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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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    Toy company funds research suggesting educational development can be hindered by early formal schooling. So are UK schools getting it wrong?

    Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm.

    A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier, it means they miss out on the early play-based learning that helps to develop creativity, problem-solving and empathy, she says.

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    When the University of Reading told critics of its refugee plan to ‘jog on’ it probably did more harm than good

    “You’ve won the internet,” one Twitter user congratulated the University of Reading after it dished up a hearty dose of social media sass. The “winning” tweet was a robust dismissal of critics of the university’s refugee scholarship scheme.

    “We’ve had feedback over the last week that some people are unhappy with our plan to offer up to 14 scholarships to refugees living in the local area. To these people, we would like to say: Tough. Jog on.” A similar message was posted on the university’s Facebook page.

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    Trump’s election revealed a cultural abyss between rural and urban America. That divide has a long history

    Over the fireplace at Mingo Creek Craft Distillers, a whiskey purveyor in the small town of Washington, Pennsylvania, a portrait of Alexander Hamilton hangs upside down. With snowy hair and a black velvet jacket, Hamilton wears an impassive look that might be described as hauteur. In 1791, to pay off debts the newly formed United States incurred during the revolutionary war, Hamilton imposed the first federal tax on the people of the region. By taxing their most lucrative product, whiskey, he became what he is here today: a villain representing the excesses of the federal government.

    The town of Washington is only a six-hour drive from Manhattan, but it’s a world away from the Broadway stage where Hamilton, clad in snug white knickers, enjoys a better reputation. The difference in regard between the two Hamiltons is a stark illustration of the mutual disdain between rural and urban Americans.

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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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    Two students debate whether you should follow your head or your heart when it comes to picking your degree

    • Visit our Students and employability hub

    Choosing what to study at university is one of the biggest decisions you'll make as a young person. So how do you decide what's right for you? Should you follow your heart and study something you're really passionate about, regardless of where it might lead you, or should you instead opt for a degree with a more secure career route? Here two students argue both sides of the debate.

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    Research shows different activities have quite specific mental effects – here’s how moving your body could sharpen your ideas

    The brain is often described as being “like a muscle”. It’s a comparison that props up the brain training industry and keeps school children hunched over desks. We judge literacy and numeracy exercises as more beneficial for your brain than running, playing and learning on the move.

    But the brain-as-muscle analogy doesn’t quite work. To build up your biceps you can’t avoid flexing them. When it comes to your brain, an oblique approach can be surprisingly effective. In particular, working your body’s muscles can actually benefit your grey matter.

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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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    After the London art teacher won her $1m prize, she was showered with praise by Theresa May and the education secretary – but she is exactly the kind of teacher this government actively discourages

    Andria Zafirakou has been functioning on three hours’ sleep a night for weeks, but looks radiant. “It’s adrenaline, it’s excitement, it’s everything.” Nominated by current and former colleagues for the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize, dubbed the Nobel for teaching, last month Zafirakou learned she had been shortlisted from a field of more than 30,000 entries. She flew out to Dubai last week to join nine other finalists from all over the world for a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Trevor Noah, and arrived home on Wednesday the winner of the $1m prize. The nominees were judged on, among other things, the progress made by pupils, achievements outside the classroom and in helping children become “global citizens”.

    Politicians and dignitaries, the media and 100 of her schoolchildren were waiting to welcome her at Heathrow, from where she was whisked straight to parliament to meet Theresa May. The prime minister and education secretary’s praise for the arts and textiles teacher could not have been more lavish; she is, declared Damian Hinds, “truly inspiring”.

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    A researcher wearing goggles that inverted everything stumbled about wildly at first, but soon enough he was able to ride a bicycle

    In the middle of the 20th century, an Austrian professor turned a man's eyesight exactly upside-down. After a short time, the man took this completely in his stride.

    Professor Theodor Erismann, of the University of Innsbruck, devised the experiment, performing it upon his assistant and student, Ivo Kohler. Kohler later wrote about it. The two of them made a documentary film.

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    Prime minister left looking isolated as figures show fewer than 5,000 foreign students stayed on in UK after visas expired

    Theresa May’s determination to continue counting foreign students in the government’s immigration target left her increasingly isolated on Thursday night, after official figures revealed that fewer than 5,000 a year stay on after their visa expires.

    A string of Conservative and opposition politicians called on the prime minister to end the focus on overseas students as it appeared the government had been drastically overestimating the risk that they remain in Britain illegally.

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    From 'apples and pears' to 'weep and wail', an A to Z of Cockney rhyming slang and the meanings behind the east end's most famous linguistic export

    Many of us know that "brown bread" is Cockney rhyming slang for dead, "china plate" for mate, and "bubble bath" for laugh. But how many know the meaning of the phrases? The historic native wit of this east end community (and its followers from around the world) often has an interesting logic to its phrases. Rather than simply a rhyming association, the slang reflects meaning in the expressions themselves. Here's a guide to the most commonly-used Cockney rhyming slang:

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  • 12/12/02--08:47: Discipline in schools speech
  • Full text of Charles Clarke's Discipline in Schools speech

    Why discipline matters
    Every day around 50,000 pupils miss school without permission. Bad behaviour disrupts education at one in twelve secondary schools, according to Ofsted. And four out of five secondary pupils say some of their classmates regularly try to disrupt lessons.

    The mission of this government is to raise educational standards. But you can't raise standards if pupils miss school and behave badly when they are there. Attendance and good behaviour are preconditions for effective learning. Tackling poor behaviour is as much part of improving pupil performance as good teaching. There are two other reasons why we must tackle the behaviour problem.

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    Many students are preparing for January exams right now. But what will they do if their results aren't what they'd hoped for?

    What do you do if you fail a university exam, or worse still, get thrown off your course completely? Usually you accept the verdict and admit that the work you produced wasn't up to scratch. But what if you are convinced you have a really good reason why you shouldn't have failed?

    Here are my top tips, gleaned from first-hand experience as a barrister, for students who want to appeal without getting professional assistance.

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    Who really turned Anne Frank and her family over to the Gestapo? As Dutch historians reopen the archives in search of fresh evidence, one man claims to know. Anton Ahlers says his anti-semitic father betrayed them - for money. He talks for the first time to Ori Golan

    On a warm summer's day on August 4 1944, four Gestapo policemen raided a canal warehouse at 263 Prinsengracht, Amsterdam. The eight Jewish people hiding in the annex there were arrested: Otto Frank, his wife and two children; the van Pels family of three; and Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist. They were taken to Westerbork Kamp and from there herded into cattle wagons bound for Auschwitz. Of the eight, only Otto returned.

    During the raid, a policeman emptied Otto's briefcase to fill it with the fugitives' valuables. In his haste, he dropped a batch of papers and a small diary belonging to Otto's daughter. This diary, the diary of Anne Frank, was to become the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust.

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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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    People with disabilities are more likely to stay silent when they’re abused, so we need proactive support

    A friend recently told me about how he had been angry and offensive to a colleague who suffers from ADHD and depression and struggles to maintain concentration: “If nobody puts him back in his place, he will never improve,” he said. I was shocked, and reminded of how difficult managing a disability can be.

    The thing is, I’m disabled too. But in a perverse sense I’m lucky, as I can hide my disability. I often wonder if I would struggle to manage my behaviour, too, if I received the same treatment as my colleague with a more visible disability.

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    I thought it was normal to see words swirling in 3D. I made a joke of it. But the joke carried on for too long

    I was the class jester at school in the 70s and 80s, because I wanted to be liked. The truth was that I was struggling.

    I now know that I had a trio of conditions: dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Irlen Syndrome, a neurological condition that makes it hard to process visual information. Words swim on the page for me; it’s difficult to see them, let alone read them. When I started school 40 years ago, no one picked this up. I just thought it was normal to see words swirling in 3D. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t read or write like my friends, so I made a joke of it. But the joke carried on for too long.

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    Pupils who sat Brexit test say decision to leave EU ‘sounds naive’ and Northern Ireland should vote again

    How can the Brexit negotiations move on from the deadlock over the Irish border? According to a group of German students who have sat the first school exam on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the answer could be straightforward: give Northern Ireland a referendum on whether to stay in the UK or the EU.

    In April, students of English in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg were asked as part of their school-leaving exams to write about the differences between the hopes connected to Britain’s EU referendum and the reality of Brexit so far.

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    Daughter’s distress leads mother to take action against Department for Education

    The mother of a seven-year-old girl who cried every day because she was forced to wear a skirt to school is hoping to bring a legal challenge against the government’s uniform guidance, which she says is leading to discrimination.

    Related: Don’t ban skirts in school. Let everybody wear them | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

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    The His Dark Materials novelist says current ‘fetish’ for exams is unnecessary and could ruin children’s lives

    The government’s “complete fetish” for exams is badly wrong, according to Philip Pullman, who believes the focus on testing will “ruin children’s lives”.

    The His Dark Materials novelist told the Press Association that those in charge of education today “seem to think the function of a book … is to provide exercises for grammar and it’s not, of course. The function of a book or a poem or a story is to delight, to enchant, to beguile.”

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