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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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    Birmingham academy chief Liam Nolan found guilty of ‘unacceptable professional conduct’

    The headteacher of a high profile multi-academy trust, which won plaudits from former prime minister David Cameron and his then education secretary Michael Gove, has been banned from teaching indefinitely.

    Liam Nolan, who was executive headteacher and chief executive of the now defunct Perry Beeches academy trust in Birmingham, was found guilty of “unacceptable professional conduct” after a hearing before the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA).

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  • 11/05/18--22:45: What is #schoolshaming?
  • Do you think it’s acceptable to take to social media or the press to criticise what goes on at school?

    Some commentators believe individual schools should not be criticised in public or on social media and refer to this as “school shaming”. What do they mean and when is it acceptable to complain about a school’s policy on, for example, uniform or behaviour?

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    Brexit is rooted in the rejection of modernity and reason. Higher education cannot thrive where expertise is sneered at

    So this is the crunch month for Brexit, when everything is going to be sorted (or not). In practice, whatever happens in Whitehall, Westminster and Brussels, nothing will be decided because the long-term consequences of Brexit cannot be predicted. And everything has been decided because the damage has already been done – barring the miracle of a people’s vote.

    Attention has been focused on Brexit’s collateral damage to universities and colleges – the loss of EU-funded research (even if short-term sticking-plaster compromises can be reached), the reduction in student applications from the rest of the EU, the jittery morale of EU academics based in Britain.

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    New ranking shows four academy chains lost up to 7% of pupils prior to exams

    Some of England’s most influential academy chains are facing fresh questions over the number of children disappearing from their classrooms in the run-up to GCSEs, following a new statistical analysis of official figures.

    The same four academy chains have the highest numbers of 15- 16-year-olds leaving their schools in both of the last two academic years. In some cases, two pupils are disappearing from the rolls for every class of 30. Some local authorities are also approaching these figures for dropouts.

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    Exclusive: government accused of betraying promise to overhaul sex and consent teaching

    The government’s sex education proposals focus too heavily on self-restraint and are doomed to failure unless radically revised, according to key women’s groups.

    The organisations, responding to a public consultation into sex education proposals that closes on Wednesday, argue that the government has betrayed its promise to overhaul sex and consent teaching in schools.

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    Sir Michael Barber, head of the Office for Students, reminds institutions of need for financial discipline

    Universities should not assume they will be bailed out from a financial crisis, according to the head of the higher education regulator in England, who likened them to overconfident banks before the global financial crisis.

    Sir Michael Barber, the head of the Office for Students (OfS), said the regulator would only act to protect the interests of students, and warned that failing institutions would not be propped up.

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    Australia, Canada and the EU are snapping at our universities’ heels as UK immigration policy is putting off talented young people

    Britain is losing the battle to attract talented and committed international students from around the world. Eight years after the coalition government imposed an impossible target of reducing annual net migration to the tens of thousands, our traditional position as the world’s second largest destination for international students is in jeopardy.

    The UK is a small country, yet has punched above its weight in terms of our financial sector, our tech start-ups, our high-value manufacturing, art and music and, of course, our universities. Along with the US, Britain’s higher education institutions are consistently ranked as the best in the world.

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    Thousands of children are disappearing from school rolls in the crucial year before GCSEs. Ofsted must find out why

    The cracks in the English and Welsh school system are growing. So is the evidence that children are falling through them. Our report this week that four academy chains including the high-performing Harris Federation are losing between 5% and 7% of pupils in the run-up to GCSEs raises questions to which the schools, Ofsted and the government must now provide answers.

    While the number of children leaving schools when they are aged 15 or 16 is rising nationally (from less than 0.1% seven years ago to 2% this year), and some large local authorities have seen rises of 4-5%, academies are losing more pupils than other types of schools. Guardian research this summer showed that the majority of schools that issued more than 20% of pupils with a fixed-term exclusion in 2016-17 were also academies.

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    The first episode of this excellent documentary series dragged us into the depressing reality of an academy classroom – where the kids are not all right, and neither are the grownups

    ‘My heart is racing. I feel sick.” Meet Chloe, a 16-year-old student about to sit her mock GCSEs. She has anxiety, which appears to be at epidemic levels across final-year classrooms and staff rooms at the Castle school in south Gloucestershire (although it is conspicuously absent from the trust’s boardroom). She has had three panic attacks this week. She walks out of class, then flees the exam hall, before being coaxed into sitting the test in a room on her own. As the camera pans away from the “Shhhh … exams in progress” sign tacked to the door (which is enough to make this school leaver’s belly curdle with terror), we hear Chloe softly wailing her signature refrain behind the door: “I’m going to fail.” Which, judging by the first episode of School (BBC Two), may as well be the motto of our education system.

    This excellent if grim six-part documentary comes from the team behind Hospital. There is only one way to watch these forensic examinations of our privatised-by-stealth education and health systems: head in hands, guts churning with stress. Emitting the occasional bout of foul invective under your breath. Not unlike the average teacher’s day, then. School follows the fortunes, or rather deficits, of three secondary schools run by a multi-academy trust over an academic year. The Castle school seems pretty generic. Gulls wheeling over a menacing concrete playground. An atmosphere laden with tension, and difficult hormones. Penis graffiti. Fire-alarm antics. Frazzled teachers saying things such as: “No, your eye hasn’t been poked out,” over and over again in a maddeningly calm voice. Plus ça change and all that. Except, of course, that everything has changed. Four years ago, the Castle became an academy. Since then, as Andy Grant, one of the quietly heroic teachers now routinely missing performance targets and taking pay cuts, puts it: “There is a general feeling that this school is falling apart.”

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    The cross-party education select committee firmly believes that if students are going to take on the big burden of a loan, there must surely be a good graduate job at the end of it, writes Robert Halfon MP

    I welcome the debate on what universities and higher education should be for, but Zoe Williams clearly needs to look at the education committee’s findings more closely rather than just highlighting one line out of one of my speeches (For Tories, the poor don’t need education, Journal, 6 November).

    Our report this week is focused on skills, social justice and good graduate outcomes. The fact is we have a huge skills deficit in our country, with the manufacturers organisation, the EEF, warning that almost three-quarters of businesses are concerned about finding workers with the skills they need. Yet just eight out of 24 Russell Group universities are offering degree apprenticeships.

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    Staff from John Roan school walk out for an eighth day to protest against plans

    Parents and teachers at one of the oldest state schools in the country have become the latest to take up the fight against plans to remove their school from local authority control and force it to become an academy.

    The John Roan school, which has been teaching children in Greenwich, south-east London for more than 300 years, was made the subject of an academy order earlier this year after an Ofsted inspection found it was “inadequate”.

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    Prime minister urges women to work together as she hosts 100 female MPs from around the world

    Theresa May told a gathering of female politicians from around the world that “a woman’s place is in elected office” as she urged them to work together to make sure their voices were heard.

    The British prime minister admitted that getting the political system to work in a male-dominated environment was “never easy” but warned that less representative parliaments operated with “one hand tied behind their backs”.

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    Japanese university announces it will accept women unfairly rejected in favour of male candidates

    A Japanese medical school at the centre of a sexism row has offered places to dozens of women who were unfairly rejected in favour of male candidates.

    Tokyo Medical University said this week that it would accept women whose exam scores were deliberately marked down to restrict the number of female students.

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    Created at the height of Victorian prudishness, the Bodleian Library’s Phi collection was designed to protect young minds from ‘immoral’ books. More than a century later, they’re going on display for the first time

    Libraries today take a dim view of censorship. They are places where knowledge is preserved and shared freely, and where ideas that may seem challenging to some, are nevertheless part of what libraries see as their role in society to make ideas accessible to all.

    But this was not always the case. My own institution, the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, created a restricted class, a special category for books that were deemed to be too sexually explicit. These books were given the shelfmark Φ – the Greek letter phi– and students had to submit a college tutor’s letter of support in order to access the racy materials that were contained there. The Bodleian was certainly not alone in this approach to risqué books: one of my first jobs as a curator was in the National Library of Scotland, and the equivalent shelfmark there was frequently the target of break-ins which must have been perpetrated by library staff. (It is a closed-stack institution and only the librarians knew where such good stuff was kept.)

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    Learning to socialise is an important aspect of university life. So cut the kids some slack

    Spare a thought for the UK university student forever locked in a losing battle against the Man. First they hiked the tuition fees, then their housing costs, then politically engaged students became fair game for the press to attack. And in a move so dastardly, so wicked – an existential threat striking at the essence of student life – they’re coming for their piss-ups.

    This week it was revealed that party-monster students at Bristol University can be forced to take classes to learn how to be better (and more quiet) neighbours. It’s just one of a number of punishments – from evictions to fines ranging between £50 and £300 – designed to curb the swelling tide of wasted, loutish students making town centres and residential streets unbearable of an evening. It’s town v gown, and recent figures put it at a £350,000 loss in fines on the student population.

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    Grime artist says institution ‘did not want to get involved’ in funding offer for black students

    Stormzy has accused Oxford University of rejecting his offer to fund two scholarships for black British students, a proposal which has since been taken forward by Cambridge University.

    The grime artist was speaking at the Barbican in London, where he was launching his book Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far.

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    Jess Phillips says open discussion of female pleasure is vital to redress gender power balance

    Schoolgirls should be taught about orgasms in sex education lessons, according to a Labour MP.

    Jess Phillips, who represents Birmingham Yardley and has two sons, made the remarks during a magazine interview. She explained that girls should be taught about sex from a young age in order to form healthy sexual relationships when they become adults.

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    Football is our national sport and yet some schools continue to offer it solely to boys

    Imagine a school that divided its subjects by gender. A school that didn’t allow girls to study chemistry or algebra, and the only way to access those subjects was to pursue private tuition outside of school hours at their own expense. There would, rightly, be outrage.

    When it comes to PE lessons, however, it remains perfectly acceptable for a school to offer different sports to boys and girls. The rationale? Archaic and gendered ideas about physical activity: football and rugby are best suited to boys; netball and dance are best for girls. At the same time that we have public health and sports governing bodies working to promote football and rugby to women and girls, we are turning a blind eye to a blatantly sexist and outdated practice in education that tells girls those very same sports are not for them.

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    Most students experience financial hardship – following these steps can help you get back on track

    It doesn’t take much to break a student budget – accommodation costs can do it before term even starts. Add unrealistic maintenance loans and a lack of money skills, and many students face some degree of financial hardship. According to Save the Student’s recent National Student Money Survey, 78% of students experience financial stress. Here’s what to do if you find yourself in difficulty.

    Prioritise costs. First, list everything you need to pay for over the next few months, from rent and bills to bus fares, laundry costs and your TV licence. The more detail, the better.

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    The best academic research is done in a supportive, collaborative environment – not a corporate culture

    I started my career at a post-92 institution, which was struck several serious blows during my time there. The first was the withdrawal by the government of bursaries for nurses in 2017, which caused applications to fall by a third and had a major effect on our bottom line. The second came in the form of low performance in the National Student Survey, combined with a change of senior leadership. This saw a number of departments fighting for survival.

    Related: My university forced me into teaching training. It was all dry 'eduspeak' | Anonymous academic

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