Inequality

New UK teachers’ union chief: ‘Institutional racism in schools has got to be addressed’ | Education

As the son of immigrant workers new to the UK, and growing up in the West Midlands, Patrick Roach never imagined he would one day be a trade union leader on first-name terms with government ministers. His parents, however, who arrived from Jamaica in the 1960s, believed in the power of education to change lives and were ambitious for him. So the new general secretary of the NASUWT, the 300,000-member teachers’ union, who took up his post in April, went…

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‘Rich, thick kids’ achieve much more than poor clever ones, says Gove | Academies

Inequality in Britain is so entrenched that “rich, thick kids” achieve more than their “poor, clever” peers even before they start school, the education secretary said today. Michael Gove told MPs on the cross-party Commons education committee that a “yawning gap” had formed between the attainment of poor children and their richer peers. Gove has come under criticism for using parliamentary procedures usually reserved for national emergencies to rush through his academies bill. The bill, which became law today, will…

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The Observer view on how the debate on schools has been dangerously mishandled | Observer editorial | Opinion

Decisions about how to mitigate and control this pandemic are some of the most thorny and complex that governments have ever had to make. Every day, choices must be made that trade off different risks and harms on the basis of highly uncertain evidence. Be sceptical of anyone who pretends these decisions are easy. Perhaps none is more high-stakes than how to keep children as safe as possible from the effects of the pandemic. So it is unsurprising that the…

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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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Stop this retro nonsense about lockdown being a return to domestic bliss for women | Eleanor Margolis | Opinion

Yesterday I cleaned the toilet, made myself an exquisite toast lunch, and wrote this article. Sure, I don’t have any kids. But I do have a demanding cat and – believe you me – on top of the career, housekeeping and culinary excellence, his needs were met. “What’s it like to be the woman who has it all?” I hear you ask. Spectacular. Eye-opening. Humbling. In reality, my life has changed relatively little since the lockdown. And that, specifically, is…

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As the lockdown bites, it’s women who are taking the strain | Gaby Hinsliff | Opinion

Flicking through our slowly emptying family calendar, a relic of a more innocent age jumps out. “Back to school”, it says in thick black pen, across the beginning of next week. Well, dream on. Across Europe schools are now tentatively beginning to reopen, at least in countries such as Denmark which locked down earlier than we did; German schools too are likely to start returning from early May. But in Britain, it might be half term before that can be…

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Abolish Eton: Labour groups aim to strip elite schools of privileges | Education

Labour activists are aiming to capitalise on Boris Johnson’s likely election as Conservative leader with an aggressive campaign against his old school, Eton, and other elite private schools in England. The group, Labour Against Private Schools, is circulating a motion for the party’s conference in September that would commit a Labour government to stripping fee-paying schools of their privileges and integrating them into the state system. The campaign is to be publicly launched on Tuesday using the @AbolishEton Twitter handle,…

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Cambridge University assigns white academic to look at slavery links | Education

The equal rights campaigner and former Labour politician Trevor Phillips has criticised the University of Cambridge’s “bizarre” decision to appoint a white academic as head of a study into the institution’s historical links with slavery. Prof Martin Millett of Fitzwilliam College is to oversee the two-year research project, which will investigate ways in which the university “contributed to or benefited from the Atlantic slave trade and other forms of coerced labour during the colonial era” in an effort to “acknowledge…

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For children to learn they must be well fed | Letters | Education

What a sad reflection on the times we live in that there should even have to be a “debate” as to whether schools should provide free school meals to children at Key Stage 1 (Free school meals: should the taxpayer continue to fund them?, 10 March). Those against, such as Vic Goddard, CEO of a multi-academy trust (note the corporate title with all that implies about the marketisation of the state school system), seem to resort to the “only a…

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In New Zealand, we are starting to value women’s work fairly. It’s time for the world to follow | World news

The world would stop running were it not for the unpaid and underpaid work undertaken by women. It is past time for our contribution to be recognised, and remunerated fairly. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we are creating a new process to appropriately value the caring work traditionally undertaken by women. It started in 2013, when a care and support worker named Kristine Bartlett, supported by her union (E Tū), filed a pay equity claim under the Equal Pay Act…

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Britain’s battle to get to grips with literacy is laid bare in H is for Harry | Education

Life repeats itself, Grant says dejectedly. “It’s just repeat, repeat, repeat. I had it, my dad had it, and now my son’s going to have it.” He’s talking about illiteracy, which has trapped his family in poverty and shame for generations. But Grant is desperate to break the cycle. His hopes are pinned on his son, Harry, the engaging star of a new documentary that tracks the boy’s struggles with reading and writing during his first two years at secondary…

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The gross hypocrisy of private school heads | Letters | Education

The complaint by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference that plans to widen access to the most selective universities may “discriminate against young people based on the class they were born into” is almost beyond parody (‘Class bias’ in plan to widen university access, private schools claim, 29 January). What is class if it’s not structural and cultural discrimination against people based on their birth? Unless the HMC believe that poorer people are actually less clever than others, then they must…

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Slip-up leaves priests rolling in the aisles | Brief letters | Education

We applaud the rise in state-sector intake across Oxford University and are glad to see individual colleges praised (Report, 16 January). Perhaps Mansfield College deserves a mention. In a quietly radical fashion, we have led the way in Oxford access for 20 years. Our state intake has been over 80% for 10 years and over 90% since 2016. And more than 90% of our state-sector intake this year is from non-selective schools – a meaningful statistic for Oxford University.Lucinda RumseySenior…

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Jennifer Hall Lee: In Pasadena, the Fund-Raising for Schools Reflects the Income Inequality in Society – Education Article

Jennifer Hall Lee is a parent activist in Pasadena, California. She wrote this article about the different amounts of money available to different types of schools in Pasadena. Remember that one of the goals of American public education is “equality of educational opportunity.” How is this possible when children in public schools do not have access to the resources as children in other kinds of schools in the same community? Here is an excerpt: Let’s look at a few of…

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‘Working-class children get less of everything in education – including respect’ | Education

When Diane Reay, Cambridge University professor of education, started researching her book about working class children’s experiences of education, she had no idea just how much inequality she would uncover in state schools today. “The most important thing I found out was that we are still educating different social classes for different functions in society.” She expected to find the English state system was providing roughly the same education for all. “But it doesn’t. Even within a comprehensive school, when…

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University strikes offer a lesson in principles, pay and pensions | Letter | Education

Your editorial is right to emphasise the wider issues in the strike by university lecturers and support services (Lecturers have a just cause in this important battle for the soul of the campus, 26 November). But the pensions issue still lies at the heart of the dispute. With a few retired colleagues, we have been attempting to persuade both the University and College Union (UCU) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) to deal with the serious generational unfairness that has…

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