexico city in a wheelchair: ‘There’s no second chance on these streets’

Why are so few disabled people employed, compared with non-disabled people? How should governments and employers close the so-called disability employment gap? These are thorny issues.

The gap remains wide globally – even in the US and Europe, where anti-discrimination policies have become law, the gap averages out at about 20%. This is an important issue: one billion people – some 15% of the world’s population - live with a disability.

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Categories: Education news feeds

Including trans pupils doesn’t mean we’re failing our girls | Caroline Jordan

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 12:06
Girls’ schools have come under fire for suggesting we shouldn’t routinely address our pupils as ‘girls’. But we have a duty of care to all children

As the country approaches a huge moment in its history we, as exponents of single-sex education, have found ourselves in the midst of our own mini-media storm this week. “Don’t call girls girls”, “Girls can’t be girls”, “Stop referring to pupils as ‘girls’” screamed the headlines, while the phone has been ringing off the hook at Headington, of which I am headteacher, with radio stations trying to persuade me to go on air to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile I am left wondering quite how a positive and important closed session at the Girls’ Schools Association summer briefing has sparked this reaction.

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Alone and unsupported: why student carers need more help

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 09:30

Juggling university deadlines and caring for family members is not an easy task – and too many students are doing it alone

Becky Hammerton, a second-year college student, has been a carer since the age of nine. She looks after her mum, who was injured in a traffic accident, and her dad, who has mental health difficulties.

Living at home means she has a two-hour journey to college in Winchester, where she studies animal management and applied science. On her days off, she juggles university work with shopping, paying bills, cooking and providing emotional support for her parents.

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Don't feed the trolls: a survival guide for teen girl writers

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 08:21

Clementine Ford, Nakkiah Lui and other writers sit down with school-aged girls to share what they know about persevering, handling harrassment, and empathy

When my first piece was published in 1998, my stories appeared on paper that was the size of a pillow case. There was no button the reader could click on to tell me what they thought of me after they’d read the headline. If people didn’t like my stories, I may – a week later – have gotten a letter in the mail.

The letter would usually be written either in large CAPS or tiny spidery handwriting that slanted left and was hard to read. Sometimes a biblical bookmark would be included in the envelope. I wrote for the paper most days, on all sorts of topics. I would receive, on average, two letters a year.

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RIBA awards 2016: academic buildings dominate list of UK's best architecture

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 00:01

Universities loom large among the 46 winners, but Grayson Perry’s House for Essex and other deserving buildings are missing from architectural honours

A bucolic motorway service station fit for the Teletubbies is joined by a bulbous blue drawing studio and a crumbling Victorian music hall in this year’s diverse cohort of RIBA award winners for the UK’s best buildings. The 46 projects to win a national award, which range from a grass-roofed children’s hospital in Liverpool to a sinuous metallic library in Oxford, will be whittled down to a six-strong shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling prize later in the year.

In a departure from a 2015 emphasis on housing, almost a quarter of this year’s winners are made up of university and college buildings. They include a stately barrel-vaulted student centre for Nottingham Trent University by Evans Vettori architects, a timber-clad medical research facility for the University of East Anglia by Hawkins Brown and the glacial wedding cake of the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford by Herzog & de Meuron.

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We are still letting down our poorest pupils, says Ofsted boss

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 23/06/2016 - 00:00

Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw attacks government education policy, warning ‘schools will wither on the vine’

Children from Britain’s poorest families “pay the price” for failed experiments by politicians on both the left and right, according to Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, in a wide-ranging attack that cites “bleating” parents and weak teaching among the causes of educational blight.

“As I begin my last few months as chief inspector, it saddens me immeasurably to say frankly that we are still letting down our poorest children and that if things do not change fundamentally, we will continue to do so,” Wilshaw concludes, rubbishing government reforms since the 1960s.

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Harry Lawton obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 16:50

My father, Harry Lawton, who has died aged 97, was an inspirational teacher of woodwork, technical drawing and English.

He was born in Woolton, Liverpool, to Alfred, a signwriter, and his wife, Martha (nee Grace), who was a parlourmaid before she married. Harry left Lawrence Road school aged 14 to work in a grocery shop; in his later teens, he took evening classes for the City & Guilds examinations in cabinet-making. He was a conscientious objector during the second world war, and instead worked as a farm labourer and firefighter.

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'Simply inhumane' – the law firm that fights parents seeking help for children's special needs

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 16:37

Baker Small was exposed last week for tweets celebrating victory in tribunals over special educational support for children. But while its director is nicknamed the Terminator, many parents see him as simply a local authority ‘hitman’ in a system stacked against them

In the first four years of Emma’s life, her parents had to deal with a diagnosis of autism and then leukaemia, but the most difficult challenge they faced was the battle with their local authority for special educational support, which saw them pitted against a specialist law firm. Their experience was long-drawn-out and bitter and, although they won, they were left feeling incredulous and angry that the process had been so adversarial.

Related: Fury as law firm boasts of 'great win' over parents of vulnerable children

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Eight ways school governors can prepare for an Ofsted inspection

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 16:30

From getting the website in order to reading previous reports, researcher John Davies shares his tips for making sure you are inspection-ready

Ofsted’s common inspection framework, launched in September 2015, introduced a system of short inspections for “good” schools and changed how inspectors are employed.

A few months later, when The Key surveyed 979 governors for its annual State of Education report, nearly 40% of respondents said they had found preparing for inspection difficult to manage over the 12 months preceding the survey.

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Tess Robson obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 22/06/2016 - 11:07

Tess Robson, who has died of cancer aged 63, was an inspirational teacher of young children. For more than 20 years she was head of the state nursery school, Tachbrook, rated “outstanding”, in the heart of the Peabody Estate in Pimlico, west London.

The eldest of four children, and raised by her mother, Margaret Hodgkinson, after her parents divorced she was educated at the Ursuline high school in Wimbledon, south-west London, retaining strong friendships from her time there. Studying for a degree in medieval history at Manchester, she met the architect Dave Robson, and they married in 1976.

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