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Olympic legacy failure: access to school sport is now a postcode lottery

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 21:37
Michael Gove’s controversial decision to cut £162m of funding has left sport at the whim of headteachers and secondary schools receive no money to pay for it
Jowell attacks ‘wicked’ coalition government over school sport failure

“I love that my school is sporty,” says 11-year-old Lily on a sunny morning at St Katharine’s Primary in Bournemouth. “I ran a 5k last week which I never thought I could do. I will keep being sporty now as I grow up.”

Lily could be a poster girl for school sport policy, were the reality in most of the UK not so different. Her school is an exception: unified vision and strategy have been largely absent where physical education and school sport are concerned.

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Olympic legacy failure: inspiring London 2012 message has become a millstone

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 21:24

The ‘Singapore promise’ of leaving behind a legacy of a fitter, healthier nation and transforming the lives of young people looks further away than ever 10 years after London was awarded the Olympics

“Inspire a generation.” It was at the heart of the pitch that won the bid. It was the message that was plastered all over the Olympic Park in Stratford during that glorious period in July and August 2012. It was a proud boast that the London Olympics could do something no other previous Games had achieved. But it has become a millstone for all involved.

Related: Olympic legacy failure: sporting numbers plummet amid confusion and blame

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Olympic legacy failure: Tessa Jowell attacks ‘wicked’ coalition government

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 21:22

• Former Olympics minister calls London 2012 a squandered opportunity
• Jowell blames ‘negligent’ successors for failing to inspire children to play sport
Inspiring London 2012 message has become a millstone

The former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has claimed a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to use the London Games to inspire children to play sport has been squandered, blaming her “wicked and negligent” successors.

Speaking on the eve of Monday’s 10th anniversary of the capital being awarded the 2012 Olympics, with a bid founded on Lord Coe’s vow to “inspire a generation”, the former Labour MP blamed the coalition government for scuppering the legacy for grassroots sport, describing the situation as “back to where we started in 2002”.

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The Guardian view on the Olympic legacy: running out of steam | Editorial

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 19:43
The glitz of London 2012 failed to persuade the nation to get off the sofa. The lower-key success of Parkrun shows a smarter way to boost participation in sport

Every Saturday morning, at 9am, more than 50,000 runners set off to run 5km around their local park. The Parkrun phenomenon began with a dozen friends and has inspired 400 events in the UK and more abroad. Events are free, staffed by thousands of volunteers. Runners range from four years old to grandparents; their times range from Andrew Baddeley’s world record 13 minutes 48 seconds up to an hour.

Parkrun is succeeding where London’s Olympic “legacy” is failing. Ten years ago on Monday, it was announced that the Games of the XXX Olympiad would be in London. Tony Blair told the International Olympic Committee that London had the power to motivate “millions more young people in Britain and across the world”. Planning documents pledged that the great legacy of the Games would be to lever a nation of sport lovers away from their couches. The population would be fitter, healthier and produce more winners. It has not happened. The number of adults doing weekly sport did rise, by nearly 2 million in the runup to 2012 – but the general population was growing faster. Worse, the numbers are now falling at an accelerating rate. The opposition claims primary school pupils doing at least two hours of sport a week have nearly halved. Obesity has risen among adults and children. Official postmortems continue as to why London 2012 failed to “inspire a generation”. The success of Parkrun offers answers.

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Classics charities and campaigners pledge to save ancient Greek A-level

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 13:54

Camden School for Girls in north London, thought to be the last non-selective state school in England to offer the subject in the sixth form, launches appeal

Classics campaigners are in sight of saving A-level ancient Greek in what is thought to be the last non-selective state school in England to offer the subject in the sixth form.

Camden School for Girls in north London sparked an outcry from enthusiasts, including former pupils, in March when the governors confirmed they were considering axing the subject in the co-educational sixth-form from next term. They cited increased school costs and reduced government funding.

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Romeo and Juliet in Palestine review – Shakespeare under occupation

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 13:00
Tom Sperlinger’s account of teaching English literature to students in the occupied territories is an illuminating look at the wider role of education

In 2013, Tom Sperlinger taught English literature for five months at a university in the occupied West Bank. His excellent first book is a short memoir reflecting on encounters with young Palestinians in and out of the classroom.

When he assigns a composition exercise, Ruba (not her real name) describes how she had to watch Israeli soldiers abduct her father for use as a human shield in a raid. It’s an environment in which Sperlinger must probe his own assumptions about his purpose and practice if he’s to address everyday problems such as plagiarism and unread set texts. Comparing the experience with a stint with mature students in Merseyside, he wonders if British universities “reward particular kinds of obedience” at the expense of “those whose lives have been the most demanding”. Lucid and open-minded about its location – and about education generally – this book deserves a wide audience.

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Julia Gillard urges action on lack of schooling for 121m children worldwide

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 10:49

Ex-Australian PM says schooling – especially for girls – imperative in creating educated parents to help prevent infant mortality and lift people out of poverty

The world needs to step up its efforts to tackle the crisis of 121 million children, particularly girls, who receive no formal schooling, Julia Gillard, the former Australian prime minister, has warned.

Speaking before a major education summit in Norway, Gillard said the world was at a pivotal moment in tackling millions of children growing up without basic schooling, in much the same way as the need to address global health issues reached a tipping point in the early 2000s.

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How to thank teachers in tough schools? Government answer: punish them

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 08:00

In reality, Nicky Morgan’s new policy on ‘coasting schools’ will penalise those who work with disadvantaged children and communities

Just like the big reveal in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy finds out Oz is just an ordinary human after all, the government’s big drive on tackling coasting schools has turned out to be a huge let down.

When education secretary, Nicky Morgan, first talked about “coasting schools” many in the sector wondered whether finally the focus of school improvement would switch from schools working hard in disadvantaged communities to those ambling along, deemed a success mainly because of well-supported, able intakes?

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Zombies, creepers and kids all flock to Minecraft’s block party

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 00:05
The multi-platform construction and battles game has become a worldwide phenomenon – so much so that it can draw thousands to live events

As a corporate conference venue, London’s ExCeL Centre is regularly overwhelmed by besuited executives dealing in arcane business jargon. This weekend, however, an altogether different sub-culture was in charge, as Creepers, Zombies, Skeletons and thousands of children congregated to celebrate a common digital passion: Minecraft.

Minecraft involves exploring a world made out of digital blocks, which can be broken up and made into new materials and structures, from pickaxes and swords to buildings and carts. Its “creative mode” puts the emphasis on building, while its “survival mode” sees players having to battle monsters which come out at night.

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The Observer view on reforms to teacher training | Observer editorial

Sun, 05/07/2015 - 00:05
We must change the way the educators of the future are taught if our children to thrive

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” So said Albert Einstein, physicist, philosopher and man of numbers. Mathematical logic and reason lie at the heart of some of humanity’s greatest achievements. Without it, there would be no progress and no modernity.

Fitting, then, that Stephen Hawking will deliver the BBC’s 2015 Reith lecture to mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. But as we tune in, we need to ask whether we’re doing enough to nurture the talents of the scientists and mathematicians of the future. Not simply to produce the next Hawking, but because competence in the subject at school is one of the strongest predictors of life success. Yet in OECD global maths rankings, the UK comes just 26th.

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Theresa May backs down in college ‘hate preachers’ row

Sat, 04/07/2015 - 21:50

Home Office responds to criticism over how universities could apply ban on radical speakers

Theresa May has been forced into a U-turn on key counter-extremism proposals designed to ban “hate preachers” from university campuses, the Observer understands.

The most contentious measures in an original draft of the rules published last year, including the demand that universities obtain advance notice of the content of presentations, have been cut out in the wake of a barrage of criticism from figures such as the former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller.

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Michael Gove’s school reforms ‘ignored’ rise in pupils’ mental illness

Sat, 04/07/2015 - 21:24

Former education secretary was ‘just not interested’ in number of children falling ill, says ex-health minister Paul Burstow

A former health minister has claimed Michael Gove quietly downgraded the importance of mental health in schools during his time at the Department for Education amid an explosion in the number of young people falling ill.

Related: Children’s mental health must be cared for. Or the consequences will be dire | Paul Burstow

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Progressive rebels in the American south fight a flag – and the Klansman next door

Sat, 04/07/2015 - 17:27

As the racist symbol of an old war comes down, an uprising of ideas reaches the heart of Dixie. Welcome to the new culture war, where it’s better to look and see

On a clay hill south of town, County Road 258 splits between two houses, right and left. I went to the right, recently, when a young black woman stepped outside. She wore a T-shirt that read “Ole Miss”.

She smiled. She didn’t realize she stood on the front line of a cultural war, where new arguments over an old flag are only the latest skirmish.

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Secret Teacher: I wish I could stop taking out my work stress on my class

Sat, 04/07/2015 - 07:00

I really do care about my students. But the relentless pressure of Sats, data, targets and appraisals stops me being the teacher I want to be

“I’ve told you to sit down NOW!”
“No, you cannot go to the toilet in the middle of maths!”
“How dare you speak to me like that? Go to Mrs Shouts-A-Lot’s classroom this instant.”

As I lie in bed, these words scratch angrily around my brain. How many times a day do phrases like these leave my stressed mouth? Too many. Where are my manners? Why do I think it’s acceptable to speak to my class like this? Who do I think I am? They’re only 10 and 11 years old.

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What I’m really thinking: the exam marker

Sat, 04/07/2015 - 06:00

‘I try to guess from your handwriting what kind of person you are. I judge you if you dot every i with a circle or a heart’

My friends and family haven’t seen or heard much from me during the past four weeks, but they are used to my annual disappearance. After a busy year teaching, I exhaust myself further by marking nearly 1,000 exam papers. The shift to online marking increases mistakes – tired eyes, tired wrists from placing electronic ticks on scripts.

As I mark, I try to guess from your handwriting what kind of person you are. I judge you if you dot every i with a circle or a heart. Are you male or female? Who are you? It doesn’t matter, though: your years of studying come down to a small amount of money for me; you are simply a candidate number on my screen worth £2-£5, depending on the subject I am marking. I try to stay focused, knowing that this pays for my annual holiday.

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