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The teachers of Idlib on the impossible struggle to educate their students

Mér, 18/04/2018 - 17:05
In a city under siege, schoolchildren take public exams in cellars to escape the shelling, and classes are conducted by WhatsApp. Their teachers describe what it’s like to run a school in a war zone

Abdulkafi Alhamdo is an English teacher in Syria. He loves Coleridge and Shakespeare and is currently teaching his students Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In 2016, he was evacuated from Syria’s very own heart of darkness – Aleppo – where he taught traumatised school children in cellars and bombed-out buildings throughout the siege, even as they starved. Now he lives and works in the rebel-held north-west province of Idlib, where he and fellow teachers are struggling with few resources and little support to educate the next generation, those who will shape the future of Syria.

Idlib, the largest province in Syria to remain outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has seen a steady increase in violence in recent months with bombing raids by Russian and Syrian jets and the arrival of refugees fleeing from other war-ravaged zones, which – according to Alhamdo – makes the ongoing work of Syria’s teachers all the more vital. “We want education to continue because we don’t want these young children or students to think of guns,” he says. “Without schools, they would carry guns but, because of their attendance at school, they are students.”

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

'Intensive but fun': all you need to know about studying architecture

Mér, 18/04/2018 - 16:08

The course involves long hours and a huge workload, but it can be hugely rewarding and can give you the skills for a range of careers

Doing an architecture degree can be hugely rewarding. But it is also among the most challenging – with long hours, a huge workload and focus on detail – so it’s vital to understand what you’re letting yourself in for. Here we answer students’ commonly asked questions.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Is it time to get rid of head girls and boys?

Mér, 18/04/2018 - 13:06

A headteacher in Guernsey has abolished the posts, replacing them with a leadership team. But without gender balance and a wider variety of roles, discrimination is always likely

Head boys and girls sound like a Harry Potter creation, but most secondary schools in Britain have some version of the role.

Twenty years ago, when I was selected as head girl at Fairfield High in Widnes, a mini scandal broke when the head announced it would be decided by a pupil vote instead of senior leaders. Teachers worried that this would lead to distracting campaigns. But they forgot we were teenagers, and therefore lazy. Mostly, I won because no one else wanted to spend their evenings showing potential new parents around.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Test anxiety can be debilitating. But schools can help students manage it

Mér, 18/04/2018 - 10:38

Helping students understand the nature of anxiety makes all the difference to how well they are able to cope in stressful situations

Related: Government unveils controversial plans for testing four-year-olds

In a 2015 interview with the Guardian, author Matt Haig made an interesting observation: anxiety makes you curious and curiosity leads to understanding. It’s unusual to hear people speak about the positive aspects of negative emotions. After all, anxiety can be debilitating and can significantly reduce wellbeing. In schools, it’s common to see students experiencing test anxiety.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

#Metoo in China: fledgling movement in universities fights censorship

Mér, 18/04/2018 - 02:43

Former classmates of Gao Yan say she was raped by a professor and the assault led to her suicide

Peking University, China’s top academic institution, admitted this month that 20 years ago a professor had been involved in “inappropriate student-teacher relations” with a female student. Former classmates of that student, Gao Yan, a star pupil studying Chinese literature, say she was raped and that the assault pushed her to kill herself less than a year later.

The university said in a statement on 6 April that at the time they concluded the professor, Shen Yang, had “handled the situation very imprudently” and he was given an administrative warning and demerit in the summer of 1998, about four months after Gao’s suicide. Shen has denied the allegations by Gao’s classmates, calling them “total nonsense”.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

A right to tuition fees compensation | Letters

Mar, 17/04/2018 - 18:35
There is no question that universities owe students fair compensation, says Shimon Goldwater. Plus a university lecturer praises student solidarity, and Robert Ross laments the marketisation of higher education

Students who feel their universities are not taking their complaints about lost teaching time seriously (Letters, 16 April) have tried signing petitions, writing letters and speaking to the media. The universities have stood firm in refusing to pay a penny in compensation.

No other service provider would get away with charging for 25 weeks of a service and cutting that to 22 with no price reduction. There is no question that universities owe students fair compensation. Because of the huge numbers of students affected, universities could have to pay out millions of pounds. This is why petitions have proven ineffective. Universities might act when a petition calls for a lecturer to be sacked or for a change in investment policy. But they are much less likely to respond to a petition for them to pay out millions to students.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Robert Halfon: ‘The Tory party should change its name to the Workers’ party’

Mar, 17/04/2018 - 07:15

Interview: The chair of the education select committee, dubbed ‘a white-van Tory’, on why he now has more power than a minister

After last year’s general election, one of Theresa May’s first moves was to sack not only Justine Greening, the education secretary, but also Robert Halfon, the skills minister, whom she had appointed to the job less than 11 months earlier. Why, I ask Halfon in his House of Commons office, was he caught up in this purge? “I have no idea. She just said to me: ‘Go back to the backbenches. You’re good at campaigning.’”

He took the prime minister at her word. His first campaign was to get himself elected by his fellow MPs as chair of the education select committee. “I stood for days on end in Commons corridors and in the members’ lobby handing out my ladder of opportunity.” Pardon? He hands me a sheet of paper depicting a ladder with five rungs. It lays out the statistics of educational inequality – “when getting similar GCSE results and living in the same neighbourhoods, pupils on free school meals are 47% less likely to attend Russell Group institutions” – and policies needed for a more socially just system. If the policies are implemented, those who reach the top of the ladder will have “secure and prosperous lives” and the country “a thriving economy fit for purpose in the 21st century”.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Who can blame parents for boycotting Sats? | Laura McInerney

Mar, 17/04/2018 - 07:00

Ministers should find an alternative to the year 6 exams, which put enormous pressure on teachers and pupils

The past few years have seen a glut of parents proclaiming they are going to boycott year 6 Sats, the government’s national primary tests. Instead of sending their child in to school for exam week, they will “educate them elsewhere”, in a park or a museum, to get around the school absence rules. This year is no exception. If enough parents followed the trend, would it ever finish off Sats, which have become increasingly unpopular?

In the US, parental protest contributed to several states abandoning the Obama administration’s plan for a national curriculum, known as the “common core”, against which all children would be tested. And states that continued still face protests. Just last year, in Long Island, New York, almost 80,000 children boycotted their maths exams.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Oxford and Cambridge: will elite universities go private and raise fees?

Mar, 17/04/2018 - 06:45

Income loss from tuition fees cap could prompt a break from state control, which other institutions might follow

As universities wait to see if the government will cut tuition fees – and therefore their income – one of the most controversial questions of all is being discussed. Could Oxford and Cambridge universities opt to break free from state control and go private?

The government launched its review of post-18 education in February. With the Tories keen to woo young voters, following Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to end tuition fees, a reduction of the £9,250 fees cap is widely expected. But vice-chancellors say quality could be threatened if the government does not plug any gap with new funding.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Trainee barristers told they will be marked down for wearing short skirts

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 19:35

Other risqué sins of fashion as laid down by BPP law school include colourful socks and ‘kinky boots’

Trainee barristers are being told they will be docked points in their exams if they wear short skirts, colourful socks or “kinky boots”.

A handbook at the BPP university law school warns students that they may lose points if they do not adopt an extremely conservative dress code in their advocacy assessments.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Students on how they are getting a raw deal | Letters

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 18:18
Letters: British university students Katrina Allen and Ben Dolbear lament their loss of teaching hours as a result of the lecturers’ strike. And pupil Romy McCarthy questions the usefulness of the GCSEs she is about to sit

I am an MA student on the journalism course at Birkbeck, University of London, fighting for compensation for lectures lost due to the staff strike. We paid £3,000 last term for services that were not provided. I wrote to the master of the university, David Latchman, about this and received no reply. I then wrote to the registrar and got this back: “Your tuition fees contribute towards your entire learning experience and are not directly linked to specific contact or teaching hours. Your tuition fees also cover infrastructure such as buildings, library and IT.” How can it possibly be stated that my entire learning experience is not diminished by a lack of lectures?

The university have taken my money and banked what they have not paid the lecturers, it seems. We have been told that the strike may affect lectures for the first two weeks of next term and could be ongoing. I have just been asked to pay my fees for the summer term. I don’t intend to throw more money at the university unless I get a promise of compensation if the strike is ongoing. I wonder if I’ll be thrown off the course?
Katrina Allen

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Thousands of children miss out on preferred primary school

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 17:46

Pressure on places shows signs of easing in areas of England including London and Birmingham

Thousands of parents in England have been denied a place for their child at their first choice of primary school. Evidence suggests, however, that pressure on reception classes is easing in some areas, including London, where applications were down 2.3% on last year.

After an anxious wait documented by many parents on social media, more than half a million families across England were informed on Monday which school their child will be attending in September.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Working while you study: a means to an end or career opportunity?

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 14:37

A part-time job is often just a way to earn extra cash at university, but for some students it can be the route to full-time employment

Carmel Goldstein, a final-year textile design student at Central St Martins College in London, started working for on-demand babysitting app Bubble 18 months ago. The 21-year-old was looking for a way to earn extra cash while studying in one of the world’s most expensive cities, and the company offered flexible evening work that she could fit around busy university life.

The Uber-style app works by helping parents find local babysitters who have been recommended by friends or mutual contacts on Facebook. It means Goldstein is able to put in the required hours on campus and go to a job in the evening near her home in East Finchley.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Universities ending the strikes is not a climbdown – the fight goes on | Des Freedman

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 13:07

Unions have accepted the Universities UK offer, but there is plenty of unfinished business – and not just with pensions

Members of the University and College Union have voted 64% to 36% to suspend industrial action in their campaign to defend guaranteed pensions. They have accepted the proposals of the employers’ organisation, Universities UK, to set up a “joint expert panel” to consider the valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) fund.

They have not done so with any great faith in Universities UK’s commitment to sustaining existing levels of provision, nor with any conviction that the employers’ underlying determination to reduce their pension liabilities has suddenly disappeared.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Teachers' strikes: meet the leaders of the movement marching across America

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 11:00

Teachers around the US are taking matters into their own hands as they strike for raises and school funding – in some cases without union support

Related: West Virginia teachers' triumph offers fresh hope for US workers' rights

When teachers in West Virginia went on strike in February, there was little indication that a swath of other states would follow suit.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Universities are a key resource for the NHS. Why are they so underused?

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 07:30

The UK’s research ecosystem is fragmented. We need more collaboration to pool expertise and improve public health

Good public health is central to the success of our cities, nations and regions. It’s an area in which higher education has a key role to play, since working to address local and global health challenges and develop cutting-edge drug therapies is deeply rooted within academic institutions. Yet universities are still an underused resource in tackling local public health problems.

The main obstacle is the absence of organisations that connect universities and the NHS. In the UK, there are just six Academic Health Science Centres, which bring together research, education and clinical practice to translate research swiftly into patient care and ensure that patient interactions contribute to the generation of new knowledge. These AHSCs are not spread evenly around the country: three are in London, and one in Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

The sinister segregation policies excluding children who don't 'fit in' | John Harris

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 06:00

I thought ignorant prejudice against disabled people and those with special needs was on the way out. But this government is turning back the clock to a nastier age

Human progress is slow to happen and sometimes hard to see: in an era as troubled as ours, the world can easily look as though it is regressing at speed. But look back, and you may see how far we have come. I grew up in a world where grim words such as “handicapped” and “retarded” were part of everyday speech, and disabled people were too often shut away. People put money in charity tins to salve their consciences, and then went back to their ignorance. A sure sign of the way society kept some people at arm’s length was the inhuman use of the definite article: people knew about “the deaf”, “the blind” and “the disabled”, but didn’t give them much thought.

Related: Families crowdfund legal action against special needs budget cuts

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

Many parents face disappointment over primary school places

Lun, 16/04/2018 - 00:01

Thousands of families in England may miss out on top choice of primary school in some regions

Parents in England will find out on Monday whether their child got into their top choice of primary school to begin reception class in September, with many likely to face disappointment owing to the pressure on places in some areas of the country.

On what has become known as national offer day for primary schools, about half a million families will receive emails during the course of the day and letters later in the week confirming whether they have been offered a place at their first-choice school.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

The week in TV: Secret Agent Selection: WW2; Living With the Brainy Bunch; Lost in Space and more

Dom, 15/04/2018 - 07:00
Classroom experiments and spy training provided eye-opening new reality shows, but Netflix’s space odyssey has lost the plot

Secret Agent Selection: WW2 (BBC2) | iPlayer
Living with the Brainy Bunch (BBC2) | iPlayer
Class of Mum and Dad (C4) |
Deep State (Fox) |
Lost in Space (Netflix) |

Among the savageries of war, one of the first casualties, along with truth, is surely always going to be the simple idea of “niceties”, of thinking one can promote any conflict with a glance backwards to the gentlemanly – ha! – wars of yore. The RAF still thought, within living memory, that dropping assassins in plain clothes into enemy territory was “unethical”. They had to be brutally persuaded, in 1940, shortly after Churchill had vowed to “set Europe ablaze”, to carry the spies of the fledgling Special Operations Executive into the many darknesses of occupied territory, ie most of the continent.

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade

From the archive: the class of 1971 at Oxford University

Dom, 15/04/2018 - 06:00

Cap doffing, window smashing and niche dons’ specialisms in the Observer Magazine

Fresh-faced students have traversed the corridors of Oxford University since 1249, but how will the institution take to the class of 1971 and, more importantly, how will they take to Oxford? The Observer Magazine finds out. The young adolescent who has not been prepped his whole life (for it is inevitably a chap) to expect an Oxford education will find on arrival that he goes ‘up’ to Oxford and ‘down’ again, and the Thames will continue to run through the city except that it is called Isis, and is home to ‘gut-busting boat races called Torpids’.

The fresh-faced student will now find he has a college servant who will call him sir

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Categorías: Educación, Universidade