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Guardian Unlimited: Education
Latest education news, comment and analysis on schools, colleges, universities, further and higher education and teaching from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice
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600,000 families in England are waiting to see if their children have gained a place at the school of their choice. We’d like you to share your experiences with us
600,000 families in England are waiting to see if their children have been able to gain a place at a primary school of their choice, when local authorities announce the results for September 2017 entry.Continue reading...
A Gloucestershire academy is bucking the national trend by offering disruptive pupils and their teachers an alternative
A girl is studying quietly at a desk just outside the headteacher’s office at Gloucester academy. “Hi Freya, everything all right?” Ian Frost, the head, asks as he passes. The pupil gives a quick smile and nods before turning back to her exercise book.
Freya, 16, a year 11 student, has been having what she describes as “a bad week” and was disruptive in class. Now she’s in isolation for a day, but Frost has decided he wants to oversee her work rather than putting her in a room with other pupils who have been excluded from lessons.Continue reading...
If creative pupils can go to performing arts schools, why can’t we have selective schools for clever clogs? But it’s not the same
If some children attend specialist performing arts schools, why shouldn’t smart kids attend grammar schools?
That’s a useful question for politicians who want more selective schools. After all, if there’s no data to suggest grammar schools improve educational outcomes (and on grammars there isn’t), and no logical reason for your idea (why would a separate building make smart kids smarter?), then the simplest way to win people over is point to another kind of specialist schooling and shout: “Doesn’t your child deserve special treatment too?”Continue reading...
As financial difficulties take their toll, more mergers like that between UCL and the Institute of Education look inevitable – or will private equity firms step in?
When academics at the Institute of Education were told that they would be merging with University College London, they were assured it would boost their profile. The IoE was already ranked as world-leading in education. But in a climate of squeezed research funding and highly competitive student recruitment, the merger was seen as a sensible move by many in the sector, who felt that smaller institutions might be at risk.
The alliance crowned UCL as the biggest university in London, with more than 35,000 students, and the largest postgraduate institution in Britain. But two years on, angry educationists say they are underpaid and undervalued in their new institution.Continue reading...
Archive used in prosecution of Nazis reveals detailed evidence of death camps and genocide previously unseen by public
War crimes files revealing early evidence of Holocaust death camps that was smuggled out of eastern Europe are among tens of thousands of files to be made public for the first time this week.
The once-inaccessible archive of the UN war crimes commission, dating back to 1943, is being opened by the Wiener Library in London with a catalogue that can be searched online.Continue reading...
Teachers’ union passes motion at annual conference challenging government’s use of data collected by state schools in England
Parents are being told not to supply information on their children’s nationality and birthplace being demanded by the government, amid fears that the information could be used to enforce immigration laws.
The National Union of Teachers’ annual conference passed a motion condemning the Department for Education’s attempts to record pupils’ nationality and country of birth in the national pupil database (NPD), with delegates told that the details could be passed to the Home Office and police.Continue reading...
A good idea is being put at risk by a government in a hurry, with monitoring and assessment systems not yet ready
There is plenty to admire in the government’s plans to beef up apprenticeships, funded from a levy that came into force this month on all companies with a payroll of more than £3m a year. The scheme will provide an extra 3m apprenticeships, which the government believes will help fill the skills and productivity gap that dogs the British economy. Everyone, from the CBI to the TUC and the main parties, has signed up and wants it to succeed. But it is coming in helter-skelter, with important details unresolved, and it is going to be bolted on to a system that needs much deeper change if it is to deliver genuinely higher skills and social mobility in Sheffield and Newcastle as well as in London.
The biggest flaw is that, like so many other government initiatives, this latest attempt to boost the number of apprenticeships could have been designed to be gamed. Experience has surely shown by now that setting a target, generating the cash, and launching the scheme before systems of monitoring and assessment are up and running is an open invitation for employers to cheat. So there is nothing to stop them, say, rebadging existing training or other professional development programmes, or offering low-skill apprenticeships in business administration or customer service.Continue reading...
Just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment, despite the vast majority saying they want to work. This beer company aims to help.
With its collection of small vessels and hoses, plain tiled floor and bags of malt, the workplace of People Like Us in Skippinge, Denmark, is a typical brewing scene.
But for Rune Lindgreen, a 39-year-old with Asperger Syndrome, it is much more than that. Lindgreen was out of work for almost a decade before landing a job as a beer developer in this company run by autistic adults.Continue reading...
Alun Jones admits school about to open new concert venue has been through tough times but its safeguarding procedures have been ruled ‘impeccable’
It is the biggest specialist music school in the UK, producing more winners of the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition than its rivals, and boasting a medieval library where Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx once studied. But when Alun Jones took over as head of Chetham’s school of music in Manchester last year he inherited an institution with a troubled reputation.
The private school, where boarding fees are £31,713 per year, was recovering from a sexual abuse scandal which resulted in the jailing of its former head of music and the suicide of a violin teacher who had been due to face 77 charges of sex offences against 10 former pupils.Continue reading...
TeachFirst charity says findings demonstrate that ‘social mobility remains a serious issue in our country’
Children from poor families are only half as likely to get places in outstanding schools compared with their wealthier peers, according to new research published on the eve of national primary school offer day in England.
As 600,000 families in England wait to see if their children have gained a place at a school of their choice, the charity TeachFirst says those from disadvantaged families have fewer opportunities of being admitted to the top tier of state schools.Continue reading...
Roy Boffy (Letters, 15 April) makes an important point about natural fluctuations in size and ability of year groups, some years denying a grammar-school place to an able child and some years yielding a place to a less able child. Here in In Buckinghamshire, where the 11-plus has survived, an entirely different phenomenon is at work, whose effects on Buckinghamshire children dwarfs any due to Mr Boffy’s fluctuations. The examination is open to all-comers and in the examination last September 41.3% of those sitting it were from out-of-county – and they achieved a pass rate almost twice that of the Buckinghamshire candidates (47.4% v 24.5%).
It seems reasonable to assume that the greater success of the out-of-county children was not the result of a greater intrinsic ability but, rather, of some strong elements of pre-selection: driven parents who can negotiate the system and coaching, for example. The result, a little arithmetic shows, was that only 42.4% of Buckinghamshire grammar school places were initially offered to Buckinghamshire children and 57.6% to out-of-county children. These figures fit with a steady trend over recent years.Continue reading...
Your correspondent Jane Straker writes (Letters, 12 April) that “interpreters should have no vested interest in the outcome of a meeting”, but in fact, in high-level meetings, each side usually has its own interpreter. My father, Isa Khalil Sabbagh, was a US diplomat and the interpreter (though he hated the word) for President Nixon on Middle East shuttles during the 1970s. When it came to a meeting between Nixon and King Feisal of Saudi Arabia, when Feisal discovered that my father was to be the US interpreter he waved away his own, saying: “We trust Abu Khalil (the familiar name for my father) to translate fairly for both of us.”
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My father, Nick Fieller, who has died aged 70, was a long-serving statistician at Sheffield University. He had followed in the footsteps of his father, Edgar, a pioneer in the same field, who had devised Fieller’s theorem.
Nick focused on different issues, including multivariate analysis, outliers and archeao-statistics (especially Egyptian). He was a president of the British Classification Society, edited one of the journals of the Royal Statistical Society, and in his retirement wrote Basics of Matrix Algebra for Statistics with R (2015). Perhaps the most enjoyable part of his work was teaching and working with his many students, who formed a network from Gaza to Botswana, via Iran and Portugal.Continue reading...
Delegates hear accounts of harmful effects of testing on pupils, including woman who blames childhood exams for her alopecia
A national boycott of primary school testing in England moved a step closer after delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference heard graphic accounts of the harmful effects of testing on pupils and schools.
Delegates debated a string of hostile motions and amendments calling for protests over standardised tests in English and maths – known as Sats in key stage 1 and 2 – for seven- and 11-year-olds, as well as any future assessments imposed by the government.Continue reading...
The UK’s largest teaching union says Theresa May’s policy ignores its own harmful effects on disadvantaged children
Delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) national conference have voted to oppose the government’s efforts to increase the number of grammar schools, saying it ignored evidence of the harmful effects of such a programme on disadvantaged children and those with special needs.
“Far be it for me to criticise a well-educated, high-achieving woman from a comprehensive education background, but what the bloody hell is [education secretary] Justine Greening talking about?” Robin Head, an NUT executive member, told delegates in Cardiff.Continue reading...
Figures show lion’s share of free schools spending goes to wealthy south
Theresa May’s education policies came under fresh attack on Saturday night amid evidence that the Tories’ flagship “free schools” programme wastes huge sums of public money while benefiting prosperous areas in the south far more than deprived places elsewhere.
With the prime minister already facing cross-party criticism over plans to open more grammar schools, ministers were confronted with data showing that new free schools in England will fail to meet urgent demand for new places, and cost taxpayers vast amounts of money when they fail to get off the ground.Continue reading...
Tory ideology ignores evidence that selection undermines the prospects of the poorest
It is one of the worst kept secrets in Westminster that education secretary Justine Greening is not the biggest supporter of the policy that is now the social mobility “flagship” of Theresa May’s government – expanding the number of grammar schools.
Greening must be aware of the clear UK and international evidence that selective education both fails to raise overall standards, and undermines the prospects of poor children. Education Policy Institute researchers last year analysed the government’s own schools data and drew two key conclusions. First, that almost no children on free school meals get into grammar schools – a risible 4,000 out of more than eight million pupils in the whole of England. Second, that although there is a small benefit for pupils who are admitted to selective schools, this is offset by the worse results for other pupils in areas with a significant number of grammar places.Continue reading...
The scandal of schools failing the poorest pupils is being ignored by both main parties
Government cuts to school budgets will undoubtedly dominate debate at the annual teacher union conferences this weekend. And with good reason: schools in some areas are set to lose almost a fifth of their per-pupil funding by 2020. This is the sharpest cut to schools funding since the 1970s, coming as six in 10 academies are running average annual deficits of £350,000.
But there is plenty else to discuss. The education secretary, Justine Greening, elaborated on the government’s plans to expand grammar schools last Thursday. The week before, Jeremy Corbyn launched a new schools policy: free school lunches for all primary school children.Continue reading...
National Union of Teachers approves industrial action in worst-hit areas and says further cuts could trigger a national strike
Schools in England could be closed by strikes before the end of the summer term, after the National Union of Teachers backed industrial action over the education funding crisis at its annual conference.
The vote to strike came after delegates were told of children at one school who spent two weeks wearing hats and coats in their classroom this winter because of budget pressures.Continue reading...
Few people are brave enough to talk about mental health issues. I wasn’t and I passed up on perhaps the most ‘teachable moment’ of all
Last year, I quit teaching. I had completed my NQT induction, and despite the years of self-doubt and tears I’d finally come to recognise that I was a competent teacher, and had started to believe my positive feedback.
I had also come to realise, however, that teaching was an unhealthy career choice for me. I am a perfectionist – or now, I hope, a recovering perfectionist – who is prone to anxiety. Unfortunately, I could not reconcile these aspects of my mentality with the never-ending pressures of being a teacher.