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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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    Move comes as report warns sharp rise in firsts and upper seconds threatens integrity

    Universities are to hold a sector-wide inquiry into the increasing number of first-class and upper second-class degrees awarded, following a report that warns of potential damage to the integrity of UK higher education.

    The report led by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education concludes that while it is difficult to pinpoint the causes, perceptions of grade inflation could erode the usefulness of honours degree classes and undermine confidence in academic standards.

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    As cash-strapped schools turn to parents for money, a two-tier system is being created – with disastrous effects for children

    Second world war references are hard to avoid in the context of Brexit, so here’s one that actually has something constructive to offer. When Britain was in the midst of war, it was also undertaking wholesale reform of the education system.

    The mass evacuation of children from British cities to rural areas laid bare the abysmal lack of education many had received. The government response was the 1944 Education Act, which established what we now call state-maintained comprehensive schools and free, compulsory education to the age of 15. Free, as in not requiring parental fees. It was a change the then education minister, Rab Butler, would describe in the House of Commons as characterised by “dignity”; but 75 years later, under cover of Brexit, this basic pillar of our postwar order is being quietly eroded, with “free” schools asking parents if they can make a contribution to help meet the chronic funding shortfall they are facing. Money for the “little extras”, as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, in his recent budget, described the luxuries our pampered snowflakes enjoy these days – things like toilet paper, textbooks and stationery.

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    The editor-in-chief of the Guardian describes what she does, what makes her job exciting and her advice to future journalists

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    New figures showing male arts graduates earn less than non-graduates are familiar – but I’d never give up doing what I love

    I was 29 when my brother-in-law casually said to me: “It would be nice if one day you could make use of your education.” I had a degree and an MA in creative writing which, as far as I was concerned, I used every day – reading novels, trying to write novels, arguing about politics, interpreting the subtle meanings in French cinema, and generally leading an examined life. But my brother-in-law, who left school at 18, didn’t understand why, as a journalist, I was bringing home less than half the salary he earned in the hospitality industry.

    Related: LSE graduates top average earnings table by age 29, data shows

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    From Brexit to blockchain, gender to drones: new areas of practice are always opening up

    Many law students may focus on the obvious areas like criminal, family or commercial law. But lawyers increasingly find that they are working in niche areas – and societal, political and technological changes mean there are growing fields to specialise in. Here are just a few of them.

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    Rise in England, Wales and Northern Ireland fuels debate over student recruitment

    One in three 18-year-olds applying for university places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year received some form of unconditional offer, figures show, sparking fresh debate about student recruitment and the effects of separating offers from A-level grades.

    A report by the Ucas admissions agency revealed that open unconditional offers continued to rise this year, from 3,000 in 2013 to 68,000, and reached 87,500 when combined with offers that became unconditional when a student made that university their firm choice.

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    Scott Morrison announces vocational education review along with 10 tax clinics to provide free advice to small businesses

    Scott Morrison has announced a shakeup of vocational education and training to ensure that more young people have real-life skills to match structural changes in the economy.

    The prime minister made the announcement at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual dinner on Wednesday, along with a promise to set up 10 new tax clinics to provide free advice to small businesses in tax disputes.

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    The entrepreneur and author on how universities can create a healthy working culture

    University leaders might baulk at the idea of more argumentative staff, but entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan argues they must learn to embrace constructive conflict. This is particularly important in the wake of the pension strikes that shut down campuses last year.

    For Heffernan, passionate debate is a sign that people care, and is far better than “deadly” silence and compliance. “If I were a chief executive where there was no trouble-making, I’d be scared for my life,” she says.

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    Father of Ed Farmer, who died after a pub crawl in Newcastle, urges zero-tolerance approach

    The father of a student who died after a university society initiation at which revellers downed shots of vodka from a pig’s head has called for anybody involved in future ceremonies to be expelled.

    Jeremy Farmer, whose son Ed died after an agricultural society initiation at Newcastle University, called for a zero-tolerance approach to the “pointless” ceremonies.

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    Head of management school lodges formal grievance as he is suspended alongside vice-chancellor

    A senior academic at Swansea University, who has been suspended alongside the vice-chancellor pending the outcome of an internal investigation, has denied any wrongdoing and has lodged a formal grievance against the registrar now in charge of the institution.

    Prof Marc Clement, dean of the school of management, instructed lawyers to launch the grievance against the registrar and chief operating officer, Andrew Rhodes, who earlier this week informed staff of the investigation and subsequent suspensions.

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    Children may have skipped school to campaign on climate change - but taught a lesson or two on how to write a protest banner

    Some were witty, some were rude and some – for older people at least – were incomprehensible.

    The thousands of children who left class on Friday to protest against inaction on climate change brought with them a dazzling array of protest banners and posters.

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    Dundee University researchers receive $1m funding boost from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

    Researchers at a Scottish university hope to make a breakthrough in the long hunt for a male pill, thanks to a grant of more than $900,000 that will allow them to screen thousands of existing drugs to see if they have potential.

    Related: Male pill could be on horizon as trials yield positive results

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    Call for urgent action as rise in numbers blamed on ‘toxic rhetoric around immigration’

    A record number of children are being excluded for racist bullying, a Guardian analysis has found, prompting calls for an urgent government intervention to tackle bigotry and prejudice in schools across Britain.

    Last year, 4,590 cases of racial abuse among school students were deemed serious enough to warrant fixed or permanent exclusion, up from 4,085 last year.

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    Tory MP was quickly promoted from David Cameron aide to frontbench before dealing the latest blow to Theresa May

    Sam Gyimah has been considered a “rising star” for nearly two decades.

    The Conservative MP for East Surrey, who has resigned as universities minister over Theresa May’s Brexit deal, was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He was sent to live in Ghana aged six before returning to a state comprehensive to complete his GCSEs and A-levels.

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    Micheal Olorode, 21, says money from GoFundMe page will make ‘a big difference’

    Thank you, Guardian Money readers, for your remarkable response to last week’s How I Spend It which featured Micheal Olorode, 21, and his struggle to pay his way through university.

    Donations have poured in, entirely unprompted by us or Micheal, while one reader went so far as to set up a GoFundMe page that has already received more than £4,000 in contributions.

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    Our country is vastly changed, but creating ‘hostile environments’ has consequences

    I cannot recall ever being “waterboarded”. But nor can I recall many days when, as a schoolboy, I did not return home without a bruised lip or a bloodied nose. Sometimes, I got a hiding at home too. “You should know better than to get into a fight.”

    Not getting into a fight was not, however, a choice in 70s Britain. Not if you were Asian in an age in which “Paki-bashing” was almost a national sport. You either stood up for yourself, and got into fights, or you got picked on even more.

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    Issues such as obesity are better handled in the home, says Amanda Spielman

    Parents must not “abdicate their responsibility” by expecting schools to solve all the major problems children face, the chief inspector for schools will warn this week.

    In a robust intervention attacking the increasing burdens placed on teachers, Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman will say schools “cannot be a panacea” for all social ills and will criticise some parents for neglecting some of the “most basic of parenting tasks”, such as toilet training.

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    Three academics are launching a new journal in which arguments can be made anonymously. But is separating ideas from their authors the best way forward?

    Jeff McMahan is a professor of moral philosophy at Oxford University. He’s a snowy-haired American, originally from South Carolina, and he works in a large, dark oak-panelled, and not very warm study in Corpus Christi college. It’s a room with an illustrious past.

    A little over 400 years ago, the committee that translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic) into English gathered to do its work in this very place. What they produced became known as the King James Version, a scholarly and aesthetic achievement that amounted, in the late Christopher Hitchens’s words, to “a giant step in the maturing of English literature”. “It’s a lot to live up to,” jokes McMahan, as we settle down as near to the electric radiator as possible.

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    Former first lady was inspired to take up educational initiatives after visiting school in London

    Michelle Obama will return on Monday to the London girls’ school that inspired her focus on education when she was US first lady, as part of a one-day UK tour to publicise her memoir.

    In 2009 Obama visited Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school (EGA) in Islington, which at the time had 900 refugee pupils in a student body where 55 languages were spoken. In her memoir, Becoming, she recalls: “Looking at the girls, I just began to talk, explaining that though I had come from far away … I was more like them than they knew.”

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    Party says government has ‘abjectly failed’ to meet its targets on workplace training

    Labour has questioned why ministers are spending more than £2.5m with a single advertising agency to promote apprenticeships, when the number of people entering such schemes is dropping and the government seems to have abandoned its targets in the area.

    A written parliamentary question to the Department for Education (DfE) from the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, found the department was paying £2.55m in the 2018-19 financial year to promote apprenticeships.

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