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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
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Half of trans pupils in the UK 'tried to take their own lives', survey finds

3 hours 1 min ago

Stonewall survey shows eight out of 10 trans young people bullied at school or college have self-harmed, despite instances of LGBT bullying decreasing

Eight out of 10 trans young people have self-harmed and almost half have attempted to kill themselves, according to a significant new study looking at the experiences of LGBT pupils in schools and colleges across the UK.

The survey of more than 3,700 lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people revealed that while LGBT bullying has decreased in the last five years, its impact on young people’s wellbeing and education is profound.

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Ofsted and the harm done by school league tables | Letters

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 19:22
Readers Brian Thomas, Frank Lowry and Mark Lewinski take issue with the new head of Ofsted, arguing that the government and the schools inspectorate have only themselves to blame for a damaging league table culture

The new head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, says schools should be ashamed of some of the tactics used to bolster their league standings (Ofsted leader takes aim at schools, 24 June). But what does she expect when the Department for Education has been pushing this for the past 25 years?

In the days of the technical and vocational initiative, as head of humanities in a Kent secondary modern school, I knew all the humanities teachers in two neighbouring schools. We worked together, we planned together, we shared things that worked. Then grant-maintained schools arrived in 1988, with Ofsted following in 1992 and academisation more recently, and we stopped talking to each other. We were in competition.

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Exam board makes last-minute changes to two A-level papers after leak

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 18:29

Further pure maths and statistics tests affected as police open criminal investigation into claims relating to other exams this summer

An examination board investigating allegations of leaks has been forced to make last-minute changes to two A-level papers that were taken on Monday after another apparent breach of security.

Pearson, which owns the Edexcel exam board, said it had replaced questions in its statistics and further pure maths papers after the board was informed that some students “had information they should not have had”. It also confirmed that police had opened a criminal investigation into earlier allegations of malpractice relating to an A-level maths paper.

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Feeling blue about the state of teaching? Here are reasons to be optimistic

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 15:37

With funding cuts and growing workloads, all is obviously not well in education – but teachers are regaining control

These are gloomy times in education. Despite claims from the Department for Education that it has “protected school budgets in cash terms”, we can see schools being asked to do more with less. As a result, we have teachers fleeing the profession and headteachers reporting increasing difficulties in recruitment. In this gloom, however, I think we can see some beacons of hope and reasons to be optimistic about the future of teaching, and of education, in this country.

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Ofsted says non-stop testing is bad for kids. Too late, mate

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 15:22
Amanda Spielman thinks schools have been strained by government-imposed league tables, endless targets and exams – but teachers have been saying this for years

The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, has just declared that “a good inspection outcome will follow” only if schools are providing “a broad and rich curriculum”, and not just creating “exam scribes”. Excuse me while I scream and cram myself into the fridge to stop my blood boiling, because Ofsted is rather late off the mark with this idea. About 30 years too late.

Related: Ofsted to punish schools pushing exam targets over learning, says chief

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'It was a revelation': why I did a degree in fundraising | Brogan Rehill

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 08:03

Scandals have eroded trust in charities, so I hope my BA in charity development is one step towards making the whole sector much more professional

I am just about to graduate from the very first undergraduate degree in fundraising, set up at the University of Chichester in 2014, after the Institute of Fundraising highlighted that there was not a single one in the UK or US.

The last two years in fundraising have been difficult. There have been a series of scandals – the collapse of Kids Company, then Olive Cooke – and it has eroded public trust in charities. The Institute of Fundraising was stripped of its responsibility for setting professional standards and the regulator closed down.

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Music is at the very heart of one East End school | Letters

Sun, 25/06/2017 - 18:45

Gallions primary school has successfully integrated music into the curriculum to help teach pupils life skills, imagination and perseverance, writes Sheila Hancock

Stephen Moss (Why not put music at the heart of education?, 19 June) argues that music education should not be limited to private schools and children of “thrusting middle-class parents”. He holds up Finland as an example. At Gallions primary school in Beckton, music is at the heart of the school. It is in a socially and economically deprived corner of east London, but the school is joyous and alive. Gallions is not a specialist music school but has successfully integrated music into the curriculum, both as a subject in its own right and as a medium through which to teach other subjects. For instance, singing supports the development of language, which is crucial, especially for our youngest pupils and the 67% of Gallions pupils for whom English is not their first language. Using number songs has proven a brilliant way to teach maths in the younger year groups.

Every child at Gallions learns an instrument – violin, viola, cello or double bass – free of charge, and many pupils take advantage of the opportunity to take an instrument home with them to practice. The school’s choirs and orchestras are simply outstanding. Pupils have gone on to win places in the National Children’s Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra’s young talent schemes and other incredible opportunities. Learning a musical instrument is challenging, it demands fine motor skills and coordination. It develops children’s listening, thinking skills, imagination and perseverance. It brings out the very best in the children as they work collaboratively with their peers and teachers.

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Are you in with the in crowd? | Mitch Prinstein

Sun, 25/06/2017 - 06:00

The way we deal with popularity at school stays with us for life. But, asks Mitch Prinstein, is it our true self?

At an early point in childhood, we all worked out how popular we really were. Either we knew we were admired and began to worry about maintaining our special influence over others, or we recognised that others were more popular than us and began to seek more attention.

Our positions in the social hierarchy seemed so important back then, and for good reason: popularity is the most valuable and easily accessible currency available to youth. But there’s something about our popularity in youth that seems to remain a part of who we are.

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Theresa May begins Britain's withdrawal from the EU – cartoon

Sun, 25/06/2017 - 00:05

Chris Riddell on the start of Brexit negotiations, one year on from the referendum

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MPs shouldn’t exploit young people like me with unpaid internships | Meg Kneafsey

Sun, 25/06/2017 - 00:05

For too long, politicians and businesses have taken advantage of young hopefuls. This scandal must end

Two years ago, then Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to end the scandal of unpaid internships. Yet unpaid internships in MPs’ offices are still being advertised.

Kate Osamor, MP for Edmonton, was forced to apologise and remove her advert last year following widespread public criticism, but this has not deterred other politicians. Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, has offered no more than expenses for a London-based internship to support his senior parliamentary assistant. On the other side of the House, Dominic Raab recently advertised for a “volunteer” to work in his office for four to six months. As the post-election Westminster recruitment drives heat up, MPs will recruit teams of people to help run their London offices, and an alarming number of these positions will not be paid.

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Schools teach chess to help ‘difficult’ pupils concentrate

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 22:30
Game takes off in primaries as a way to lure pupils away from their phone screens

The year 3 pupils at Park End Primary School in Middlesbrough are a bit of a rowdy bunch. Headteacher Julia Rodwell describes them as “a complex and difficult group”. Put them in front of a chess set though, and silence descends.

“The first time I saw them playing chess, I was absolutely gobsmacked. Their concentration is incredible – I’ve never seen anything like it in any other lesson,” says Rodwell.

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Striking out on their own – the challenges facing new students

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:30

It’s not just tough on the parents when uni starts – not every student copes with their new life

Will your student child sink or swim at university? Independent study, time management, personal hygiene and maintaining a healthy diet are just some of the challenges they will face. Although dropout rates have risen slightly, they’re still only at 6%, according to the Social Market Foundation – most students have a happy, successful time at university.

Mental health is high on university radars, with the number of students seeking counselling having doubled at some institutions and a quarter of students saying they’ve experienced depression, anxiety or similar conditions, according to YouGov.

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Off to uni? Leave the kitchen sink behind

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:00

It’s not just your offspring off to university – it’s also your towels, pillows, pens ...

If you’re eyeing up your Ford Fiesta and wondering how you’ll fit in your daughter’s vintage clothes collection, duvet and pillows, books and toiletries, to drive 100 miles up country, then now might be a good time to think about packing.

When planning what your teenager needs to take with them, it is worth considering the following:

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Your relationship is changing – and conflict is par for the course

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:30

Celia Dodd, author of The Empty Nest – How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child, offers some advice on parenting university-goers

Visiting your child at university can be unexpectedly challenging. You look forward to it for ages, but after the high of the initial hugs, it can all feel a little bit … well, unnatural. There’s so much resting on one or two precious days.

It doesn’t help that you have to meet in halls or a coffee shop, rather than on familiar home turf. Too often parents go back to their empty nest feeling they could have handled things better. Should we have stayed so long/longer? Why didn’t we get to meet their friends?

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How to make your university money last

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:00

With discounts and deals aplenty – plus some costs you need to swallow – budgeting students need to be on their toes to make their funds go the distance

Cash is often tight for students – and with a pint of beer setting them back three or four quid, it’s important to have a handle on the bills that have to be paid. Rent is by far the greatest expense for students, whether they choose catered, self-catered or private accommodation. In Manchester, one of the cheaper student cities, accommodation will cost just under £4,300 for the 40-week year, but catered will cost an extra £1,257. The price of most university rooms includes gas and electricity. Private accommodation, which students usually take after the first year, may be cheaper up front, but the price of utility bills, the internet and so on needs to be factored in to give a real idea of the cost. Students may also have to rent for a calendar year, rather than just the academic term.

Figures from put average expenditure at £735 a month, with £365 of that spent on rent – although plusher accommodation could cost nearly double that in some cities. Typically, students spend over £100 a month on food, £64 on social, £58 on bills and £44 on travel. On top of that, there’s more than £20 a month each on books and photocopying, clothes, mobile and other expenses – even £5 a month on illegal drugs, according to respondents. London living costs an extra £1,300 a year, the National Union of Students (NUS) estimates.

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How to choose the uni – and the life – that suits you

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:30

The degrees our offspring take affect not just their uni experience, but the paths open to them afterwards

The first thing prospective students should bear in mind when it comes to applying for university is the course itself. However, this is easier said than done, as a course’s name can’t tell you everything – course structure and content can vary quite significantly between one university and the next. Some universities even include work experience or international placements. So, how do you find the right one?

“Higher education is a fantastic opportunity, but it really is about making sure the course choice is right,” says Victoria Azubuine, admissions manager at the University of Bedfordshire. “The search tools on the Ucas website make it a great place to start. Once you’ve made that choice, look at the university, to make sure that is a good fit too.”

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‘Pick a subject you love’

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:00

Students should think of university as an opportunity to broaden knowledge, debate with others and think about the kind of society they want to live in

I’m not a university boy and I always rather regretted that – I trained in drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and becoming the new chancellor of Bath Spa University is an adventure for me. I am a strong advocate for going to university – it’s a valuable way to fast-track the kind of experience that took me years to pick up.

There is value in studying – honing your knowledge – in a particular subject, but students need to graduate poised to take advantage of a fluid job market too. Things are moving so fast that students will change career maybe two or three times in their lives, so they need agility and a breadth of knowledge to move with the times.

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Leaving for university: ‘I did get homesick, but I didn’t linger on it’

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 09:00

Leaving home is a wrench – for child and parent. But Norah Lovelock and her mum used it as a catalyst to branch out

Norah Lovelock, pictured above right, is in the first year of a BSc in computer science at Sheffield Hallam University.
University is amazing; it’s changed my life. It’s really nice to be able to walk to the supermarket or go out to meet friends whenever I want to. It’s also really good to meet a wide range of people. Not being able to recognise everyone on the street is weird, but nice.

It was really hard leaving Mum and I did get homesick. Perhaps three or four times I felt bad because I missed home so much, but I didn’t linger over it. I reminded myself of why I came to university and that homesickness was, unfortunately, inevitable. It wasn’t a constant thing and it really didn’t last long, perhaps two or three weeks. I don’t drink alcohol, so I thought I might find it harder to make friends, but if you are willing to put yourself out there – to smile and chat to people – you will make friends really, really easily. Everyone in Sheffield is ridiculously friendly anyway.

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Get it right together – how parents can help pick the right university

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 08:00

It’s not an easy balance to strike – between wanting to help your child choose the best degree possible and meddling in their life. Here’s some tips for both parties

What to study and where is the first big decision that many young people have to make in their lives. It’s a choice that could shape their future career prospects, their friendship groups and their interests, so naturally they turn to their parents for advice.

Luckily, there is plenty of information for parents who want to support their children. So where to start? The course is number one. “My advice would be to encourage students to do what they love,” says computer science student Norah Lovelock, who chose the “wrong” subject and will swap to English literature next year. “They can always do other things to enhance their career prospects, such as volunteering or gaining work experience.”

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Secret Teacher: my school is an echo-chamber for leftwing views

Sat, 24/06/2017 - 07:00

Most of the parents and teachers vote Labour and don’t do enough to help students understand other points of view

I teach in a mixed comprehensive in a constituency where on 8 June over two-thirds voted Labour, where an overwhelming majority voted Labour in the most recent mayoral vote, and where Labour has been the largest party on the local council for decades. A large majority of staff at our school vote Labour.

As a Labour supporter, this thrills me; as a teacher, it makes me question whether my school is doing enough to help our students appreciate other viewpoints.

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