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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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  • 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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  • 10/06/09--03:35: Top ten nursery rhymes
  • Booktrust asked 2,500 poeple to name their favourite nursery rhyme. All together now ... here are the top 10 Continue reading...

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    Journal editors share their advice on how to structure a paper, write a cover letter - and deal with awkward feedback from reviewers

    Writing for academic journals is highly competitive. Even if you overcome the first hurdle and generate a valuable idea or piece of research - how do you then sum it up in a way that will capture the interest of reviewers?

    There’s no simple formula for getting published - editors’ expectations can vary both between and within subject areas. But there are some challenges that will confront all academic writers regardless of their discipline. How should you respond to reviewer feedback? Is there a correct way to structure a paper? And should you always bother revising and resubmitting? We asked journal editors from a range of backgrounds for their tips on getting published.

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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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    From the Russian pupils in Prada to the Nigerian children who sit four to a desk, photographer Julian Germain takes us on a journey around the world's classrooms Continue reading...

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    The reality of a month and a half without school or nursery, when half of our potentially child-caring family members are away, has been quite a surprise

    Bear with me. Honestly, please give me two minutes to talk about the school holidays. Because I’m new to it, see, from this angle at least. Of course, I remember it from the other side, those gloriously boring deserts of time that stretched from July to infinity and took in almost 4,000 screaming rows and a number of own-brand Calippos.

    In the early days of my now desiccated memory there are trips to Cornwall and long car journeys listening to Uncle Johnny’s Party Tape TM with its tight edit of Motown and Leonard Cohen (“Why do we have to listen to rabbi music?” I once whined), and there are also whole days down at the brook, banking our 5ps for a bottle of Tango. Then in later years, a slow promenade around Brent Cross, our local, well, now I suppose we’d call it a mall with no embarrassment? It was the first place we were allowed to go without adults, and we relished these hours gliding over its mezzanines of brutalist capitalism, these tuna sandwiches eaten like grown-ups, dangling our legs in the indoor fountain.

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    ‘Off-rolling’ difficult students to boost exam results is fuelling gang violence, says children’s czar

    Schools that unofficially exclude children to hide them from exam league tables are fuelling gang violence, the children’s commissioner for England says.

    Anne Longfield said she has begun an investigation into the practice of taking children “off-roll” without formally excluding them because they are viewed as difficult to manage and may drag down the school’s results.

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    Children educated by their parents must not be hidden from the authorities

    The killing of 18-year-old Jordan Burling was needless and preventable, a judge told his mother and grandmother on sentencing them for his manslaughter last week. Burling died from bronchopneumonia following a heart attack in 2016, but the underlying cause was malnutrition and neglect so extreme that it is painful to imagine.

    Defence lawyers stressed that Mr Burling was an adult, who had made what his grandmother Denise Cranston called a “choice” not to see a doctor. But he was a boy of 12 when his mother told the council she would home-school him. A safeguarding review will now examine how the authorities lost sight of Mr Burling, who had taken no exams nor gained any qualifications, and make recommendations as to how such a disaster can be avoided in future. But there is no reason for the government to wait before acting on behalf of other home-schooled children, of whom there are thought to be around 50,000 in the UK – a number that has increased sharply in recent years.

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    If you're feeling stressed you're not alone. Here a student blogger shares her tips for reducing stress

    Read more: my child is unhappy at university, what should I do?

    Young people should have everything to be happy about, but as the generation with the least responsibility we actually experience the most stress. A 2013 survey by the Nightline Association found that 65% of students feel stressed.

    Students juggle part time jobs with university, worry about assignments and stress about the future and how to make the next step. Trying to manage all these things at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

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    The new chair of the Headmasters’ Conference is Shaun Fenton – the son of Alvin Stardust and now head of £17,460-a-year Reigate Grammar School

    No other headteacher in Britain boasts a CV quite like Shaun Fenton’s. Born 1969, son of the pop singer Alvin Stardust and his first wife, Iris Caldwell (ex-girlfriend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison). Oxford graduate (philosophy, politics and economics). A brief City career in accountancy. Head of humanities at the Ridings comprehensive in Halifax, once branded Britain’s worst school, now closed. Head for five years of a Hertfordshire comprehensive. Head for six years of a state grammar in Gloucestershire. Since 2012, head of Reigate Grammar school, Surrey, a fee-charging selective day school. Member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), the (sort of) trade union for heads of top public schools, which recently elected him chair for 2018-19. Recreation (according to Who’s Who) includes “loving God”.

    In his study at Reigate Grammar, which has a 32-acre sports ground, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and a new “state-of-the-art learning centre”, Fenton tells me he went into teaching not because he loved his subject – he doesn’t seem entirely sure what that is, saying he taught religious education, history, economics and social studies – but because he wanted to join “a community of moral purpose”.

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    A headteacher says pupil behaviour is better and bullying is down since he barred mobiles in his school. So should others follow suit? Teachers argue for and against

    "You'll have someone's eye out with that" used to be the refrain of teachers in my day. In malevolent hands, a pencil, a rubber, even a piece of paper could become a lethal weapon in class, and that's before we got on to compasses and Bunsen burners.

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    Paul Haslam on an 1868 report on St Olave’s grammar school, Marian Nyman recalls a chat about uniforms in the 1970s, and Kate Danielson on access to universities and opportunities afterwards

    Re your leader on St Olave’s grammar school (Pupils paid the price. It was their school’s failure, 12 July), it is not the first time that the school’s admissions policy, among other matters, has been the subject of a report. In 1868, in his report on the endowed classical or grammar schools of the London postal district, Daniel Fearon, the assistant commissioner to the Schools Inquiry Commission, had much to say about this ancient foundation. But the problem was, in a sense, the opposite of the present situation. The school was then situated in Southwark and was bound like many grammar schools, by its charter, to make educational provision for the rich and the poor. But by 1865 many of the professional and commercial inhabitants had left the parish and so the school had become one for the education of the labouring classes. It needed, in the view of the governors, to attract middle-class children in adjoining parishes and several respectable families in the parish had said they would be glad to send their children to the school if “a separation could be guaranteed from the lowest class”. The solution, in the view of the governors, was the introduction of fees!
    Paul Haslam
    Derry

    • As a teacher in inner London in the 1970s, I told the head of year that enforcing all the details of school uniform was a waste of everyone’s time (Mother to sue over school uniforms guidance, 7 July; Letters, 10& 14 July). His response was that kids will always object to something, and it may as well be something as pointless as uniform as anything more important.
    Marian Nyman
    Whitstable, Kent

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    Run your brain through the gears

    UPDATE: Click here for the solutions.

    Bonjour guzzleurs,

    As we are almost midway through the Tour de France, I thought it would be a good moment for some bicycle puzzles.

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    The answers to today’s puzzles

    In my puzzle blog earlier today I set you the following three challenges:

    1) The King of the Mountains went up the col at 15 km an hour and down it at 45 km an hour. It took him two hours in total. Assuming that the distance he travelled up and down are the same, how far is it from the bottom to the top of the col?

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    Research finds that of 9,115 titles published last year, only 4% featured BAME characters

    Only 1% of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic, a investigation into representations of people of colour has found, with the director calling the findings “stark and shocking”.

    In a research project that is the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published last year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% - featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts.

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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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    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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    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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    Some children turning up to see their new school have had a nasty surprise: reading and writing tests

    When primary school teacher Ed Finch discovered that his son Douglas, in year 6, would be tested on his literacy and numeracy during a “transition day” at his new secondary school this term, he was outraged. “I thought it was a pretty shoddy and bizarrely unhelpful thing to do,” he says. Transition days are children’s first experience of their new big school – the idea is to gently help them to get used to a new, often daunting, environment, and meet children in their form group.

    “A transition day should be about reassuring children that they will feel safe at secondary school in September and that the school will value them,” says Finch.

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    The moment has come for the left to refashion our education system in a more socially just form

    A fresh conversation about a very old divide is back on the political agenda. Robert Verkaik’s book Posh Boys: How the English Public Schools Ruin Britain (note that linking verb) is currently making waves, with Andrew Marr confidently predicting that reform of private schools is “coming within a decade”.

    Such calls will be bolstered by the publication, early in 2019, of Engines of Privilege: Britain’s Private School Problem by the acclaimed social historian David Kynaston and the economist Francis Green – a forensic analysis of the sector’s “extreme social exclusivity” and proposals to tackle it.

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