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Updated: 6 hours 17 min ago

New Jersey teacher who was late for work 111 times blames it on breakfast

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 19:40
  • ‘I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time’
  • Arbitrator rules Arnold Anderson can keep his $90,000-a-year job

An elementary school teacher who was allowed to keep his job despite being late for work 111 times in two years said on Friday that breakfast is to blame for his tardiness.

“I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning and I lost track of time,” 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson told the Associated Press.

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Books have the power to transform African lives | Letter from Patrick Plonski of Books For Africa

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 18:29

In David Shariatmadari’s review of William MacAskill’s book Doing Good Better (Review, 22 August), he quotes the author as saying that books do not advance education in Africa. That is a paradox to say the least. There is plenty of data to indicate that books do indeed advance student achievement. In fact, a World Bank report in May 2015 emphasises the urgent need to get textbooks into the hands of every student in sub-Saharan Africa: “No other input is likely to be more cost-effective than making high-quality learning materials available to all students…”.

In addition, the World Bank undertook two large-scale studies (1987, 2002) involving over 89 education projects across Africa. The findings confirmed the cost-effectiveness and importance of books, with the 2002 report indicating that in Africa, next to a good teacher, “a good textbook is the most effective medium of instruction”.

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Sewage treatment in theory and practice | Letters

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 18:28

My brothers went to Oxbridge (Letters, 28 August). I went to Woolwich Poly. I designed sewage treatment works. They could only write about them. The point is we need both, and both should be valued.
Brian Keegan
Peterborough

• Insightful comments from Simon Jenkins (Labour has outstanding leaders…, 27 August). Shame on him for omitting Joe Anderson, the formidable elected mayor for Liverpool.
Françoise Murray
Liverpool

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Letter: How Owen Chadwick inspired a new author

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 18:15

I was the cleaner for Prof Owen Chadwick and his wife, Ruth, at the master’s lodge of Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1977-78. It was a short but happy time, and I have much to thank them for.

Both Owen and Ruth were unerringly kind, with a great generosity of spirit. They included me in anything going on in the house such as visits by well-known guests, and gave me books for my children. I remember conversations during coffee breaks, when Ruth worried that appointments at the college were being made without candidates even being aware they were in a selection process, and that Igor the family’s dog was unwell.

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Educating viewers: TV teachers embrace chance to share joy and pain of schools

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:38

Educating Cardiff is the latest in a flurry of shows set in the classroom, and some of their stars hope to challenge the audience’s ideas about teenagers

Leah and Courtney, two disaffected pupils at Willows high school in Cardiff, are late for period one science. The cameras capture them as they sidle into school and slip into class, surly and disruptive, as the teacher battles on.

Later Courtney tries to explain. “When I wake up, I have to sit there for like 10 minutes to actually wake up.” She giggles. “Well, I just don’t wake up,” says Leah. “You have to jump on her to wake her,” says Courtney, with mock gravity. The surly girls turn out to be sweet and funny; they have complicated lives and feelings, and the viewer is hooked.

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Women’s Equality party founders: ‘It needed doing. So we said, “Let’s do it”’

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 15:30

After six months cheerleading, Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer have handed their party over to a new leader, Sophie Walker. So can they capture the imagination of women – even the ones who are nothing like them?

They arrive in a bustle with a crackle of paper bags and soon the meeting room table is festooned with salad boxes and plastic cutlery. Sandi Toksvig is mum, unpacking, handing everything out. “Crayfish!” she calls. That’s for the party leader, Sophie Walker. There is mezze with pomegranate for Catherine Mayer, Toksvig’s co-founder of the party. Off come the jackets. Drinks are passed around. They have even, kindly, bought cake. It is all incredibly convivial. Definitely a party, if not immediately obviously a political one.

This sort of conviviality has played a big part in the foundation of the Women’s Equality party, or WE. They chose the acronym because it suggests collaboration. “We are WE,” says Mayer. “But a lot of people insist on WEPping us.” It sprung out of a small group that soon became a larger group of like-minded women, gathering in each other’s homes and in bars, and as Mayer, Toksvig and Walker run through the tale of how it came into being, their story skirts many laden tables.

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My laboratory would fall apart if Britain left the EU

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 14:45

My team is drawn from all over Europe and beyond – the researchers bring in talent, income and dedication

While the latest immigration figures are grabbing the headlines, researchers like me are trying to not think about their potential political repercussions – particularly as we edge towards the planned referendum on the European Union. The consequences of a British exit for our programmes simply don’t bear thinking about.

At the moment, in my laboratory at University College London, I have technicians from Greece and South Africa, an Italian PhD student, a Greek master’s student, post-doctoral researchers from Germany and France, and three UK staff. In the past year, alumni from Greece, the Far East and India have all moved on to new positions.

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Students carry barrel of beer up Ben Nevis to set up pop-up bar for climbers

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 13:08

Dave Cooke, Harriet Allbrook and Oscar Price, from Wiltshire, join barman Dom Lane to lug cask of ale to top of UK’s highest mountain

Three students and a barman have climbed to the summit of Britain’s highest mountain with a barrel of ale and set up a bar.

Dave Cooke, 21, Harriet Allbrook, 21, and Oscar Price, 19, spent nearly four hours hauling the nine-gallon cask – capable of filling 72 pint glasses – of Tunnel Vision beer to the top of Ben Nevis in Scotland.

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Poor students need expert advice to get into medical schools

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 10:07

There is fierce competition for places to study medicine – and state school pupils often miss out because they are ill-prepared

Over 90% of applications to medicine degree courses were rejected in 2014. For many would-be students, the odds of obtaining an offer to study medicine at university are extremely slim – especially if they are not from a privileged background.

With just shy of 85,000 applications to UK medical schools last year, it is obvious that not everybody can secure a highly coveted place. However, the success rates of top applicants vary wildly, with many receiving no offers, while some secure the maximum four. This is often down to the lack of support offered by some schools to students applying.

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Brainteasers to warm your teachers up for the new term

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 08:00

Take our fun quiz to get your grey matter classroom ready

It’s not just students who struggle to switch their brains back on after the summer break, teachers also have to shake off the summer haze and think in education terms again.

So, to help you shift from holiday mode to teacher mode, and to test whether your brain power has totally dissipated over the summer, we’ve collected some taxing teasers from across the internet, covering everything from spelling to maths.

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Forty-thousand years of Indigenous maths can get kids into numbers today | @IndigenousX

Fri, 28/08/2015 - 03:34

Western education has reinforced the belief that Aboriginal people have no concept of mathematics. Let @IndigenousX host Chris Matthews set that straight

I am deeply concerned with the direction of Indigenous education in Australia and how mathematics education has been positioned in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. I have a different vision for Indigenous education in mathematics; it’s a vision based on connecting culture and mathematics.

I’m from the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island, Queensland). I have a PhD in applied mathematics and I’m currently a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland. I’m also the chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (Atsima), which is a newly formed not-for-profit organisation with the vision for “All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners will be successful in mathematics.”

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Oxbridge, privilege and the perpetuation of unhelpful stereotypes | Letters

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 19:39

Carol Cadwalladr argues that electing Oxbridge graduates does not guarantee we get the most able politicians because of a selection process that is biased towards a privately educated elite (Whatever the party, our political elite is an Oxbridge club, 25 August). She is implying that we need the most academically successful to rule us. Criteria for access to higher education focus mainly on academic ability and do not usually require evidence of good communication skills, empathy, openness, holding principled beliefs, etc. These latter skills are usually honed by life experience after education and in particular by the experience of managing others in wider society. So those going straight from double-firsts to parliamentary research or special adviserships don’t get the chance to develop the skills I would consider essential in the people who lead us.
Mark Richardson
Brighton

• Congratulations for publishing Carole Cadwalladr’s excellent piece admitting that an out-of-touch Oxbridge, private-school elite runs our country. I have a suggestion to start making parliament more representative. Anyone wanting to be an MP should have to have been “ordinarily resident” (live and work) in the constituency they wish to represent for at least five years before the date of the election, or “ordinarily resident” in the constituency for at least 10 years at some earlier stage. Those attending boarding schools, such as Eton, would count as ordinarily resident at school. At a stroke our parliamentarians would not be so dominated by Oxbridge and the private schools and would be more representative of the communities they are supposed to speak for.
Adam Rule
North Shields, North Tyneside

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Further gains for maths and literacy results in Sats exam

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 19:25

Department of Education statistics show great disparity between different school types, with mainstream free schools far behind other state institutions

Children finished primary school in England this summer better equipped than ever before, after official figures showed a further improvement in the results of national tests in literacy and mathematics taken by 11-year-olds.

Some 81% of pupils at mainstream state primary schools passed key stage two tests and assessments in reading, writing and mathematics, reaching the government’s benchmark of level four, indicating they are ready to start secondary school.

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‘I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in' – how can universities better support mature students?

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 16:14

University staff and students share their advice – from flexible timetables to meet-up groups

Mature students often prove to be highly motivated learners but returning to education a few years after leaving school is fraught with pressures. Older students often take on part-time work to pay for their studies, while balancing university work with family responsibilities. Others may have given up a career to go back to study and can’t commit to a carefree undergraduate lifestyle. Are universities doing enough then to support these a-typical students?

Mature learners remain a significant part of the student body, with more than 100,000 accepting a university places across the UK this year, but the numbers have taken a hit since the introduction of the higher tuition fees. The latest Ucas figures showed a 1% drop in older students taking up places this year in England – a continuing downward trend.

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New Orleans' switch to charter schools after Katrina: a 'takeover' or a success?

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 15:14

In 2005 the city enacted radical education reform, turning its worst-performing public schools into an educational marketplace of sorts run by charter operators – but locals remain wary of its aims even as performance has improved

To Ashana Bigard, a mother of three, the New Orleans public school system seems built on instability. Her 22-year-old daughter switched high schools three times before passing the GED exam and going to college. Bigard’s eight-year-old, meanwhile, has already attended three different elementary schools – one run directly by the local school board, another a charter school under that same board’s umbrella, and a third overseen by the Recovery School District (RSD), the state construct that has come to govern most public education in post-Katrina New Orleans.

“They just got beaten down,” Bigard said of her children. “Whether [the school system] is better or not, I don’t know … I’ve seen too many fishy things. I don’t trust the current numbers.”

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Richard Callanan obituary

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 12:14

My friend Richard Callanan, who has died aged 70 after a fall, made important contributions to two great educational endeavours: making TV programmes for the Open University and co-ordinating groups for the University of the Third Age (U3A).

He was a maker of arts programmes for the Open University between 1969 and 1979; and among those he recruited to appear in OU productions were Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley. Richard was largely responsible for the famous appearance of Max Wall as Vladimir opposite Leo McKern as Estragon in Waiting for Godot in 1977. He went on to become well known too as a producer and director of children’s programmes: in 1990 he won a Bafta as producer of the BBC series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men; and in 1993 a second for Archer’s Goon.

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Student leader with a swagger: 'They think Jeremy Corbyn is radical!'

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 09:59

Shakira Martin learned her business skills from dealing drugs, broke free from an abusive relationship, and found her feet at Lewisham College. Now she’s vice-president of the NUS

“I don’t do facts and figures,” Shakira Martin warns me from across the boardroom table of her new offices at the National Union of Students (NUS). “I am the facts and the figures. When I talk I just say it as it is.”

Martin’s straight-talking swagger might go some way to explaining her unlikely rise through the ranks of the NUS – where she was recently elected vice-president of further education. The antidote to the white, middle-class, aspiring Labour MPs who traditionally lead the organisation, 27-year-old Martin was one of nine siblings raised in Lewisham by Jamaican parents, and admits that the first time she ran in an election, she didn’t even know what one was.

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Beat the back to school blues: 12 ways teachers deal with a new term

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 07:00

Spa days, TV marathons and denial. Here’s how our teaching community cope with the end of the summer holidays

The all-to-brief respite of the summer holidays is almost over and, whether you spent your vacation lounging in beer gardens or finding yourself in India, we hope you’ve enjoyed the much-needed escape.

Summer is, after all, the only chance teachers get to press the reset button and try to get back to their old selves. But after six weeks off you could be forgiven for feeling a bit like a stroppy teenager, thinking “I don’t want to go back to school”.

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Ethical apprenticeships that sustain the world through work - in pictures

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 07:00

From beekeeping to working as a River Cottage chef, here are some of the best schemes for apprentices that want to make a difference in their career

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Student Loans Company is hounding me for debt I paid off in 2009

Thu, 27/08/2015 - 07:00

It said I had cleared my loan but now claims I owe it £83 plus interest

I took out a student loan in 2002 and early in 2009 the Student Loans ­Company informed me that I had made all payments and stopped deducting money from my wages.

Suddenly this year I got a call from a man saying he worked at SLC. He told me I had ­underpaid by £80 and asked if he could take the payment. It seemed a bit fishy so I declined. Last month, I got an email from SLC saying that in 2009 the debt was ­miscalculated and I owed £83, to which it has added £6 interest.

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