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Updated: 2 hours 48 min ago

My child blossomed at a state nursery – we can't let these places close

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 15:46

With 57% of maintained nursery schools rated ‘outstanding’, it seems madness for them to face cuts. If anything, their remit ought to be extended

The prospect of state-maintained nurseries closing en masse sounds the lowest note of the austerity politics. Maintained nurseries have enjoyed a level of Ofsted success that the rest of the education sector might look upon with envy. In 2015, 57% of those nurseries achieved an outstanding rating, compared with just 12% of the sector as a whole. So my wife and I were more than happy to move our youngest adopted child from his private nursery when he became eligible to attend. Six months later, I would say that that our experience of his new nursery has been similarly outstanding.

That was clear from the very first time we attended Cheveley Park, Durham. The walls were bursting with beautiful displays, and the confidence of the staff in dealing with our child meant he adapted quickly and enjoyed being there from the outset. As a result, his progress accelerated quickly. Within a month he could recognise his printed name and made a pretty good stab at writing it too. He now comes home with enough paintings and “make and dos” to fill our recycling bin twice every week, and his newfound love of drawing has wallpapered the fridge. His language skills have mushroomed, and the nursery’s structured approach to phonics is providing him with a solid base that he can build on in reception.

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Experience: I talk with my eyes

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 14:00

My cerebral palsy meant I was stuck in a perpetual reception class at school – but a spelling board helped me find my voice

At last I am able to tell my story in my own words. When I was born in 2006 my parents were told I had cerebral palsy and renal failure; the MRI scan of my brain was one of the worst the technician had seen. My early years were a blur of hospital stays, sickness and prayer combined with my family’s love, which carried me through those long days of pain and uncertainty.

Growing up in Lechlade, a small town in Gloucestershire, enabled me to be part of the community, and I joined my peers at the local preschool, despite being in a wheelchair and having no speech. There were never any questions raised about my ability to participate in activities, and I have fond, fun memories of those days. Like most children, I started school aged four, although I attended a special school.

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By ignoring sex education, ministers are risking children’s safety | Joan Smith

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 07:00
Lessons at school can protect children from online threats, but politicians would rather bury their heads in the sand

It’s a long time since Theresa May and most of her cabinet were at school. When she was doing her O-levels, no one was sexting and teenage boys weren’t goggling at violent porn on smartphones. I think it’s unlikely that the future prime minister had to wear shorts under her school skirt to protect herself from being groped, as some teenage girls have taken to doing. But that doesn’t mean May and her colleagues have any excuse for ignoring what’s going on in schools today, from sexual harassment to homophobic bullying.

Related: Want to know why young people are sexting? Try asking them | Iman Amrani

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Council admits racially discriminating against two boys over Prevent toy gun referral

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 07:00

Education authority agrees to pay damages after school calls police over fears two brothers could be at risk of radicalisation

A local education authority has admitted racially discriminating against two young boys and breaching their human rights when a school called the police after one of them told his teacher he had been given a toy gun as a present.

The brothers, aged seven and five and of mixed Indian and Middle Eastern heritage, were questioned by uniformed officers in March 2016 after the school raised concerns they might be at risk of radicalisation. The boy’s teacher has insisted she never doubted the weapon was a toy.

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Unsackable senior staff make life even harder for junior academics

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 07:00

As expectations of early career researchers rise ever higher, some established colleagues are failing to pull their weight

With a growing proportion of academics – particularly early career researchers (ECRs) – on “insecure” contracts, it may seem perverse to suggest that too much job security is a problem in UK higher education. Yet the increasing vulnerability of staff on part-time or fixed-term contracts is partly a consequence of the security enjoyed by a cadre of permanent staff, many of whom no longer meet the rapidly changing requirements of higher education.

Judged by the requirements of the government’s Research Excellence Framework (Ref) and Teaching Excellence Framework (Tef), the underperformance of largely unsackable mid-career and senior colleagues adds to the pressure on ECRs and part-time staff.

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Girls believe brilliance is a male trait, research into gender stereotypes shows

Fri, 27/01/2017 - 06:07

Study highlights how children as young as six can be influenced by stereotypes such as the idea that brilliance or giftedness is more common in men

Girls as young as six years old believe that brilliance is a male trait, according research into gender stereotypes.

The US-based study also found that, unlike boys, girls do not believe that achieving good grades in school is related to innate abilities.

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Theresa May knows her Machiavelli | Letters

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 18:11

Thank you for Tom McCarthy’s superb piece (Does Theresa May really know what citizenship means?, Review, 21 January). I do hope it has been read by the prime minister and fellow politicians of all parties.

Since Mrs May attended a grammar school, as I did in Scotland (where they are called academies), around the same time, she surely had opportunities for some classical education. I was lucky to be taught Latin, French and German at school and could have requested Greek as well as Russian. This while specialising in music, which I continued to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and later in Florence.

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My advice for other introverts starting uni?

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 16:51

Being an introvert isn’t the same as being shy or a loner. University can be a place where we thrive

Introverts make up somewhere between a third and half of the population, but we are often misunderstood. Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily that mean you dislike social interaction. Nor does it mean you’re debilitatingly shy and have nothing to say. Susan Cain sums it up well in her book Quiet: “Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialise enough.”

Related: Are you an extrovert or an introvert? – quiz

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'I got locked in the gym at lunch' – what (not) to do when experts visit

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 16:10

From mysterious rooms to disruptive dogs, there are plenty of potential pitfalls for specialist-run sessions. Here’s how to make life easier for everyone

Experts from beyond the school gates, such as artists, writers, or even travelling performers, can bring fresh views and ideas into classrooms. Many schools build lasting partnerships with their favourites. But these types of events involve logistics, and need careful planning to be successful.

As a school workshop leader, teaching poetry, I find a well-organised day makes all the difference to my input, children’s responses and communication with staff. It also reduces the risk of some awkward situations arising. Here’s how to avoid five of the most common hitches.

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Sir Brian Young obituary

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 15:47
Broadcasting regulator who oversaw the formation of Channel 4

Brian Young, who has died aged 94, was director general of the broadcasting regulator that sought to promote the public service principle in the commercial sector, most notably by overseeing the formation of Channel 4, launched in 1982. When he entered this field in 1970, after a career largely spent as a teacher and headteacher in private schools, the organisation was known as the Independent Television Authority. In 1972, it also assumed responsibility for commercial radio, now as the Independent Broadcasting Authority, and Young stayed with it for a further decade.

At the time of his ITA appointment, there were those who crudely asked why a man who had never made money could understand commercial television well enough to regulate it. Young’s answer was always that it was his job to maintain standards, and that he was confident of the ability of the ITV directors to see to the profits.

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Universities must do more to tackle the unfair, elitist admissions system

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 14:32

A new scheme aims to select students for their potential, not their grades. Why is this such a controversial idea?

The University of Bristol has just announced its Bristol Scholars scheme, which will offer places to five students from every school and college in the Bristol area on the basis of their potential rather than their actual attainment. It is an innovative move, at least in England, and has already attracted criticism.

The reactions of the Telegraph and the Times are predictable. But the scheme raises two big issues, as well as an opportunity for the sector. The first is philosophical: on what basis should universities select students? Is it a reward for endeavour at school or is selection based on the potential to succeed?

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The crisis of young carers: ‘Going to school is a break’

Thu, 26/01/2017 - 07:00

There are 700,000 child carers in the UK, some as young as five – and the number is rising. Can schools help end the secrecy and stigma faced by vulnerable students?

Each morning, as he approaches his school gates, 14-year-old Bruno Cardeal tries transforming into someone who at least vaguely resembles a teenager. “I try to act more childish,” he explains. “It feels weird.”

Being the primary carer for his mum, childhood is not something that comes naturally. His evenings and weekends at home in Peterborough are spent juggling grownup roles, worries and responsibilities – the housekeeping, running errands, administering medication. Bruno’s mother has been in a wheelchair or on crutches since having a heart attack seven years ago, and his father is dead. “The emotional side is the hardest,” he says. “My mum also has depression and sometimes panic attacks, and so I try to make her feel calm and maybe make her watch some TV.” He leaves his homework for when she is asleep: “I wake up at 5.30am or I stay up till 4am. But sometimes I’m really tired and it’s hard to do it.”

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