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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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    Government hopes to achieve 20% calorie reduction in foods popular with children by 2024

    Makers of pizzas, ready meals and savoury snacks could be forced to shrink them under government proposals to reduce childhood obesity, which figures have revealed has increased by more than a third across England since 2006.

    The government body Public Health England is meeting major food businesses to discuss how to achieve a 20% calorie reduction in foods popular among children by 2024, as pressure on the industry to create healthier products grows.

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    Researchers reveal having more books at home when growing up, even if you don’t necessarily read more, improves educational outcomes

    Do you have more books than an Estonian teenager?

    If you live in an English-speaking country, the answer is probably no.

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    An interviewer at Oxford University’s faculty of law talks about the pitfalls of the process and how to avoid them

    For students invited to attend a law school interview, it can be a daunting prospect. Especially as knowledge of the subject is generally not a requirement for undergraduates. So what should candidates expect? Imogen Goold, admissions coordinator at Oxford University’s faculty of law, has been interviewing students for 12 years. We asked what she looks for in a law student.

    What kind of students are you looking for?

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    Mitchell Baker says firms should hire philosophy and psychology graduates to tackle misinformation

    Technology companies need to diversify their hiring practices to include more people from backgrounds in philosophy and psychology if they want to tackle the problem of misinformation online, the head of one of the biggest internet charities has warned.

    Mitchell Baker, head of the Mozilla Foundation, has warned that hiring employees who mainly come from Stem – science, technology, engineering and maths – will produce a new generation of technologists with the same blindspots as those who are currently in charge, a move that will “come back to bite us”.

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    Taxpayer-funded provider collapses into administration, putting 4,500 apprenticeships at risk

    Police are investigating allegations of fraud at the government-funded apprenticeship provider 3aaa, which has collapsed into administration, putting 500 jobs and 4,500 apprenticeships at risk.

    3aaa – which stands for aspire, achieve and advance – was placed into immediate administration after the Department for Education pulled all of its funding from the firm following an investigation. “Following our investigation we have referred our findings to the police, through Action Fraud [the UK’s fraud hotline],” a spokesperson for the DfE said on Friday. Derbyshire Constabulary confirmed that it is investigating the firm.

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    Closing the outstanding-rated outdoor nursery in Kent is at odds with the charity’s own campaign to get children to play outdoors, say parents

    “Set your children free,” urges the National Trust’s campaign to get children outdoors. “Let them feel the wind in their hair, smell food cooking on an open fire, track wild animals and eat a juicy apple straight from the tree.”

    But young children will no longer taste such freedoms in National Trust woods in Kent after a forest school judged “outstanding” by Ofsted was evicted by the charity.

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    Anyone can be taught anything if they are inspired enough to pay attention – the key to remembering it is firing up the imagination

    I first encountered memory techniques just after leaving secondary school. I’d been struck down by an illness, and had to spend a few months in hospital. Needing a project to escape the boredom of the ward, I was unable to resist diving into memory techniques when a friend brought me a book called Learn to Remember by Dominic O’Brien (the “eight-time world memory champion”, I was reassured to learn).

    I still recall the delight at realising how simple and intuitive the ideas within it were. Enhancing your memory is first of all enhancing your imagination, O’Brien explained. You remember better by making things more memorable. Your memory – your capacity to learn, in other words – is, according to O’Brien, personal, improvable and much more interesting and colourful than education or traditional concepts of memory (such as it being akin to a warehouse or computer) might lead you to believe.

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    Ede & Ravenscroft failed to send them within six weeks – and won’t give me a refund

    I graduated from the University of Birmingham in early July. I had ordered photos from Ede & Ravenscroft which cost £60 plus £7 postage and packing. The estimated delivery was four to six weeks after the event. Six weeks later, the photos had not arrived. This was annoying as I was hoping to take them to my grandmother in Hong Kong during a visit in August. After many emails and phone calls, E&R only offered to refund the P&P. At least two of my coursemates have not yet received their photos, either. If the photos were not irreplaceable, I would have requested a full refund a long time ago. Now all I can do is wait.

    NL, Stockport, Cheshire

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    The Labour leadership is stifling its increasingly popular education spokeswoman

    Labour should be unbelievably popular with teachers right now. School budgets are shot, which led to an unprecedented protest by headteachers. Teacher retention is at a record low and the government has missed all recruitment targets for five years. Secondary school places are in short supply. And yet, in a recent survey of more than 2,500 teachers, fewer than half said they would vote Labour if an election were called tomorrow.

    Admittedly, just 9% of teachers said they would vote for the Conservatives. But if Labour can’t confidently secure half the profession’s votes it has a real problem, because the party relies on public sector workers to boost its popularity in a way the Conservatives never have.

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    Protesters to join colleges from around UK to highlight discriminatory funding of further education

    In his tailored navy suit and tortoiseshell spectacles, Gerry McDonald looks an unlikely rebel. Yet on Wednesday this well-mannered college principal will make history when he shuts the college doors and heads for Westminster.

    He is urging staff and as many of the 25,000 students as possible to accompany him on a march from Pall Mall to Westminster to mark Colleges Week, a campaign organised by the Association of Colleges to raise the profile of further education (FE) and persuade the government to redress eight years of underfunding.

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    With science, IT and archaeology among subjects heavily funded by the EU, leaving with no deal would be cataclysmic, say universities

    Prof Chris Gosden, director of the institute of archaeology at Oxford University, is bracing himself for potential disaster after Brexit. Europe funds 38% of archaeological research in the UK and with no plan B, Gosden fears his discipline could dwindle unless an agreement is reached on science.

    “Losing EU funding would mean that British archaeology would shrink,” Gosden says. “Our discipline has had a great 50 years. It is really sad to think that in 10 years it could be much smaller.”

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    Researchers across the UK are working hard to prevent further climate breakdown. Here are their latest findings

    We don’t have long to get our act together on climate change, according to a UN report released earlier this month. In the next 12 years, we need to reverse the trend of Earth’s increasing temperature or face drought, floods and extreme heat – and devastating knock-on effects felt by all life on the planet.

    But what can we do? And can we do it quickly enough? Researchers in universities across the UK are working on answers to these huge questions. Here are some of their most exciting recent sustainability findings.

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    It is not transphobic to investigate this area from a range of critical perspectives, say 54 academics who are also concerned about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act

    We represent a newly formed network of over 100 academics, most of whom are currently employed in UK universities. We are concerned, from a range of academic perspectives, about proposed governmental reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, and their interaction with the Equality Act.

    Our subject areas include: sociology, philosophy, law, criminology, evidence-informed policy, medicine, psychology, education, history, English, social work, computer science, cognitive science, anthropology, political science, economics, and history of art. This week, following an opportunity offered to us by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, we have submitted to the consultation a number of letters, outlining, as individuals, concerns about the introduction of self-ID for gender reassignment.

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    Government should halt £50m tender to extend the fast-track children’s social work training programme

    A recent Society Guardian piece suggested social work academics and the Frontline fast-track training scheme should end their “feud”. This distracts from important questions about what Frontline means for the future of social work education and practice.

    Frontline is seen by the academic community as a significant threat to the traditional model of university-based generic social work education and training, which prepares practitioners to work with children and adults.

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    They are among the most talented architects of their age. Yet the credit, praise and awards have gone to the men instead. Meet the women who are tired of being written out of history

    Denise Scott Brown was an associate professor when she married Robert Venturi in 1967. She had taught at the universities of Pennsylvania and Berkeley, and initiated the first programme in the new school of architecture at the University of California. She had a substantial publication record, enthusiastic students, and the respect of her colleagues.

    The first sign that marriage had changed things came when an architect whose work she had reviewed said: “We at the office think it was Bob writing, using your name.” It was an indication of what was to come for the rest of her career. Scott Brown was relegated to being the wife of the famous postmodern architect Bob Venturi – who died last month– rather than one half of an equal creative and intellectual partnership that changed the world of architecture as we know it.

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    Sadly the education committee failed to ask Pepper the robot the naughtiest thing she’s ever done

    On Monday, the prime minister spent the best part of two hours failing to explain why she had bothered to come to the House of Commons to give a statement on the progress of the Brexit negotiations when she didn’t have anything to say. Theresa May crashed and burned into random binary numbers as her circuits overloaded. The four pot plants could have given a better demonstration of intelligent life.

    A day later, with a little help from her handlers at Middlesex University, Pepper the robot – a 3ft tall wannabe Star Wars extra – was pushed into the education select committee to show what decent computer programming can achieve. “Good morning,” Pepper said to the Conservative committee chairman, Robert Halfon. “Thank you for inviting me to give evidence today.” The committee looked impressed. This was a more coherent start than many politicians had made.

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    Inscription suggests Mount Vesuvius erupted weeks later than previously thought

    A newly-discovered inscription at Pompeii proves the city was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius after 17 October AD79 and not on 24 August as previously thought.

    Archeologists recently discovered that a worker had inscribed the date of “the 16th day before the calends of November”, meaning 17 October, on a house at Pompeii, the head of archeology at the site, Massimo Osanna, told Italian media.

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    This sharp, refreshing documentary charts the fortunes of high-school students in the unashamed pursuit of excellence

    This National Geographic documentary is a really watchable, distinctly enjoyable account of America’s annual International Science and Engineering Fair, a gigantic competition open to high-school science students from all over the globe. At the annual final in Los Angeles, 1,700 young people must present their projects in trade-fair-type booths and be prepared to answer questions from judges who tour around, taking notes. Translators are provided.

    This film follows a handful of these competitors individually: outspoken, smart, idealistic, unburdened by false modesty, and with a sublime kind of innocence. It is refreshing to watch something unashamedly concerned with excellence and objectivity, a contest that cannot be won by the person who shouts loudest about it being rigged or culturally biased, and it is also refreshing to see that scientists are not being belittled as “nerds”, or encouraged to humblebrag themselves by this term.

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    Icelandic has retained its literary vigour since the Sagas, but TV and tourism are a growing threat

    “Coffee and kleina,” reads a large sign at a roadside coffee shop by one of the main roads in Reykjavik. Not so many years ago, such a billboard would simply have read: “Kaffi og kleina” – in the language of the Vikings, the official language of Iceland.

    It is a privilege of the few to be able to read and write Icelandic, a language understood by only around 400,000 people worldwide. Icelandic, in which the historic Sagas were written in the 13th and 14th centuries, has changed so little since then on our small and isolated island, that we can still more or less read them as they were first written.

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    To boost social mobility, universities need to start speaking to children from disadvantaged backgrounds at a younger age

    Traditionally, universities looking to widen access have focused on secondary aged children preparing to take their next step in education. This is certainly an important moment in a young person’s life, but in many cases it may be too late to shape their decision-making. Universities are looking to solve problems which can become entrenched far earlier in a child’s education.

    In 2016, a Ucas survey pointed out that children who know they want to enter higher education by age 10 or earlier are 2.6 times more likely to end up at a more competitive university than someone who decided in their late teens. This is why universities need to do more work in primary schools.

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