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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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    A growing number of parents and guardians are paying for children as young as four to receive additional tuition. What is fuelling this booming industry?

    As dusk falls in the Girlington district of Bradford, a trickle of cars begin to arrive in front of a small parade of shops. Parents who have just collected their children at the end of the school day are dropping them off at the Explore Learning tuition centre for extra maths and English coaching. The children sit at a cluster of computer terminals, where they log in to begin their evening studies. The atmosphere is relaxed and lighthearted. The children stay for an hour to work through their lessons, helped where necessary by a member of staff, with 15 minutes’ playtime at the end.

    Located next to a Domino’s and a Subway, the Bradford branch of Explore Learning is a tiny window into Britain’s booming private tuition sector, now worth an estimated £2bn. At one time, private tuition meant a weekly one-to-one session at home with a tutor, the preserve of the privileged few. It is still not cheap – Explore Learning’s standard membership costs £119 a month, plus a £50 registration fee – but it is now on offer on our high streets, in supermarkets and increasingly online, with tutors offering their services from as far afield as India and Sri Lanka. Tutees include children who are little older than toddlers, pupils at prestigious private schools and undergraduates struggling at university. All are caught up in an educational arms race, which experts say is exacerbating social inequality.

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    The humanities subjects do not benefit from the research excellence framework. They need a better system

    The government’s research excellence framework (Ref) is perhaps the ultimate in bureaucratic exercises. It aims every seven years to assess, department by department, every “research active” academic in the UK. The aim is laudable: to ensure that a stream of research funding (known as QR) is distributed to universities fairly and transparently. But for the humanities, the Ref does nothing but harm.

    Few would quarrel with the principle of a system of assessment for the humanities based on reading and judging work submitted, rather than one using citation indexes and other bibliometric data. But the scale of the task makes meaningful or honest assessment impossible. There are too few assessors to provide competent, specialised judgement on the range of work submitted. The workload imposed on them requires superhuman capacities: along with their normal teaching and research, panel members must read the equivalent of a full-length book every day for nine months.

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    Lady Lumley’s school told students the festive season had become ‘commercialised’

    A school that threatened to ban Christmas has been persuaded to reinstate it after receiving hundreds of “thoughtful” letters and emails from pupils.

    Lady Lumley’s school in Pickering, North Yorkshire, cast itself as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge when it told pupils that the true meaning of Christmas had been “buried under an avalanche of commercialisation”.

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    Report finds 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were often lonely

    One in 10 children aged 10 to 15 in Britain are often lonely, according to the first official figures on child loneliness, described by the Children’s Society as heartbreaking.

    Children who received free school meals, lived in a city and reported low satisfaction with their health or with relationships with friends and families were more likely to often feel lonely, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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    Police and crime commissioner links growing number of exclusions with knife crime surge

    Violent crime is being fuelled by schools that are increasingly using expulsions to protect their league table status, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands has said.

    Related: We are turning tide against violent crime in London, says Met chief

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    Sluggish progress to close the gap disheartening despite record levels, says Ucas chief

    The number of young people from disadvantaged areas going to university continues to rise at a stubbornly slow rate, while the gap between women and men enrolling as undergraduates has widened, according to the latest data on UK admissions.

    Related: University education does not close pay gap for women in England

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    From special educational needs funding to youth centres, post-crash cuts have wrought havoc in Britain’s poorest communities

    A decade ago, the banks and their powerful allies tipped much of the western world into crisis. They were never going to pay for it: in Britain, a Conservative party they kept financially afloat has made sure of it. The richest 1,000 families resident in Britain – bankers and financiers among them – have more than doubled their net worth during an era of austerity and stagnating living standards. Instead, the crisis would be paid for with the future of an entire generation, not least youngsters from working-class backgrounds. Last week the BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil tweeted that he’d “treat people who want to start class war as same as race war”, in effect comparing leftists who believe in challenging gross disparities of wealth and power with white supremacists. But as the billionaire Warren Buffett put it: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    This is vandalism. It inflicts damage not just on the young people directly affected, but on the nation’s future

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    Too many university staff are sceptical about dyslexia diagnoses, and fail to give students the support they need

    The proportion of UK university students who are dyslexic has increased markedly in recent years, rising to around 5%. Yet there remains a significant dyslexia attainment gap: around 40% of dyslexic students achieve a 2.1 or above, compared to 52% of non-dyslexic students. Dyslexia is unrelated to intelligence, so why does this gap persist?

    Unfortunately, outdated attitudes towards dyslexia among university staff prevail. Too many view it as something made up by middle-class “helicopter parents” to gain unfair advantages for their children entering university, and not the valid medical diagnosis that it actually is. Even where it is accepted as a condition rooted in an inability to match spoken sounds with their written forms, the accommodations made to level the playing field for dyslexic students are often inadequate.

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    Staff and students want UCL to remove name of ‘father of eugenics’ Francis Galton from university buildings

    University College London has launched an inquiry into its historical links with eugenics, following pressure from students and staff.

    It emerged in January that conferences on eugenics and intelligence had been run secretly at the university for at least three years by James Thompson, an honorary senior lecturer at UCL. Speakers included white supremacists and a researcher who has previously advocated child rape.

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    A list of the UK’s 100 top discoveries showcases on the ground-breaking projects happening in universities

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    From Bristol to Nottingham, university towns across the country are facing up to the negative impacts of large student populations

    It’s 1.30am on a Sunday in Redland, Bristol, and a student party is in full swing. A front door opens and a young woman comes out dressed as a frog. But this isn’t your average slice of uni mayhem: immediately, the student hired to act as doorman darts forward with a finger to his lips. In the street, departing guests whisper while they wait for their Ubers.

    Their unusually considerate approach to late-night noise is based on fear of a large fine and disciplinary action from their university, which recently started cracking down, largely in response to the work of one local man. Andrew Waller started his campaigning website the Noise Pages in March this year after a rash of professionally organised student parties shattered the peace in this tight-knit neighbourhood.

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    Sport England survey finds 15% of children from poorest families are active every day, compared with 22% of richest

    Children from the richest families are more active than those from less affluent families, figures from Sport England show, prompting calls for a more collective effort to make sport accessible for all children.

    The findings revealed the scale of the challenge to help the nation’s children be more active, the sports governing body said.

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    Average annual loss has risen to £484,000, while spending per pupil has fallen

    Three out of every 10 maintained secondary schools had budget deficits of nearly £500,000 last year, according to new figures on local authority spending that shed further light on the funding crunch hitting schools and nurseries in England.

    The Department for Education figures show that more than 30% of mainstream local authority secondary schools had a financial shortfall in 2017-18, compared with just 11% five years earlier, despite government claims that education funding is at its highest level on record.

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    State-funded Steiner Academy Exeter is seeking a new sponsor after damning Ofsted report

    A state-funded Steiner school in Devon is to be transferred to a multi-academy trust after the schools watchdog said it was inadequate.

    Ofsted inspectors raised serious concerns about safeguarding and lack of support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) at the Steiner Academy Exeter, which opened in September 2013.

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    Research shows pupils from state sector less likely to apply than privately educated peers

    Eight top schools in the UK get as many pupils into the universities of Oxford and Cambridge as three-quarters of all schools and colleges together, according to new research.

    Over a three-year period the eight leading schools – which are mainly in the independent sector – sent 1,310 of their students to Oxbridge, while 2,900 schools, each with two or fewer acceptances, sent 1,220 pupils in total.

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    Some basic truths are under threat, and we are out of practice at defending them

    Christmas is cancelled. There can’t be many headteachers who haven’t occasionally longed to type those three words and press “send”. ’Tis the season of precious teaching time disappearing down the plughole of nativity play rehearsals, carol services, and Christmas craft days that leave glitter trodden inextricably deep into the carpets. Is it really worth the hassle?

    But only Lady Lumley’s, a secondary school in the North Yorkshire town of Pickering, has had the courage to take this thought to its logical conclusion. Its religious education teacher told students that unless they could make a persuasive argument as to why it was worth bothering with cards, parties, presents and Christmas trees then the whole thing would be binned and celebrations in school strictly confined to the baby Jesus. The inevitable parental furore, not to mention newspaper stories about stealing Christmas, followed.

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    When I gave evidence showing that an environmental toxin had caused deaths, the authorities hired a rogue scientist

    Most of my job as an academic researcher is spent at my desk or in meetings, so it was with some surprise that I ended up working on a legal case. I felt like a scientist in a TV thriller. I had been contacted by someone who asked me to analyse some simple data, and the results were clear: they revealed deaths and emergency admissions to hospital caused by a known environmental toxin.

    Related: Performance-driven culture is ruining science | Anonymous Academic

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    Pregnancy-related deaths among black women are triple those of our white counterparts

    I don’t allow myself to remember much about my patient who died. I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember the date. I don’t even remember how old I was at the time. But as a result of this memory, I am forever changed.

    In almost a decade of maternity nursing, I’d never had an adult patient die, and I haven’t had a patient die since. Over the past 13 years, I have delivered numerous babies who died in utero or were born alive, but were expected to die shortly after birth because of their low gestational age or conditions that were incompatible with life. I am familiar and comfortable with providing support to a family who were preparing to lose, or had just lost, a much-wanted baby. This day was different. I received a report from the nurse going off duty on a living, breathing, labouring young woman, only to leave the hospital with nothing to give to the next nurse coming on shift.

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    Experts offer their advice on exam preparation – from different studying methods to dealing with mid-paper panic

    Exams are looming. For first-year students in particular, they can feel especially foreboding. Here we’ve brought together experts including psychologists, lecturers and wellbeing counsellors to give their top advice on how to sail through your exams, from preparation tips to dealing with mid-exam panic.

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    Jordan Erica Webber explores the sometimes controversial world of holograms, from lessons taught by absent academics, to celebrities returning to the stage, even after their death

    In November 2018 Imperial College Business School announced that its students will be the first in the world to have live lectures delivered to them via hologram.

    Just a month before that, it was announced that Amy Winehouse would be going on tour in 2019. The singer, who died seven years ago, will appear on stage as a hologram.

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