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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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    You might hate your school uniform, but I think it's there for good reason, says 15-year-old Chloe Spencer

    A shirt, tie and blazer may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of school uniform. Wearing a uniform is a badge of pride, creates an identity for a school and is an important part of being a school student.

    “Uniforms show that you are part of an organisation. Wearing it says we’re all in this together,” Jason Wing, head teacher at the Neale-Wade academy in Cambridgeshire, says.

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    Visa controls make life difficult for international students who want to stay in the UK after graduation

    International students account for almost a fifth (18%) of those in higher education, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). However, unlike their British and EU-national peers, non-EU students have only four months after the end of their course to find a job, or they face deportation.

    Most non-EU graduates go home after their studies, but of those who want to work in the UK, many apply for a Tier 2 visa. To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa:

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    Students share their experiences of mental health issues and reveal a common and worrying problem

    Read more: where to get help for your mental health

    When I asked students to share their experiences of mental health at university, I had no idea of the reaction it would receive. Over five days we received over 200 stories. Many entries we weren't able to include, for legal reasons or because the experiences described were too harrowing to publish.

    Originally planned to stay open for two weeks, we decided to close the project early because there wasn't the capacity to moderate the influx of entries. Each morning we were met with more stories – from students who opened up about their anxieties and struggles.

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    The government would face a tough battle with middle-class parents, but reform is vital to help the most disadvantaged

    Britain’s poor social mobility can be summed up in one unfortunate dynamic: from the moment a child is born, disadvantage begets further disadvantage. We like to think of education as the great leveller that works against this. But a report from the Institute of Education at UCL, reported in the Observer today, shows the opposite: our school system itself amplifies social advantage.

    So much of the focus of education policy in the past two decades has been on school improvement, with hugely varying results. But what this study highlights is that when schools become better, their intakes also become more affluent. Conversely, when school quality has declined, children from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to pool in those schools.

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    Education secretary Michael Gove has written a letter to an old teacher, expressing regret for his behaviour at school. We asked some writers who they would apologise to and why

    Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, Connecticut

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    Phrase made out of toilet paper found arranged on floor of bathroom in hall of residence

    Nottingham University has launched an investigation after a message saying “uni girls love rape” was left in a bathroom at a hall of residence on campus.

    It was made out of toilet paper and arranged on the floor of a shared bathroom in Florence Boot hall.

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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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    Late-night research, isolation and a strict, male-dominated hierarchy are the perfect conditions for sexual harassment. With colleges struggling to enforce conduct codes, what can be done?

    Lois, a medical researcher, endured more than five years of sexual harassment during her postgraduate study at a leading UK university. It started when she worked on a project between her MSc and PhD. The professor overseeing the research bombarded her and the other women in the group of junior researchers with crude and humiliating sexual comments.

    “He said I looked so sexy in overalls that he had to resist the urge to rip them off me. One day it was raining and he came in wet and he announced that, him being our boss, he should make us dry him with our naked bodies,” she recalls. Sometimes she would scream to block out the lewd comments; on other occasions she and her female colleagues would “leave the room and lock ourselves in a bathroom before going back to work”. She adds: “Sometimes he would make a comment about someone’s arse, and you’d respond by not paying any attention; but sometimes when it was particularly bad you’d have to walk away.”

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    As one of only 21 black students in my year, out of 3,000, I knew I’d be in a minority; I didn’t expect to be a curiosity. Could I find my place?

    On an overcast day in Oxford in 2003, a few weeks into the first year of an English literature degree, I found myself doing something out of character. I broke a rule. Rather than going to my scheduled tutorial, rather than sitting on the ungiving sofa and offering halting analysis of Middlemarch, I slotted a note into my tutor’s pigeonhole and darted out of Wadham College. I hadn’t told anyone I was going; I was unsure if I would ever come back.

    I was unaccustomed to disobedience. I went to a large, fiercely aspirational comprehensive where for years I had been a picture of compliance. I had exceeded predicted grades and been garlanded at prize-givings. It followed that the result of such cheerful tractability and success should be continued tractability and success at the University of Oxford, the very place I was fleeing.

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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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    Levels of stress and anxiety are on the rise among students. Juliet Rix has tips to control the panic and thrive academically

    Olivia admits she’s always been a worrier – but when she started university, her anxiety steadily began to build. One day she was simply too frightened to leave the house. For two weeks she was stuck indoors, before she was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and began to get the help she needed.

    With support from her GP and university wellbeing service, and courses of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), she was able to stick with her university course and to start enjoying life again.

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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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    When a child heads off to university the sense of loss can feel unbearable, but planning ahead can help you cope with this new stage of parenthood

    Read more advice for parents

    "I have had worse partings, but none that so / Gnaws at my mind still."

    So writes Cecil Day-Lewis in his poem "Walking Away", written while watching his eldest son head off to school. If a child's first day at school is significant, when they leave home for university can feel like an irrevocable life change for you. Knowing how to say goodbye, and dealing with the sense of loss that can follow, is part of being a parent.

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    Your daughter’s homework isn’t being marked. Your son’s been put in detention for no real reason. What’s the best course of action? A teacher writes …

    One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a friend in the restaurant business. If I were planning to complain about any part of my meal or service, he said, I should wait until I had eaten all I was going to eat that night. He illustrated this warning with examples of what can happen to food prepared for awkward customers, and so I’ve followed this advice ever since. It’s a good principle: don’t complain to people on whom you’re relying – unless there’s no way they can wipe your steak on their bum or drop a bogey in your soup.

    As with restaurants, so with schools. The difference with schools is that you’re likely to be stuck with them for a lot longer than one meal. So think carefully before putting on your Mr Angry face and marching into the school for a spot of ranting.

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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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    Poorer drama students face an uphill struggle, with funding cuts and rising fees. But British theatre may be the loser unless more actors from a range of backgrounds take centre stage

    When Irfan Shamji was growing up in Ladbroke Grove, west London, a career on stage seemed “a pretty outlandish idea”. His parents – a mother from Zambia and a father from India – had come to Britain together in 1996 and they did not go to the theatre. “I didn’t think it was a possibility for me. And then at school I realised I had a taste for it,” he remembers. The drama teacher at his comprehensive began to notice his interest and the decisive moment came when she put a simple question to him: Irfan, is this something you would like to do for a living?

    “From the moment I said yes to her, it was a done deal,” the 24-year-old says. “It was the first time anyone had asked. So let’s just ask more kids this question and help them realise what they might do.”

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    Emotional intelligence, motivation and self-confidence might not appear on job descriptions, but soft skills are in high demand

    Employers are looking for graduates who genuinely want to work for them over their competitors, recruits who are capable of doing the job and who will stay in the business long enough to justify the investment in them.

    That hasn’t really changed over the years. But what is different now, is that employers are actively seeking candidates who display a wide range of personal qualities, behaviours and softer skills, such as emotional intelligence, motivation and self-confidence.

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    Some of the biggest names in industry have set up graduate programmes to boost the shrinking number of women in technology roles

    Hannah Ellis, 26, joined KPMG’s technology consulting graduate scheme in 2015 after completing a degree in history. She found herself drawn to the accountancy firm’s approach to new graduates: “They were very accepting of people from different backgrounds as long as you were bright and willing to learn, and that was what really appealed to me.”

    Along with other graduates, Ellis received intensive training in consulting and in technical subjects, such as data analytics. Since then, her skills have been put to a wide range of uses at the company, including managing a project for a government client and working on data visualisation and reporting for a pharmaceutical company. She has also recently completed a secondment to explore ways in which KPMG could transform its digital strategy.

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    Campus yoga sessions, artificial intelligence and escape rooms? Welcome to the brave new word of graduate recruitment

    Many employers are going further than ever to seek out the next wave of graduate talent. Some are now sending speakers to talk at student societies and run games such as escape rooms, in which individuals work together to solve clues to escape and win the game.

    E-commerce giant Amazon, which puts on campus yoga sessions to elicit interest, says it hires more than 1,500 UK graduates a year. The company focuses on finding recruits with mathematical and analytical skills, and those with business abilities. A maths or science degree is helpful, but not essential – one senior leader graduated in Egyptology.

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    Any company not addressing its gender pay gap will struggle to attract a diverse and ambitious range of graduates

    The last year has seen an increased focus on gender diversity and inequality across society, from Hollywood to the boardroom. Women have started to speak out about this and social media has proved to be a unifying platform, playing host to movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. The zeitgeist is likely to transfer to the wider workplace as new graduates become more vocal, and an increasing number of companies are aware that changes are needed.

    In fact, according to Tom Freeman, managing director of grad recruiter Sanctuary, employers have never been more alert to this issue: “For some it is about corporate and social responsibility and to be seen as a diverse company; for others it is important for their workplace; but in certain cases it is simply about quotas and targets.”

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