In and out of trouble

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/06/2016 - 08:00

Classroom politics

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Students, remember: your EU vote will affect your life chances for years to come

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/06/2016 - 07:30
The universities minister says leave campaigners have failed to explain how funding gaps can be filled if Britain exits the EU

Dear Student

You may not listen to government ministers very often. You may not pay very much attention to any politician, in fact. But on this one issue – the EU referendum – I hope you can spare me a few minutes of your time.

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Science park plans major expansion

BBC - Mon, 20/06/2016 - 06:22
The Northern Ireland Science Park announces expansion plans with the aim of supporting 5,000 new jobs.
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Can you solve it? Are you smarter than Andy Murray?

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/06/2016 - 06:15

Three tennis puzzles

UPDATE: Click here for the answers.

Hello guzzlers,

To celebrate Andy Murray’s triumph at Queen’s yesterday, and in anticipation of Wimbledon, which starts next week, lets smash some neurons around the grass court of your brains.

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Cambridge University rejects calls to divest from fossil fuels

The Guardian Unlimited - Mon, 20/06/2016 - 00:01

Working group on investment responsibility argues it is better to keep investments in oil and gas companies, rather than divest £5.9bn endowment

The University of Cambridge has rejected calls to divest its £5.9bn endowment from fossil fuels, as students, academics and the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have called for.

In a report on Friday, the university ruled out future investments in coal and tar sands, although it currently has no direct holdings in either, and only negligible holdings in coal by investments managed externally.

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Philip Wraight obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 17:50

Our father, Philip Wraight, who has died aged 97, was a secondary school headmaster for 26 years. He began teaching in 1946 at Seaford college in West Sussex, but exchanged the South Downs for the Staffordshire Moorlands in 1958 when he became head of the new Warslow secondary school near Leek. Remaining in Staffordshire, he became head of the Forest of Needwood high school near Burton upon Trent in 1966, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.

Philip shared the progressive ideas of JHP Oxspring, Staffordshire’s former director of education, and, like him, was an advocate of rural-based, comprehensive secondary schools. During the 1970s, through the University of London, Philip visited Sweden, Russia, Hungary and Poland to discover how other countries organised their schools.

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Rosemary MacDonald obituary

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 17:35

My mother, Rosemary MacDonald, who has died aged 78, left school at 14 but went on to become a passionate advocate of education in all its forms. Just before her 50th birthday, she graduated from Edinburgh University, and became a university administrator.

Born and brought up in Romford, Essex, by her staunchly Conservative and working-class parents, Lilian (nee Andrews) and Alexander Adams, a policeman, Rosemary grew up accepting an unequal society and her position in it.

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A beginner's guide to planning and managing school budgets

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 08:00

Whether you’re a qualified accountant or barely able to find the slot in a piggy bank, here’s our guide to budgeting, value for money and accountability

At some point, every teacher will be responsible for part of their school’s finances – from handling petty cash for a trip to explaining why you’ve overspent the departmental budget for a second term running.

But, if you aspire to join your school’s senior leadership team (SLT), you’re likely to be asked to take on an even greater role in monitoring school finances. We’ve put together a beginner’s guide to budgeting, getting value for money, and explaining financial accountability.

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How understanding the brain affects learning potential

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 06:00

Does knowing whether the brain changes or is static have an impact on student success?

Parents of GCSE and A-level students taking their exams this month will know how important encouragement is. But they might be surprised to learn that how we understand the brain can affect academic success.

Psychology professor Carol Dweck gave two groups of schoolchildren a whole-day tutorial on the brain. She told the first group that parts of the brain are determined within days of conception, no new nerve cells are produced in adulthood, and the anatomy of the human brain is similar to a rat’s. With the other group she focused on how the brain is always changing and remodelling itself, and how every experience affects connections in the brain.

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In Morocco’s Atlas mountains, Berber girls find the way out of rural poverty: an education

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 00:05

The remoteness of many villages meant that secondary school was not an option

Deep in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains, in the hamlet of Tazalt, two girls are doing their laundry in stream water. Inside one of the small reddish-brown stone houses, Malika Boumessoud, 38, is serving sweet mint tea and looking at a photo of herself while shaking her head at how old she looks.

In the next room, where five of her six children all sleep on two single mattresses on the floor, Boumessoud’s daughter Zahra, 19, is preparing to leave this classic scene of rural Moroccan life. She is a participant in a bold new experiment that could transform the lives of the girls and young women in the region: unlike the vast majority of her peers, Zahra is being granted an education.

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On Earth, this was a grim week ... your mission offers hope, Tim Peake

The Guardian Unlimited - Sun, 19/06/2016 - 00:05
The British astronaut will have an enormous impact on science and technology in the UK, and his project could influence the future of humanity

Welcome home, Tim! It’s a sentiment that will be shared by most scientists and engineers – whether or not they are involved in space research. You will no doubt feel a bit rough for the next few days, but you’ll recover. Whether your life will be normal again after travelling 125 million kilometres and witnessing so many of Earth’s glories from space is a different matter. I am certainly jealous of the experiences you have had and have waved at you several times as the bright dot of the International Space Station moved across the night sky.

In the UK the impact of your mission – especially on schoolchildren – is likely to be enormous. A million pupils have been involved in carrying out experiments connected with your adventure and it will be important to see if this enthusiasm is translated into a long-term interest in science and technology in secondary schools and universities – something this country sorely needs. If such a surge takes place, you could certainly argue that the cost to the UK of this venture will be justified on these grounds alone.

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Ofsted warn of 'music act of devil' leaflet found during Muslim school inspection

BBC - Sat, 18/06/2016 - 17:46
Ofsted criticises an Islamic independent school, after inspectors found leaflets which claimed music and dancing were "acts of the devil".
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How physical exercise makes your brain work better

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 18/06/2016 - 09:00

Research shows different activities have quite specific mental effects – here’s how moving your body could sharpen your ideas

The brain is often described as being “like a muscle”. It’s a comparison that props up the brain training industry and keeps school children hunched over desks. We judge literacy and numeracy exercises as more beneficial for your brain than running, playing and learning on the move.

But the brain-as-muscle analogy doesn’t quite work. To build up your biceps you can’t avoid flexing them. When it comes to your brain, an oblique approach can be surprisingly effective. In particular, working your body’s muscles can actually benefit your grey matter.

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Clive James: ‘The English language is under siege from tone-deaf activists’

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 18/06/2016 - 08:00

Anybody who says ‘IMHO’ is no more humble than Saddam Hussein and Imelda Marcos dancing the tango

In Australia there is some outfit going by the name of the Productivity Commission that calls books “cultural externalities”. Speaking as someone who, when well, writes cultural externalities for a living, I think it might be more efficient, from the productivity angle, if we could go on calling them books. But I admit that this is merely my opinion, not settled science. If I were advancing this opinion in the form of a tweet or comment, I could insert the acronym IMO, so proving that the standard dead white male language of Jane Austen is now being assailed not only by expansive phrases from institutions that wish to sound more important, but also by piddling abbreviations from individuals who wish to sound pressed for time.

Admittedly, some of those individuals wish to sound humble, too, and might even be so; but saying IMO is a counterproductive way of conveying that impression, because we already assume that your opinion is only your opinion. And saying IMHO is an even more counterproductive way of conveying it, because nobody who says “in my humble opinion” is any more humble than Saddam Hussein and Imelda Marcos dancing the tango.

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Secret Teacher: parents, your 'treats' ruined our school trip

The Guardian Unlimited - Sat, 18/06/2016 - 07:00

I can’t imagine many parents at home would load up their child with gadgets and sweets to take to bed. So why do it to us?

I suffered a sense of humour failure at 3.15am on day four of our recent residential trip. I expect to be up at all hours when taking 60 primary school children on a week-long outing – especially when many of them haven’t left home before. I expect to be sleep-deprived, in loco-parentis 24/7, dealing with everything from homesickness and travel sickness to shampoo leaks and lost underwear.

In fact, some of my fondest teacher memories come from residential-trip disasters. Like when Daniel mistook his shower gel for suncream and lathered up on the beach, when Ava brought five outfits for the disco but none for rock-climbing and had to do every activity in a glittery dress, or when we discovered Jess was a terrible sleepwalker. It’s all part of the adventure.

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Farnborough teacher struck off for sex with student

BBC - Fri, 17/06/2016 - 13:45
A teacher from Hampshire who had sex with a student is banned from the profession.
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More schools use pupil premium to offset cuts, says charity

BBC - Fri, 17/06/2016 - 04:00
A small but rising number of schools in England are diverting money meant for disadvantaged pupils to offset budget cuts, research suggests.
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Multi-academy trusts and the road to privatisation | Letters

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 16/06/2016 - 19:02

Sometimes the most chilling news is tucked away on back pages. Warwick Mansell’s always illuminating diary (14 June) reveals that the “powerful but shady” regional school commissioners see it as their “responsibility to ensure that the government’s goal is achieved”. And the goal? “England’s system to be all-academy in six years”. So much for the U-turn. Turn back a page and read Aditya Chakrabortty’s article (Less free market, more freeloaders) on a “deformed capitalism, barely worthy of the name”. Then look back at last Sunday’s Observer (12 June) and the equally chilling special investigation on the not-for-profit Bright Tribe multi-academy trust, which has apparently made the venture capitalist Mike Dwan a multimillionaire. The activities of the “charlatans in pinstripes” milking public funds aren’t restricted to the retail sector. Unison’s national officer responsible for local government is quoted as saying of a response from the National Audit Office, whose job it is to regulate potential profit-making in the academy system: “I have read a lot of correspondence from regulators over the years. And this one screams: ‘We really don’t like what we see’.” Permission to scream with them! We must support your 96 correspondents who wrote opposing the drive to multi-academy trusts (Letters, 10 June). This is as major a privatisation scandal as that facing the NHS.
John Airs

• Puzzled why David Carter (schools commissioner) and Michael Wilshaw (Ofsted) have taken so long to “come clean” about the “failing” academy scandal (Report, 16 June). These two powerful positions and the organisations they represent are supposed to be independent of political control or bias. Yet we have Ofsted supporting the government’s “pro-academy” policy by pushing arbitrarily designated “failing” schools in to academy status – while also incidentally awarding a plethora of academies and alliances “outstanding” status. And Carter has told the Commons select committee that 119 academies have been brokered as “a last resort”. What is going on? We now know that a teacher can be fast-tracked into a school in 12 weeks, which makes a mockery of “professional pedagogical training”, and apparently the schools themselves have become the objects of “empire-building”. What have these two political appointees been doing to allow this disgraceful state of affairs to further erode an already crumbling education system?
Professor Bill Boyle
Tarporley, Cheshire

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Speaking up

BBC - Thu, 16/06/2016 - 18:45
Princess Beatrice visits a school in east London to help with life skills - and to hope the pupils' schooldays are less of a nightmare than her own.
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Government throws out student loans petition

The Guardian Unlimited - Thu, 16/06/2016 - 18:23

Student who started the petition says he is disappointed the government ignored responses made during the consultation process

A petition opposing a retrospective rise in the cost of student loans that obtained 120,000 signatures in just a few days has been rejected by the government.

Campaigner Alex True, who began the petition while doing his finals at Durham University, said he was “disappointed and disheartened” at the government’s response.

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