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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
Updated: 48 min 3 sec ago

Exam board 'sorry' for audio mix-up in French and Spanish A-levels

1 hour 16 min ago

Students still have to apply for ‘special consideration’ to have mark adjusted, says Eduqas

An examination board has apologised to A-level students and their teachers after a mix-up in recordings made it difficult for candidates to answer questions in Spanish and French exams taken this month.

Students sitting the Eduqas French modern foreign languages exams on Monday complained that recordings were out of order, making it more difficult to answer with confidence. The exam accounted for 50% of the final mark of the A-level paper.

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The Guardian view on the Mackintosh fire: how to rebuild is Scotland’s choice | Editorial

2 hours 8 min ago
The Glasgow School of Art was a masterpiece, but promises to build a reproduction are premature

The gutting by fire of Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building is a huge loss to Scotland and the world. The highly distinctive structure, completed in 1909, was Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece. It is also the home of one of the UK’s most important art schools and a place beloved by students, many of whom have spoken in recent days of their shock and sadness. Neither the fact that the art school has a strongly Scottish identity, nor divisions between Scottish and UK politicians over Brexit, should obscure a shared sense of deep dismay.

That anger was also being expressed even before the fire was fully out is understandable, and right. A costly and painstaking £35m restoration was nearing completion, with timbers to match the originals sourced from a Massachusetts mill. An exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum, planned to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth, opened a few weeks ago. The refurbished Mackintosh-designed Willow Tea Rooms reopens in a fortnight; another tea room is one of the centrepieces of the new V&A in Dundee. Mackintosh was a one-off, his career a brilliant chapter in the story of Scottish and British art and design. Now the heart of Glasgow’s Mackintosh legacy has been ripped away.

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T-levels reinforce class hierarchy | Letters

3 hours 9 min ago
Vocational education in the UK has always been seen as essentially for ‘other people’s children’, writes Michael Pyke, and Bernard Godding of the Educational Centres Association reflects on its role in addressing disadvantage

Chiding Fiona Millar for her pessimism about the new T-levels, Anne Milton MP, minister of state for skills and apprenticeships, assures us that “these exciting new qualifications ... are here to stay” (Letters, 16 June). She bases her optimism upon two factors: the care taken with the design of T-levels and the fact that they will be part of a “holistic” approach to technical education which will include the establishment of institutes of technology “that will offer ... technical training to degree standard”.

Leaving aside that some of this looks remarkably like a case of “back to the future”, the minister completely ignores the underlying reason for the failure of every single government attempt since 1945 to provide high-quality technical and vocational education: namely, the historical role of academic qualifications in reinforcing social class hierarchy. This became quite explicit in 2004, when the government rejected wholesale the excellent Tomlinson report, because its recommendations would have given equal status in the sixth form to both academic and vocational studies by incorporating both into the same school-leaver’s diploma. As Fiona Millar points out, vocational education in the UK has always been seen as essentially for “other people’s children”. T-levels, however well designed, won’t change this.
Michael Pyke
Lichfield, Staffordshire

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Miriam Griffin obituary

3 hours 25 min ago
Oxford classical scholar and expert on Seneca who offered new insights into the torrid world of Roman imperial politics

The classical scholar and tutor Miriam Griffin, who has died aged 82, played a crucial role in getting readers to appreciate the philosophical writing of the ancient Romans in their historical context, in particular that of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher and tutor to the emperor Nero.

Seneca’s works had generally been viewed either as the self-exculpation of a hypocrite, parading his aspirations to virtue while pocketing Nero’s largesse, or as an unreliable compilation of ideas from earlier (otherwise lost) Greek Stoics. Miriam’s intellectual biography, Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics (1992), made a case for thinking about Seneca’s writing in its specifically Roman social, intellectual and political context, illuminating the particular dilemmas with which Stoic ideas enabled him to grapple.

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Half of workers think Britain has a 'class ceiling'

5 hours 2 min ago

Study commissioned by Justine Greening reveals perception of bias against working class accents

Half of UK workers believe a regional accent and a working class background are barriers to success, according to a new study that revealed working class representation in leadership roles is as low as 17%.

The study was commissioned by the former education secretary Justine Greening, who said working class people still believed they encountered a “class ceiling” with too much emphasis placed on personal connections more likely to suit middle class candidates.

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Share your 2018 GCSE and A-level experiences

8 hours 15 min ago

We’d like to hear from students, parents and teachers to find out how A-levels and GCSEs have worked this year

New style exams for GCSE and A-level students could cause distortion and volitility in results, according to regulator Ofqual.

Related: Stress and serious anxiety: how the new GCSE is affecting mental health

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What's it like to live in university halls?

9 hours 5 min ago

Psychology student Becky Kenderdine spent her first year living in student halls at the University of Birmingham

When I first moved into student halls I was nervous and excited. I was nervous about what the people I was going to be living with would be like. But I was also excited about moving in with young people for the first time.

I live with four others and we were the last flat to arrive. Everyone else got there on Saturday, but we didn’t move in until Sunday, so it was a bit daunting. Our flat is on the top floor of our block and I remember thinking: “Oh my god, I have to walk up all these stairs.”

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Help your child apply to university: ‘Ask what inspires them’

9 hours 5 min ago

Pin down their passions with an in-depth chat to get a shortlist; then it’s time to ace that application

When Sammie Scott, 18, began the application process, she found that practical support from her parents was key. “As much as university is my own decision, it will affect the rest of my family too,” she says. “I wanted to make sure they were evaluating things in the same way I was. It was really helpful for me to be able to talk to them about everything.”

In theory, the application process is simple. Confirm grades, choose courses and universities, write a personal statement, send the application off and wait. But in practice, the process for most students is far less cut and dried – and parents can play a big part in helping them to the right decision. “Begin discussions with your child early,” advises David Seaton, assistant director, student recruitment and admissions, University of Bedfordshire. “Be supportive, and listen to them.”

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Bulldoze or rebuild? Architects at odds over future of Glasgow School of Art

10 hours 3 min ago

Ideas about what to do with the charred remains of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s range from restoration to a building ‘fit for the 21st century’

The smoke has barely cleared over the blackened carcass of the Glasgow School of Art, which was gutted by a fire on Friday night, but the architecture world is already alight with debate about what should come next.

To many, Glasgow without Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest work is unthinkable: his masterpiece must be reconstructed stone by stone, no matter the cost. But the extent of the destruction from the fire, which appears to have left only the stone facades standing, have led others to call for a new building to take its place.

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University open days: everything you always wanted to know about X

13 hours 32 min ago

Arrive armed with a barrage of questions for tutors and students – and do some solo exploring too – to make the most of an open day

Attending open days is time consuming and expensive – so parents and children alike will want to come away with a clear idea of whether the universities they visit are going to be a good match.

“It’s a good idea to have somebody else with you on the day, whether it’s parents, a friend or a partner,” says Carole McCann, head of student recruitment at the University of Law. “The better they know you personally, the more insight they can provide as to whether they can see you living and studying at that university. They’re also a good grounding influence in case you get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget about some of the things you wanted to find out about.”

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University study abroad: good for the character and the bank balance

13 hours 32 min ago

With lower – or non-existent – fees, and courses taught in English, non‑UK unis are a smart option for the more adventurous

It can be tough when your son or daughter moves away to university. And that challenge is only amplified if they’re going to another country. In fact, the whole process can be more stressful for parents than students, says Anna Moscrop, study abroad manager at the University of Exeter. But having a student child go abroad needn’t be filled with worry.

Students are increasingly keen to jet off for a degree or a semester. Some can’t resist an adventure, the chance to explore a new culture, or maybe even to soak up a bit more sunshine. For others, cost is the deciding factor; many European countries charge much less than the UK’s annual £9,000-plus tuition fees. Many young people also think that spending time abroad will improve their career prospects, a British Council study found.

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From parties to politics: how student life has changed

13 hours 32 min ago

Linda Aitchison studied modern languages at Wolverhampton Polytechnic – but ‘didn’t always show up to lectures’. Now her twin daughters are in their first year of university in Nottingham

Linda Aitchison is director of a PR company
I was excited for my girls when they went to university, but I also miss them very much. We lost their dad when they were just 13, so it was hard when they left, because this was always going to be a time for me and him. But it has also given me more independence and I’m doing things like getting the house sorted.

I’m proud that they’ve worked so hard and done so well. We text and call regularly and I follow them on Instagram. They enjoy university, but I think there is more pressure now because of fees. I had a great time when I was studying. I worked in a bar and partied a lot, so I’m surprised my girls don’t seem to go to parties as much.

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‘See the positives, revisit old interests’: how to cope with an empty nest

13 hours 32 min ago

The children have gone to university. For some parents, the void that remains is harrowing; others see it as an opportunity

Louise Rodgers’s two children, 25 and 24, flew the nest several years ago – but they’ve come back at various times too. “Going to university is the first part of their journey to independence, and that can go on for quite a while these days,” she says. “It’s been several years of coming and going in a really lovely, delightful way, most of the time.”

Rodgers takes a dim view of empty nest syndrome. “I feel it’s a little bit of a hark back to when women defined themselves by their status as mothers and wives. And I feel that we all have more complex identities than that now – mother is just one of them.”

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If postwar history starts in 1951, did the Tories ‘blue-wash’ the A-level syllabus?

13 hours 47 min ago
Critics claim OCR’s module on 20th-century Britain focuses too heavily on Churchill and ignores Attlee

It’s 3.15pm on a Wednesday afternoon in the airy atrium of the Suffolk One sixth-form college in Ipswich, and there’s a palpable sense of relief. This year’s A-level history candidates have emerged from an exam on Churchill, and are chatting animatedly about it with their teacher, Jenny Moore.

They are delighted because they were asked to discuss an extract on Churchill from the war diaries of General Sir Alan Brooke, which they know well. They have loved this part of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board’s history syllabus.

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The academy dream is in freefall. Schools should not have to pick up the pieces

14 hours 2 min ago

As more trusts are collapsing, a strict cap on executive pay and a lock on school assets is required

Eight years have passed since the coalition government empowered schools to free themselves of sinister-sounding local council “control” and become academies. Politicians sold a vision of a world in which our children’s education would instead be managed by “charitable trusts”.

The plan was to extend the “big society” – a utopian vision in which citizen groups would run public services, from local libraries to police units. But less than a decade later, and those have-a-go heroes have become walkaway washouts, as charity after charity is pulling the plug and handing back its schools.

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Job ads can give men a head start in school leadership selection

14 hours 17 min ago
Schools recruit using words such as ‘driven’, authoritative’ and ‘ambitious’, which can deter female candidates

At the Harrold primary academy in Bedford, governors are looking to recruit a “driven, ambitious and self-motivated natural leader” as executive principal. Ormiston Endeavour academy in Ipswich says that educational leadership is “not for the faint of heart” and is advertising for a head of school who will embrace its “no excuses” culture. At All Saints academy, Dunstable, they are after a head of school with “relentless drive, energy and ambition”. Salaries range from £70,000 to £103,000. These are the top jobs in education, and they want the best.

But who are they imagining will respond to such thrusting language? Vivienne Porritt, a former headteacher, has been analysing the wording used in advertisements for headships and school leaders. She believes much of the recruitment material for these jobs demonstrates evidence of “gendered” language – the types of words and phrases that lead to inequality.

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Primary school children affected by hygiene poverty, charity finds

15 hours 33 min ago

One in four families surveyed have gone without toiletries because of financial difficulties

Primary school children are arriving for their lessons unwashed and in dirty clothes because their parents cannot afford to buy washing powder, soap or shampoo, according to a survey by a UK charity.

More than four in 10 parents (43%) who took part in the survey said they have had to go without basic hygiene or cleaning products because they can’t afford them, while almost one in five (18%) admit their child wears the same underwear at least two days in a row.

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University chiefs to be forced to justify pay

21 hours 1 min ago

Action by universities’ regulator comes after outcry over salaries of some vice-chancellors

University leaders are to be required to provide full details of their pay package and justification for it under new rules aimed at increasing transparency and addressing disquiet about excessive vice-chancellor pay.

The new universities’ regulator, the Office for Students, plans to publish full details of VCs’ pay in an annual report starting next year, including basic salary, performance-related pay, pension contributions and other taxable and non-taxable benefits.

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Testing children gives a poor measure of ability | Letters

Δευτέρα, 18/06/2018 - 19:50
Readers respond to Simon Jenkins’s piece on how ‘the cult of tests is ruining our schools’

“Simon Jenkins (The cult of tests is ruining our schools, 15 June) doesn’t mention the most recent proposals from the Department for Education, to introduce “baseline tests” when children enter primary school reception classes. The stated purpose of these tests is to provide measures of “progress” between reception and year 6 when children take the key stage 2 tests. Yet the overwhelming evidence is that quick and simple tests at around four years of age are very unreliable. This makes them particularly unsuitable for use as instruments for “accountability”, which, as Jenkins points out, means league tables of schools.

There is already ample evidence that the use of tests at secondary school level to create similar “value added” measures does not lead to scientifically meaningful distinctions between schools and is of very little use for parental choice of schools. In the case of primary schools, the fundamental measurement problem will be even more problematic because of the longer seven-year time lag between reception baseline and key stage 2 outcomes; and because of the much smaller number of children in each primary school in comparison to secondary schools. We urge the government to think again about this policy before it becomes a pointless and wasteful exercise.
Professor Gemma Moss UCL Institute of Education, Professor Harvey Goldstein University of Bristol, Professor Pam Sammons University of Oxford, Professor Gemma Moss Director, International Literacy Centre, professor of literacy and past president of the British Educational Research Association (Bera). Members of the British Educational Research Association expert panel on assessment

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Poor countries subsidise the NHS by training doctors – compensate them | Letters

Δευτέρα, 18/06/2018 - 19:50
The UK is home to over 4,700 doctors who trained in Nigeria, providing a substantial subsidy from the African country to the UK, says this multi-signatory letter from experts, and Parry Mitchell suggests ways to tempt back medics who have moved abroad

The scrapping of the immigration cap is a rare victory for freedom of movement (Immigration cap on doctors to be lifted, 15 June), but the global health inequalities underlying the issue need to be part of the debate. The shortage of health workers is a global problem, particularly acute in parts of Africa and Asia, fuelled by global health inequalities. Nigeria has one doctor for every 2,660 people, compared to one doctor for every 354 in the UK. The UK is home to over 4,700 doctors who trained in Nigeria, providing a substantial subsidy from Nigeria to the UK.

In order to meet its commitment to increase NHS England funding by £8bn, the government cut “non-NHS England” funding (which includes funding for training health workers) by £4bn – a cut of 24% in real terms. If it intends to rely on some of the world’s poorest countries to fill the gap, it must put in place a mechanism to adequately compensate them.
Martin Drewry Director, Health Poverty Action
Prof David Sanders Global Co-chair, People’s Health Movement
Dr Titilola Banjoko Co-chair, Better Health for Africa
Thomas Schwarz Executive secretary, Medicus Mundi International Network
Marielle Bemelmans Director, Wemos
David McCoy Professor of Global Public Health, Queen Mary University of London
Remco van de Pas Academic coordinator, Maastricht Centre for Global Health
Dr Fran Baum Director, Southgate Institute for Health, Flinders University
Professor Ronald Labonté School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa

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