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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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    The call to ban phones from the playground is rightly popular. But schools will need resources to do it properly

    When a minister in this government stumbles on a policy that is both popular and good, it’s newsworthy. Matt Hancock, the digital minister, has suggested that schools ban the use of mobile phones by their pupils. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, agrees. In France, the Macron government has put forward legislation that will ban the use of phones in all primary and middle schools. This removes the matter from the discretion of headteachers. Those who have already purged their playgrounds of screens report few problems. The measure seems entirely straightforward and sensible.

    There are three kinds of damage that mobile phones can do in the playground and schools are right to tackle them. The most obvious may be the least serious: some games and apps are so overwhelmingly attractive when they first appear that unhappy children can be entirely swept away in them. Fortnite is the latest craze of this sort. Before that there were birds, variously angry and flappy. All these crazes evaporate in time and are replaced by others. The market is just too rewarding for those who get it right. On the whole, though, these problems are self-regulating. The second problem, which is not of course confined to school hours, is that social networks make bullying and cliquishness easier and perhaps more attractive. They make grownups behave like petulant teenagers and real teenagers have fewer defences against their own worst impulses. Schools are right to try to defend themselves and their pupils against such influences.

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    Undergraduates campaign to break ties with the NUS over its new leader Malia Bouattia’s controversial stance

    Are you feeling the urge for another referendum? Students at Cambridge University are. Some undergraduates are leading a campaign to break ties with the National Union of Students and on Monday the Cambridge students’ union is expected to approve plans to hold a referendum following the election of NUS president Malia Bouattia. If Labour has a problem with allegations of antisemitism, so does the nation’s youngest union leadership.

    In Cambridge, a group called NUS: Let Cambridge Decide wants to ask students to disaffiliate from the national body. The university is at the forefront of protests against Bouattia. Students at Oxford, Lincoln, York, Exeter, Durham and Manchester universities are also considering their future relationship with the NUS.

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    Schools minister says A-level being developed by Pearson exam board will be available from September – and statistics survives too

    Just weeks after it was announced that art history A-level was to be dropped– an act described by the historian Simon Schama as “a big dull axe wielded by cultural pygmies”– the government has said that the qualification will be saved after all.

    Related: Goodbye art history A-level, you served the elite well | Jonathan Jones

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    Minna Sundberg’s illustration maps the relationships between Indo-European and Uralic languages. The creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, put the illustration together to show why some of the characters in her comic were able to understand each other despite speaking different languages. She wanted to show how closely related Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic were to each other, and how Finnish came from distinct linguistic roots

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    Head of history of art retires after suspension over allegations he gave students prior information on two papers

    A second leading public school has been caught up in exam cheating claims, it has emerged, after the Guardian’s revelation that an Eton deputy head had resigned.

    Winchester college has suspended its head of history of art, Laurence Wolff, 56, after allegations he gave students prior information on exam questions on two papers, it has been reported.

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    While results nationally have remained broadly the same, they disguise significant changes at a subnational level

    Results day marks the end of two years’ work for students – and the beginning of the end of A-levels as we know them.

    Related: A-level results day 2016: UK students get their grades – live

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    OCR apologises again after third mistake in exam paper, with pupils uncertain they will reach grades needed for university places

    One of England’s main examination boards has been forced to issue an apology for the third time in a little over a fortnight after students and teachers spotted yet another error on one of its papers.

    The mistake occurred on OCR’s A-level biology paper, which was sat by almost 19,000 students on Monday. A question asked students to calculate a standard deviation but failed to provide the formula needed for the calculation, as required by the syllabus.

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    Academic at the centre of bitter racial-profiling row involving college porters gives the Observer a walking tour to illustrate the problems she says she encounters

    Exams in Cambridge are over, and although the sun is blazing down on the spires of King’s, Trinity and St John’s, many of the students are still in bed, recovering from the formal May balls the night before. But while its students were spending every night last week celebrating until the break of dawn, the university has become embroiled in an acrimonious internal row that threatens to damage its illustrious reputation.

    The academic at the centre of the controversy is the Cambridge lecturer Priyamvada Gopal, and today she is showing me what happens when you walk with her around the university’s most exclusive colleges – and encounter the “porters” whose job it is to keep unwelcome visitors out.

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    To rebuild Mackintosh’s great work would be a long and costly project. But the School of Art has a place in the city’s heart

    It has been said that a certain class of person can spend their entire life inside the same kind of institutional architecture, never leaving the mellow English stone of the 17th century in their inevitable progress from boarding school to Oxbridge college to an inn of court. But most of us make a less splendid and more various journey. My primary school dated from 1912, my secondary school from 1934, and my tertiary place of education from 1931.

    The first of these was the most attractive: “blocky red sandstone art nouveau”, says the Fife volume of the Buildings of Scotland series. Nothing much can be said for the other two, though it was from a classroom on the top floor of the third, the Scottish College of Commerce, that I first noticed the structure that has since become one of the most famous buildings in Scotland– perhaps, since its destruction, the most famous of all.

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    Watchdog investigates after Edexcel C4 paper allegedly offered for sale at £200

    An A-level maths paper was allegedly leaked on the internet the night before thousands of students sat the exam.

    The exams watchdog Ofqual said it was working with Pearson, the company that owns the Edexcel exam board, “to establish the facts” after the C4 maths paper apparently appeared for sale online on Thursday night.

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    More pupils are struggling with anxiety, depression and addictions but not receiving the help they need

    Britain’s schoolchildren are suffering from an epidemic of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, yet barely half get the NHS treatment they need, teachers say.

    Almost four in five (78%) teachers have seen a pupil struggle with a mental health problem in the past year, with one in seven (14%) cases involving suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

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    Group claims admissions process weighed against Asian Americans while university filed brief denying discrimination

    Harvard University has a consistent history of rating Asian American applicants lower on personality traits such as likability, according to court documents filed on Friday. The filings formed part of a high-profile lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian Americans.

    The lawsuit has been brought by Students for Fair Admissions, an action group affiliated with Edward Blum, a controversial conservative who campaigns against affirmative action.

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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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    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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  • 06/24/18--09:41: Michael Banton obituary
  • iMichael Banton, who has died aged 91, was appointed the first professor of sociology at Bristol University in 1965, and headed the department until his retirement in 1992.

    From 1971 until 1978, he also led the Social Science Research Council’s Research Unit on Ethnic Relations at the university, which was concerned with the settlement of migrants from south Asia and the Caribbean, as well as from African countries. The unit moved in 1984 to become the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at Warwick University.

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  • 06/24/18--09:48: Antonia Syson obituary
  • My friend Antonia Syson, who has died aged 45 of breast cancer, was a scholar and teacher with a fierce commitment to her students. She challenged the dominant assumption that frequency of publication is a meaningful measure of academic worth.

    Born in Botswana, Antonia was the daughter of John Syson and his wife, Lucy (now Gaster), who was researching rural development for the United Nations development programme. Antonia’s father was private secretary to the president, Sir Seretse Khama.

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    Readers respond to the fire that destroyed Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece

    The Glasgow School of Art should be reconstructed as it was (Editorial, 20 June). Mackintosh did not, after all, physically build it himself – his genius resides in the design and a faithful rebuild is no less a Mackintosh building than the original. Unrealised buildings by Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright have been constructed long after their deaths from original plans. The only difference is that Mackintosh’s art school had a previous existence. If there is an opportunity to return this marvellous building to three-dimensional life, so it can be physically experienced by future generations rather than only surviving as plans and photos, it should be taken.
    Ian Simmon
    Monkseaton, Tyne and Wear

    • I agree with Ian Jack (Brick by brick, Glasgow must recreate its lost masterpiece, 23 June). Glasgow without its art school would be like London without St Paul’s. In addition to the massive negative impact on students and Glaswegians, its absence would dismay the many visitors to the city who come to wonder at Mackintosh’s masterpiece.

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    Let’s congratulate migrant success, but the ‘indigenous’ poor deal with a hard legacy

    Are underprivileged migrant schoolchildren just smarter or are they harder workers than other children with similar backgrounds? Or perhaps it’s just that hope hasn’t been drained out of migrant families? Yet.

    Schools in deprived areas with a high intake of white, working-class children tend to receive poor Ofsted assessments, while those with a high proportion of migrant children fare significantly better. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools in England, puts this down in part to white, working-class communities suffering the “full brunt of economic dislocation in recent years and, as a result, can lack the aspiration and drive seen in many migrant communities”. Which sounds about right, except that nothing about this seems recent. The very problem is that it’s ingrained.

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    Highly educated women far outnumber men in the capital – making it difficult for them to find a partner

    At the UB comedy club at the back of a bar in central Ulaanbaatar, the audience is overwhelmingly female. Groups of smartly dressed women, just out of the office, sip from bottles of beer while watching a young Mongolian man on stage.

    “Our women are beautiful,” he says, nodding at a few men seated at the front. “They’re great to be friends with, but they are crazy.” A few men chuckle but the room is mostly silent.

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    The journalist and author talks about revenge porn, embarrassing her children and the ‘big fuss’ of making a film

    Raised and home-schooled in Wolverhampton, Caitlin Moran became a journalist aged 15 and is now an award-winning writer at the Times. Her 2011 nonfiction memoir How to Be a Woman is an international bestseller, while How to Build a Girl, the first novel in her semi-autobiographical trilogy about a teenager called Johanna Morrigan, is being made into a feature film. Its sequel, How to Be Famous, is out on Thursday (Ebury Press, £14.99).

    This is your third book with a ‘how to’ title. How come?
    I like writing useful books. I didn’t go to school. Everything I learned was from reading everything that interested me in Wolverhampton’s Warstone’s library. With a “how to”title you know what you’re going to get. If you call it, like, The Crying of Dolphins, people think: “Hmm, is that relevant to me?” Every book of mine is a list of topics I haven’t seen addressed, taboos that need to be busted, secrets that need to be told, things that I want to boggle at. What is everybody else not talking about or too scared to talk about?

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