Education, Education, Education

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Stormkhan said:
Pietro_Mercurios said:
One can certainly teach the meaning of 'tolerance'.
Intolerance is usually a product - or perhaps a by-product - of ignorance. Tolerance might be equated with understanding. I might not share the feeling of homosexual attraction but I can understand it.
Actually, tolerance, or intolerance, both suggest some sort of understanding of another's situation. It's not really ignorance that leads to intolerance, it's a wilful refusal to mind one's own business and meddle in the affairs of others, when it'not warranted.

The Dutch are famously 'tolerant', but the real Dutch atitude to tolerance is best summed up as, 'I'll mind my own business, just as long as others mind theirs.'

'Die kan zich dus beter met z'n eigen vak bemoeien' i.e. They'd do better to worry about their own business.
 

rynner2

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'Unqualified students' gaining university places
By Hannah Richardson, BBC News education reporter

More than a third of those starting university in England last year did not have any recognised entry qualifications, a report suggests.
A Higher Education Policy Institute report says two-fifths of these students had achieved less than two E grades at A-level.
Some, particularly foreign students, will have qualifications not recognised by Ucas.
Others will have taken access courses aimed at those without qualifications.

The Hepi report looks at future demand for higher education in the UK.
It finds that the biggest growth in applications has been among the least qualified group - defined as those with fewer than 80 Ucas points - the equivalent of two A-Levels at grade E.

It says that nearly half of the increase in applicants between 2008 and 2010 through the UK admissions service, Ucas - was accounted for by people with no tariff points. This is the system by which points are awarded for qualifications.

It says: "What is curious is that whereas in the past higher education numbers went hand-in-hand with A-level numbers, in recent years the rate of increase in higher education entry has been about twice that of the number of A-level passes."

The report adds that some 51,273 of "unqualified" students missed out on university places last year.
It warns, however, that these "unqualified" students are not a "homogenous group".
Report author and Hepi director Bahram Bekhradnia said: "Quite a lot of them will have no qualifications at all, it is true - but others will have overseas qualifications and some Level 3 qualifications which Ucas does not for one reason or another recognise in its tariff system."

It adds: "It is one of its strengths that the UK's higher education system - and a feature that sets it apart from most others in Europe - that such second chance higher education is possible."

At the same time the report confirms that a higher number of qualified students failed to gain a place at university last year.
It estimates that 17% of university applicants, or 62,000, were qualified enough to gain a university place, according to the Ucas tariff, but did not do so.

This is considerably lower than the overall numbers of people who failed to gain a place who have been logged by Ucas - more than 200,000.
The difference is accounted for by removing the unqualified demand, overseas students and those who withdrew from the process.

The report describes unsatisfied qualified demand for university places as "significant" and growing rapidly. It follows what the report calls "a significant policy change" in 2008 when ministers began to limit university places and the "squeeze on student numbers began".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12356387
 

rynner2

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Universities admit 'soft' A-levels damage chance of top places
Students who 'avoid challenge' of traditional subjects miss out on places at Oxbridge or 'redbrick' institutions
Jessica Shepherd, education correspondent The Guardian, Friday 4 February 2011

Top universities will today issue guidance which acknowledges officially for the first time that they favour students who study traditional subjects at A-level.

The guide compiled by the Russell Group, a lobbying group for Oxford, Cambridge and 18 other leading universities, confirms rumours that have circulated for years that they favour those subjects over newer ones such as business studies or photography.
It also reveals an overwhelming preference for science and maths subjects – even for seemingly unrelated degrees.

The new handbook, seen by the Guardian, is a sign that universities are having to cave in to ministers and teachers' calls for far more information on how admissions tutors decide who they award places to and why.

By not studying at least two of the following subjects – maths, English, geography, history, any of the three pure sciences or a classical or modern foreign language – "many degrees at competitive universities will not be open to you," the guide, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Career Guidance, states.

It asks students to question why they are not taking traditional subjects: "Are you trying to avoid a challenge?" It states that while there is no "set definition" of a "hard" or "soft" subject, so-called "hard" subjects are like the ones the top universities prefer and are more theoretical. It gives media studies, art and design, photography and business studies as examples of "soft" subjects and states that they are "vocational or have a practical bias".

"If you plan to take more than one perceived 'soft' subject, some caution may be needed," the guidebook warns.

etc...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... s-a-levels
 

rynner2

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Can you hear me at the back? School teaches pupils in classes of SEVENTY... and says children are learning more
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:09 AM on 8th February 2011

The conventional wisdom has long been straightforward: smaller classes equal better lessons.
But a headmaster has rewritten the school rules with mammoth class sizes of up to 70 – and he says the result has been a dramatic improvement in standards.
Bure Valley Junior School, in Norfolk, teaches youngsters aged seven to nine in groups of 60 to 70.
The classes, which it claims are the biggest in the country, are divided into smaller groups and taught by two teachers and two assistants in one big classroom.

Headmaster John Starling insists that since beginning the experiment two years ago, his pupils have doubled the amount they learn in a year. It has been so successful, he says, that he plans to roll it out to the rest of the school.

Mr Starling believes larger classes make lessons more fun and collaborative for pupils and teachers, improving the quality of teaching.
‘We’ve monitored the children very carefully in core subjects,’ he said. ‘At the end of the first year we found they had made double the progress they had in the previous year. Staff can work closely with specific groups of children within classes and teachers benefited because they had colleagues in the same room.

‘Teachers are enjoying it, they’re not on their own and it’s particularly good for newly qualified teachers because they have an experienced colleague on hand.’
Ofsted has rated the school ‘good’ overall and the teaching in the super-sized classes ‘outstanding’.

With the population set to balloon in the next decade - with 500,000 new primary school places needed by 2018 – ministers, head teachers and educationalists will watch the experiment with interest.

At present the average size of a state primary class is 26.2 pupils. By law it is not allowed to exceed 30 for children aged four to eight.
There are, however, no restrictions for nine-year-olds, allowing Mr Starling to boost his classes to 70 for the older children. For the younger children, he got round the law by using two teachers.

The headmaster’s move follows the extraordinary admission of former education secretary Charles Clarke – who was responsible for enshrining in law a 30-pupil maximum – that there was no evidence to suggest smaller classes were better.
But it has brought an angry response from teaching unions, who have long fought to reduce numbers in lessons.

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1DM6xQ3tY
 

Quake42

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Yeah, teaching in classes of 70+ is exactly why Britain's top public schools are so successful.

Oh, wait...

Shameless propaganda piece by the Mail which is desperately trying to convince people that education cuts are actually good for their kids.
 

rynner2

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Quake42 said:
Shameless propaganda piece by the Mail which is desperately trying to convince people that education cuts are actually good for their kids.
There are no cuts involved - there are twice as many kids, but also twice as many teachers and classroom assistants.
 

Quake42

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There are no cuts involved - there are twice as many kids, but also twice as many teachers and classroom assistants.
Yes, in this particular school's experiment. However you'd have to be pretty naive not to see the significance of the Tories' biggest cheerleading rag suddenly extolling the virtues of enormous class sizes in a time of government spending cuts.

As I said, if this technique was so successful you expect to see the private education sector adopting it. Their actual practice tells a different story.
 

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This one is interesting, and while I completely appreciate the logic behind it, I still think it's misguided:

Reading test for six-year-olds to include non-words
By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter

A number of made-up words such as "koob" or "zort" are to be included in the government's planned new reading test for six-year-olds in England.

The idea has drawn criticism from literary experts who say the approach will confuse those beginning to read.

The UK Literacy Association said the plan was "bonkers" as the purpose of reading was to understand meaning.

The government said non-words were being included to check pupils' ability to decode words using phonics.

This is the reading system by which children sound out words using letter sounds.

Non-words were being included to check that children were not just regurgitating memorised words, a spokesman for the Department for Education said.

The proposed new test will take about 10 minutes to complete and would include about 40 items - words and non-words.

President of the UK Literacy Association David Reedy said the inclusion of non-words would be counter productive since most six-year-olds expect to make sense of what they read.

"The test is trying to control all the different variables so that things like meaning don't get in the way.

"We think that seems a bit bonkers when the whole purpose of reading is to understand words," he said.

He added that the test itself was sending out the message that all words are decodable using phonics when they are not.

"There are many words with which you have to use a 'look and say' approach. This is the case with many common words such as 'the' and 'once'," he said.

This was because the English language is not phonically regular like German or Finnish, he said.

"Children should be using a number of sources of information to be able to work out what a word is. There is the context, the sentence itself and whether they have that word in their spoken lexicon," Mr Reedy said.
'Love of reading'

Although phonics was an important part of teaching reading, it should not be conflated with the teaching of reading itself, he said.

He added that it might be useful for the Department for Education to explain why the Secretary of State's surname, 'Gove', did not rhyme with 'love'.

The plans also drew criticism from family literacy expert Professor Greg Brooks - UK member of EU high-level expert group on literacy.

He wrote: "The proposed test commit what has been appropriately called 'the fallacy of the unique methodological solution', that is, succumbing to the belief that 'if only we can fix this aspect and make all teachers do this particular thing, all (educational, literacy, …) problems will be solved.'"

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "We are clear that synthetic phonics will not be compulsory in schools but we do believe more schools should teach synthetic phonics because it is shown to have a major and long-lasting effect on children's reading and spelling.

"We are supported in that view by high-quality academic evidence from across the world - from Scotland and Australia to the National Reading Panel in the US - which points to synthetic phonics being the most effective method for teaching literacy for all children, especially those aged five to seven.

"Too many children leave primary school unable to read and write properly - we are determined to raise standards and the new phonics-based reading check for six-year-olds will ensure that children who need extra help are given it before it is too late, and then can enjoy a lifetime's love of reading."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12509477
Phonics-based education has its place, but for native speakers acquiring and not learning a language, is can be as much a hindrance as a help: rather like learning 'I before E except after C' - you quickly discover a host of exceptions and are forced to guess which rule takes precedence. The stated motivation, "to check that children were not just regurgitating memorised words," entirely misses the point. Once you pass a really quite rudimentary level of English, that is often precisely what you're doing a lot (no, not all) of the time - and it is in no way 'cheating' not to have checked the particular combination of consonants and vowels!

I suppose my main objection is that by including non-words, this becomes a test of having learnt the synthetic phonics model and not of being able to read in itself. Imagine a new student entering the class on test day, having learnt to read without having ever broken down words into his 44 phonemes. He could be a strong reader yet unable to do well on the test.

In my opinion, Mr Reedy is spot on. We do indeed 'read' words by gathering a lot of supplementary information: syntactical location, tone and context, lexical expectation and comparison, rhyme, rhythm and rote memorisation to name but a few - there are a host of clues alongside the phonemes that make up the words on the page; non-words strip these all away.

Finally, I'm dismayed to hear soi-disant experts promulgating the idea that reading is inherently 'hard' for children. While is is undoubtedly a high-level skill, it is (in my experience) usually a combination of non-academic factors that retard literacy: child comes from a home without books, child's parents never read to him and don't read themselves, child has an unsettled home-life, child comes from a non-English speaking home, child has visual, aural or developmental difficulties, child is seldom at school, constantly ill, or has attended half a dozen different schools in a few short years - you get the idea, I'm sure. The actual process of teaching a child to read is simple given ample written material, time and patience. What's more it is almost invariably successful - with or without synthetic phonics - in the absence of those complicating factors cited above.
 

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10-hour school day on the way to boost grades (and Saturday mornings too!)

By Kate Loveys
Last updated at 8:52 AM on 4th March 2011


Children could go to school for ten hours a day and on Saturday mornings under a radical shake-up of secondary education.

Education Minister Michael Gove wants school days to run from 7.30am to 5.30pm to improve pupils’ performance and enable them to study vocational courses alongside core academic subjects.

He also wants sites to open on Saturdays and to increase terms by two weeks, to a total of 40 weeks a year.
Changes: Education Secretary Michael Gove said the measures would not be compulsory, but strongly advised

Changes: Education Secretary Michael Gove said the measures would not be compulsory, but strongly advised

It would mean youngsters gaining more than an extra year of teaching over a five-year period.

Longer days in the state system would bring them in line with many private schools, giving disadvantaged youngsters more time in class to catch up with more privileged peers.

They would also be popular with working parents who struggle to fit 3pm school finishing times in with their jobs.

Mr Gove said the measures – which would mirror exemplary Far Eastern schools such as in Singapore – would not be compulsory but strongly advised.

The teachers’ union criticised the plans, arguing that staff already have a punishing workload and that children need time to rest.

Mr Gove unveiled the plans yesterday alongside the findings of an independent review into vocational education.
Critical: Professor Alison Wolf's review attacked the 'immoral' pressures of school league tables

Led by Professor Alison Wolf, it found a third of non-academic GCSE-equivalent courses are pointless or even harm career prospects. One, the certificate in Personal Effectiveness, taught pupils, among other things, how to claim benefits.

Mr Gove said youngsters aged 14 to 16 should focus on core subjects of his English Baccalaureate – English, maths, a science, a humanity and a foreign language.

He said vocational courses should be taught alongside the core and occupy up to 20 per cent of the school timetable.

If schools can manage to get all their pupils up to scratch during a short school day then they should stick to it, he said. But if pupils are failing to pass maths and English GCSEs, as more than half do, they must lengthen the school day.

Mr Gove said it was up to individual schools to decide whether to adopt the measures, but added: ‘I personally believe that people should be learning for longer.

‘Lots of schools have found having an extended school day – sometimes weekend education, or longer terms – helps.’

Mr Gove said he would not prescribe the longer hours, but has ‘lifted the bureaucratic requirement on schools to give us notice about varying the school day’.

‘The opportunity is now there for schools to offer students more,’ he said.

Academies, ‘free’ schools and faith schools are able to vary their hours, provided they teach for a minimum of 190 days a year. Comprehensives must seek permission from their local authority.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of education union ATL, criticised the plans. She said: ‘Longer hours in school do not neatly equate into higher achievement by pupils.

‘The reasons why some fail to achieve as well as they could are complex and varied. Being born into a disadvantaged family is the most significant.

‘Young people need to spend time with families and friends and to organise their own activities, or rest.

‘Teachers in the English state schools already work an average of 50 hours a week – 18 of them teaching and the rest marking and preparing students’ work, in parents’ meetings, staff meetings, and training. They need a life outside school too.’

Professor Wolf’s review attacked as ‘immoral’ the pressures of school league tables which have caused a move away from a core curriculum.

She said it was ‘absolutely scandalous’ that half of all 16-year-olds are leaving school without good GCSEs – a C grade or higher – in English and maths.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... rades.html
I think - despite The Mail's insistence - that this is still a discussion of possible changes. It's interesting, nevertheless. I like the idea that the core of the day could be reserved for core subjects with optional vocational work continuing later in the afternoon.

I've travelled a lot in East Asia and it's a brute fact to observe that the children there work far, far harder than most North American and European children and many are backed by highly-motivated (and frequently fearsome) parents. Even children from the lower class homes with less than supportive families are still expected to simply do more and be in school for longer than their Western counterparts. Could the average British secondary school student manage a ten-hour day and a six-day week? Perhaps - if it paid off. Even that, though, would be considered a shorter than usual week in some Asians nations (I saw a documentary with Korean and Japanese students sleeping at their schools in the run-up to important exams). Furthermore, I think some of this marathon commitment stems from education systems that are far more competitive at far younger ages than our own; they study that hard to outdo their classmates. They also make extensive use of private education an tutoring in support of both public and private 'main schooling'. Does our own set-up demand such herculean sacrifice? Perhaps, perhaps not. I think a good many parents would welcome the change, but I think the teaching unions may prove intractable!

'Blue Skies' work here, I think.
 

OneWingedBird

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You don;t think this is part of a plan to keep the kids at school 10 hours a day so that they can try and force the parents, who would then have a school run outside of work hours, into jobs that don;t exist? or just to remove any related benefits?
 

Yithian

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Could be. Or it could be an attempt to drag our society from the educational-gutter. Take your pick.
 

Quake42

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I'm struggling to find any evidence that Gove said explicitly that school children should have 10 hour days and be forced to attend school on Saturdays. A standard 55 hour working week is excessive for full time workers let alone children and teenagers.

There is a lot of hot air in the blogosphere but all of it seems to link back to the Mail article, which appears to infer a great deal from:

‘Lots of schools have found having an extended school day – sometimes weekend education, or longer terms – helps.’
Another candidate for the abysmal journalism thread I believe...
 

Yithian

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Quake42 said:
I'm struggling to find any evidence that Gove said explicitly that school children should have 10 hour days and be forced to attend school on Saturdays. A standard 55 hour working week is excessive for full time workers let alone children and teenagers.

There is a lot of hot air in the blogosphere but all of it seems to link back to the Mail article, which appears to infer a great deal from:

‘Lots of schools have found having an extended school day – sometimes weekend education, or longer terms – helps.’
Another candidate for the abysmal journalism thread I believe...
I assumed the 'proposal' (although I don't think it has actually reached such a concrete status yet) was for the schools to open for these longer hours but individual students to attend for only some of them depending on their choice of extra classes. I was only speculating about a more rigorous week.

I don't think anyone is planning to have children study for 55hrs - although they certainly do in some climes; but anyway let's not pretend that ten hours in school is the same as ten hours working. There's a lot of down time, sport, breaks and general clowning that goes on in schools - even the best of them.

All that aside, yes, it's a poor article. But the core of the suggestion is real.
 

rynner2

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Some schools do work on Saturday mornings - like the one where I did my teacher training practice term in the 70s.

But a longer school day? A bit, perhaps, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
 

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The problem with long hours is that it's counter-productive.
You simply can't capture a child's attention for that long. Even adults have a problem with concentrating for that long.
There's a reason why we have an average working week of around 40 hours, and it's psychological. We had longer hours many years ago, then the legislation was changed to shorten the working day. Strangely, productivity went UP as a result.
In Asian countries, they do cramming to force children through education. The result is a lot of well-programmed, qualified robots who can't think original thoughts or for themselves. Yes, I'm generalising, but this is mostly true. I work at a Japanese company, and those guys have a real problem with making decisions. They dither for hours over the simplest things. And of course they work ridiculously long hours.
 

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And they are better citizens and healthier people, yes?

What percentage of Japanese students got to Uni...does anyone know?
 

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Kondoru said:
And they are better citizens and healthier people, yes?

What percentage of Japanese students got to Uni...does anyone know?
'Better' citizens..if you mean better-behaved, that is probably true. Isn't that more of a cultural thing, though? I mean, everybody behaves themselves because of a strong culture of honour and responsibilities. Japan was once a mostly militaristic culture and nobody stepped out of line.

I do feel sorry for my Japanese colleagues because they feel obliged to work crazy hours. An interesting thing I've noticed...in spite of the long hours, they are oddly less productive than our guys in the UK office.

Healthier? Not necessarily so. Stress can be a killer. My boss has a stomach ulcer and recently has appeared quite fragile. He's only in his 30s.

Percentages? No idea, but probably higher than here in the UK. A university education is not necessarily an indication of higher intelligence. I have met plenty of people who have done enough to graduate, and no more (i.e. their education was all about passing the exam). They have no knowledge of anything else, and haven't acquired common sense or wisdom.
 

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Kelvin MacKenzie: 'I'd shut all the journalism colleges down'
There should only be one way into newspapers, reckons ex-Sun editor – and that's the old-school route
Friday, 8 April 2011

Print journalism is not a profession. It's a job, a knack, a talent. You don't need a diploma, you don't need to belong to a professional body like solicitors or accountants do. There's nothing you can learn in three years studying media at university that you can't learn in just one month on a local paper. You cover a car crash, what's there to know? A golden wedding? A court case? University may be enjoyable: you make friends, drink a lot and occasionally turn up to lectures but you don't need any of those things to be a journalist. With the possible exception of the alcohol. 8)

Although there is no merit in going to university if you want to be a print journalist that hasn't stopped a massive explosion in media degree students. In 1999, 7,400 students were on media courses. Ten years later there were 25,400 and yet at the same time the number of jobs in the UK news industry has shrunk by 30 to 40 per cent since 2001.

So why do so many youngsters want to train as journalists when there are no jobs? I know why. Working in the media is not like working. It's a bloody fantastic job but it has become too fashionable. Supply is exceeding demand and wages are going down. There is no money in journalism and the queue to get a job stretches ten times round the block. If you want the unhappiest ten minutes of your life look at the newspaper and magazine ABC circulation figures. The print business is working out ways of getting rid of you, not hiring you!

The best way to become a journalist is to go down the route I was forced to follow as not only did I not sit A-levels I only got one 0-level despite taking 15 of them over two different examination boards. Only a special kind of talent can achieve that result.

So my advice to any 18-year-old is try and achieve three decent A-levels, go to a local paper, then to a regional, and then head out on to nationals or magazines by 21-22. If I had two CVs in front of me, one from a student who left school to join their local paper and another from a student who is 23 and just out of university, I'd hire the first one ahead of the other. In those five years he or she would have discovered and proved that they were good at journalism whereas you would be taking a massive risk on somebody who could prove they could do "it" in the classroom.

One of the few pleasures in the local newspaper industry (which by and large are a nightmare today compared to the joy of my time where fun and work merged into one) is training people up. That job should belong, as it used to, to the news editor and not run by some HR oik from [personel?] who has named it the Graduate Recruitment Centre or some such nonsense.

Learning on the job may be a highwire act but it will be a lesson you will never forget compared with listening to "professor" Roy Greenslade explaining why Wapping was a disgrace. No amount of academic debate is going to give you news sense, even if you have a PhD. It's a knack and you've either got it or you haven't.

Writing is personal and subjective. From age 21 to 60, I barely wrote anything of length. The longest word I ever put down was "Gotcha". I was a short word specialist. And what do you need to know about the law? If you want to avoid libel a) be accurate and b) have the goods. If you haven't got the evidence you'll get sued.

There are more than 80 schools in the UK teaching journalism. These courses are make-work projects for retired journalists who teach for six months a year and are on a salary of £34,000- £60,000. Students are piling up debts as they pay to keep their tutors in the lifestyles they're used to. I'd shut down all the journalism colleges today. If you want to be a print journalist you should go straight from school and join the local press. You will have a better career and you won't owe a fortune. Good luck.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media ... 64846.html

There are a lot of meejah students at our local Uni - much of the above would apply to photographers as well... how many snappers does the world need, and does it really take three years to learn to use a camera? :twisted:
 

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Hes so right.

I go to a halfway decent college and yet they are erecting a new building so they can compete with the vocational dump down the road by offering health and beauty.

(but this means I can get my hair cut for free)
 

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He's spot on!

I think also, a general point about many degree courses is that there is a lot of 'padding'. A LOT of it.
Some of those courses carry content that is just not useful or relevant to the students.
This may apply more to some courses than others (i.e. Journalism has a lot of padding, but Mathematics does not).
In America, they have the concept of a '2 year degree'. I think we need to think about trimming the length of some courses so they take less time. Perhaps introducing 2 year degrees might accelerate people through the education system and cost them much less in the process.
 
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Full text at link.

Defend academic freedom from corporate conformism
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004365

Commodification is wrecking higher education, argues Yassamine Mather

Image: Corporate self-worship: antithesis of real education
Corporate self-worship: antithesis of real education

In October 2010 Lord Browne published his independent review into higher education funding and student finance in England - the latest in a long list of such proposals since 1979. It recommended changes to the system of university funding, including removing the cap on the level of fees that universities can charge.

The report by this former chairman of BP was based on a confidential survey of parents and pupils costing £68,000. The survey, falsely labelled ‘research’, focused on how much participants should pay for university education. The subsequent spending review proposed a drastic cut in the United Kingdom’s higher education budget from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion by 2014. Although funding for arts and humanities is hardest hit, everyone is sceptical about government promises of support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees, especially as recent graduates of these subjects are amongst the long-term unemployed.

Of course, market forces had already been making a serious impact on higher education, following concerted efforts initially by the Conservatives in the 1980s and then by the subsequent New Labour government to impose ‘corporatism’. It was during the last Labour government that students were labelled ‘consumers’, being prepared for participation in the ‘labour market’ . Students and staff in higher education who resisted this consumerism and commodification were labelled by Labour ministers elitists, who were not in touch with the ‘real world’. However, in the words of two Marxist researchers, the problem is “the underfunded university system diverging from a collegial, academic-led strategic focus to that of a corporate-style emphasis on efficiency and commodification of teaching” and research, plus “structural issues, such as the university reward system.”[1]

This commodification converted institutions of higher education into service-providers, with universities becoming ‘training centres’ and the number of disciplines reduced to those favoured by ‘the market’. That necessitated an attack on academic freedom and democratic structures within departments and faculties. It also reinforced managerial rather than education-centred decision-making processes on campus.

Academic heads of departments elected or at least supported by their colleagues have been replaced by line managers. In engineering and science this often means former academics who had looked to advance their careers in the private sector, but, having returned to academia either as a result of the economic crisis or because of their own failure, now have the necessary ‘entrepreneurial skills’, according to university authorities. These ‘failed industrialists’ often bring with themselves an ethos of conformity and mediocrity resented by the very staff a university department seeks to nurture: for example, academically gifted research professors.
 
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Fee-paying schools engaged in 'apartheid'
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 11392.html
SEÁN FLYNN, Education Editor

Sat, Apr 23, 2011

THE TEACHERS’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is to press for the withdrawal of State funding from fee-paying schools engaged in what it calls “educational apartheid’’.

In a move that will intensify pressure on Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn on the issue, the union is to demand an audit of admission policies at its annual conference next week. The last such audit in 2005 excluded the 56 fee-paying schools in the State.

The TUI says the new audit is necessary amid claims that some fee-paying schools are engaged in “apartheid’’ by excluding migrant children, Travellers and those with special learning needs.

Department of Education figures have consistently shown that provision for special needs and other minority pupils is largely concentrated in State schools and poorer areas. Some fee-paying schools have almost no provision for minority students.

The TUI move comes after Labour leader Eamon Gilmore signalled his unease about the increasingly “two-tier’’ nature of Irish education during the recent election campaign. Any move however to abolish State support for fee-paying schools would be resisted by Fine Gael Ministers.

TUI general secretary Peter MacMenamin said last night that the anger of teachers over the issue was growing. “Many of our members feel that certain schools are doing everything in their power to discourage those with special educational need, in blatant violation of equality and education legislation.” This, he said, was being facilitated by the department’s “inaction” on the issue.

Next week’s conference will hear motions demanding the abolition of what delegates label the €100 million “State funding of privilege” funded by the taxpayer. The leadership backs the phased withdrawal of funding from those schools guilty of discrimination.

Catholic groups are also increaing pressure on fee-paying schools to be more inclusive.

In a position paper on school patronage, the Catholic Schools Partnership, an umbrella group providing support for all partners in the Republic’s Catholic schools, said: “Catholic fee-paying schools must make serious efforts to reach out to socially deprived communities, to pupils with special needs and to foster an ever deeper sense of social awareness . . . Otherwise, they risk becoming a sign that is contradictory in terms of Christ’s mission.”

Ireland is one of the few countries where the State pays the salaries of teachers in private schools. This allows fee-paying schools to use fee income to boost its range of school services and facilities.

The department’s figures show that fee-paying schools received more than €100 million in support from the taxpayer last year.

Dublin’s Blackrock College received €4.2 million to cover the cost of 58 teacher salaries. St Andrew’s College, received €3.6 million to cover annual salaries for 52 teachers.

The 2009 McCarthy report on public service estimated that fee-paying schools generated about €100 million in annual fee income from parents. This income is over and above that generated by fees averaging over €5,000 a year for day pupils and up to €16,000 a year for boarders.
 

rynner2

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Teenagers must stick at English and maths
By Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent

Teenagers who fail to achieve good GCSE grades at English and maths will have to carry on studying the subjects beyond the age of 16.
This has been announced as the government accepts Alison Wolf's report on improving vocational education.
Professor Wolf was critical of the quality of skills being taught to many youngsters in the 16 to 19 age group.

"Good qualifications in English and maths are what employers demand," said Education Secretary Michael Gove.
There will also be changes to school league tables to show the spread of high and low achieving pupils.

Professor Wolf's report expressed her concern that too many teenagers are leaving school without adequate basic skills.

Education Secretary Michael Gove endorsed the report, which called for greater honesty in the information for students about the value of vocational courses.
"For too long the vocational education system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere," said Mr Gove.

In response, Professor Wolf said: "For 20 years we have toyed around with vocational education but succeeded only in creating a bureaucratic and expensive system that limits the life chances of too many young people."

Professor Wolf had warned that hundreds of thousands of teenagers were being consigned to low-quality "dead end" vocational courses, when they really needed the type of basic skills in literacy and numeracy required by employers.
"The staple offer for between a quarter and a third of the post-16 cohort is a diet of low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value," said the Wolf Report.

Last summer 45% of 16-year-olds failed to achieve a C grade at GCSE maths and English, and Professor Wolf wants such youngsters to continue studying these basic subjects.

The government has accepted the call for students to continue with English and maths, up until the age of 18.
This will aim to bring all pupils up to at least a C grade at GCSE, but for pupils who cannot achieve this the government is proposing "high-quality alternatives", which will be identified after a consultation.

While arguing that the system of vocational qualifications was "complex and opaque", Professor Wolf said that in practice "good levels of English and mathematics continue to be the most generally useful and valuable vocational skills on offer".

This emphasis on literacy and numeracy was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry's director for education and skills, Susan Anderson.
"We welcome the announcement that young people who didn't get A*-C English and maths GCSEs will now be supported to achieve this benchmark by 19. These subjects are essential for work," she said.

The CBI recently warned that many employers were unhappy with the levels of literacy and numeracy among school leavers.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13366871
 

Mythopoeika

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In principle that sounds like it might be a good idea - but I wonder if just continuing the same teaching for longer has any effect? I mean, if you have kids who are having a problem with learning these basic skills, perhaps different methods of teaching might be applied as well?
Give the problem kids remedial teaching and perhaps something will stick eventually.
 
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Head teacher appeal to school run 'pyjama parents'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-13511668

Some parents were still wearing pyjamas at the end of the school day

Related Stories

School puts stop to 'pyjama mamas'

A Middlesbrough head teacher has asked parents to get properly dressed before the school run.

It follows sightings of a number of them still wearing their pyjamas when they brought their children to school.

Some people were even attending meetings at Pallister Park Primary school in their nightwear.

This prompted the school's head, Chris Wain, to send out letters to parents urging them to think about what they were wearing.

Ms Wain said: "What we were seeing was people staying in their pyjamas all day.

"They were dropping their children off in the morning and collecting them in the afternoon wearing the same pyjamas."

Outside the school, one parent, accompanied by a friend in slippers, was wearing leggings over her pyjamas.

She said: "I have to cover up otherwise the school goes mad."

In 2007, the principal of a Northern Ireland primary school also reprimanded parents who regularly turned up at the school gate in their pyjamas.

He said the trend set a bad example to pupils and made staff uncomfortable.
 
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Full text at link.

Who pays for education?
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004437

Michael Copestake discusses AC Grayling's New College of the Humanities


AC Grayling: liberal do-gooder

Did he know what he was in for? This is the first question that springs to mind at the sight of the do-gooding liberal philosophy professor, AC Grayling, formerly of Birkbeck College, judging by the uproar and opprobrium that his plans for a private, £18,000-a-year tuition fee-paying ‘New College of the Humanities’ have brought raining down upon his head. Students, fellow academics, Guardian readers, lefties - all are up in arms.

Naturally, immediately on being on the receiving end of some hard stick from those sectors of society that he may on better days expect to be applauding him, in rather Clegg-like fashion - though not nearly as tearfully - the good professor complained to The Guardian that he hoped at least people would accept the purity of his motives: “I would like to be given a little bit of credit for trying to do it sincerely,” he says.[1] What is important to realise is the extent to which Grayling and his other business partners are doing their bit not to ameliorate the state of higher education in England (as they claim) in the light of the recent and severe cuts to teaching grants for the humanities, but to open another door leading to an ever more expensive, pseudo-marketised and class-ridden system of higher education, even if his own experiment fails. In this sense he continues the themes established by the coalition’s existing educational policy.

However, even some of those who one would expect to be the most receptive to this venture are anticipating either its prompt failure or a pained existence as a repository for fools with rich parents whose degrees will be worthless.[2] The mix of furore and apologetics that has ensued in the media is instructive as to the new situation facing the system of higher education: ‘soft’ humanities subjects lose state support, as students are shunted down more business-friendly avenues.

The details of Grayling’s new private university are emerging and so far they have been contradictory. What we do know is that the university is being established by 14 celebrity academics (some more famous than others), investors from the City of London and a private couple from Switzerland. What could be more wholesome? It will be a for-profit institution that teaches philosophy, history, law, economics and English literature and will be guested by scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones for the sake of well-roundedness. An unimpressed Terry Eagleton, declaring Grayling’s venture to be “odious”, correctly surmised that the celebrity professors will be doing very little of the actual teaching at the new institution, but will enjoy salaries of around 25% more than those paid in the state-funded university system.[3] This notwithstanding his own allegedly well remunerated guest lecturing at the privately owned catholic University of Notre Dame in France.

As of yet, the New College of the Humanities has no campus or academic resources of its own; no books, computers, laboratories, etc. In the true spirit of the ‘big society’ it will, in the interim, be mooching resources off of the University of London. It may well be paying for them, but this hardly hides the fact that the same pool of resources used by students in the state system will be made more scarce by the presence of new and mostly well heeled interlopers. The same problem goes, of course, for private healthcare, the new ‘free schools’ and so on.

Naturally being spared the cost of the necessary capital investments to acquire such buildings and resources is a big advantage for investors. Even the degree courses taken by the new college’s students will be those of the University of London’s international programme.[4]
 
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