The neglectful bias against vocational training | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 18:39

It is sadly no surprise to hear yet another lament about the state of the UK’s technical education system following the closure of a seventh university technical college (Editorial, 20 February). Successive governments have failed to really get to grips with vocational education because the people who make the decisions have little direct experience of it, and this has led to a devastating lack of investment in the sector.

In England, students aged 16-19 on technical courses attract less than half the funding of their peers in higher education – and those aged 19 and over on technical courses get even less. Following a series of budget cuts to colleges since 2009, well over a million adult learners have been lost as courses have been forced to close. If the government really wants to improve the standing of good-quality technical education, it must ensure that the sector as a whole is well supported. That means building capacity; UCU is calling for 15,000 more further education teachers which would support over 250,000 more learners. Without proper investment, this perennial conversation about the problems facing technical education is doomed to repeat itself
Sally Hunt
General secretary, University and College Union

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Staffordshire mother says breastfed son ‘spotted cancer’

BBC - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 18:27
Teddy was "very distressed" and pushed his mother away when she tried to feed him.
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From Putin to Trump: being a Russian student in New York

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 15:28

It’s a month on from President Trump’s inauguration, and I can’t help seeing similarities between America and my homeland of Russia

To young Russians like me, supporting or criticising Vladimir Putin is a moral choice. To support him is to oppose western democracy and free speech; to oppose him is to fight against corruption and needless wars. I belong in the latter camp – I wanted to be a journalist so I could expose the truth. But my parents advised against it: writing about politics was too dangerous. So when I turned 18, I left Moscow for a fresh start in New York.

Try as you might, when you emigrate you can’t leave all your baggage behind; it’s impossible to disconnect entirely from your old world. Five years later, I’m beginning to see similarities between the country I abandoned and the country I now call home.

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London’s pollution is so bad that it forced me to give up my dream PhD | Vicky Ware

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 13:10
Arriving to study, I had my first asthma attack in 10 years. The capital’s shocking air quality is a health emergency – and it’s already costing lives

While the mayor of London Sadiq Khan is acting on the fact that London breached its annual air pollution limit within just five days this year by advising Londoners to remain indoors, limit heavy breathing, and eat vegetables – seemingly everything other than not driving – millions of people are suffering serious health effects from exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and myriad other pollutants in the air.

Khan said: “Everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air.”

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Too few 18-year-olds? That's no reason to start shutting universities

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 11:10

Yes, there has been a fall in applications from school-leavers at several UK universities. But they aren’t the only people we cater for

An article published in the Guardian last week asked what would happen if a university went bust. Wolverhampton was one of the examples of a university that has seen “a serious decline” in acceptances from 18-year-old UK students in the past four years, and therefore could be at risk.

As the article says: “If you are losing students every year you just can’t go on doing that – something has to happen.” This may be true, but focusing solely on the lower numbers of 18-year-olds enrolling paints a too simplistic picture.

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My Year 12 Life: teens document their final school year in insightful new series

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/02/2017 - 01:27

The ABC is pushing the innovation of handing cameras to teens in year 12 but the series’ real strength is the talent itself

“Vlogumentary” (vlog + documentary) is a peculiarly repellant neologism for video blog, but don’t let the ABC’s descriptor put you off its new series. My Year 12 Life, which premieres on Monday night, is a candid, even touching insight into the secret, stressful lives of teenagers.

At the start of last year, filmmaker Laura Waters gave cameras to a group of 18-year-olds to document their final year of high school – a time when, they’re all at pains to stress, shit gets real.

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Council investigates Oldham headteacher's claims of threats

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/02/2017 - 21:17

Department for Education says inquiry has nothing to do with extremism and should not be referred to as a ‘Trojan horse’ case

An investigation has been launched after a headteacher claimed she had been forced to work from home and that her position at an Oldham school had been made untenable by alleged threats and verbal abuse.

The Department for Education is working with Oldham council to investigate allegations made by Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield primary school, that she feared for her safety after a string of alleged incidents that she labelled a “Trojan horse” plot to make her quit.

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The Guardian view on vocational education: choice at 14 is not working | Editorial

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/02/2017 - 18:33
Few dispute the importance of better vocational education pathways. But the current system is failing and should be revisited

England’s beleaguered vocational education system has been subjected to wave after wave of reform. Yet improving the quality of technical education has eluded governments of all colours. University technical colleges (UTCs) are only the latest example of a shiny innovation that ran on to the rocks. Seven UTCs have now announced they are closing their doors, and Michael Gove, the former education secretary who introduced them, says the idea has “all gone a bit Pete Tong”.

UTCs were intended to provide quality vocational education, combining technical and academic learning, for young people from the age of 14. Despite the millions the government has invested in them, they have on the whole been plagued by poor GCSE results and an inability to attract sufficient numbers of young people.

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Campaigners hail school decision to let pupils choose gender identity

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/02/2017 - 16:01

Private school St Paul’s Girls’ new protocol allows students to use boys’ names and wear boys’ clothes

Campaigners have welcomed a decision by a private girls’ school to allow students to use boys’ names and wear boys’ clothes should they wish under a new “gender identity protocol”.

St Paul’s girls’ school in west London, whose former pupils include the MP Harriet Harman and the actor Rachel Weisz, will now consider requests from students from the age of 16 to go through a formal process to be known within the school either as boys or as gender-neutral.

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Are Soas students right to ‘decolonise’ their minds from western philosophers?

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/02/2017 - 09:00

Outraged headlines erupted when students launched a campaign to challenge the great western philosophers. We went to the source of dissent – London’s School of Oriental and African Studies – to investigate

“They Kant be serious!”, spluttered the Daily Mail headline in its most McEnroe-ish tone. “PC students demand white philosophers including Plato and Descartes be dropped from university syllabus”. “Great thinkers too male and pale, students declare”, trumpeted the Times. The Telegraph, too, was outraged: “They are said to be the founding fathers of western philosophy, whose ideas underpin civilised society. But students at a prestigious London university are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant should be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white.”

Whiteness is not a useful category when talking of philosophy. When people speak, they speak ideas, not identity.

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UK universities urged to tackle rising tide of antisemitism on campus

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 18/02/2017 - 08:00

Academics and student representatives voice concern at widespread incidents that are fuelling anxiety among Jewish students

Universities are being urged to act swiftly to tackle antisemitism on campuses after a series of incidents in recent weeks – including Holocaust denial leaflets, fascist stickers and swastikas etched on and around campuses – which have fuelled anxiety among Jewish students.

Leading academics, student representatives and experts on antisemitism expressed concern at the widespread nature of the incidents, which have affected a number of higher education institutions across the country.

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Secret Teacher: our 'perfect' school is just keeping up appearances

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 18/02/2017 - 07:00

Visitors are impressed by our high standards. But they don’t know what goes on behind the scenes

Staff collectively roll their eyes as a member of the senior leadership team says: “Diaries open, we are expecting a lot of visitors next week.” More visitors.

As teachers who often play host to training days for external schools, we’re no strangers to strangers being in our classrooms. However, the anticipation of visitors and the pressure to prepare has altered the atmosphere of the school, affecting teachers and students alike.

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Musician who admitted groping students wins teaching ban appeal

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 17/02/2017 - 18:14

High court judge overturns indefinite ban for Duncan McTier, who sexually assaulted three female students aged 17 to 23

A world-renowned musician who admitted molesting three students has won an appeal against an indefinite teaching ban, after a top judge ruled the ban was “flawed”.

Duncan McTier, a double bassist who has taught at a number of musical institutions in the UK and abroad, sexually assaulted three of his young, female students in the 1980s and 1990s.

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German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears

BBC - Fri, 17/02/2017 - 17:00
Researchers say hackers can use an insecure bluetooth device to listen and talk to a child.
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