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Updated: 5 hours 21 min ago

Rules to fight extremism ‘creating fear among teachers and pupils’

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 07:15
Headteachers and experts warn that pressure on schools to ‘spy’ on students will fail to stop radicalisation – but risks alienating young Muslims

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Jenny Smith, headteacher at Frederick Bremer school in Walthamstow, east London, put up a display of press cuttings and photographs. Students, many of whom are Muslims, were invited to add their comments. Discussions about the Islamic State attack were held in citizenship classes. Then, in December, pupils put on a shadow puppet performance in the borough about injustice and prejudice faced by a young Muslim. The performance was part of an exhibition organised by Maslaha, an organisation working with schools to explore Islam’s contribution to UK culture.

Smith’s approach seems in marked contrast to the government’s policy to prevent radicalisation, which places increasing pressure on schools, through its Prevent strategy, to be vigilant and report suspicions about students.

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Let’s tap into Islam’s heritage of critical education to defeat extremism in schools

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 07:10
There are more effective ways to protect Muslim pupils than the government’s Prevent strategy, says a Muslim educator

The policy response to the threat of radicalisation has focused on law, security and intelligence. As the problem spirals out of control, this one-dimensional response, which includes the government’s Prevent policy in schools, seems merely to be repeated more aggressively. Applying security and surveillance policy across society not only risks limiting civil liberties, but also isolating mainstream Muslims. This does not counter the manipulative interpretation of Islam being used by extremists to play upon grievances held by some Muslims.

Related: Rules to fight extremism ‘creating fear among teachers and pupils’

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Inequality is a problem schools alone can’t fix

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 07:00
In the Tories’ austerity era a new approach is needed to ensure disadvantaged pupils are not left behind

Lost beneath the waves of the terrible floods this Christmas was coverage of another startlingly depressing story. New research from the Fabian Society revealed the prospect of significantly sharper inequality heading Britain’s way. And with cuts falling disproportionately on single parents, this means the number of children living in poverty will rise from [pdf] 2.5 million (19%) to 4.4 million (28%) by 2030.

The combination of the Conservatives’ austerity agenda and accelerating socioeconomic trends means inequality remains the defining political issue of contemporary Britain. But since the general election, both the Labour frontbench and government ministers have been far too quiet on the subject.

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We private providers open doors to students shunned by other universities

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 07:00

UK universities take a blinkered approach to widening participation - they need to follow our lead and welcome students without A-levels

When the universities and science minister Jo Johnson introduced his green paper last month, one of the more controversial elements was a pledge to speed up the process for new providers to gain degree-awarding powers and, ultimately, achieve university status.

Many in higher education have since argued that this will lead to market forces permeating the sector, resulting in higher fees that will hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest.

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The science of resilience: how to teach students to persevere

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 07:00

Neurologist and teacher Judy Willis shares three simple techniques to help teachers build resilience in their students

In schools today, the focus is not only on helping students pass exams, but also on improving their character by making them more resilient. Resilience in learning, as in life, is about being able to persevere through setbacks, take on challenges and risk making mistakes to reach a goal.

Studies show that resilience has a positive influence on academic performance of undergraduates, as well as their social and emotional wellbeing.

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Candidate required to run £130m academy chain – no education experience necessary

Tue, 12/01/2016 - 06:45
Also in our diary: five-figure payouts for staff; frozen school dinner funding; academy leaders make clean sweep of gongs; and times tables don’t add up

It sounds like something Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey might have described witheringly as a “brave” move. One of England’s largest academy chains, under pressure over its performance, has advertised for a new chief executive who, it says, need not have experience working in education. Instead, a “commercial” focus will be a prerequisite.

School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA), England’s fourth-largest chain with 43 academies, advertised for candidates to take over from the recently departed Sir Paul Edwards shortly before Christmas. The advert said: “We seek an ambitious and inspirational chief executive … you will be a visionary leader, commercial in outlook, with a passion for our work. Schools or education experience is not considered essential. This is about innovative leadership of a £130m distributed organisation.”

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