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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

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    University of London spent money on security during protests in support of outsourced workers

    A university has been criticised for spending more than £400,000 on extra security during student protests in support of striking outsourced workers.

    Politicians, students and unions criticised the “astonishing” cost of security during protests at the University of London (UoL), which took place in support of striking outsourced workers and their calls for equal terms on conditions such as sick pay.

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    The solutions to today’s puzzles

    On my puzzle blog earlier today I set you three football table challenges:

    1) England, Tunisia, Belgium and Panama make up Group G in the 2018 World Cup. Imagine that once they have all played each other the table looks like this.

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    Private lenders are using free movies and happy hours to entice people to refinance their student debt

    Are you one of the 44 million Americans drowning in student loans you fear you’ll never pay back? Worried that you’ll be in the red for the rest of your life? Well, why not forget about your spiralling debt by kicking back and watching a movie!

    This month, banking company Laurel Road announced that if you refinance your student loan with them, they will give you a year’s membership to MoviePass, the movie theater subscription service.

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  • 05/24/18--10:17: Mary Patchett obituary
  • After a decade as a schoolteacher in Leeds and Hampshire, in 1976 my friend Mary Patchett enrolled as a postgraduate student in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, with a passion to bring about change. She became a vociferous campaigner for nuclear disarmament, active in CND and in ad hoc campaigns against nuclear weapons, and at Greenham Common women’s peace camp.

    Mary, who has died aged 91, continued her peace activism and political campaigning in the grassroots of the Green party and Friends of the Earth. She was a staunch advocate of the feminist movement. She supported displaced Vietnamese refugees and, in later years, asylum seekers and detainees at what became Haslar Immigration Removal Centre in Hampshire.

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    Post-exam discussions about what answers you gave have been replaced by social media frenzies, writes a student blogger

    Do you want to write for Blogging Students? Find out how here

    A few weeks ago, I took my GCSE English literature exam. Everything seemed to go well – the questions were predictably similar to past papers and the unseen poem, (Long Distance II by Tony Harrison,) was easy to understand and empathise with – or so I thought. But logging onto my Twitter account I found a completely different story.

    Twitter unintentionally allowed everyone doing AQA English to link into one huge spider's web. A quick search revealed one very worrying tweet: "Wait, what. The dad in Long Distance II was dead too?" Wait, what? This was not something I had picked up on.

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    Theresa May’s resurrecting grammar schools so how would you fare in a test to get in one?

    Theresa May has proposed a shakeup of the education system that could lead to an expansion of grammar schools across England. Many people object to the categorisation of pupils at age 11 on the basis of an exam. But how would you fare in such a test? Here’s a selection of 11-plus questions from sample tests produced by the educational publisher CGP. (To complete all the questions please view on desktop or mobile browsers rather than the app.)

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    Adult education is flourishing at Oxford, writes Jonathan Michie, and Michael Pyke is sick of the Oxbridge coverage while our schools are in chaos

    John Holford argues adult education has “withered on the vine” (Letters, 31 May). Oxford has bucked that trend: its continuing education department runs more courses, with greater student enrolments than ever – over 1,000 a year, and 23,000 a year respectively (exceeding the number of Oxford degree students). Four examples are relevant to recent media stories.

    First, the 1922 royal commission on Oxford and Cambridge concluded both should pursue continuing education, based centrally: Oxford in 1927 bought Rewley House for this purpose, and is planning to expand these central facilities for continuing education.

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    BBC Two’s new series surely puts a further dent in Theresa May’s plans to expand selective education

    I suspect I am not the only person who felt beamed into some alien universe watching the first episode of Grammar Schools: Who Will Get In?, BBC Two’s mini-series focusing on the transfer to secondary school in the selective borough of Bexley.

    Are there really parts of diverse, metropolitan London in 2018 in which primary-age children are put through the 11-plus test? Who could not be haunted by the silent tears of Jaenita’s mother, who works at Poundland and has spent hundreds of pounds a month for years on test tuition, only to see her plucky, articulate daughter fear herself “a failure in life”?

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    ‘Change is necessary. Maybe I put people’s noses out of joint,’ says controversial academy chain chief

    The newspapers couldn’t believe their luck. Last autumn, Barry Smith, headteacher of the new Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, issued policies on behaviour to parents and children. The predecessor school, he wrote, was riddled with indiscipline, bullying and truancy. He would not allow such things. Mobile phones, if seen or heard, would be confiscated for weeks. Pupils must “only ever look at your teacher or where your teacher has directed you to look”. Smith specified “unacceptable” boys’ haircuts including “variations on the style often known as ‘Meet me at McDonald’s’”, a tousled mop with short sides.

    Most remarkably, he told children not to feign illness to avoid work. “If you feel sick we will give you a bucket. If you vomit – no problem! … that’s probably all your body wanted.” After press headlines and angry parents’ protests, Smith modified his “behaviour guide”, parts of which were “tongue in cheek”, with the sick buckets being just “a colourful turn of phrase”.

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    ‘Resist’ group launches survey to expose institutions’ enforcement of tough immigration controls

    Lecturers who went on strike in April over their pensions stood to lose earnings. But some faced losing far more. Since 2016, employers have been obliged to report to the Home Office anyone in the UK on a tier 2 “skilled worker” visa who exceeds 20 days’ unpaid absence in a year. Had the action continued, migrant lecturers who took part would have risked deportation.

    It is just one way in which the “hostile environment policy”, pursued by the government since 2010 to make living in the UK as uncomfortable as possible for illegal migrants, affects university students and staff who are in the UK legitimately, according to Sanaz Raji, an independent researcher and founder of the campaign group Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC).

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    Physically they’re on the same level – there’s no reason for a school to organise different events, despite what some might say

    It’s astonishing what people can work themselves up into a lather about these days. A primary school in Inverness has announced that girls and boys will compete together on sports days. Incredibly, the news has prompted national debate.

    First, a quick sense check – we are talking about the egg-and-spoon race here, for kids aged four and upwards. As I write, my daughter is out in the playground practising the three-legged race with her classmates as they get ready for their sports day this week. She’s excited and determined to win a medal, like last year, and it won’t have occurred to her for a millisecond that she shouldn’t be racing alongside 50% of her classmates because they are boys.

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    Some teachers have claimed these commemorations have an adverse affect on pupils. But is it right to try to insulate young people from tragedy?

    Should schoolchildren observe a minute’s silence after a national tragedy? Is it too upsetting for them? Or perhaps it’s not upsetting enough, occurring with such regularity that they become inured to the cruelty of the world and assume it’s a regular thing to lose a loved one at a pop concert, or 80 neighbours in a fire? Teachers and experts – one from a grammar school in south-east England – have made the case against these memorials.

    Everyone wants to insulate children from horror to a degree, and there would be the distasteful tang of the tragedy vulture around a head who held a minute’s silence for every untimely death that came to their attention. It would be bizarre for a school that was in the sightline of Grenfell Tower to not commemorate it formally. Three counties away, the kids might be unaware of the tragedy, and it might feel crass to draw them into it. Although you could argue that is what national solidarity is, marking events that aren’t necessarily on your doorstep.

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    Comparing elite university applications with those for the ITV show is just misleading

    How does the number of people applying to be on Love Island compare with that of people applying for Britain’s elite universities, and what does the comparison tell us about the state of the nation? Well, quite a lot, if you listen to some Twitter pundits aghast at the widely shared statistic that far more of the country’s young people wanted to be on a reality TV show than get into Oxford or Cambridge.

    But are the numbers all they seem?

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    Guidelines to tackle anger over salaries appear less stringent than proposals from January

    Universities have agreed to adopt a voluntary code that would require them to justify repeated pay rises for vice-chancellors above those of other staff, after a year of controversy over high salaries.

    But the guidelines published by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) appear to have been watered down compared with a more detailed draft published by the committee earlier this year.

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    The long school year is coming to an end and one primary teacher has a few things to share

    • 10 things parents want to say to teachers

    1 Your kids are not your mates

    Something I'm starting to hear with worrying frequency within the primary school setting is "my daughter's my best friend". Often, this rings alarm bells. Your kids aren't your mates. You're their parent, and your responsibility is to provide them with guidance and boundaries, not to drag them into your own disputes. Your nine-year-old doesn't need to know about your bitter feud with his friend's mother, or which dad you've got the  hots for at the school gate. In the years to come he or she may realise that some of  their own problems (social alienation, in its various forms, being a prime example) might have something to do with exposure to that sort of talk at an early age. Continue at your own risk.

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    From videos in Japanese to news in German, language blogger Lindsay Dow recommends her favourite podcasts to keep you motivated and inspired while improving your skills

    I became a language addict way back in the early noughties thanks to Shakira. Since then I’ve gone on to pursue a degree in French and Spanish with the Open University, and I’ve also studied Mandarin, Italian, German and various other languages along the way. With formal studying never quite being enough, I’m always looking for other methods to engage my language learning brain, podcasts being one of them. Here’s a few of my favourites:

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    Many people get stressed before exams, but there are ways to increase your confidence and minimise your nerves

    Some students will feel a growing sense of dread as exam season approaches – while others may appear irritatingly unfazed. Shelly Asquith, vice president for welfare at the National Union of Students (NUS), says that exam confidence “comes with good wellbeing in general”.

    “I don’t think it’s necessarily about feeling confident in yourself, but feeling that you’re able to do the work,” she says. But that’s easier said than done perhaps. So how can students manage anxiety and stress during exam time – and still get the grades they need?

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    From sorting out practical arrangements to avoiding faux pas, follow our guide to graduation day

    “At my first graduation I got my boyfriend and best friend to pretend to be my parents,” says doctorate student Lindsay Jordan. “My friend dressed up like Jackie Onassis. It was pretty funny, but I’d rather my real parents had been there.”

    Jordan’s parents didn’t attend either her undergraduate or master’s graduation ceremonies, as “they hate travelling and formal occasions”. While they may not be for everyone, graduation ceremonies are a chance for parents to celebrate their child’s achievements – and mark the end of university life. But they can also be expensive, stressful and the cause of family arguments. Here’s how to make your student child’s graduation day a happy one.

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    Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

    Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

    As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no – shorts weren’t permitted under the school’s uniform policy.

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    Stacy Koltiska was forced to take back hot lunches from students whose parents owed over $25 on overdrawn accounts, replacing meals with cheese sandwiches

    Stacy Koltiska loved working in the Wylandville elementary school cafeteria in western Pennsylvania. The hours were perfect – the two-and-a-half-hour shift allowed her to get her youngest daughter on and off the bus every day – and she enjoyed working with kids and seeing their excitement over school lunch every day.

    But last Thursday, Koltiska resigned over what she considers a “lunch shaming” school policy. She said she was forced to take away hot lunches from two students because their parents owed more than $25 on the account used to pay for their school lunches.

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