A Darlington headteacher recently asked parents on the school run to stop turning up in their pyjamas – but others argue that sleepwear is the height of fashion
Viv Groskop, comedian No. It’s not OK to wear pyjamas in public. The headteacher of a primary school in Darlington wrote to parents last week saying that she had noticed “an increasing tendency to escort children to and from school while still wearing their pyjamas and, on occasion, even slippers”. Since then, at least one mother at the school has defied the ban, in a bobbly scarlet flannelette pair complete with matching red Uggs. “I am running late. I even forgot to put my false teeth in.” Hmm. This lady was suspiciously co-ordinated (and wearing earrings) for the waiting photographers at the school gate. Even if she did keep her mouth closed for the pictures.
We’ve all been late for school and we’ve all left the house looking a mess. But if you wouldn’t let your children go to school in their pyjamas, why would you let them see you doing it? I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me on the school run, but I do care what I think of myself. Leaving the house in still-warm pyjamas is a sign that something isn’t right.Continue reading...
More than 150 students in two halls of residence at University College London are currently on a rent strike, demanding a 40% cut in their weekly accommodation fees.
The problem is places like Max Rayne House – a self-catered student house where a twin room costs £102.97 a week while a one-bed flat is £232.40 and bathrooms are shared between 10-13 people.Continue reading...
Leading Tories are demanding change to government education policy and an easing of cuts, amid predictions that councils in Conservative-run heartlands will soon be unable to provide school places for all the children in their areas.
The growing concerns of Tory MPs and council leaders are being relayed to ministers by the Conservative-led Local Government Association, which is calling on the government to hand back powers to councils so that they can expand schools or open new ones. The alternative, it says, will be a crisis of provision across the country.Continue reading...
Two new films take investigative journalism as their subject. The first, Spotlight, is a Hollywood feature that tells how the Boston Globe revealed the sexual abuse committed by hundreds of Catholic priests that until then had been deviously covered up by the hierarchy. Directed by Tom McCarthy, its cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, John Slattery (Roger Sterling in Mad Men) and Rachel McAdams. It appears in many critics’ lists of last year’s top 10 films and has six Oscar nominations, including best picture, which it has been strongly tipped to win. It cost $20m (£14m) to make – a snip by Hollywood standards – and had already taken $31m at the box office by mid-January, two months after its US release. Anyone with only a casual interest in the cinema will have heard of it.
That isn’t the case with the second film, which is far harder to find: during the next month it will appear like an unloved touring rep company for one night only in Oxford, Liverpool, York and Norwich, and equally briefly at one or two small cinemas in London. It’s a documentary directed by the sibling film-makers Jacqui and David Morris, and tells the story of the Sunday Times’ struggle to publish the history of thalidomide and to win proper compensation for the drug’s victims. It cost about $500,000 – a 40th of Spotlight’s budget – and rather than star actors, it features many real heroines and heroes, including its protagonist, the Sunday Times’s then editor Harold Evans.Continue reading...
Now is the time for young people and their parents to explore the range of debit and pre-paid cards on offer
Like hundreds of school leavers, my 17-year-old daughter and a group of friends are planning an Interrail trip visiting various European countries during their post-A-level summer holidays.
They are a pretty sensible bunch, competent enough to make their own travel arrangements, plot their route and book hostels for stops in Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Croatia and Budapest. But when it comes to travel money and how they are going to exchange their hard-saved sterling and access the four currencies they will need en route (euro, Czech koruna, Croatian kuna and Hungarian forint), not to mention keeping their cash and plastic cards safe, they are not quite so savvy. The parents’ nightmare vision of their child stranded abroad with no money when their cash and/or cards get lost or stolen looms large.Continue reading...
Social media has brought out our vanity and self-pity, with superstar teachers and their uncritical followers creating a toxic culture of one-upmanship
I used to love going out on a course and learning stuff. The chance to meet new people, share resources, get ideas and a free lunch. The best continued professional development (CPD) these days is online, or so I’m told. From interactive conversations on Twitter to webinars, now it seems I have to maintain a presence online in addition to a physical one in the classroom and staff meetings.
I’ve become an avatar and have to brand myself. It’s cheap for schools – sharing resources and ideas has become easier – but, for me, teachers and social media don’t mix. I am not talking about the no-brainer situations: being friends with students on Facebook or your boozy holiday snaps being circulated around a Year 10 WhatsApp group. No, I am talking about teachers on Facebook and Twitter and how much they piss me off.Continue reading...
Students seem to be convinced that if they talk long enough, they can save the world for justice. I was one of them once, and perhaps I was nicer then
For his plan to retain Trident submarines but subtract the nuclear warheads from them, Jeremy Corbyn has been mocked, but perhaps should be praised. His scheme would fit a pattern in which Britain has aircraft carriers but no aircraft to go on them; and it would be another step towards keeping guns but banning bullets, thus to rule out war as a national policy. I admire the way his principles are uninhibited by reason. I also like his beard, which reminds me of one of the beards I grew at various times in my life when I wished to prove I was still a student, even though the years had passed. Corbyn is a student at heart. I was part of the press corps that followed Michael Foot’s kamikaze 1983 general election campaign, and I recognise the look. Foot didn’t have the beard, but he had the same eyes, glittering with goodness.
No doubt the students who want to discuss the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oxford have that same sparkling gaze. They are good people, and he, they have correctly decided, was a thug. But should a cull of statues according to criteria of political acceptability be encouraged? Usually it doesn’t need to be: the matter decides itself. Germany got rid of all its Hitler statues. Russia got rid of its statues of Stalin and Lenin – although Lenin’s corpse, smelling of formaldehyde, is intact in his Red Square mausoleum, and Mao’s corpse, smelling of the same stuff, is being carefully looked after in his mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. Meanwhile, Cromwell’s statue still stands outside the Houses of Parliament in London, no doubt enraging every passerby of Irish extraction. There is no statue of him in Dublin. The matter usually doesn’t need discussing, except by students convinced that if they talk long enough, they can save the world for justice. I was one of them once, and perhaps I was nicer then.Continue reading...
30 January 1933: A careers master is to assess Harrow’s eldest boys, with help from the Institute of Industrial Psychology
Harrow, it is announced, has appointed a “careers master” to its staff; he will be in charge of a special form at the top of the school, where he will study the intelligence and aptitudes of the boys who are committed to his care and give advice on the careers which they should seek. He is even prepared to “get into touch with business firms so as to secure places for boys who cannot find them for themselves,” though it is added that that function is not so important at Harrow, where, it would seem, most boys are born to careers which “their parents have already mapped out for them.”
In their cases it is a little difficult to see what the “careers master” is to do - unless it will be his business to argue with the parents and point out that the careers which they have selected are the wrong ones. It almost sounds as though the parents ought to be in his form and not the sons. In some cases he will certainly have a double duty to perform; first he must diagnose a lad’s abilities, and then he must persuade the parents into allowing those abilities to point their own way to a career.Continue reading...
It’s good of Damian Lewis to give his time freely and he is right that Acland Burghley comprehensive’s 50th anniversary celebrations should include “celebrating our community” (Report, 28 January). But it is he that misses the point. No matter how much the “school allowed boys and girls to “think for themselves”, as long as private education, epitomised by Eton, with its links to power and position in our society, can be bought by wealth, the ambition of those children’s thoughts would be limited.
• If you want a rousing, rollicking good sing for the national anthem (Letters, 28 January), why not the Eton Boating Song? It would represent the dominant culture of the times, wouldn’t it?
Private school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says bracelet it uses doesn’t contain GPS tracker but still monitors students at all hours as part of ‘whole person education’
Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma has found a novel way to teach physical education: require students to wear Fitbit activity-tracking bracelets and lower their grades if they are not active enough.
The Tulsa-based private school, named after its founder, the late multimillionaire televangelist Oral Roberts, praised the popular tracking hardware in a press release earlier this month, saying the Fitbit program had begun during the fall semester after a pilot during the spring of 2014.Continue reading...
Selecting by academic ability and putting top 20% in grammar schools would be economic suicide, says Sir Michael Wilshaw
A return to grammar school selection in England would be an economic disaster, leaving young people without the skills the country needs, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, has said.
Speaking to a conference of Catholic school leaders in London, Wilshaw said selecting pupils by academic ability and giving a grammar school education to the top 20% – as happened in most parts of England until the 1970s – would be “economic suicide”.Continue reading...
The petition to prevent the Eton-educated actor getting involved with his local state school is a fine example of an extremely counterproductive urge to tell the elites that they should know their very, very comfortable place
It’s not often that a petition attracts just 100 signatures but still makes the national headlines. But it helps when a celebrity is involved. Former pupils claimed that the actor Damian Lewis should not have been invited to take part in 50th anniversary celebrations at Acland Burghley comprehensive school in north London, because he was privately educated, at Eton. Undaunted, Lewis turned up anyway, insisting that his critics had “missed the point”.
The point, for Lewis, is that he is part of the local community and the school is part of the local community. He likes the contribution Acland Burghley makes and wants to show his support. It’s hard to see why this makes him the bad guy. Presumably, the petitioners would prefer Lewis to stick to helping out with the various children’s festivities laid on by the dominant elite. You could be forgiven for thinking this seems like the argument of people who think class divisions are a good thing, and that everyone is better off knowing their place and sticking to it.Continue reading...
More families than ever are taking ‘edventures’ – long-term trips where children learn on the road. We talk to nomadic parents about the pros and cons of dropping out to travel the world
• Would you take your kids out of school for an extended trip? Perhaps you have already taken the plunge? Share your experiences in the comments below
• Read more tales of Brits who’ve quit their jobs and found a new life abroad this Saturday’s Travel section
World-schooling, edventuring, life-learning, whatever you call it, more parents are doing it – if the proliferation of blogs and books by families on round-the-world trips is anything to go by.
To our minds, they are learning in a more interesting way. We don’t know if we’re right, but it’s our gut instinctContinue reading...
Kypros Nicolaides has spent 40 years caring for babies who have yet to be born. We watched him at work
Prof Kypros Nicolaides studies the overhead monitor. “The head of the baby is down, and it is much easier to do when the head is up. So, there are two things we can do.” He pauses and an expectant silence falls.
“We can all concentrate and chant. Do you want to chant? Like Hare Krishna?”Continue reading...