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Choice of English song as French anthem for Euro 2016 'concerning'

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 17:37

Use of I Was Made for Lovin’ You ‘incomprehensible’, says French minister, arguing tournament is chance to promote French language

A French minister has described the choice of a song in English as the official anthem for French supporters at Euro 2016 as “incomprehensible”.

Andre Vallini, the secretary of state for Francophony, said the French Football Federation’s decision to choose a cover of I Was Made for Lovin’ You, performed by French group Skip the Use, was “very concerning”.

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Why are we boycotting school? Because of the pressure on our young children | Steve Rose

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 13:52
Teachers and schools need our support. They, and our children, deserve a better future than the one Nicky Morgan is mapping out for them

Hands up who knows what a subordinating conjunction is? I’m a journalist and I had no idea what one was, nor have I ever needed to. My seven-year-old son and daughter, however, were expected to explain what one is as part of their homework recently.

This is where education is, these days – by my reckoning, pretty much where it was in the 1950s – and I’m not alone in fearing it’s going to get even worse. That is why I am taking my children out of school on Tuesday, along with many others.

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How to teach ... algebra

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 10:00

Algebra, with all its signs, symbols and substitutions, can leave pupils bored and confused. Our ideas will help teachers give it some sparkle

In algebra, X marks the spot. Well, sometimes it’s N or Y. Either way, that spot can often leave children’s heads spinning, as they find themselves face-to-face with funny-looking equations that need to be simplified. Maths doesn’t always have the most positive reputation among young people (or older people, to be fair) and algebra – with its signs, symbols and substitutions – is up there with the least beloved of it. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Presented in the right way, it can even be exciting and magical. So how can you help your students get to grips with the topic?

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Entrance examination

Mon, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

A poor decision

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Primary testing regime needs greater scrutiny | Letters

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 20:17

We now know what headteachers like Amanda Hulme think (Primary grammar tests would stump Jane Austen, says head, 30 April). From your letters pages over past months, we know what the teachers’ unions think, what retired inspectors think, what established poets and writers like Michael Rosen think, what education academics in universities think about these tests. There is a consensus that they are too difficult for such young children, do not help them to write well and are demoralising, demotivating and a waste of curriculum time.

So, where is all this nonsense coming from? Who is devising and writing these tests? What is their background, their education history? And more importantly, do they have any experience in teaching or educational research?

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Malia Obama to attend Harvard in 2017 after gap year

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 18:55

President’s eldest daughter to take a year off, which is encouraged by the university to allow students to gain work experience

Barack Obama’s daughter Malia will take a year off after high school and attend Harvard University in 2017, the White House announced on Sunday.

The 17-year-old is a senior at the elite Sidwell Friends School, in Washington, the same high school where the children and grandchildren of the Clintons, Roosevelts, Bidens and Gores have attended. Malia Obama graduates in June and will celebrate her 18th birthday on the Fourth of July.

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Do we want our children taught by humans or algorithms? | Zoe Williams

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 17:46
If Nicky Morgan won’t listen to teachers, parents need to take action to prevent our schools turning into joyless exam factories, starting with Tuesday’s boycott

It is incredibly hard for a headteacher to shout “rubbish” in a crowded hall while an authority figure is speaking. It is like asking a lung specialist to smoke a cigarette. Yet that’s what happened when Nicky Morgan addressed the National Association of Head Teachers conference yesterday. They objected partly to her programme of turning all schools into academies by 2020 and partly to her luminously daft insistence that “testing”, “improving” and “educating” are interchangeable words.

Related: Headteachers may launch industrial action over academies plan

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Parents to keep children out of school in key stage exam boycott

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 15:28

A number of parents in England are taking children out of school on Tuesday in protest at ‘19th-century-style testing’

As a former headteacher, Jo Scrimgeour is the last person who would normally let her children skip school. On Tuesday, however, she plans to do just that, joining a small but vocal band of parents in England who plan to boycott the nationwide key stage exams.

The aim is to protest against the government’s more onerous assessment regime for primary school pupils. The Department for Education (DfE)says its new requirements promote rigour and effective learning, but thousands of parents – including Scrimgeour – strongly disagree.

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Hackney New School review – watch and learn

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 08:00
London
Despite flaws, the intelligence behind Hackney New School gives the lie to Michael Gove’s edict for free schools

When, during the coalition government, Michael Gove introduced free schools, part of the idea was that they could go almost anywhere – converted office buildings, for example. Previous school-building programmes were accused of grandiose extravagance, of being ego trips by lordly architects at the expense of the public purse. Space standards – the minimum permitted dimensions for classrooms, corridors and suchlike – were shrunk.

The message was that spaces of learning don’t matter much, that teachers teach children, not buildings. So it is striking that with at least one free school, the Hackney New School in east London, its architects Henley Halebrown Rorrison are nonetheless striving to exceed the basic functional minimum with its architecture. They are doing so in extremely challenging circumstances. In particular they have to deal with the government’s demand that the making of schools has to be put in the power of large construction companies that show little sign of caring for ideals of education, the environments in which children grow up, the reasonable wishes of teachers, or anything much beyond getting away with the shabbiest possible building at the best possible price.

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Nature is the best way to nurture pupils with special educational needs

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 08:00

Outdoor education doesn’t just engage students with complex needs in the curriculum, it teaches life skills too

Sometimes, the best way to get the most out of the classroom is to leave it and take learning outside. Outdoor learning can make for happier, healthier, well-rounded students – particularly for those with special educational needs (SEN).

Sulivan primary school in Fulham, London, a maintained school where 30% of pupils have SEN, set up a “reading forest” for its youngest students.

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Now cloisters of Cambridge echo to sound of battle over Israel and ‘Zionism’

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 00:05

Undergraduates campaign to break ties with the NUS over its new leader Malia Bouattia’s controversial stance

Are you feeling the urge for another referendum? Students at Cambridge University are. Some undergraduates are leading a campaign to break ties with the National Union of Students and on Monday the Cambridge students’ union is expected to approve plans to hold a referendum following the election of NUS president Malia Bouattia. If Labour has a problem with allegations of antisemitism, so does the nation’s youngest union leadership.

In Cambridge, a group called NUS: Let Cambridge Decide wants to ask students to disaffiliate from the national body. The university is at the forefront of protests against Bouattia. Students at Oxford, Lincoln, York, Exeter, Durham and Manchester universities are also considering their future relationship with the NUS.

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Only successful people can afford a CV of failure | Sonia Sodha

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 00:05
A Princeton professor’s frankness hides the grim reality about work for many young people

‘One of the most strangely inspirational things I’ve ever read.” “This is a beautiful thing.” These aren’t plaudits about the latest Booker shortlist, but some of the praise directed at a “CV of failure” published by Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer. I have to confess that when I heard about the failure CV, I too thought it was a lovely idea. But when I read it, while it’s clearly very well intentioned, it made me feel a little uncomfortable. Professor Haushofer explains at the top of his CV that most of what he tries fails, but people only see the success, which “sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me”. The failures he lists include not getting into postgraduate programmes at Cambridge or Stanford, not getting a Harvard professorship and failing to secure a Fulbright scholarship.

I’m sure this was aimed at a small group of his students, to demonstrate that even successful professors get papers rejected by academic journals, but I suspect that the overwhelmingly positive reaction the CV has received in academic circles and on social media tells us more about our idealised view of success than the reality.

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Time children learned a life lesson at school | Barbara Ellen

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 00:01
Parents making their kids boycott school tests is sending out the wrong message

The campaign Let Our Kids Be Kids has called on parents to boycott the forthcoming Sats tests, saying that pupils are over-tested and overworked, “in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children”. They suggest that parents keep Year 2 children off primary school on Tuesday and make their own “educational fun”. Significant numbers of parents are sick of children being stressed, while some teachers are tired of “factory-farming” children. A supportive petition on the 38 Degrees website garnered almost 31,000 signatures by the end of last week.

In some ways, I sympathise with this campaign. No one wants young children to be overly stressed by exams or stigmatised by test results. Nor should schools and teachers feel pressured to narrow curriculums to deal with them. Something has gone very wrong if schools are forced to obsess over Sats performance over all other considerations.

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Headteachers may launch industrial action over academies plan

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 12:42

Education secretary Nicky Morgan heckled after telling conference new primary school tests were ‘not about pass or fail’

Disgruntled headteachers could take industrial action after they voted overwhelmingly against schools having academy status thrust upon them.

A motion that “no schools should be forced to become an academy” was amended to include the “last resort” move at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference in Birmingham. It was passed by 95% of delegates.

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'You're a sinner': how a Mormon university shames rape victims

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 12:00

Rape survivors at Brigham Young University, considered the ‘Mormon Harvard’, face penalties under its strict honor code. Now they’re fighting back

Madi Barney sat sobbing in the Provo, Utah, police department. It had been four days since the Brigham Young University sophomore had been raped in her off-campus apartment.

She was scared – terrified – that the officials at her strict, Mormon university would find out and punish her.

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The key to learning a new skill? Wanting it badly enough

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 09:00

Learning is all about motivation. When we really want to learn something, we generally succeed, even when the going gets tough

Imagine I gave you a book full of words, numbers and strange symbols – 150-odd pages of the stuff. Some of the things relate to each other in obvious ways, others not so much. Now suppose I’m going to test you: 50 questions about the contents of that book, how do you think you’d do?

Well, if you can drive a car, chances are you’ve already done very well: those of you who passed the theory test recently will have got at least 43 out of 50 questions correct. That’s just one everyday example of the average person’s capacity to learn something that appears complex at first. Despite recently making the questions tougher, the DVLA still reports that the test has a pass rate above 50%.

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Secret Teacher: pupils with behavioural issues are overwhelming my SEN school

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 07:00

My school is designed for students with moderate learning difficulties but their needs are undermined by the arrival of pupils with severe behavioural problems

• More from the Secret Teacher

I’m standing in the middle of the playground on break-time duty, doing my best to scan the area. If accident, injury, or a play-fight suddenly turn nasty, disaster can strike in a matter of seconds. I glance at my watch – only two minutes to go, thank goodness. Then I see Kerry running towards me. “Miss! Miss! Charlie’s crying! Jordan’s being horrible to him!” I follow Kerry and see Charlie, a slightly-built child with severe autism, crouching close to the ground, sobbing. “What’s the matter, Charlie?” I ask. “Jordan keeps saying I look like an alien and that she’s glad my Mum’s sick,” he says between sobs (Charlie’s mum has cancer). I promise to sort this out, but as I lead him back across the playground, it crosses my mind that this won’t be the last time today that Charlie, and others like him, suffer this kind of torment.

I teach in a special school, which caters for pupils with moderate learning difficulties (MLD). Our pupils go from reception age right through to year 11 and have a range of diagnoses from autistic spectrum disorder and Asperger syndrome to Down’s syndrome. These diagnoses are often accompanied by a variety of medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, which combine to significantly hamper a child’s ability to learn.

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CV of failures: Princeton professor publishes résumé of his career lows

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 04:51

Johannes Haushofer bravely posts document listing degree programs he did not get in to and academic positions he did not get

A professor at Princeton University has published a CV listing his career failures on Twitter, in an attempt to “balance the record” and encourage others to keep trying in the face of disappointment.

Johannes Haushofer, who is an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs at the university in New Jersey, posted his unusual CV on Twitter last week. The document contains sections titled Degree programs I did not get into, Research funding I did not get and Paper rejections from academic journals.

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Over 30,000 sign petition to boycott primary school Sats tests

Fri, 29/04/2016 - 23:36

Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign calls for parents to keep Year 2 children off school on 3 May, saying they are ‘overworked’

More than 30,000 people have backed a boycott of the Sats exams next week.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign wants parents to keep their children off primary school, saying they are “over-tested, over-worked and in a school system that places more importance of test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”.

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Sats have troubled England’s children for too long: they must go | Letters

Fri, 29/04/2016 - 19:14

We, as teachers, educators, parents and grandparents, are writing out of huge concern for the deteriorating experience of children in England’s primary schools – and the part played by assessment models in this distressing process.

A year ago over 80 of us signed a letter to the Guardian saying why we opposed the baseline assessment for four-year-olds. We welcome the decision to withdraw that, in the light of experience, and note that the proposed key stage 1 grammar has recently been cancelled due to errors in administration.

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