What not to say to men who can’t have kids

December 11, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

We asked Sheridan, Michel and Jonny what the hardest thing was about having trouble conceiving.

Video journalist: Mohamed Madi

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42286561

Two-year degrees to lower tuition fees

December 10, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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More students will be encouraged to take degrees in two years

Students in England are going to be offered degrees in two years with a £5,500 saving in tuition fees, says the universities minister Jo Johnson.

Undergraduate courses will be condensed into “accelerated” degrees, with fees 20% less than a three-year course.

Mr Johnson said he wants to “break the mould” of a system in which three-year degrees have “crowded out” any more flexible ways of studying.

The Office for Fair Access says the plan could help to widen opportunities.

The idea of a two-year degree had been proposed earlier this year – but this latest version has moved further towards making it cheaper for students.

More flexible degrees

Students would all take the same number of units and have the same amount of teaching and supervision, but it would be delivered in a third of the time.

As well as reduced tuition fees, students will save on a year’s living costs and will be able to start working a year earlier – a package which Mr Johnson says could cut costs by £25,000.

It would also be cheaper for the government, which would have lower tuition fee loans to fund, with this fee arrangement intended to be available from autumn 2019.

It is part of Mr Johnson’s push for more value for money for students – after concerns that students did not think they were getting good value from their tuition fees.

It comes ahead of a wider review of fees and university funding expected in the next few weeks.

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Jo Johnson says universities have to address value for money for students

The minister says the level of tuition fees strikes the “right balance” between the fixed costs for universities, where the teaching hours will be the same as a three-year course, and a reduction for students for less time on campus.

There have been previous attempts to promote two-year degrees, but Mr Johnson said the numbers currently taking them were “pitiful”, with only 0.2% of students on such accelerated courses.

“I think this reflects that the incentives in the system are completely skewed against it.”

The minister said he wanted to promote a more diverse and flexible set of choices at university level – in a market currently dominated by the traditional three-year, residential degree.

Attracting mature students

Numbers of mature students have been declining in recent years – and Mr Johnson says that the two-year degree model could be a much more practical option for them.

“This policy will be particularly attractive for mature students who are looking to change their skills and adapt to changes in the economy – and who might want to go through higher education at a faster pace,” he said.

Mr Johnson said that if universities saw students being attracted by such courses, there could be a “snowball” effect which would result in such courses becoming widespread.

The universities minister says he wants to move beyond being “stuck with a system that has increasingly focused on offering only one way of benefiting from higher education”.

Mr Johnson said he “massively supported” new providers such as Sir James Dyson’s engineering institute, which he said provided the kind of innovation that had been “sorely missing in the system”.

This is a high-quality, work-focused project, where students learn alongside leading engineers – and where students do not pay tuition fees.

Prof Les Ebdon, head of the Offa access watchdog, backed the calls for such fast-track courses.

“Accelerated degrees are an attractive option for mature students who have missed out on the chance to go to university as a young person,” said Prof Ebdon.

“Having often battled disadvantage, these students can thrive in higher education and I hope that now many more will be able to take up the life-changing opportunity to get a degree.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42268310

School attendance and absence: The facts

December 9, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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The overall pupil absence rate is 4.5%, according to the latest figures from the Department for Education. One in 10 of those school children are classed as “persistently absent”.

A persistently absent child is one who misses school for at least 10% of the time.

Secondary schools had a higher rate of persistent absence than primary schools. And overall, unauthorised absence, whether persistent or not, also increased.

Such statistics are just one of the reasons the BBC Stories team decided to look behind the numbers to make a series of films about why children don’t attend school.

Taking to the streets in cities across the country, the team asked children themselves why they skipped classes. They gave a range of reasons including anxiety, depression, bullying and having little interest in the subjects they are taught.

Many said they wanted more support at school and some wished they could go back and “just start all over again”.

Media caption‘School’s dead man, it’s the same lessons every day’

According to the Department for Education’s latest statistics, sickness was the main reason for absence in the autumn 2016 and spring 2017 terms. But illness rates remained the same as the previous year at 2.7%. Unauthorised absences, however, rose, including unauthorised family holidays.

It is important to note that overall school absences in England declined since the same period a decade earlier, as did the percentage of pupils who were persistently absent.

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Bath and North East Somerset is one of England’s wealthiest local authorities

But what’s most surprising is where truancy was at its highest. While high deprivation indicators based on health, crime, education and crucially income are commonly linked to high truancy, a closer look shows this isn’t necessarily the case.

Bath and North East Somerset is one of England’s wealthiest local authorities, according to deprivation indices, but it had one of the highest levels of truancy in 2015 to 2016.

At the other end of the scale Manchester, a city which ranks highly on deprivation levels, had one of the lowest levels of truancy.

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Manchester had one of the lower levels of truancy

If you compare middle income areas, again there are contrasts. Norfolk and Herefordshire are very similar overall when you look at health, crime, education and income but the truancy rate in Norfolk in 2015 to 2016 was much higher than in Herefordshire.

So, how reliable is the data? Pupil absence in England is measured at local authority level and deprivation by district so we can only look at the picture as an average with variation within each area.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland record pupil absence in different ways.

In Wales, overall absence increased in 2016 to 2017 from the previous year – unauthorised absence and persistent absence also increased. However, persistent absenteeism in Wales was less than half of what is was eight years earlier.

In Scotland, attendance rates are recorded only once every two years. In 2014 to 2015, the overall attendance rate improved since the previous report but the unauthorised absence rate also increased.

In Northern Ireland, the overall attendance rate in 2015 to 2016 remained unchanged from the previous year at 94.6%.

Neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland measure persistent absence.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-42254527

I should be home-schooled, but I spent 10 months on Xbox

December 9, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Mohammed playing Xbox

Mohammed spends his days playing computer games and looking after his granddad. He’s only 14, but he hasn’t been to school since December. The idea was to home school him – but things didn’t quite work out like that, reports the BBC’s Sue Mitchell.

He lives in a spotlessly clean Bradford semi-detached house, with pale wood flooring and deep, comfortable sofas. His mother works part time as a nursery nurse and his father is a taxi driver.

His mum admits she is totally out of her depth.

She says she agreed to try to educate Mohammed herself at the suggestion of his school, after he was excluded for bad behaviour. She wanted to keep him out of the only alternative, a pupil referral unit.

Mohammed wasn’t opposed to the idea at first. “I thought it would be good because I wouldn’t mix in with bad children,” he says.

But it was harder than he expected. “My mum isn’t a proper teacher, she just helps nursery kids. She’s not a teacher for maths, science and English. I couldn’t learn from her.”

His dad, who works long hours, tells him that he is squandering his life opportunities. “He says: ‘You’ve just ruined your chances’ – that I could have had a good education and done my GCSEs and had a good life, but now I’ve wasted that,” Mohammed says.

Many families say home schooling works well for them. But Mohammed is one of a growing number of children who find themselves falling out of the state education system, according to Richard Watts, the chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board.

He says it’s increasingly common to hear of schools “effectively putting a lot of pressure on parents to home educate their kids to get them off their rolls, particularly when exam time comes around”.

Mohammed was only 13 when he was excluded from school for setting off fireworks in the corridor with other boys. “We went to a meeting, but they said there’s no way of him coming back to the school,” says his mum.

Mohammed had already been in trouble with the school authorities for fighting. “At school he thought they ganged up on him and called him names, trying to provoke him. Mohammed is really quiet, but if he hasn’t done nothing he’ll be upset by it,” his mother says.

“When Mohammed first settled into secondary education he was good. I think it’s that he finds it hard to settle down and so much depends on his friendship group.”

By year nine it became clear that he would no longer have a place in mainstream education. It was either home education or a place at the same pupil referral unit that his older brother had attended. His family didn’t want him getting into the same bad crowds as his brother.

So when the school suggested home education as the only alternative, Mohammed’s mother readily agreed. “I never knew about the home schooling. I’m not that very educated myself and I’m not good with computers,” she says.

The council had suggested a home education website. “We had a few links but because of my home life situation and working I hadn’t enough hours. He’d be depressed every morning and I’d put him on the home education website but it wasn’t working for him,” says Mohammed’s mum.

When she tried to get Mohammed out of bed to work, he refused.

Now she doesn’t bother trying and he passes his time helping his granddad, who has a serious lung condition and needs round-the-clock care.

Grammar schools ‘contrary to common good’

December 9, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Justin Welby, Archbishop of CanterburyImage copyright

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Justin Welby says governments should not look to the past to improve education

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised grammar schools as “contrary to the notion of the common good”.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Most Rev Justin Welby called for education to focus on “drawing the best out of every person”, rather than a selective approach.

He said governments should not look to the past and “waste our time rummaging there for the solutions of tomorrow.”

Some Tory MPs said grammar schools offer “invaluable opportunities”.

  • What now for grammar schools?
  • First ‘new’ grammar school in 50 years
  • Grammar schools: What are they?

Mr Welby led a debate on education, saying the country was now in a “fourth digital revolution” and schools had one of the “greatest challenges” in tackling the “seismic shift” when it comes to preparing children for the future.

However, he said “children of privilege continue to inherit privilege” and the system was not acting in a way to help everyone.

“The academic selective approach to education, one which prioritises separation as a necessary precondition for the nurture of excellence, makes a statement about the purpose of education that is contrary to the notion of the common good,” said Mr Welby.

“An approach that neglects those of lesser ability or because of a misguided notion of levelling out does not give the fullest opportunity to those of highest ability or does not enable all to develop a sense of community and mutuality.”

‘Social mobility’

Mr Welby’s comments have been denounced by some MPs who back the schools.

Conservative Andrew Bridgen told the Daily Mail: “[Mr Welby] is obviously entitled to his own views, but the evidence is that grammar schools are a great way for under-privileged children to escape poverty.

“It is well known that they provide social mobility for the under-privileged.”

Fellow Conservative MP Conor Burns also told the newspaper: “Many grammar school provide invaluable opportunities for children from both poor and rich backgrounds, and give them the opportunities they may not otherwise have.”

Selective ban

In 2016, Theresa May outlined plans to introduce a “new generation” of grammar schools by 2020, removing the ban introduced by Labour in 1997.

However, after the general election in June – and without a majority in Parliament – the government scrapped the plans, saying instead they would “look at all options” for opening new schools, without removing the ban.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42290824

‘Come out in class

December 9, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

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Burnwood Community School

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Grahame Colclough: “Nothing was whispered, rushed, or secretive”

When senior teacher Grahame Colclough and his long-term partner Jon decided to get married, his head teacher made the announcement in a school assembly.

She presented gifts to the couple who had “been together for years”.

“Nothing was whispered, rushed or secretive,” Grahame remembers.

Now, guidance from the heads’ union NAHT urges all schools to be similarly supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff who want to reveal their sexual identities in classrooms.

Billed as the first of its kind in the UK and endorsed by the campaign group Stonewall, the guidance covers key issues faced by LGBT staff – such as harassment, discrimination, bullying and lack of visibility.

It also lays out the role and responsibilities of school leaders in creating workplaces where “staff can feel safe and be open with colleagues and with pupils”.

Bullying and discrimination

The NAHT says 2014 research from Manchester Business School found that individuals from sexual minority groups were more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to be bullied or discriminated against in the workplace, with knock-on effects on their physical and mental health.

It also notes that a 2016 review for the government’s Equalities Office found very high levels of workplace bullying and harassment against trans people.

The guidance advises heads to take personal responsibility for promoting inclusion and tackling bullying based on sexual orientation.

It includes:

  • zero tolerance of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and banter
  • supporting staff to teach about LGBT issues
  • modifying dress codes to avoid gender stereotypes
  • sex and relationship education to include LGBT experiences
  • not allowing complaints or fear of complaints to hamper moves towards an inclusive school environment

“We haven’t made as much progress as we should on LGBT-plus rights in schools.

“We need to change that,” said NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman.

“Schools decide the kind of society that we have, they transform children into citizens of the world and if we aren’t getting the treatment of LGBT-plus pupils and teachers right in schools then we won’t be getting it right in society.

“It shouldn’t take bravery to be yourself or to stand up for your colleagues’ rights, but it does sometimes.

“This can have a serious impact on the mental health, happiness and motivation of school staff as well as pupils.”

The union’s equalities group chairwoman, Sally Bates, said that while some LGBT-plus staff chose not to be open about their sexual orientation, too many others kept quiet for fear of discrimination, bullying or harassment.

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Nick Ward, director of Teach First, said he wanted a world where teachers are “not just permitted but supported and encouraged to discuss their sexual and gender identity in order to provide what all teachers aim to provide, a role model for their students”.

Troy Jenkinson, a Leicestershire primary head teacher who is open about his sexuality, said: “It is crucial for us to get it right now in our schools so we can prepare our students for accepting diversity as they become the next generation of adults.

“In the words of one of my Year 6 pupils, ‘Love is love.’”

The NAHT wants all schools to behave like Grahame Colclough’s where he says the wedding announcement was “perfectly normal and exactly how it happens for all of the staff in our school who are getting married”.

The guidance will be published next week on the NAHT website.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42281732

The teachers who pay cash to keep their pupils in school

December 8, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

This school in south London is trying to do something about absenteeism from school.

The teachers are donating money from their own pockets to keep their pupils in class. But does it work?

Produced and filmed by Aaron Akinyemi and Andrew Efah

Produced and edited by Rob Brown

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-42254526

The school for bullied and traumatised children

December 8, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

A 2011 report estimated that over 77,000 children are absent from school where bullying is given as a reason. So what do you do if you’re so badly bullied you have to leave your school? Some children come to a place like this, the Red Balloon Centre in Cambridge.

Produced and filmed by: Rob Brown

Reporter: India Rakusen

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-42254524

University of Sussex vice-chancellor gets £230,000 payout

December 8, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

University of Sussex Library,Image copyright

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The University of Sussex said it took governance and compliance responsibilities seriously

A university vice-chancellor was given a £230,000 departure payment in his final month in the job, figures show.

The amount paid to former University of Sussex vice-chancellor Prof Michael Farthing is shown in the institution’s latest annual accounts.

The university said it was “open and transparent” about senior staff pay.

It comes a day after it was disclosed another university boss was handed more than £800,000 for her final year as vice-chancellor.

The financial statements were first reported by the Times Higher Education magazine.

They show that in total Prof Farthing was given a pay package worth £252,000 for the year August 2016 to August 2017. However, he only worked one month of that period, leaving the university at the end of August 2016 after nine years at the helm.

As well as £230,000 in lieu of notice, it also included employer pension contributions worth £3,000.

‘Contractual obligations’

The previous year he had been paid £295,000, made up of a £230,000 salary, other taxable benefits making up £24,000 and a pension contribution of £41,000.

A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: “The university’s approach to senior staff remuneration continues to be open and transparent, and we take our governance responsibilities and sector compliance requirements very seriously.

“In the case of our former vice-chancellor, we met our contractual obl igations to him and this has been clearly published in our annual financial accounts.”

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said: “It is time universities stopped simply trying to defend the system and accept there must be radical change.”

Prof Farthing’s successor, Prof Adam Tickell, was paid £267,000 for the period September 2016 to July this year, plus £17,000 relocation costs and £9,000 in pension contributions.

The figures come at a time when vice-chancellors’ pay is in the spotlight, with growing concern over spiralling salaries and Universities Minister Jo Johnson promising new regulations.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-42282812

‘School’s dead, it’s the same lessons every day’

December 8, 2017 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Why might a child or young person not attend school? Some of the reasons might not be what you expect.

BBC Stories took to the streets to ask the question and speak directly to people who have skipped school.

Produced and filmed by: Rob Brown, India Rakusen, Emily France, Bryony MacKenzie, Douglas Marshall.

Edited by: Rob Brown

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this film the following organisations may be able to help.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-42254523