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Latest education news, comment and analysis on schools, colleges, universities, further and higher education and teaching from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
Updated: 10 hours 14 min ago

British universities employ no black academics in top roles, figures show

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 17:18

Figures record zero black academics in the elite staff category of ‘managers, directors and senior officials’ for third year in a row

No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university for the last three years, according to employment records.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency record no black academics in the elite staff category of “managers, directors and senior officials” in 2015-16 – the third year in a row that this has happened.

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Smashing it! YouTuber Korean Billy's vocab guide for non-UK students

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 14:25

British English is a language that’s hard to get spot on. With Korean Billy’s help, you’ll absolutely smash it

If you’re not from the UK but studying here as an international student, you’ll probably hear some words that you didn’t learn in the classroom. And if you are only familiar with American English, you may be even more confused.

Here are 10 weird phrases that British people use – and you’d better remember them if you want to understand what they’re talking about.

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Denise Lesley obituary

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 13:00

My wife, Denise Lesley, who has died of ovarian cancer aged 65, started her professional life as a teacher. When head of geography at Hurlingham school in Fulham, south-west London, she was seconded in 1979 to the Inner London Education Authority’s television centre in Battersea, where teachers were trained in educational broadcasting, and where she learned the trade over the next two years.

Dee went freelance in 1981 and soon became a researcher on the live children’s Saturday morning TV show No 73, made by TVS for ITV, working with Sandi Toksvig and Andrea Arnold. She was an early member of the Production Managers’ Association, which was devoted to raising professional standards. She served on its committee and for a number of years was deputy chair.

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Grammar schools lose top spots after league table shakeup

Thu, 19/01/2017 - 09:30

DfE’s latest tables, ranked using new Progress 8 measure, show schools that made greatest advances in pupils’ grades

The government’s new performance measure has upended the traditional pecking order of England’s secondary schools, knocking grammar schools out of the top spots and boosting schools that dramatically improved results among their pupils.

The Department for Education’s latest performance tables, published on Thursday — including 2016’s GCSE exams and ranked by its new Progress 8 measure — reveals that the best schools in England are those which make the greatest advances in their pupils’ grades.

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Five ways Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is terrible for students

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 15:41

Once again, my generation is low on the list when it comes to the government’s priorities, says our student blogger

In her landmark speech on Tuesday, Theresa May set out the UK’s priorities for Brexit – and it’s clear that young people are not among them.

Related: Key points from May's Brexit speech: what have we learned?

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There's trouble with transparency in the UK's academies

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 15:08

Developing good relationships with business is essential for academies, but critics say the system is plagued by secrecy and conflicts of interest

On the surface, everything looked perfectly normal. In the summer of 2015, Perry Beeches academy in Birmingham hired a local business to undertake a health and safety audit. By the end of autumn, it had paid £5,000 to Lampsato Ltd, run by a woman called Lynda Scotson.

But there was a catch: Scotson happened to be the wife of one of the school’s directors. He had been on the committee that approved the contract.

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Britons 'should learn Polish, Punjabi and Urdu to boost social cohesion'

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 14:21

Learning community languages would aid integration, boost people’s wellbeing and be good for economy, says Cambridge academic

The government is being urged to create more opportunities for British people to learn languages such as Polish, Urdu and Punjabi as a means of improving social cohesion in local communities.

Recent inquiries looking into obstacles to social integration in the UK have highlighted the importance of immigrants learning English to enable them to integrate and engage fully in society.

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Frances Sandy obituary

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 13:02

My mother, Frances Sandy, who has died of cancer aged 67, was a teacher who cared deeply about her family, her pupils and the political activism she hoped would help forge a better world. For those causes, nothing was too much effort.

In 25 years of working with young children, mainly at Willington school in Wimbledon, her dedication came from her heart and a conviction that every child mattered. She was conscientious, compassionate and fun. She had a wonderful ability to identify a child’s potential and devise a strategy to bring it out. When a pupil had difficulty understanding a concept, she would turn herself inside out, sometimes for months, until they grasped it.

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Is this Hackney nursery the future for London’s childcare industry?

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 11:16

New Economics Foundation prepares to pilot co-produced nurseries in effort to tackle London’s ‘failing’ childcare model

In one corner of the large, light room a two-year-old carefully dollops red paint on to an egg box. Elsewhere kids play together, or chat to one of the several adults present, and occasionally a young girl in a long yellow dress sweeps past.

This is Grasshoppers in the Park, an east London nursery where professional staff and parents work together to create childcare that is cheaper than a private nursery while having more adults on hand to help. In the UK, childcare eats up 27% (pdf) of family income (more than double the 12% OECD average) and in London average costs are more than a third higher (pdf) than in the rest of England.

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Mind maps: the beauty of brain cells – in pictures

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 07:00

The 19th-century Spanish scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience, was one of the first people to unravel the mysteries of the structure of the brain – and he made stunning drawings to describe and explain his discoveries

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The west was built on racism. It's time we faced that – video

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 07:00

Dead white men are revered by many as responsible for the advancement of civilisation, says sociology professor Kehinde Andrews. But, he argues, this so-called progress came at the expense of millions of people of colour. Global inequality is not an accident, he argues – it is designed to keep the hierarchy of race intact

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Betsy DeVos hearing prompts fears for campus sexual assault protections

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 22:17

Advocates for victims and transgender students warn Obama administration measures could be undone if Trump pick is confirmed as education secretary

Betsy DeVos, nominated by Donald Trump to serve as the next education secretary, refused on Tuesday to state whether she would uphold the Obama administration’s guidance on how to handle campus sexual assault.

DeVos – a Republican megadonor, philanthropist and eager patron of charter schools – cast taking a position on the issue as “premature” during her confirmation hearing before the Senate committee on health, education, labor and pensions.

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Sussex University failed duty of care to assault victim, inquiry finds

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 19:31

The investigation found that, when assessing the danger the attacker posed, the university only interviewed him

The University of Sussex failed in its duty of care to a student who was assaulted by a lecturer, taking only the perpetrator’s account of their relationship into account when assessing the risk he posed, according to an independent inquiry.

The report comes after widespread criticism of the university’s decision not to suspend senior media lecturer Lee Salter, even after he was convicted of assaulting postgraduate student Allison Smith last June.

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ASCL fights robustly for schools funding | Letters

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 19:08

Fiona Millar erroneously portrays ASCL as reflecting rather than challenging government policy (Anti-academy head squares up to establishment elite in union election, 10 January). Nothing could be further from the reality. The association has robustly challenged government policy on many issues and continues to do so. ASCL currently campaigns vigorously for improved funding for schools and colleges, and for urgent action to address the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. ASCL is not in a “comfort zone” about these or any other issues, as a study of my press statements would immediately reveal.

ASCL is playing a leading role in fighting for improved funding and teacher supply, often alongside other education unions and associations. The association has argued directly to ministers and in public that a properly resourced education system is essential to the life chances of young people and the future economic wellbeing of the country. I make no apologies for taking a constructive approach to negotiating with government, or basing arguments on evidence, because this is the most effective way of achieving results.

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A can of Spam is less dangerous these days | Brief letters

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 19:04
Red meat cancer link | Charges against Lula | Robots as people | Ring pull safety | Peanut butter on Weetabix

Naomi Elster writes: “There isn’t currently any strong evidence that eating too much red meat causes cancer”, before noting that Cancer Research UK is a “reliable source … for advice and support” (The truth about cancer diets, G2, 16 January). However, responding to the WHO’s October 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer report which classified red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, Professor Tim Key, Cancer Research UK’s epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, said: “Cancer Research UK supports IARC’s decision that there’s strong enough evidence to classify … red meat as a probable cause of cancer.
Ian Sinclair
London

• The letter headed “Standing in solidarity with Brazil’s Lula” (14 January) shows a remarkably one-sided view and a lack of concern for the facts. An example: “Investigating Lula, prosecutors have been unable to find any illegal activity committed.” This is nonsense. Lula has been charged on various counts including money laundering, being a member of a criminal organisation, influence peddling and misconduct. More than 50 Brazilian politicians, past and present and from various parties, have been charged with illegal activities and Lula is one of them.
John Fenn
London

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Netflix: is it every student’s worst addiction?

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 14:46

How easy is it to give up Netflix at the weekend? Not very, when that seductive countdown timer is hell-bent on leading you astray

In the silent hours of a cold winter evening, I’m one of thousands of students around the country struggling with the same internal question: should I watch another episode?

Realising I have a problem, I’ve been trying to stop watching Netflix on the weekends. It’s easy to distract myself on Friday and Saturday by going out with friends or reading. But come Sunday, I can’t resist any longer. I start a marathon that ends up lasting five hours.

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Time to take on greed: why business schools must engage in intellectual activism

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 14:23

The next generation of corporate leaders are being taught risky practices with little regard for ethics. Educators need to challenge the status quo

“How can you work in a business school?” The question was put to me by a professor of politics. Her own background was at an elite US art college, and we shared similar political and intellectual persuasions. “The stereotype of someone working in a business school is of one who serves the 1%,” she told me.

Related: What will happen in higher education in 2017?

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Are students justified in banning the sale of newspapers on campus?

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 11:27

Four speakers to debate the student union motions in some universities to prevent the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Sun being sold

Expect fireworks next Tuesday during a panel discussion at City, University of London when four people debate whether campus campaigns against the sale of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express are justified.

On the panel will be Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World who spent five years as editor of the Sunday People; Tom Slater, deputy editor of Spiked Online; Liz Gerard, the former Times night editor who runs the excellent SubScribe blog; and Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. It will be chaired by a City, University of London student, Ghazzala Zubair.

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Cuts, cuts, cuts. Headteachers tell of school system ‘that could implode’

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 07:15

No textbooks, no counsellor, no support for special needs. Headteachers warn the schools funding crisis cannot go on

A report by the National Audit Office has said schools face cuts of 8% in real terms by 2019-20. While the government said school funding would be ringfenced, headteachers are facing a mountain of increased costs: higher contributions to national insurance and teachers’ pensions, the introduction of the “national living wage”, pay rises and the apprenticeship levy. There’s no extra money for these, nor is funding per pupil rising in line with inflation. The NAO warned that cuts could put students’ “educational outcomes at risk”. To make matters worse, the education services grant, worth £600m, is also being cut, which means there will be less money for local authorities or academies to provide services such as school improvement.

Meanwhile, headteachers are nervously keeping an eye on proposals for a new funding formula for schools in 2018-19, expected to redistribute money from inner-city schools to rural areas. But even schools that are likely to gain under this model say any extra cash will be eaten up by increased costs.

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Lego professor of play: apply now for the most coveted job in education

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 07:00
The world’s first professor of play – funded by Lego – is being sought by Cambridge University. What is the job description?

There are only three days left to apply for what could be the most coveted job in education: the Lego professor of play, development and learning at the University of Cambridge.

The closing date for applications for the brand new, permanent post is this Friday, 20 January. The successful candidate will not only enjoy all the perks of a typical Cambridge professor – including a job that commands an average salary of £83,981 – he or she will also lead Cambridge’s newly established Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (Pedal).

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