Further education

Grammar schools created lasting divisions | Education

J oan Bakewell rightly praises the 1944 Education Act for establishing free secondary education (VE Day was the spark for change. Coronavirus could be too, 8 May), thus giving her the opportunity to study at a Stockport grammar school. Oddly though, she says the 11-plus exam “split educational options”. There was no grammar school option for those who “failed” the 11-plus. I wonder if the children whose self-esteem took a tumble felt they were part of a “more equitable society”.…

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When the Covid-19 crisis finally ends, UK schools must never return to normal | Education

From goodness knows where, in the last few weeks school and college leaders have pulled out all the stops. Despite 10 years of real-term funding cuts and ongoing fears of redundancies, the education profession has risen to the Covid-19 challenge. From nursery schools to further education colleges, colleagues have entrenched themselves in their communities, caring for the children of key workers and those at risk of harm while becoming distributors of food and providers of essential social care services. Hundreds…

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The government must protect universities in this crisis or job cuts will follow | Jo Grady | Education

Colleges and universities deliver vital opportunities and drive economic growth. Yet the current coronavirus crisis is now creating huge financial uncertainty in post-16 education. As the general secretary of the University and College Union, I have today written to the government setting out a plan that will protect universities and colleges so they can play their full role in the recovery of our society and economy once the virus is defeated. Most importantly, the government must make a firm commitment…

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Last year one Oxford college admitted 96% of its students from state schools. How did they do it? | Education

Erin Minogue has vivid memories of her Oxbridge application process. The words hard and daunting crop up frequently as she describes her journey from a Midlands comprehensive, then sixth-form college, to one of the most elite universities in the world. Oxford has felt “one step removed from me”, she explains. “A friend of a friend had been, but I didn’t have any family reference points so it felt very tough.” Now, about to sit her English finals, Minogue is a…

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Quitting EU Erasmus scheme would ‘blow a hole’ in UK economy | Education

Quitting the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme would “blow a hole” in the UK’s economy, taking away income of £243m a year and depriving 17,000 British young people of valuable work experience, according to a group of education and business leaders. The group – including further education colleges and universities – is calling for the British government to make clear that continued Erasmus membership is a high priority in its talks with the EU. Britain’s membership of the EU-wide exchange…

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Humanities are not the right courses to cut | Letters | Education

Catherine Fletcher is completely correct to warn about the damage that current policies – not only in universities but also in schools – are doing to the humanities (We’re in a mess and we need the humanities more than ever, Journal, 5 February). But her warning comes much too late. As I and other scholars have shown, the rot started with the 1985 government green paper which declared that the fundamental purpose of higher education was to serve the economy.…

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Skills must be central to budget if the country is to be ‘levelled up’ | Letters | Education

If the chancellor really wants to improve training for skills (Javid to back skills as key to ‘levelling up’ plan, 31 January), he inherits from a long line of politicians who tried to change Britain’s stubborn failure in this area. And it’s not just the disparities between regions in the UK; we are also persistently behind other advanced industrial nations. Even the 1964 Industrial Training Act, which was probably the most ambitious attempt, has been seen as a failure. The…

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How I found my vocation: ‘My upbringing in care helps me as a social worker’ | Education

I was seven when I went into foster care. Social services were going to remove us anyway, but one day my mum just took me and my siblings to the council offices and left us; she told us we were going on holiday. We went to an emergency place for a week and then my older sister and I went to live with Janet and Robert, who ended up being my foster carers until I went to uni. My younger…

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Schools should brace for five years of upheaval from a triumphant party with Gove at its heart | Melissa Benn | Education

The election campaign is now in a bygone decade but we are still not much clearer about what the Tories have in store for education over the next five years. The relevant section of the Conservative manifesto was, at just 646 words, deliberately vague, and seemed oriented towards perceived Labour policy weaknesses – on Ofsted and discipline – rather than on any real plans for education. Not a word on the future use of the pupil premium, nor the burden…

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Mary Renshaw obituary | Education

A generation of south Wales social history formed the background to the life of my wife, Mary Renshaw, who has died aged 83. Born in Newport, south Wales, to Irene (nee Byrne) and Isaac Davies, she grew up in the pit village of Cwm just south of Ebbw Vale in Blaenau Gwent. Her father was a steel worker during a period when the second world war and the postwar economic boom brought prosperity to a region that had earlier felt…

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Young people more sceptical of need to go to university, poll finds | Education

Young people in Britain are increasingly sceptical of the need to go to university and are more aware of apprenticeships, according to polling, as a record proportion of school-leavers await their A-level results. More than 300,000 sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will find out the results of their summer exams on Thursday and in many cases use the grades to gain places on undergraduate courses. But only two-thirds of young people rate a university education as important,…

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Adults in training plunge to record low in a decade | Education

The number of adults who have improved their skills with some form of training has plunged by 4 million over the past decade to the lowest level on record, as government cuts threaten to drive up inequality and damage the economy. In a warning that a decade of decline would undermine the life chances of millions and pave the way for weaker economic growth in future, the Learning and Work Institute said the number of adults taking part in learning…

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T-level courses may not be ready by 2020, warns education union | Education

An education union has called for a delay in the introduction of the Conservatives’ new vocational qualifications amid concerns about student recruitment and the tight timescale. T-levels, which are intended to provide a vocational alternative to A-levels, are due to be taught for the first time in September 2020, but a report says the programme faces serious challenges because of the large-scale changes involved and a lack of awareness among pupils and their parents. There is also concern about progression…

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What’s the point of school uniform? | Education

A shirt, tie and blazer may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of school uniform. Wearing a uniform is a badge of pride, creates an identity for a school and is an important part of being a school student. “Uniforms show that you are part of an organisation. Wearing it says we’re all in this together,” Jason Wing, head teacher at the Neale-Wade academy in…

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How I found my vocation: ‘I was told I wasn’t intelligent enough to study’ | Education

I always wanted to study law, but as a teenager I was told I wasn’t smart enough. That put me off for years. I grew up in west London in a working-class, single-parent family. My mother, who was a chauffeur, had my sister when I was 13; it was a difficult birth and she was in intensive care for a long time. She also suffered from postnatal depression, so I spent a lot of time caring for my baby sister…

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Populism has no place in education – so stop bashing Germans and private schools | Laura McInerney | Education

We live in complicated times. Prorogations. Constitutional crises. It is not surprising, therefore, that the government wants to talk to the public about simple things that “make sense”. Unfortunately, the education policies of the two main(ish) political parties may be feeding the anxious political climate. Take the battle cry of the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, who has set a target that vocational education in Britain will “overtake Germany” in the next decade. It is not clear what he means, but…

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