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School's out! A glimpse of holidays past - in pictures

Sat, 01/08/2015 - 10:30

As the summer break is in full swing for most UK pupils, we’ve swapped this month’s teaching resource for a brief look back at how previous generations of children enjoyed their freedom from the classroom - as captured in images from the GNM Archive.

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What is Nicky Morgan's big plan on tackling teachers' workloads? – cartoon

Sat, 01/08/2015 - 08:00

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has failed to impress with her tips on reducing bureaucracy in teaching – but what if teachers followed the example of how government keeps its workload at bay?

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Secret Teacher: private school students are great – it's their parents I worry about

Sat, 01/08/2015 - 07:00

Demands for times table tests on the first day of school, Yale applications for six-year-olds – pushy parents are making my students’ lives a misery

As teaching goes, I have little cause for complaint. I work with sparky, engaged students in a small independent preparatory school. My classroom was once a grand family dining room. I read the tales of English author Julia Donaldson beneath its original cornices as the breeze comes through the French doors. PE lessons take place on rolling fields and small class sizes come as standard. I enjoy teaching as much as my enthusiastic students enjoy learning.

But in my five years in this luxurious setting, I have witnessed an often incomprehensible level of competitiveness from parents. When we begin a new topic, I am besieged by young voices informing me that they have already done this, read that or learned all about it. This, of course, is because many parents employ tutors to pore over class newsletters and teach 90% of the term’s listed objectives in advance (albeit in the solitary confinement of their kitchen island).

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Brian Groombridge obituary

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 16:57
Researcher, writer and broadcaster who was a champion of lifelong learning

Brian Groombridge, who has died aged 89, championed the cause of lifelong learning as a researcher, writer, broadcaster, director and academic. His encouragement of ways through which adults of all ages might develop their talents and interests was a big influence on the development of adult education in the UK and internationally.

From 1960 he was a freelance writer and presenter of educational programmes for BBC radio and ABC television, and from 1964, as its deputy director, he increased the involvement of the National Institute of Adult Education (then NIAE, now Niace, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) in broadcasting. He was on the planning committee of the Open University, the world’s first successful degree-giving distance-learning body, which in its early years made great use of BBC radio and television at either end of the day. In common with the social activist Michael Young and the prime minister, Harold Wilson, Brian wanted to expand the opportunities of people who had not gone to traditional campus universities: realising their vision started in earnest in 1967 with the establishment of the planning committee, and four years later the first students were admitted.

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Student solutions to the world's food waste problem

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 10:11

During a competition in Milan, students were encouraged to come up with ways to reduce food waste

Wasting food isn’t usually associated with university students, who are often portrayed as scrounging for freebies at freshers’ fairs and keen to save money wherever they can.

But the global population is growing and climate change is threatening food security. This is an issue that affects everyone, particularly the young. One third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted annually.

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University Clearing: let's remove the stigma and rebrand

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 09:35

One vice-chancellor asks if it’s time to shake up the process and make it less intimidating and more meaningful to students

Clearing is a vital part of the student recruitment cycle. It gives prospective students a chance to revisit application choices in light of their A-level results, or because they have changed their mind about the course they wish to study.

But with more students taking professional courses such as Btecs, many school and college leavers opting to go into higher education at the last minute, and others not following the traditional Ucas cycle (such as mature students) it may be time to question again whether the cycle as we know it needs revising, and perhaps rebrand Clearing altogether.

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Signing off: Finnish schools phase out handwriting classes

Fri, 31/07/2015 - 06:00

Joined-up writing lessons dropped in favour of keyboard skills, in recognition of changing methods of communication

Spidery scrawls across faintly lined paper or the carefully penned love letter will be the stuff of fairytales for many young Finns thanks to a new government policy. Schools in Finland are phasing out cursive handwriting classes in favour of keyboard skills, as officials accept that texting, tapping and tweeting have taken over as the primary means of communication in the modern age.

Children don’t have time to become fast at cursive writing, so it’s not useful for them

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Revised AP history standards will push 'American exceptionalism'

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 21:43

Culture conservatives win battle in ‘anti-American’ history debate as board approves plan to include section in advanced placement courses

The board that oversees advanced placement courses for US high school students has revised its US history standards to include a section on “American exceptionalism” after significant backlash from culture conservatives who said the exam wasn’t patriotic enough.

The advanced placement (AP) history framework, revised in 2014, triggered a nationwide debate over how American high schoolers should learn about their nation’s history, pitting conservatives who found the curriculum “anti-American” against teachers and students who rejected the changes as “revisionism”.

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English schools see first rise in exclusions in eight years

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 20:05

Teaching unions concerned by increase in young pupils expelled for assaulting adults

A rise in pupils excluded by primary schools has caused the first increase in exclusions from English state schools for eight years, with teaching unions concerned by an increase in young pupils expelled for assaulting adults.

Figures published by the Department for Education showed that 11,400 primary-age pupils received temporary suspensions and 240 received permanent exclusions for physically assaulting adults in 2013-14, compared with 9,000 temporary and 210 permanent suspensions the previous year.

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Universities and student victims of sexual assault | Letters

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 19:51

The support that students receive from their university when they have experienced violence and sexual assault is a serious matter and a proper subject for journalistic inquiry. Unfortunately, your report (27 July) cites an example from several years ago to give a picture of our student counselling service that does not tally with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we get from students about the expertise, professionalism and genuine care that our clinical staff provide.

Sexual violence and its handling on campus is something we take very seriously, as clearly do you. Hence our concern that such accounts, suggesting that the university’s clinical practitioners are failing their institutional duty of pastoral care, may deter exactly those students who most need the expert support and guidance that is available to them from seeking it.
Professor Sally Mapstone
Pro-vice chancellor, Education, Oxford University

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Marian McNay obituary

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 16:36

Marian McNay, who has died aged 78, was a highly successful primary headteacher, but her most notable achievement came earlier as the first teacher of classes of Italian children in Bedford who had no English. She matched the children by having no Italian, so overcoming the language barrier was an achievement.

This was 1959, and the Italian community in Bedford was big and growing. The London Brick Company was recruiting men from the poverty-stricken areas of Puglia and Campania to work in the huge brickfields near Bedford, which became the town with the biggest concentration of Italians and their descendants in England. Today they constitute about 30% of a population of 80,000.

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The great beyond: will the UK science budget be cut by 40%?

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 11:22

Any change in a government brings uncertainty. For scientists in Britain, the waiting game ahead of the November spending review is turning into a nail-biter

Back in 2010, UK science dodged a bullet – sort of.

Following a global recession, the scientific community was warned to expect cuts of up to 40% to the core research budget. We rallied, presenting strong arguments for the role of science in fueling the economy. Afterwards, the £4.6b ring-fencing of these funds announced in the subsequent Autumn Spending Review came as a relief.

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Poorer students say maintenance grants 'essential' for university

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 10:53

Research by the NUS has found that most students with maintenance grants would not be at university without them

More than half of students who receive maintenance grants say they would not be at university without them, according to research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS).

The survey of over 1,280 students recieving grants found that 52% felt they were absolutely essential to their decision to go to university. A further 30% said they believed them to be important or very important.

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My Indiana Jones moment: the day I uncovered an error in the archives

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 10:31

The discovery of a simple mislabelling of a painting in the British Library has led to a series of new insights for one early career researcher

We all dream of having an Indiana Jones moment, when days, months and years of painstaking archival research leads to the discovery of an artefact of priceless cultural significance.

A few months into my research project on Caribbean literature, I made a surprising discovery. I realised that a watercolour of the Caribbean in the archives of the British Library had been incorrectly recorded.

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I'm a student with a disability – that doesn't make me 'special'

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 09:58

Don’t feel sorry for us, we don’t need it. Just treat us like everyone else, says star of The Unbreakables, a TV programme about students with complex disabilities

I have a disability – but that doesn’t make me special. Special is a term for someone out of the ordinary. That’s not me, or any of the disabled people I know.

I have cerebral palsy. I didn’t ask for it. Because of my disability I’ve got little choice about where I go to school, where I live, and how I live.

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BBC Three's The Unbreakables: Bradley is made student ambassador – video

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 09:44
In this clip from BBC Three's 'The Unbreakables', Bradley is asked to become a student ambassador for the school. The programme is set at National Star College in Gloucestershire, which only accepts students with disabilities, and follows the lives, loves and friendships of the young people who attend the college. The three-part series forms part of BBC Three's Defying the Label season Continue reading...









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BBC Three's The Unbreakables: Ed and Bethany – video

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 09:43
In this clip from BBC Three's 'The Unbreakables', Ed asks college newcomer Beth on a date. The programme is set at National Star College in Gloucestershire, which only accepts students with disabilities, and follows the lives, loves and friendships of the young people who attend the college. The three-part series forms part of BBC Three's Defying the Label season Continue reading...









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Tuition fees: fall in mature and part-time students 'threatens social mobility'

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 09:33

Independent Commission on Fees says raising undergraduate fees to £9,000 has been major contributor to ‘very concerning’ drop in numbers

The collapse in part-time and mature students studying at universities in England threatens social mobility and economic performance and must be urgently addressed, according to a report into the effect of raising tuition fees.

The Independent Commission on Fees said raising the cost of undergraduate tuition to £9,000 a year has led to “a significant and sustained fall in part-time students and mature students”. It added: “We believe that the new fee regime is a major contributory factor.”

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Last night I delivered my first baby. It didn't go to plan but it was incredible

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 07:45

Telling a mother that her newborn child isn’t ‘normal’ was hard but I feel I was destined to become a midwife

Last night I delivered a baby. This still sounds completely surreal. I have been studying midwifery for a mere three months. This is the moment all student midwives eagerly anticipate, yet I am struggling to get my head around the fact that I, Georgina Greenwood, aged 25, brought a new life into the world.

True, a first year’s experience of delivering a baby is guided by the midwife in charge who tells you where to put your hands, but I still have this huge, amazing, want to shout it from the rooftops feeling of knowing that I contributed to the first moments of a baby’s life.

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No sex, drugs or rock’n’roll – a North Korean gap year

Thu, 30/07/2015 - 05:00

Alessandro Ford was the first western student to be enrolled at Kim Il-sung University. He tells us about his isolated trip with only Eminem for company

Alessandro Ford had a gap year with a difference. His movements were monitored everywhere he went; he spent hours discussing the merits of Juche ideology over American imperialism; and his only contact with the outside world was a 10-minute phone call with his mum once a week.

From August to December last year, the 18-year-old was enrolled as a student at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, learning Korean. Whilst the university takes in foreign students from countries including China and Russia, he was the first “western” student to ever study there.

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