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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: 6 hours 53 min ago

Gendered toys could deter girls from career in engineering, report says

8 hours 52 min ago

Insitution for Engineering and Technology found toys with a technology focus were three times as likely to be targeted at boys

One of the world’s largest engineering institutions is warning against gender stereotyping of toys in the run-up to Christmas amid concern it could be discouraging girls from pursuing a career in engineering and technology.

Research by the Institution for Engineering and Technology (IET) found that toys with a science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) focus were three times as likely to be targeted at boys than girls. And despite high-profile recent campaigns that have had some success, toys for girls are still overwhelmingly pink.

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Calls for 'complete overhaul' of UK university application process

8 hours 52 min ago

University and College Union wants to move away from applications based on predicted grades after study finds just 16% are correctly forecast

University workers are demanding an overhaul of the UK higher education application system after a report revealed that five out of every six predicted results for A-levels turns out to be wrong.

Research commissioned by the University and College Union (UCU), which analysed the results of 1.3 million students over a three-year period, found that the majority of students applying to university are predicted better results than they ultimately achieve.

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Britain must face up to its sex abuse problem | Letters

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 19:36

The scale of abuse against children – in schools, in their own homes and now in football clubs – has become so apparent that sooner or later we are going to have to take our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that it is endemic in our society. Now is not the time to waver over whether sex and relationships education should be part of the curriculum in schools (MPs join calls for Greening to improve sex education, 1 December). Children need to learn what is appropriate and acceptable behaviour and what to do if they are victims of abuse in any form. They need the language and the confidence to be able to stand up for themselves. The current scandal alongside the growing exposure to violent and explicit images online is evidence that respect for other human beings cannot be taken for granted, and so children need effective education in this area. Why is Justine Greening dragging her feet?
Fiona Carnie
Parent Councils UK

• The biggest denial about sexual abuse is the gender of abusers. 99% are men. Why? And why are more than 90% of prisoners, dictators, terrorists and murderers male? Most men are not killers and abusers, but most killers and abusers are male. What is wrong with these men? “Simple education” is not enough. The answers lie deep in history and psychology, but to date no one has had the courage to challenge and explain the mindset that causes so many men, women and children to need protection from other human beings. Now that it is men from football who are coming forward alleging sexual abuse, it can no longer be seen as a problem for girls and women only, and perhaps men may now begin to ask these questions and want answers themselves.
Sue Pearson
Totnes, Devon

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David Slater obituary

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 19:22

Our friend and colleague David Slater, who has died aged 70, was one of the world’s leading analysts of Latin American development. From 1995 until 2011, he was professor of political geography at Loughborough University, and he had previously taught and researched at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1972-75) and at the Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation, University of Amsterdam (1975-95).

He was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, to Dorothy Richardson, a piano teacher, and Albert Slater, a civil servant, and educated at Blackpool grammar school. David studied geography at the University of Durham and then gained a PhD at the London School of Economics.

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School library book returned more than 120 years late – with no fine

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 19:03

Title given back to school in Hereford by granddaughter of ex-pupil Arthur Boycott, who became a distinguished pathologist

A school library book that was borrowed in the 1890s has been returned after more than 120 years – with no fine to pay.

The copy of The Microscope and its Revelations was borrowed from the library at Hereford Cathedral school (HCS) by a pupil, Arthur Boycott, who had a childhood passion for natural history, in particular conchology – the study and collection of mollusc shells.

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University Awards 2017: enter now

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:59

The Guardian University Awards turn five in 2017 – and each year we’ve seen the number of entries grow as universities recognise the impact a Guardian award has on their reputation in the sector, and on student recruitment.

Winning a Guardian award highlights a university’s achievements to the website’s 8 million daily readers around the world. Of those readers, one in five describes themselves as a student - exactly the people who need to know which universities are doing an especially great job.

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University Awards 2017: how to enter

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:58

Everything you need to know about entering the awards and how each submission will be assessed

We invite entries from UK universities and university professionals across 14 categories, which are shortlisted and evaluated by an expert panel. We also invite nominations for the sector’s Inspiring Leader, voted for by readers of the Guardian Higher Education Network. An ideas bank of all winning and shortlisted entries will be published on the Guardian website after the ceremony.

Judges will assess each entry for:
• Innovation – what makes it new, unique and inspiring?

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University Awards 2017: terms and conditions

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:54

Read the T&Cs here before sending in your entry

The Awards

1.The Guardian University Awards (the “Awards”) recognise excellence in the UK’s best universities and is open to all recognised higher education institutes and university professionals in the UK. The Awards are not open to employees or agencies of Guardian News and Media Limited (“GNM”), GNM group companies or their family members, or anyone else connected with the creation or administration of the Awards. All entrants must have a registered office in the UK or have a place of business in the UK.

2. Entrants to the Awards shall be deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions. For more information about the awards, please see here including the Awards FAQ page.

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'It's given us kudos': what it's like to win a Guardian University Award

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:54

From an access programme for ex-offenders to a scheme to fight rabies in Tanzania, 2016’s winners will be a tough act to follow

Winning a Guardian University Award can be a game–changing accolade. We caught up with a few 2016 winners to find out how their achievement made a difference.

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University Awards 2017: thanks for entering

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:53

Thank you for completing your application for the Guardian University Awards

Thank you for completing your application for the Guardian University Awards.

We will be in touch in March 2017 if you have been shortlisted.

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University Awards 2017: the categories

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:52

There are 14 categories to choose from, which gives a chance for each university department to showcase its achievement

Here are the 14 categories for the 2017 awards – lots of choice for every university to find an area in which it excels. Universities may enter as many categories as they wish.

Entries will be judged by a representative panel from across the UK higher education sector, winners will be announced at a prestigious ceremony in London, March 2017, and shortlisted entries will be profiled across the Guardian.

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University Awards 2017: the judges

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:52

Our expert judges ensure that the Guardian awards go to the very best entries submitted by UK universities


Judging the 2017 awards will be specialists from within the Guardian and across the higher education sector in the UK. Guardian journalists on the panel will include Richard Adams, Sally Weale, Judy Friedberg, David Batty and Rebecca Ratcliffe.

Our expert judges from the higher education sector will include:

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University Awards 2017: FAQs

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:52

Find out all you need to know about entering and how the judging process is run

Who can enter?
Any representative of higher education institutions (those with degree awarding powers) in the United Kingdom.

How much does it cost to enter?
It costs £249 for one entry and £150 for every entry after that. If you enter before 31 December you can save £50 on your first entry, early bird rates are: £199 for one entry.

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University Awards 2017: how to write an entry that stands out

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 11:51

You may have a great project, but if you don’t sell it well, it runs the risk of being overlooked. Here’s how to stand out among hundreds

You’re probably wondering what it takes to write an entry that leaps to the top of the judges’ pile. What exactly will the judges be looking for?

Well, the truth is, we want to see examples of work that goes beyond the mundane - something that demonstrates imagination, careful research, courage and stamina. And we want evidence to show that your project changed the lives of those who were affected by it.

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Can technology replace teachers? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Harpreet Purewal

Wed, 07/12/2016 - 08:00
Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

Anxiety about losing your job to technology is both a rational and growing fear. Andy Haldane, the chief economist at the Bank of England, recently estimated that 15m jobs in the UK were threatened by automation. Technology is reaching such levels of sophistication that it is capable not only of manual tasks but cognitive ones too, putting a wide range of jobs are at risk. The areas most vulnerable include driving and administrative work. But according to a report from Oxford University that looked at over 700 areas of work, teaching at all levels across the educational spectrum is a safe bet.

Related: Stop blaming teachers for falling results and give them the trust and time to actually teach | Ned Manning

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The Guardian view on the Pisa tests: slicing them up | Editorial

Tue, 06/12/2016 - 18:43
The OECD’s pupil survey is full of facts but not much enlightenment

Tony Blair wanted to be remembered for his education reforms, and the latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment – Pisa – the triennial survey of the skills of 15-year-olds suggest that if only he had concentrated on his domestic agenda, he probably would have been. The Pisa scores are notorious for revealing no consistent message, but it is striking that England’s 15-year-olds are performing about as well as three years ago, where Scotland and Wales, where reform was rebuffed, are in decline.

Overall, the UK’s performance is almost unchanged: a little above the OECD average, still a long way behind Singapore, Japan and Estonia, but well ahead of Italy, Israel and Iceland. There is a marginal improvement in the UK’s ranking, despite a slight decline in scores. It is unhappy reading for Tories who only last year pledged in their election manifesto to make Britain the best place to study by 2020; but when the individual countries of the UK are broken out from the overall UK result, it becomes clear that Mr Blair’s aggressive focus on English education appears to have paid off. Education specialists argue that it takes about a decade for changes to affect outcomes on a large scale. In science, reading and maths, England now outperforms the rest of the UK. Wales and Scotland both opted out of league tables and other Blairite reforms in the early 2000s. Now they are playing catch up. In particular Scotland, for so long the top performer in the UK, has suffered an unexpected fall in outcomes since 2012. No wonder the SNP now suggest the results “strongly reinforced” the case for change.

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What does the future hold for integration and multiculturalism? | Letters

Tue, 06/12/2016 - 17:54

Louise Casey may be right that “huge progress” has been made in achieving social integration in recent years (Opinion, 5 December). But policies relating to integration have not improved much. In the early 1980s, the Commission for Racial Equality, of which I was chairman, defined integration in a multicultural society “as a way of describing how different people, with different religions, languages and attitudes, can establish sufficient common ground to enable them to live together (without trying to become the same as each other), in justice and peace”. Integration, so defined, is incompatible with multiculturalism, if that is thought to encourage separate development, separate schools, separate housing and – “surely not”, we wrote at the time – separate laws. The key words in that definition are “common ground” and “justice”. Values, British or other, are slippery things to instil in schools or elsewhere. Our laws are not. Political correctness, if it allows people to break the law, is itself unlawful. So are certain forms of discrimination.

What everyone needs to understand is that they are free to believe in actions that are unlawful but if they, or institutions such as schools, act in accordance with those unlawful beliefs, or incite others to do that, they may be prosecuted or closed down. What need to be avoided are policymakers who preach integration and then, as in England’s school system these days, practise disintegration by encouraging the creation of as many separate types of school as possible.
Sir Peter Newsam
Thornton le Dale, North Yorkshire

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Time to invest in good reading for everyone | Letters

Tue, 06/12/2016 - 17:54

Wonderful news that Rob Wilson, the junior minister responsible for libraries, has recognised that libraries provide a vital public service to communities and has made an extra £4m available (Libraries to get £4m to diversify, 2 December).

Here in Suffolk, our Industrial Provident Society (IPS) has been incredibly successful in managing its reducing budget for the county libraries. However, this is likely to change in the light of proposed cuts. Suffolk Libraries IPS will have to save a further £230,000 in the next financial year (2017/2018). This is on top of the previous year’s cut of £350,000. Over the past five years the total budget will have shrunk from almost £9m to a little over £5m if these latest cuts go ahead.

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Postgrad students lose financial support after loan company mistake

Tue, 06/12/2016 - 14:18

‘A result of human error’ has left 108 students without their expected payment, leaving some in financial trouble

Mistakes by the Student Loans Company (SLC) have left more than 100 postgraduates struggling to fund their courses after they were promised loans that were later withdrawn.

Some students have had to leave their courses, others are facing financial hardship after paying out thousands of pounds in course and rental deposits that they had expected to recoup through the loans.

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