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Updated: 2 hours 43 min ago

Councils decry government's academy schools 'land grab'

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 17:49

Some liken plans to transfer ownership of school land from local authorities to central government to dissolution of monasteries

Councils opposed to government plans to force all schools to become academies have raised concerns about what has been described by some as a land grab reminiscent of “the dissolution of the monasteries”.

Under current arrangements, when schools become academies they lease the land from local authorities. The new plans, however, will see all school land transferred directly to the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, who will then grant leases to academy trusts.

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It might be easier to exclude autistic children like The A Word’s Joe – but to do so is proof that we are failing them

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 15:55
When provision for children with special educational needs is so poor, it’s no surprise that they are struggling in the mainstream

The Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, has told the Daily Mirror that the number of children being expelled from school for violence is “a national scandal”. He draws attention to detail in the Department of Education’s Permanent and Fixed Term Exclusions report. The 2013-14 figures – the most recent available – confirm that the number of exclusions in English schools, which since 2006 had been falling, show a year-on-year rise for the first time in a decade. The majority are for persistent disruption, including violence.

Now, no one is insisting that teachers or fellow pupils should put up with violence at school, although many schools and many teachers make valiant and protracted efforts to tackle such problems as best they can. But while so many of us are watching television drama The A Word, it might be a good time to highlight the fact that children with spectrum disorders, dyspraxic sensory processing and general learning difficulties can easily become overwhelmed in the school environment and vent their frustration in acts of aggression. Joe, a five-year-old with autism, does that in episode two, when he smacks his dad in the face. Emotional problems stemming from home can, of course, be at the root of the problem too, which is why exclusion can sometimes be absolutely the least appropriate response to a child who needs support and help.

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What student life is really like at a Spanish university

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 10:56

From the hardcore nightlife to the fiery debates in class, I’ve found that being a student in Spain is very different to studying in the UK

Studying law abroad at the University of Valencia in Spain has been an eye-opening experience for me. As someone who doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, being immersed in new traditions and festivals proved difficult at first, but it has turned into an invaluable life experience.

According to a report by the British Council, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with 400 million native speakers as of 2010. So it’s no wonder that so many students are choosing Spain or South America as destinations for their year abroad.

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Teachers and doctors should invoke the spirit of 1919 and strike together | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 09:21
The NUT’s general secretary has raised the possibility of coordinated action. It may be the only way to fight an intransigent government

The period after the first world war was a volatile time in Britain’s labour market. Journalist Kingsley Martin wrote in 1966: “The only time in my life when revolution in Britain seemed likely was in 1919.” At that time, Britain’s working class was in the ascendancy: it was indignant, organised and willing to take action. Union membership, which numbered 2.6 million in 1910, had more than tripled to nearly 8 million by 1919.

Groups taking industrial action between 1917 and 1919 included miners, railway and transport workers, engineers, bakers, cotton spinners and munitions workers. In a move that alarmed the government, the police also decided to go on strike in the summer of 1918, leading the prime minister, David Lloyd George, to sanction any action necessary, “however grave”, to quell the mutiny of the “Guardians of Order”. By 1920, unions had secured a series of victories for workers, including 40-hour weeks, wage increases, the prevention of pay cuts and better working conditions.

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Story of cities #13: Barcelona's unloved planner invents science of 'urbanisation'

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 07:30

Constricted by its medieval walls, Barcelona was suffocating – until unknown engineer Ildefons Cerdà came up with a radical expansion plan. Rival architects disparaged him, yet his scientific approach changed how we think about cities

In the mid-1850s, Barcelona was on the brink of collapse. An industrial city with a busy port, it had grown increasingly dense throughout the industrial revolution, mostly spearheaded by the huge development of the textile sector.

The city was living at a faster pace than the rest of Spain, and was ready to become a European capital. Yet its population of 187,000 still lived in a tiny area, confined by its medieval walls.

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I was about to sit finals when I was abandoned by my parent – the state

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 07:30

As a care leaver, I was left with no support when I graduated from university – and the feeling of dread is still with me

It’s 2010, and I’m about to sit my final exams at university. It seems like such a long time since I enrolled; I don’t remember life before this anymore. I do remember all of the hard work, the nights working 12-hour shifts in a taxi, the parties and the long train rides to visit my girlfriend. What am I going to do now? What will I become?

Today, though, revision and hard work will have to wait. It’s my birthday, so my parent is visiting. They want to buy me a suit, so I can pretend to be a real adult, regardless of how little I feel like one. I buy one from a high-street shop – it’s not the nicest suit, but it is mine and at the moment it’s the best suit I have ever had. I’m pretty made up about it.

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A lost baby taught me how little academia really meant to me

Fri, 01/04/2016 - 07:00

Towering medical bills forced me to get a paying job – looking back, I am so glad I escaped an academic career

I was working on an outline for a dissertation on American literature, post world war two, when I found out I was pregnant with twins. I’d already had three miscarriages, the emotional fallout of which had derailed my academic progress.

But there was more loss to come: one of the twins, and my academic career. The former was heartbreaking. The latter, a blessing in disguise.

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