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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: 19 hours 31 min ago

MPs condemn free schools policy as incoherent and wasteful

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 00:01

Report says DfE must use funding more cost-effectively and notes 60% of schools are more than 40 years old and in disrepair

The government’s funding of its free schools programme has been denounced as “incoherent and too often poor value for money” in a hard-hitting report by a cross-party committee of senior MPs.

The report by the public accounts committee accuses the Department for Education of spending “over the odds” on unsuitable sites and building free schools in areas where extra places are not always needed.

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Private schools do nothing to improve social mobility | Letters

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 19:55

While I was pleased to see that the headmistress of my old school, James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, reads the Guardian (Letters, 25 April), I agree with Tim Lott (Opinion, 22 April) that private schools should be abolished. When I attended Jags in the 1950s it was grant maintained and at least half the pupils post-11 were paid for by the local authority, including me. The remaining half who did not reach the academic standards demanded by the 11-plus and who had often attended the private junior sector (as I did) continued to pay fees. There was some genuine social mobility with many girls going on to successful careers.

The situation is now very different. Girls at Jags have an excellent and highly privileged education and are among the elite 7% who make up the very small but extremely powerful private sector in this country. I would remind the head that approximately 50% of students at Oxbridge come from that 7%.

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Plastic-eating bugs? It’s a great story – but there’s a sting in the tail | Philip Ball

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 19:41
Breeding wax moth caterpillars to devour our waste sounds good. But they would attack bee colonies too, and ultimately put crops at risk

Caterpillars that can munch up plastic bags have just been identified, fuelling excited speculation that this could one day eliminate global pollution from plastic waste. The chance discovery, initially made by a scientist and amateur beekeeper whose plastic bag had been eaten through by the moth caterpillars, was reported this week by researchers at Cambridge University and the Spanish National Research Council.

Related: Plastic-eating worms could help wage war on waste

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University chief appeals for EU help to fight Hungarian clampdown

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 17:33

Rector of Central European University hopeful EU will launch infringement proceedings against Orbán government

The head of a leading university threatened with closure in Hungary has made an emotional plea for help from the EU and accused the country’s rightwing, authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, of effectively putting a gun to his head.

Michael Ignatieff, rector of the US-linked Central European University (CEU), said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the EU would launch infringement proceedings against the Hungarian government for its “outrageous” attack on academic freedoms.

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Fears Israeli ambassador's visit to Soas may spark unrest

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 11:04

Some university staff and students say invitation to Mark Regev is provocative and urge director to stop meeting

Students and academics at Soas University of London have said a visit by the Israeli ambassador Mark Regev this week could lead to serious tension and substantial distress on the campus.

Related: One hundred years of Soas - in pictures

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Put this in your party’s election manifesto

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 07:00

Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities … we asked people in education what they want politicians to promise

All the evidence suggests the more funding the better at the early years stages, and that represents the greatest return on investment. So the first thing has to be a promise not to cut in early years. I would love to see the people who are genuinely experts in education in charge of what goes into our kids’ education – it doesn’t feel that way now – and the focus placed on the importance of teachers so they have the time to plan properly.

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Dear Justine Greening, aren’t you worried young people won’t believe politicians? | Michael Rosen

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 06:45
If your side wins, you will claim there is a ‘mandate’ for grammar schools, never mind the evidence

I fully understand you won’t have time to read this as you have more pressing things to do than worry about a little thing like education. Young people everywhere had just got on board your Brexit-negotiation train, accepting that it was full steam ahead, top priority, nothing could be allowed to obstruct the path, especially not by people going to the polls, such as those people north of the border – when, hey presto! – we are having an election, after all.

Does it bother you that when young people discover that something a politician says one day is the opposite of what that politician said a few weeks earlier, they might think you folks are not entirely truthful?

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Brexit brain drain threatens UK universities, MPs warn

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 06:00

Commons education committee’s warning of an exodus of EU staff from UK universities is echoed by senior academics

The government is being urged to act swiftly to halt a post-Brexit brain drain which threatens the international competitiveness of the UK’s university sector.

A significant new report by MPs sitting on the Commons education committee says the rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to continue working in the UK should be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

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