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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 to raise £500m for ‘transition programme’ to support less well-off applicants

    Cambridge University has launched a £500m fundraising campaign to pay for a new “transition programme” to encourage and support applications from talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds who might otherwise not get a place.

    The scheme will include an intensive three-week bridging programme plus an additional transition year before a degree, to raise the attainment of disadvantaged students who have academic potential but may fall short of high entry requirements.

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    Sam Gyimah has done little to solve the looming Brexit threat to research funding

    Being the minister responsible for higher education in the UK should be a breeze. Oxford and Cambridge brush the top of any international ranking, with another three or four of our universities on their heels. True, the US does better, but not for its size, and no other country comes close. The UK hasn’t done so well in anything since Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick and the Beatles and the Stones. Not even cycling or dressage can compete.

    Sam Gyimah, appointed to the job in January 2018, faced a choice. Should he work with the sector to build on its strengths, or treat it as a delinquent infant in need of a good talking to, in the tradition of his immediate predecessor, Jo Johnson?

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    Families with £190k income receive awards meant to help disadvantaged attend Yehudi Menuhin and Chetham’s schools

    For most of her life Natasha Petrovic has been a carer for her sick parents but, despite her responsibilities, she has found the time to pursue her love of music. When she was four they encouraged her to learn the violin at her Surrey primary and she was soon hooked.

    At the age of eight she passed the auditions to the Yehudi Menuhin music school near Cobham, within commuting distance of home. Because her parents were unemployed, Petrovic received a full bursary to cover the fees. Now in the sixth form, she plans to go to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and work in outreach to encourage music in state schools and institutions such as prisons.

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    An estimated 15,000 teachers are snapped up overseas each year, driven away by the stress in British schools

    The English education system is broken, says Freya Odell, a state secondary school teacher with 18 years’ experience. This month, she followed in the footsteps of thousands of other talented, fed-up teachers and moved abroad – in her case, to St George’s British International School in Rome.

    “It wasn’t a difficult decision. My job in England took over my life. Over the past year, I had stopped laughing and smiling. I had lost all sense of who I am.”

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    Brighton University should be applauded, not scorned, for promoting health and support services for sex workers

    Controversy erupted over the weekend as Brighton University was accused in the Sunday Times of “grooming” students into prostitution. The university had allowed a sex workers’ health and support service to run a stall at a freshers’ fair, with breathlessly outraged reportage noting that the organisation shared a booklet advising sex workers of their legal rights, and that the stall featured a “wheel of sexual wellbeing”.

    The service in question offers nonjudgmental advice, support and healthcare to sex workers in Sussex, alongside support to women who use drugs and women who need support in escaping domestic violence.

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    Move is designed to help students with disabilities such as anxiety or sensory issues

    Manchester University’s students’ union has become the latest student body to vote to replace applause with “jazz hands” in an attempt to make events more accessible for people with disabilities.

    At its first meeting of the academic year, the union voted to use British sign language clapping, which involves waving your hands in the air, instead of audible clapping, at events.

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    I definitely am at my college, but back at home I’m now considered posh. I’m not sure where I belong anymore

    I never thought about class that much before I started university. Of course, there was always a touch of “us versus them” in my teenage mindset. I’m from Halifax in west Yorkshire, where I was raised by a single parent and went to a state school. The academic world – and the people it pushes out – was, and still is, new to me. I didn’t know anyone at a private school and didn’t care much about it either. I thought most people were like me.

    Related: Oxford 'spends £108,000' to recruit each extra low-income student

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    High court assessing legality of council’s decision to cut Send funding by £21m

    A group of children and their parents have gone to the high court to try to quash a decision by their local council to cut more than £21m from its special educational needs and disabilities (Send) budget.

    The public gallery of court three in the Royal Courts of Justice in London was packed with children, parents and supporters on Tuesday as an application for judicial review got under way to assess the legality of Surrey county council’s decision.

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    Officials say Kavanaugh will not be teaching in the winter term but refuse to say whether he is still an employee of the college

    Among students and alumni of Harvard law school, the news that Brett Kavanaugh will not teach a class this winter was met with muted celebration – and skepticism.

    Related: Trump again backs Kavanaugh but says lying to Senate would be unacceptable

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    Using graduate earnings to judge teaching standards is deeply unfair and will harm social mobility

    The government’s teaching excellence framework may have been controversial, but it has enabled the higher education sector to articulate what students, parents and industry are genuinely interested in: teaching, employability, student support, real-world skills and co-curricular activities. Importantly, it has also sought to evaluate universities based on what their students say.

    Given higher education’s continuing struggle to gain public recognition for its work and for the value for money represented by a university education, it has been an important development.

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    It’s the only evidence-based explanation of life on Earth, yet some countries are turning their backs on it

    • Michael Dixon is director of the Natural History Museum

    In recent weeks there have been alarming reports from both Israel and Turkey of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution being erased from school curriculums. In Turkey, this has been blamed on the concept of evolution – which is taught in British primary schools – being beyond the understanding of high school students. In Israel, teachers are claiming that most students do not learn about evolution; they say their education ministry is quietly encouraging teachers to focus on other topics in biology.

    This news follows the astonishing statements made by India’s minister for higher education earlier this year. Satyapal Singh claimed Darwin was “scientifically wrong”, and is demanding that the theory of evolution be removed from school curriculums because no one “ever saw an ape turning into a human being”.

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    Campaigners seize on health secretary’s remarks stressing importance of early diagnosis

    Campaigners against cuts to special educational needs budgets have seized on remarks by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, who has spoken of the help he received for dyslexia.

    In an interview with GQ magazine, Hancock spoke for the first time about how he copes with a condition that affects about 10% of the population.

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    Leading London university’s proposal comes after Guardian investigation

    A leading London university is planning to publish annual data on harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct after investigations by the Guardian and the Observer revealed the scale of these issues at top British institutions.

    University College London (UCL) said it would proactively make sure information was shared for better transparency. It follows a Guardian investigation that found nearly 300 academics across the UK, including senior professors and laboratory directors, had been reported for bullying in the last few years.

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    I gave up a career in advertising after my newborn son became ill and received amazing care

    • Guardian Jobs: see the latest vacancies in healthcare

    People often wonder what life would be like if they could start over: what path they would take, what career they would choose. Ten years ago I did just that. I’d worked in the commercial sector all my working life, building brands for household names such as Speedo and Nike. But it wasn’t until my newborn son became very ill that I had the courage to change trajectory. Taking perhaps the biggest risk of my life, I quit my job and decided to pursue an ambition I’d held since school: a career in medicine. I’m now a newly qualified doctor working in A&E in London. I’m also in my 40s.

    Our son became severely ill soon after birth. Admitted to St George’s hospital and requiring specialist input from multiple clinical teams, it became clear within the first few days of his life that he would face complex and lifelong challenges. I can’t even begin to describe the sheer physical stress and emotional turmoil of those first few weeks. The only constant was the kindness and compassion shown by the incredible team of clinicians looking after our son.

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    Schools could be closed for up to three weeks while non-deadly spiders are dealt with

    Four schools in east London have been closed because of infestations of false widow spiders.

    The creatures, which have a body length of between 8.5mm and 11mm and resemble the far more dangerous black widow, have been found at two primary and two secondary schools in Newham.

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    Watchdog investigating use of spending tally that included private school fees

    The government has been accused of attempting to cover up school budget cuts in England, after the UK’s statistics watchdog said it would investigate ministers’ use of spending figures that included private school fees to fend off criticism.

    The UK Statistics Authority said it had received complaints about a recent claim, made by the Department for Education and the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, that the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world.

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    Conservatives criticised as retention rates drop and pupil numbers increase

    London schools are in the throes of a growing crisis in teacher retention, with figures revealing that more than four out of 10 quit the profession within five years of qualifying.

    Schools across England say they are struggling to recruit and retain staff, but the problem is most acute in inner London where just 57% of teachers who qualified in 2012 were still working in the classroom by 2017.

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    The child stars of the West End musical rock out in a band assembled by Dewey Finn, who poses as a supply teacher. What do their own teachers make of the hit show?

    What can teachers learn from Dewey Finn? It’s all about organised chaos. One hundred years ago, a classroom was 30 desks with students sitting behind them and a chalkboard in front of them. Now, the majority of school life is exactly the same. I try to change that and so does Dewey – albeit to an extreme!

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    Inaudible clapping excludes blind people like me; the answer could be to repeat events, tailoring them to different needs

    On Tuesday, Manchester University’s students’ union passed a motion encouraging students to swap audible clapping for British sign language (BSL) clapping (or “jazz hands”) to make its democratic events more accessible to disabled people. I didn’t balk at the decision, as many rightwing journalists and users of social media did, especially considering it’s not a new concept. However, I did have an issue with it being advertised as a decision made on the grounds of accessibility. For a blind person, inaudible clapping is anything but accessible.

    As the debate continues to rage, I’m going to choose to endorse the desk knock or the quiet lap tap

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    Our newsletter brings you agenda-setting news, views and features for everyone interested in universities, along with top Guardian Jobs listings

    Guardian universities is the space for everybody interested in universities to gain insights on policy and practice. We publish news, views and features that look at everything universities do, spanning teaching, research and work with local and global communities. We delve into the heart of universities, providing honest accounts of campus life and tips for getting your career off the ground.

    Join our lively and engaged community of readers – and add your voice to the debates that matter to academics and professional services staff right now. Sign up to our newsletter below for highlights from the website each week, as well as the latest jobs in the sector.

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