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Thousands of children miss out on first-choice secondary school

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 20:19

Almost half of children in areas of highest demand fail to get offer from preferred school as admissions numbers rise

Tens of thousands of children have failed to get into their first choice of secondary school, with almost half of children in some London boroughs losing out as councils scramble to provide enough places to meet growing demand.

At the end of national offer day on Tuesday, when more than half a million children in their final year of primary school find out which secondary school they will be attending in September, thousands learned they had not got into any of their six chosen schools.

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Trump University fraud claim revisited by New York appeals court

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 19:15

The state’s attorney general accused the for-profit online education venture of misleading customers who thought the ‘university’ was accredited

A New York appeals court on Tuesday has reopened a fraud claim brought by the state’s attorney general against Trump University, the for-profit online education outfit owned and founded by billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The ruling that the fraud suit against Trump University for “deceptive and unlawful practices” could proceed, came in a case New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman filed against the Trump venture in 2013, in which Trump University was accused of misleading customers into paying for services they believed were provided by an accredited university. Trump University, now known as the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, is not and has never been an accredited university or college, and has never conferred degrees to its paying customers.

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Human-animal studies academics dogged by German hoaxers

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 18:51

Editors of Dresden-based journal apologise after being fooled by fake PhD student’s paper on role of alsatians in totalitarianism

The findings unearthed in Christiane Schulte’s journal article were a revelation. The first fatality at the Berlin Wall, it showed, had not been human but a police dog called Rex. And a new law forcing East German border guards to keep their canine enforcers on a lead helped prevent a third world war.

Most shockingly, the 26-year-old PhD student revealed that the alsatians that patrolled the Berlin Wall were direct descendants of those deployed by the Nazis in Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, thus maintaining a “tradition of violence”.

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Tom Hollander is wrong. Posh dominance of culture is not just fashion | Stuart Jeffries

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 17:41
Saying that the preponderance of privately educated actors is just fashion hides a conservative agenda and helps obscure class problems in British society

Perhaps, and it’s just a theory, the privately educated actors on our screens and stages got there by accident. Maybe it’s just happenstance that Benedict Cumberbatch (Harrow), Tom Hiddlestone (Eton), Eddie Redmayne (Eton), Damian Lewis (Eton) and Dominic West (Eton) are leading lights in their profession. Just possibly the fact that these actors’ parents could afford the fees of Harrow and Eton (the latter currently runs at £35,721 per annum) did not substantially contribute to their later career trajectories. It’s possible.

Related: From Downton Abbey to Kirstie's crafts … the New Boring is everywhere

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How to promote good mental health among teachers and students in your school

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 17:31

Discuss mental illness regularly, incorporate more exercise and encourage honest dialogue, suggests the government’s mental health champion for schools

We all know the basic requirements to maintain good physical health. We know we must eat well, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, alcohol in moderation etc. These golden rules have been impressed upon most of us since we were old enough to comprehend them.

When it comes to mental health, however, we’ve been taking a different tack; most of us wait for mental illness symptoms to arise before giving the health of our minds any consideration. It’s a strategy that’s been disastrous for an entire generation of British people (and in particular those under the age of 25).

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National secondary school offer day: everything you need to know

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 16:58

Parents are finding out which school their 11-year-old will go to in September. Here’s how to survive it

It’s been a long time coming but on Tuesday more than half a million children who are in their final year of primary school find out whether they got into their first choice of secondary school.

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Faith school 'admissions by flower arranging' eradicated in England

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 16:16

Campaigners say they have brought end to admission arrangements prioritising places for children whose parents help at church

Admission arrangements that prioritise school places for children whose parents help with flower arranging, cleaning or maintenance at church have been eradicated from faith schools in England, according to secular groups who campaigned for the change.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) said their efforts had forced all schools to drop such criteria from admissions policies after they lodged a series of objections with the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA).

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Academics: dump the corduroy and flaunt your fashion sense

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 14:09

Why should fashion be seen as anti-intellectual? Our clothes express our originality and uniqueness – values that rate highly in academic thought

Academics have had a bad rap for their clothing choices. More than two decades ago fashion historian Valerie Steele scoffed that “academics may be the worst-dressed middle-class occupational group.” Today this perception remains intact, as campus security – not known as the arbitrators of fashion and style – reveals they label academics Planet Corduroy.

It’s not that all academics don’t care about what they wear. But many of us feel pressurised to don a deliberate uniform. Choosing rumpled jackets and jumpers is our way of telling the world we’re too focused on matters of the mind to care about clothes. The teachings of Descartes, not the runway, seemingly guide our decisions.

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Alarm over lead found in drinking water at US schools

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 14:00

In the wake of the Flint water crisis several schools have shut off their drinking water due to high levels of lead, raising the question: ‘How big is this issue?’

Several schools across the US have either discovered or acted upon evidence of high levels of lead in their drinking water in the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, with one leading expert warning the cases could mark “the tip of the iceberg”.

Related: 'It's all just poison now': Flint reels as families struggle through water crisis

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The myth of the know-it-all scientist | Dean Burnett

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 13:00

A surreal aspect of being a scientist is the weird questions you get asked by those outside the field. There are many reasons why this can happen, some of which are the fault of scientists themselves

I’m currently in the middle of a publicity campaign for my first book, The Idiot Brain. And yes, that previous sentence is part of it. It’s about all the things the human brain does weirdly, illogically and just plain wrong. As a result, I’ve ended up talking to a lot of people about the brain, from Libby Purves to Steve Wright to Tim Lovejoy, so I’ve been asked many questions about it.

However, these people are professionals; it’s when you take questions from the general public or more “alternative” media, that’s when things get bizarre. My favourites so far are:

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In their own words: students share their views on smart drugs

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 11:17

‘I felt amazing, really buzzing and ready to work. I was superhuman. Then I crashed and got crazy...’

Young people, news reports tell us, are turning their backs on drinking and recreational drugs. Cigarette-smoking is on the decline, and so too is teenage pregnancy. It looks like this generation is cleaning up its act.

But smart drugs? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they are rife at universities in the UK. And it’s hardly surprising.

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How my generation of dollar-loving North Koreans will shake up regime

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 10:45

In an exclusive interview, defector Sungju Lee argues that his ‘market generation’ is primed to spark a social overhaul in the next 20 years

A generation of North Koreans as familiar with the American dollar as Kim Il-sung is set to dramatically shake up the country, according to young defector Sungju Lee.

Calling those born after 1990 the “market generation”, the 28-year-old says young people are likely to trigger major social and economic changes in the closed-off communist country over the next 20 years.

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What puts white working-class boys off university?

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 08:15

‘I don’t want to be in debt for most of my life.’ Pupils in Ipswich explain why the government faces a challenge to persuade more boys to opt for higher education

Michael James is 13 and has the long, lean look of a boy who has just had a growth spurt. His dad’s a lorry driver; Michael has decided he wants to be the first in his family to go to university.

His siblings who have left school are working – one’s a doorman, another is a traffic operator, directing lorries. His brother in the year above wants to be a lorry driver like his dad. Michael wants to get into football management and hopes university will help.

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Are universities doing enough to help students start businesses?

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 08:10

A quarter of students have started, or plan to start, a venture at university, but the numbers fall post-graduation

The student population possesses a powerful combination of dynamism, youth and brain power – perfect for turning a business idea into a reality. More than a quarter of students have started, or plan to start, a small venture while studying, according to research by Santander.

However, only 10% have ambitions to start a business or continue with their existing venture after university. And when asked to rate the support and information offered to them on starting a business after graduating, more than a third of the students surveyed said it was “OK, but could be better”, while over a quarter felt it was poor or very poor.

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The judges' decision: shortlist for the Guardian University Awards

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 08:00

These are the universities that made the biggest impact on our panels. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 16 March

Here is the list of universities that have been shortlisted in each category. The selection was made by expert judges, with a wide range of experience in the higher education sector.

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Michael Rosen | Dear Nicky Morgan: yes/no testing? The answer’s no

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 08:00

The more ‘reliable’ primary assessments are made, the less ‘valid’ they become

I see you’ve put up a video of yourself reading an autocue to tell the teaching unions and the media they shouldn’t be complaining that this year’s primary assessment criteria are too complicated, too difficult and flying free of what mark is going to constitute an “expected” level for each child.

Let’s remind ourselves how we got here. Your predecessors, Tory, Lib Dem and Labour, came to think that England needed repeated nationally moderated testing of young children. They claimed we parents wanted this. We weren’t consulted, and there was no wide-ranging debate about the effects such tests have on teaching, the curriculum or the children. There was little or no debate about what we might call “testology” – the analysis that shows us that the more “reliable” a test is made, the less “valid” it becomes. This occurs through the process of making papers test a narrower and narrower range of abilities, involving yes/no answers (“reliability”) , whereas life skills call on interpretation, reflection, cooperation, revision and invention (“validity”).

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Never mind the pious mantras about diversity in universities, what about a strategy?

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 07:45

Current policies in higher and further education favour a parasitical elite. It is difficult to imagine worse priorities

Three groups of students have been the biggest losers from the changes made by the last coalition and, especially, the current government. The first are part-time students. No polices in living memory have been more damaging to them than the tripling of full-time fees. Even the most wet behind the ears thinktanker could have anticipated the inevitable upward pressure on part-time fees this increase would produce.

The concession that some part-time students are now eligible for loans is a sticking plaster. Most won’t be, and will have to pay upfront. The slump in demand was as predictable as it has been disastrous. The diversity of higher education has been radically reduced, and individuals’ opportunities choked off.

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Rush of the titans: supersize secondary schools for surging population

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 07:00

Sydney Russell school has 360 places in year 7. Bosses say economies of scale and a broad curriculum mean parents are not put off by its size

It’s breaktime at Sydney Russell school in Dagenham, east London, on the day before national offer day, when primary school pupils find out whether they have got into their first choice of secondary school, and the students in their emerald green blazers begin to emerge from all directions, spilling out of dozens of classrooms across the vast site.

Related: Fears rise over school places as secondaries battle the bulge

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National offer day: how many families will get their first-choice school?

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 07:00

Last year 84% of applicants were offered a place at their favourite school, but this year there is concern about increased demand for places

On Tuesday 1 March more than half a million children who are in their final year of primary school will find out whether they got into their first choice of secondary school. After endless research, attending open days and filling in forms, parents in England will begin to receive email notifications on Tuesday afternoon, and letters later in the week, informing them which school their child will go to in September.

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National Offer Day arrives with warning of shortage in secondary places

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 06:17

Calls for councils to be able to open new schools or force academies to expand as parents and pupils wait to hear if they have received their first choice

Calls have been made to fix England’s “creaky” secondary admissions system as children learn what school they will be attending from this autumn.

Related: Fears rise over school places as secondaries battle the bulge

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