Independence, empowerment and the environment: school trips are more than jollies

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 16:28

School trips are a unique chance to educate students about green issues while teaching a host of curriculum subjects and life skills

Under the shadow of a colossal Buddhist monastery, nestled deep in a mountain valley in India’s remote Ladakh region, a row of greenhouses grows fresh fruit and vegetables. They are a lifeline for the villagers during the harsh winter months when heavy snow cuts off the area from the outside world, but they were not put there by a charity or non-governmental organisation (NGO). They were built by a group of 30 teenagers from Devon.

The 16- to 18-year-olds from Exeter school travelled to the country with maths teacher Will Daws in 2013. During the 29-day expedition, organised by the School Travel Consultancy, the students lived with families in the village and worked with local builders to clear the site and construct the greenhouses. Malnutrition is a common problem among children and pregnant women in the village, so the ability to grow fresh produce all year round has made a huge difference.

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John Singh obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 16:07

My friend and former colleague John Singh, who has died aged 79, was one of the youngest teachers to be appointed as Her Majesty’s Inspector of schools (HMI), at the age of 34, and was the first of minority ethnic descent. During his 25 years’ service for the inspectorate, he used his influence to improve the experience of pupils from minority backgrounds.

In the 1960s, the education system emphasised the assimilation of minorities and the teaching of English to immigrants to “help them fit in”. John held the view that while competence in English was vital, the country would have to broaden all notions of what it meant to be British to adapt to an increasingly diverse population.

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Children with disabilities need more educational support, not mockery | Lola Okolosie

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 15:30
Apparently progressive legislation is being undercut by slashed budgets, pitting councils against parents – and opening up a market for opportunistic lawyers

“Crikey, had a great ‘win’ last week which sent some parents into a storm! It is always a great win when the other side thinks they won!” So went a tweet from the law firm Baker Small that would cause enough anger and consternation to make this most flippant of messages national news.

Related: What would Brexit mean for the NHS, social care and disabled people? | Denis Campbell, David Brindle and Patrick Butler

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Nepali grandfather of eight goes back to school

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 14:51

Durga Kami was unable to finish his studies as a child because of poverty. Now the 68-year-old widower puts on his uniform and studies six days a week

Nepalese grandfather Durga Kami brushes his bushy white beard, puts on his school uniform and, with the aid of his walking stick, trudges for over an hour to class for another day of learning.

Poverty prevented Kami from finishing his studies as a child and achieving his goal of becoming a teacher. Now 68, the father of six and grandfather of eight goes to school six days a week, to complete his studies and escape a lonely home life following the death of his wife.

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The proposed reforms to UK research are needlessly drastic. Here's why | Martin Rees

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 13:25

The government wants to overhaul the UK’s research system. But a persuasive case for change has not been made. We should shelve the Nurse review proposals

As we saw in debates on the Queen’s Speech, parliamentary scrutiny of the government’s higher education and research bill is likely to focus on student fees, the quality of university teaching, and the role and degree-giving powers of private providers. But as the bill approaches its second reading, and particularly when it reaches the House of Lords, it will be important that the proposed upheaval in the bodies that fund research receives equal scrutiny.

The continued success and vitality of UK research depends on the dual support funding system, which combines grants from the research councils with block funding allocated to universities on the basis of periodic assessment. For this system to operate, some kind of research excellence framework, or REF, is a necessary evil.

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Eddie Izzard: 'My vision would make the entire world work'

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 11:30

He’s on a mission to enlist students in the campaign for Europe. Is Eddie Izzard the champion Remainers need to beat Brexit?

“I may look confusing, but I have a clear message,” says Eddie Izzard to an audience of around 200 people at Staffordshire University’s Leek Road assembly hall. The 54 year-old comedian and actor struts the stage in a pair of black stilettos, a “Stand up for Europe” T-shirt, and a shocking pink beret with matching lipstick. It’s Izzard’s chosen uniform for a whistle-stop tour of universities, on which he is imploring students across the UK to vote “remain” in this month’s referendum. The crowd gives a generous laugh. He’s on a roll today.

“It’s not a rosy, dreamy vision of Europe that I have; I am a realist,” he goes on. “I think I can prove that to you by saying, look at me.” Izzard came out as transgender 31 years ago and these days is as likely to be wearing a frock as a shirt and tie. “I thought, people in the UK will be OK about this. And generally, they have been,” he says. “We gradually move forwards, not backwards. That above all is my argument for remaining in Europe: is this not the story of humanity?”

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Scrapping social work bursaries will push students out of poorer areas

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 09:04

Cornwall is the second poorest region in northern Europe – without a bursary, the cost of training will be beyond many students’ means

The government is planning to redirect money used for social work student bursaries into a national Frontline graduates development scheme. This could have potentially devastating consequences for the future of social work provision – and for the most vulnerable service users – across the south-west of England.

Even though a decision on the scheme has yet to be officially announced, students at my institution, Plymouth university, are already preparing for the worst and considering how they will be able to continue their studies. Without the bursary, the cost of training to become a qualified social worker would be beyond their means.

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Let's talk about sex: why do we need good sex education? – podcast transcript

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 09:00

With so many misconceptions and taboos around sex, Liz Ford looks at why effective education is more important than ever

Reporter and presenter:

LF Liz Ford

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Let's talk about sex: why do we need good sex education? – podcast

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 09:00

With so many misconceptions and taboos around sex, Liz Ford looks at why effective education is more important than ever

There are 1.8 billion people aged 10 to 24 today, but how many of those are getting comprehensive sexuality education? And why, in 2016, are there still so many taboos around sex? Liz Ford discusses what young people should be taught, when sex education should start and asks, what does comprehensive sexuality education actually mean?

She visits the Women Deliver Conference in Denmark, where 5,000 delegates meet to discuss the reproductive health, rights and wellbeing of women and girls. There, she speaks to 18-year-old Dennis Glasgow, a peer educator from the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association, who discusses the importance of diminishing the myths around sex by talking about it.

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30-hour free childcare pledge in jeopardy, say MPs

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 08:48

Committee says childminders could decide not to offer additional hours owing to concerns they would be left out of pocket

David Cameron’s promise of 30 hours of free childcare a week for nursery-age children is in jeopardy because too few early-years providers are willing to offer places, parliament’s spending watchdog has found.

Under an initiative outlined by the prime minister during the general election campaign, the current entitlement of 15 hours of free care for three- and four-year-olds is supposed to be doubled by next year.

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Most boys think online pornography is realistic, finds study

The Guardian Unlimited - Wed, 15/06/2016 - 00:01

Research reveals that 94% of children who have seen online pornography were exposed to it by age 14 and many saw images by accident in pop-up ads

The majority of boys who view online pornography believe it provides a realistic depiction of sex, according to the most extensive survey of British secondary school pupils undertaken.

Research published on Wednesday reveals that most children – 94% – who have seen online pornography have been exposed to it by the age of 14. But the study also found that almost half of the 1,000 11- to 16-year-olds questioned had never seen internet pornography – findings that are in contrast to many other studies.

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University chief rejects claim that Brexit would not deter EU students

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 14:11

Leave campaign claims universities would not lose out but head of UCL says UK may become unaffordable to many Europeans

Leading leave campaigners have claimed that universities and the science sector will not lose vital funding if Britain leaves the EU – but the head of the college with most EU students says it could cost the country tens of millions of pounds in lost fees.

Employment minister Priti Patel, who has been prominent in the leave campaign, argued that a Brexit vote would mean the government of the day would be able to take back control of the money currently sent to the EU and make choices on how to spend that money.

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One in six secondary pupils in England doesn't get first school choice

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 12:57

London children see greatest challenge in securing a place at their favoured school as local authorities struggle to meet demand

The demand for state school places in England went up again this year, resulting in one in six children missing out on their first choice at secondary level, according to official figures published on Tuesday.

Government statistics show that the number of applications for secondary school places this year jumped by 2.8% on 2015, as the recent baby boom that has put pressure on primary school numbers in the past few years moves up to secondary.

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The university gender pay gap is down to neoliberal orthodoxy

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 12:00

… and men who can’t see women as ‘global leaders’

Two facts of academic life: the students get younger each year, and the criteria of university promotion panels grow more fantastic. I’m in the midst of writing references for colleagues applying for professorships at several British universities, every one of which requires its chairs to be “global leaders”. My references won’t just make a difference to these colleagues’ applications but also to their pay – for most universities negotiate professorial salaries individually.

As I began writing this year’s round of references, the gender pay gap among UK professors hit the headlines. I’m not surprised. Women are less likely to be recognised as “global leaders” by our male colleagues, so less likely to get promotion – and likely to be paid less than men if we are promoted. Employers’ scant regard for women’s childcare responsibilities doesn’t help, but the sexism is more widespread.

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A blogger's guide to festival food on a budget

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 10:52

Festival food is generally good nowadays – but it doesn’t come cheap. Food blogger Niamh Shields gives her advice on alternative outdoor eating

Over the course of five days at Glastonbury festival, you could end up spending £100 or more on food and drink alone. Who would want to cough up £8 for some pasta or a mediocre falafel? No thanks. While it’s all well and good to indulge in the street food on offer, what if you can’t afford to eat out for every meal?

Cooking at a festival on a budget sounds like work, but it’s entirely worthwhile – and dare I say, more fun. A lull during the line-up is a great opportunity to knock up a tasty meal that won’t threaten your bank balance.

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Our public services depend on EU migrants | Alan Travis

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 09:00

The Brexiters are sending out mixed messages on what would happen to the 600,000 EU migrants who work in Britain’s public sector if the UK votes to leave

Alan Johnson, a leading Labour campaigner to stay in the EU, likes to tell a joke that “if you bump into an east European in A&E, it is more than likely that they’re there to treat you.”

With more than 40,000 EU migrants working in the NHS, it is a joke with more than a grain of truth. At the latest count more than 600,000 of the 2.1 million EU migrants working in Britain were working in public sector jobs.

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Could Steiner schools have a point on children, tablets and tech?

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 07:30

Studies have yet to show much benefit from technology in schools, leading some to wonder whether the offline life is better for children

It’s late morning and the children in Maria Woolley’s class at the Iona school in Nottingham are busy kneading dough. The dough is made from flour they saw ground at the local windmill using grains harvested from a nearby farm they had visited. During the morning lesson the children have sung songs, recited poetry and done rhythmic clapping and stomping.

There is no uniform here, and no headteacher – the school is run by staff and friends – and, unlike the vast majority of primary schools these days, here the students don’t work on tablets or computers. At the front of the class is an old-fashioned blackboard.

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Grimm & Co’s magical approach to helping children write stories

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 07:15

A scheme in Rotherham aims to boost Sats results and improve lives by harnessing children’s creativity

It’s no mean feat to inspire a group of 30 10- and 11-year-olds to run across a room and start writing. But run they do. Propped against plaster pillars, perched on a leather sofa, laid on ornamental grass, stories pour out of these children.

This morning they have entered a magical apothecary (to gasps of wonder), passed through a secret doorway (more gasps), climbed a winding staircase and ended in a room laid out like an enchanted garden. With the help of volunteer story mentors they’ve imagined an eagle-winged mouse that smells of cheese and a semi-invisible blue bird with a monkey’s head and clown’s shoes. The main action takes place in a regenerating block of cheese. Somehow a shark has been introduced for the cliffhanger. Now it’s up to each child to decide how their story will end.

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I use trigger warnings - but I'm not mollycoddling my students

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 07:15

Critics claim trigger warnings stifle debate, but they do the opposite. They give students a chance to pause, then focus on something tricky

I vividly remember switching on Monsters Inc, thinking it would entertain my two-year-old nephew. As the shadow of the monster loomed over a sleeping child, my nephew sat rooted to the spot, wide-eyed, barely breathing. I switched off the film and scrambled around for another form of amusement more appropriate for toddlers. Together, we exhaled.

Related: US students request 'trigger warnings' on literature

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Government presses on with plan for all-academy England

The Guardian Unlimited - Tue, 14/06/2016 - 06:45
In our diary: Commissioners still pushing all-academy system; free school postcode lottery; council thwarts plan for school in police station

The government is quietly pressing on with plans to force all English state schools into academy status by 2022, using its regional schools commissioners as behind-the-scenes arms-twisters, Education Guardian can reveal.

Ministers seemed to have placated restive Tory backbenchers at the time of the Queen’s speech last month by backing down on proposals for blanket conversions of all schools. Some even thought it was a U-turn. However, they still say they want England’s system to be all-academy in six years. And the powerful but shadowy RSCs seem intent on enforcing this vision, though away from parliamentary scrutiny.

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