For students, the Queen’s speech should be a call to action | Malia Bouattia

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 11:54

On mental health, EU citizens’ rights and counter-extremism, there is an opportunity for student campaigners to make a real difference

The Queen’s speech was a dream come true for no one – except perhaps foxes, who will be relieved that there was no further mention of hunting. But for students, it was a mixed bag.

The speech was light on detail and heavy on Brexit. For the 84% of voting students who were opposed to leaving the EU, the future it outlined is exactly what we didn’t want. But there were silver linings: the announcement of plans to abolish letting agent fees and to bring forward legislation protecting victims of domestic violence, for instance. There are also plans to tackle the gender pay gap.

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Universities, don't rest on your laurels – use the Tef to improve

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 10:56

The teaching excellence framework may be controversial, but it’s an important resource for understanding and improving university teaching

The teaching excellence framework (Tef) results give us a unique insight into teaching quality and student outcomes across what is now an extraordinarily diverse higher education system. The Tef team is not only publishing the results, but all the data on which the assessment was based. No higher education system in the world has hitherto released such a fabulous resource for understanding teaching. Universities should use the results creatively to help them ask tough questions about what they do.

An impressive 295 institutions submitted for Tef assessment, including large multi-faculty universities and specialist institutions, research-intensive and teaching-intensive universities, further education colleges offering higher education and alternative providers. The outcomes draw together the results of an assessment of teaching excellence across all these types of institution based on evaluation of a set of statistical metrics, benchmarked for institution type and student mix, alongside an institutional submission of approximately 10,000 words.

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Turkish schools to stop teaching evolution, official says

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 06:00

Board of education chairman says subject is debatable, controversial and too complicated for students

Evolution will no longer be taught in Turkish schools, a senior education official has said, in a move likely to raise the ire of the country’s secular opposition.

Alpaslan Durmuş, who chairs the board of education, said evolution was debatable, controversial and too complicated for students.

“We believe that these subjects are beyond their [students] comprehension,” said Durmuş in a video published on the education ministry’s website.

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Could XPrize tablets replace teachers in Tanzania?

BBC - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 00:26
Teams around the world are competing to develop tablet software to replace a teacher in developing countries.
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Term-time holiday legal battle has cost taxpayers almost £140,000 so far

The Guardian Unlimited - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 00:01

Figure released as parent’s case against original £60 fine is to return to Isle of Wight magistrates court where it first began

The government spent almost £140,000 of taxpayers’ money on a prolonged legal battle against a father who took his daughter out of school for a holiday during term-time, according to new figures.

The case, which saw Jon Platt pitched against his Isle of Wight council and the Department for Education (DfE), began in 2015 when he refused to pay a £60 fine for taking his daughter on a week-long family trip to Florida.

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More grammar schools could open despite Tory U-turn, campaigners say

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 19:21

Schools in Kent and elsewhere are hoping to exploit loophole allowing existing grammars to open ‘satellite’ campuses

Grammar schools across England could be allowed to expand even though the government dropped its manifesto promise to revive school selection, education campaigners have warned.

Existing grammar schools remain able to exploit a loophole that bypasses the ban on any new school in England from selecting pupils based on entrance exams, despite the government’s change of heart over the policy.

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Let’s inspire more young women to fall in love with engineering | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 19:16
The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe. On International Women in Engineering Day, writes Marianne Culver, we can start to change that

Tomorrow, 23 June, is International Women in Engineering Day (Inwed). And on this day the UK desperately needs more engineers – 20,000 annually, according to Engineering UK figures. Equally worrying is that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe – a mere 9%. Parents and teachers can encourage their children, especially girls, to take up and stick with Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), right through school to university. Projects and practical workshops will give young people hands-on experience, increase confidence and show that engineering can be fun. Our experience on engaging with school-age children is that they often see engineering as being confined to jobs in construction, transport or manufacturing. Let’s not forget that engineering can be about developing products useful to society, as well as roles in industry, computing, healthcare, medicine and protecting the environment.

So as well as calling on the government to do more, I’m calling on parents and teachers to seek out and present these role models in schools, through networking and in the home over the dinner table. Reach out to an engineering company near you and find an inspirational speaker. Or focus one lesson or homework assignment per week on female engineers. There’s a list of the top 50 on the Women’s Engineering Society site. Here are just six of my favourites to get you started: Ada Lovelace, creator of the first computer program; Grace Hopper, who created the first compiler for a computer language; Avni Shah, Google’s head of Chrome development; Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX; Debbie Sterling, creator of the GoldieBlox toy company; Sylvia Todd, a most creative and inspirational teenager. For more on Inwed activities taking place near you, go to
Marianne Culver
President, RS Components, Oxford

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Teenage boys wear skirts to school to protest against 'no shorts' policy

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 18:12

Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no – shorts weren’t permitted under the school’s uniform policy.

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Universities in 2027: how will the teaching excellence framework shape them?

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 17:59

The teaching excellence framework has stoked controversy and shaken up the traditional hierarchy. But will it influence how universities are run?

At the risk of making myself a hostage to fortune, I’m going to look into my crystal ball to see how the teaching excellence framework will change the landscape of higher education.

It’s 2027. On the 10th anniversary of the Tef, education reporters are busily preparing pieces looking back at the controversy that raged at its introduction. Research was what mattered, not teaching, said the critics at the time.

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Heads worried tuition fee pledge for teachers to be dropped

BBC - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 17:59
Will the promise of tuition fee relief for teachers be the next education policy to be scrapped?
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The Tef won't improve teaching – universities will just play the game

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 17:58

Assessment systems that incentivise performance lead to perverse outcomes. The new teaching excellence framework will be no exception

One day we will realise that the unintended consequences of the Teaching excellence framework are harmful not just for our universities, but also for those who are supposed to benefit - our students. We’ve seen it all before with this type of system in the public and private sector. We’ve even witnessed it already in universities through the Research excellence framework, which distributes research funding.

The idea of monitoring and incentivising the teaching and learning performance of UK universities appears to be driven by an underlying ideology that holds competition and differentiation as necessary conditions for success. These may be effective in simple situations where the aim is the pursuit of profit, but social science research tells us that differentiation leads to inequality and, together with competition, reduces trust and cooperation. These are both paramount for creating and disseminating knowledge, the core mission of most UK universities.

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Letter: Lord Thomas of Swynnerton obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 16:50

Lord Thomas of Swynnerton was “never comfortable with the demands of academic life”. In October 1966 he began his first weekly lecture on European history at Reading University. He told us that if he had known when he left Oxford that this tradition would still exist 10 years later he would never have entered academic life. He further announced that he knew little about the subject and was only standing before us as the specialist was on sabbatical. His suggestion was that we could more usefully spend the hour each week in the university library working our way through the reading list instead.

I took him at his word and did not attend his, or any other, lectures during the next two years. Although I now regret not listening to this “thoroughly entertaining and popular teacher”, I did read lots of books.

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Bane of the postgrad lecturer – teaching students your own age

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 16:47

As a young postgraduate teaching assistant, it’s easy to feel a lack of confidence in the seminar room. Here’s how to turn your age into an advantage

Sitting at the front of the classroom, papers arranged on your desk, hours of prep behind you and a sea of undergrads in front, you stand up to begin your first ever seminar:

“If the teacher doesn’t get here soon, shall we just go?”

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A Ferrante feast: a night out in support of global literacy

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 15:48

Elena Ferrante’s books evoke Naples in all its drama, and inspired a Neapolitan fundraising feast for Worldreader, in the heart of urban London – testament to the power of food and literature to do good

See the photo gallery here!

A group of clamorous punters gather around a table on the cobbles. They’ve come to the pavement to escape the heat of the kitchen. Dodging crates of tomatoes, waiters dole out dishes piled high with fried things – mozzarella, prawns, courgette flowers – and bruschetta. The voice of Fred Buscaglione crackles from a speaker, just-heard over calls for Campari and the clatter of plates.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we were in Italy. Yet this is east London, just off Columbia Road. We are at Campania & Jones, a southern Italian restaurant housed in a 19th-century dairy, which, like the wardrobe to Narnia, feels like a magic gateway to Naples. This evening, the restaurant, Cook editor Mina Holland, columnist Rachel Roddy and myself are collaborating on a dinner (see gallery) celebrating the transformative power of books and food in aid of the Worldreader charity.

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Magna Academy seeks disciplinarian to lead 'behaviour correction unit'

BBC - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 13:43
Director of Isolations and Detentions must show "tough love" in school's "behaviour correction unit".
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Number of families made homeless rises by 17%

BBC - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 13:27
Official figures reveal the number of people made homeless in the past year is up a fifth on five years ago.
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How sad that English-speaking parents are afraid of their children being taught in Welsh | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 12:53
The English colonial legacy has left its mark in Wales, and it sticks in the craw that otherwise liberal people might criticise minority-language activists in the UK

Tuesday’s Guardian article about Welsh language education caused huge controversy. In it, some parents protested about their village school switching to Welsh-language teaching. The print headline was: Welsh-only teaching – a political tool that harms children?

The framing of the teaching of Welsh to children as a question of ethics, and the suggestion that it could put any child in Wales at a disadvantage, upset me and other Welsh speakers. Focusing on a bitter row that took place last year in Llangennech, Camarthenshire, the article emphasised the concerns of one parent, with voices on the other side of the debate largely absent, leading to a rather one-sided argument.

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Top UK universities miss out on gold award in controversial Tef test

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 22/06/2017 - 12:32

London School of Economics only managed to receive bronze award in teaching quality assessment, but industry figures urge caution over results

Many of the UK’s leading universities have failed to achieve the highest awards in a controversial assessment of teaching quality that has sent shockwaves through the traditional higher education hierarchy.

Among the elite Russell Group universities, just eight out of 21 institutions that took part in the government’s “teaching excellence framework” (Tef) were awarded the gold rating, while 10 got silver.

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