Pupils’ school bags searched for unhealthy food

January 11, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Charles Dickens School, BroadstairsImage copyright

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The Charles Dickens School says confiscated food and drink will not be returned to pupils

Unhealthy food and drinks will be confiscated from pupils during daily bag checks, a school has announced.

The Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs, Kent, said sweets, fizzy drinks and energy drinks would be removed.

The secondary school posted on its website: “Bag checks will take place every morning and any found will be confiscated and not returned.”

One parent said sweets made some children “too wired to learn”.

Multi-packs of unhealthy food and drink have also been banned and will be taken from pupils during the daily bag checks, the school said.

MP calls for ban on energy drinks

School bans sausage rolls from lunch boxes

What can my child eat at school?

The school issued a statement saying it had notified parents it would be monitoring what food and drinks students brought into the school.

“We had noticed a deterioration in concentrations, learning and behaviour particularly from students bringing into school large multi-packs of unhealthy food, snacks and drinks.”

The school said healthy eating was part of its programme to “support students’ ability to concentrate, learn and behave well”.

‘Nanny state’

The school’s announcement has had a mixed reaction on social media.

Jennifer Keen posted on Facebook: “My son attends this school and I have questioned this, the explanation I received was lots of children are coming to school with 2 litre bottles of coke, big bags of sweets and energy drinks in their bags and being too wired to learn effectively,

“I am in total agreement with this especially the devil energy drinks as they can lead to severe cardiac issues!

“Of course kids will buy them before and after school so many parents have no idea what is being confiscated.”

On Facebook John Tyas called it “a great initiative”, whereas David Mooney wrote; “Nanny state attacks again!!!”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-42639389

Campus free speech fears ‘whipped up’, says university boss

January 11, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Prof Adam Tickell, University of SussexImage copyright
Parliament TV

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There is little evidence that universities are inhibiting free speech argues Prof Tickell

Claims that universities are inhibiting free speech are based on misleading evidence “whipped up to create a moral panic”, a university leader has told a Parliamentary committee.

Universities thrive on free speech said Sussex University Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Tickell.

The former universities minister, Jo Johnson has voiced concern that free speech is limited at some universities.

The evidence is part of a Parliamentary inquiry into campus free speech rules.

“We hear all sorts of claims of the inhibition and chilling of free speech in British universities but the evidence base for it is anaemically small,” Prof Tickell told the joint select committee on human rights.

He said criticism of his university’s free speech record had stemmed from a campus rule banning the use of derogatory language referring to women and “people of colour” and because the student union wanted to check posters before they were put up.

These were “things not relevant to discussions around free speech”.

‘No no-platforming’

Speakers from the student unions of Sussex and Edinburgh universities said they had never denied a speaker a platform on the basis of their views.

Frida Gustaffson, Sussex University student union president described how UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge last year decided not to go ahead with a planned speech after the student union asked to vet his speech in advance.

She and Edinburgh University Student Union president Patrick Kilduff said they did have a no-platform policy for “six racist, fascist or extremist groups” drawn up by the National Union of Students.

“These processes have never stopped anyone coming to speak at the university,” said Mr Kilduff.

Prof Tickell told the committee that reports of books being removed from university libraries were baseless – although there were instances of works by the writer David Irving being removed to restricted shelves.

Baroness Amos, director of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies said she did not think anyone had been no-platformed at her university in the past 10 years.

But she said she had detected “a squeezing of our ability to be open, diverse, inclusive”.

She said this was in part due to the government’s Prevent Strategy which places universities under a duty to stop extremism on campus.

“There are a whole range of things, how we treat refugees, our visa policy, how Prevent is implemented.

“All of these things are having an impact on how young people of colour, Muslims, actually feel in terms of being under additional scrutiny.”

Mr Kilduff agreed that Prevent was having an effect on free speech on campus.

He added: “If we believe that free speech is so that people can hold truth to power, especially marginalised groups, this is stopping marginalised groups, Jewish students, Muslim student, black and minority ethnic students from being able to voice their concerns and host events.”

The committee is planning to invite individual students from across the UK to share their views and stories online.

Details of how to take part will be announced later this year.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42641879

Overseas students ‘add £20bn’ to UK economy

January 11, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

StudentsImage copyright
Getty Images

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London has the biggest share of overseas students, but the biggest economic impact is in Sheffield

International students are worth £20bn to the UK economy, says a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The analysis says on top of tuition fees, their spending has become a major factor in supporting local economies.

London alone gains £4.6bn – with Sheffield the biggest beneficiary in proportion to its economy.

The think tank’s director, Nick Hillman, says the figures support calls to remove students from immigration targets.

There are about 230,000 students arriving each year for university courses in the UK – most of them postgraduates, with China the most common country of origin.

Spending power

The analysis, carried out by London Economics, calculated the financial contribution of overseas students, such as spending on tuition and living expenses, and balanced that against costs, including the extra pressure on local services and non-repayment of loans.

Mr Hillman says the report provides comprehensive evidence that overseas students are a significant benefit and that students from outside the European Union, who pay higher fees, are worth £102,000 each to the UK economy.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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There has been a debate about whether overseas students should be included in targets to reduce migration

“International students bring economic benefits to the UK that are worth 10 times the costs of hosting them,” says Mr Hillman.

“Fewer international students would mean a lot fewer jobs in all areas of the UK, because international students spend money in their universities, in their local economies,” he says.

“It is literally the sandwich shops, the bike shops, the taxi firms; it is the night clubs, it’s the bookshops.

“Without international students, some of the local companies might go bust. Some of the local resident population would lose their jobs,” says Mr Hillman.

The Higher Education Policy Institute, which carried out the study with education company Kaplan, argues that the UK should have a more positive approach to students from overseas – and separate them from the wider debate about immigration.

Regional winners

The institute quotes a recent report from India’s Hindustan Times that told its readers that the UK had many top universities, “but they also offer the most student-hostile government in the world”.

While the institute argues the students should be removed from the wider debate about reducing net migration, the Home Office said there were “no plans” for such a change to how migration targets were measured.

“There is no limit to the number of genuine international students that can come to the UK to study and we very much value the contribution that they make,” said a Home Office spokeswoman.

The Home Office says the Migration Advisory Committee is also carrying out an assessment of the economic impact which will provide evidence for shaping the “future migration system”.

The Higher Education Policy Institute analysis also carried out a regional breakdown of the economic impact of international students, calculating that each constituency on average gained £31.3m.

London has the biggest share of overseas students – but the study shows that in relative terms, smaller cities, with more than one university, can have a greater impact from their spending.

The study breaks down the financial impact of international students by parliamentary constituency.

Top 10 constituencies with biggest economic impact from international students

  1. Sheffield Central
  2. Newcastle upon Tyne
  3. Nottingham South
  4. Oxford East
  5. Manchester Central
  6. Holborn and St Pancras (London)
  7. Liverpool, Riverside
  8. Cambridge
  9. East Ham (London)
  10. Birmingham, Ladywood

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42637971

Iran bans English from being taught in primary schools

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

A handout photo provided by the office of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on January 2, 2018, shows him delivering a statement in the capital Tehran.Image copyright

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Iran’s supreme leader has criticised foreign influence through languages in the past

Iran has banned teaching the English language in primary schools, calling the subject a “cultural invasion”.

The education ministry “envisages strengthening Persian language skills and Iranian Islamic culture of pupils at the primary school stage”, its secretary told state media.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has previously expressed concern about the teaching of English.

It is seen as an important skill by many Iranians and is widely studied.

English is a foreign language option for many at secondary level, which begins at the age of 12, but its popularity has led to classes being offered by some schools much earlier.

“Teaching of foreign languages has not been recommended by any means” at primary level, Mehdi Navid-Adham, secretary of the Supreme Education Council, told the state-run IRIB news agency.

He also said that primary schools which teach English as an extra class outside of school hours were committing a “violation”.

The ban does not affect foreign-language tuition at secondary school or popular private institutes which teach English outside the educational system.

Broadcast and print media in Iran are controlled by the state but include several English-language outlets, including the Islamic Republic News Agency and PressTV.

Another isolationist measure

Analysis by Rana Rahimpour, BBC Persian

This move is in line with the supreme leader’s anti-Western, isolationist view of the world. He has repeatedly said that teaching English to children from an early age could lead to “western cultural infiltration”.

He says the language of science is not necessarily English and that children should be taught other languages like Spanish, French, or eastern languages.

President Hassan Rouhani disagrees with him, and has said that knowing English will help young people join the job market. But he had little power to stop the ban.

However, it is unlikely to stop families from pushing their children to learn English.

Many middle class families already take their kids to independent language institutions after school hours because the methods used to teach English at normal schools aren’t very successful.

Ayatollah Khamenei laid out his views on the issue in a 2016 speech given to teachers, criticising the spread of English to nursery schools.

He said such developments were part of a Western idea of instilling “thought and culture to the younger generation of countries”.

“These remarks do not mean terminating English language teaching at schools, but the main issue is to know our rival and how precisely the opposite party has made planning to influence the country’s future generation,” he said.

The move comes amid significant turmoil in Iran.

At least 21 people have been killed in anti-government protests which began in late December over standards of living.

More than 1,000 people are said to have been arrested, including at least 90 students.

Ayatollah Khamenei blamed unspecified external “enemies” for the unrest.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42610755

Male suicide: The sisters fighting for their dad

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Emma and Toni’s dad, Paul, took his own life in 2015.

The sisters from Hartlepool said he had suffered with depression and was diagnosed with PTSD after serving in the Army.

They explain why they have made a film with young people’s charity Fixers UK to show the possible signs someone feeling suicidal may display.

This clip is originally from 5 live.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42613551

University bosses face curbs under fair-pay rules

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

GraduationImage copyright
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Universities have been under pressure over senior pay

University heads will be barred from being involved in setting their own salaries, under a new fair-pay code announced in the wake of claims of excessive pay for vice-chancellors.

Senior pay would also be expected not to rise more quickly than the average for other academic staff.

The voluntary code has been drawn up by the Committee of University Chairs.

Chris Sayers, the group’s chairman, said the regulations would help to “justify our decisions” over pay.

But the chief executive of the new Office for Students, Nicola Dandridge, said the proposals were “insufficient”.

She said that “people are rightly concerned by the level of pay”, and not just the “process” by which it was decided.

University heads’ pay was put under intense scrutiny last year, with accusations of “fat cat” salaries and claims that some university leaders were overpaid and out of touch.

The vice-chancellor of the University of Bath stepped down amid the protests.

‘Fair but not excessive’

After a meeting last month with the then universities minister, Jo Johnson, university leaders agreed to produce new guidelines on pay.

Mr Johnson had called for restraint and had threatened the intervention of a new regulator.

University leaders have now produced details of self-regulated rules, promising more transparency and a commitment that “no-one can have any part in deciding their own remuneration”.

“Society has a right to know that taxpayers’ funds are being properly used and that the institution is being managed in the interest of students, the economy and society,” say the new rules.

“Senior post-holders must be fairly – but not excessively – rewarded for their work.”

Pay multiples

The proposals, out for consultation within the higher-education sector until March, emphasise the need for independence and expertise in the committees deciding senior pay.

Universities will be expected to show how this pay relates to other staff.

They will have to publish the “pay multiples” between the vice-chancellors’ earnings and average salaries.

If that multiple changes, the rules say that universities will have to publish an explanation.

And vice-chancellors’ earnings will have to include the value of any other benefits and bonuses.

Mr Sayers said: “We need to keep senior post-holders’ pay under review, and be able to justify our decisions.

“We must enshrine the values of transparency, fairness and accountability at the heart of our procedures to ensure we maintain the trust required for the long-term success of our world-leading sector.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42623935

How universities replied to that Brexit letter

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Chris Heaton-HarrisImage copyright
UK Parliament

There were big differences in the responses of universities to the controversial letter asking for details of Brexit teaching sent to them in October by the government whip, Chris Heaton-Harris.

While some denounced it as “sinister” and having the “whiff of McCarthyism”, others were very happy to send the information Mr Heaton-Harris was seeking, and invited him to be a guest speaker or to get involved in their initiatives.

When the letter was publicised it was denounced as political interference in academic freedom by numerous academics and politicians. Lord Patten, the chancellor of Oxford University, described it as “offensive and idiotic Leninism”.

But BBC research now reveals there was a much more mixed response in reality, with university reactions ranging from anger to enthusiasm. This is disclosed by a BBC freedom of information request, asking UK universities for a copy of their response to the letter.

  • Anger over Tory MP’s Brexit ‘hit list’

Mr Heaton-Harris, a staunch Eurosceptic and the third most senior government whip, wrote to most university vice-chancellors in early October asking for “the names of professors at your establishment who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”. He also requested “a copy of the syllabus and links to the online lectures which relate to this area”.

Of 59 universities that responded to Mr Heaton-Harris’s letter, 28 were cooperative, providing Mr Heaton-Harris with most or all of what he asked for.

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The letter was sent to universities across the UK

Many universities sent online links to course modules and lists of the relevant academic staff who taught topics which could relate to Brexit.

Professor Karen Cox at the University of Kent went further. After supplying the MP with online links to staff lists and course outlines, she asked for a favour in return – for Mr Heaton-Harris to be a guest speaker for a new Masters level module on European Affairs.

The Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Westminster, Andrew Linn, similarly sent links to staff research expertise and course content, and also extended an invitation for the MP to come to a debate hosted by the university on Brexit.

A colleague of the Dean at the university asked in a separate email “If you have ideas/initiatives where you may want to involve us and students, please keep in touch… we also organise student trips to the Parliament and it would be good for them to meet and interact with you in the future.”

Other institutions who gave full responses about their work included the University of Sheffield, which provided a list of relevant staff and descriptions of the modules available that related to Brexit.

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Science Photo Library

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Several universities invited Heaton-Harris to guest lecture or come to events hosted by their institutions

The President of City University, Sir Paul Curran, similarly supplied the names and contact details of two senior academics who he said would “both be pleased to be contacted” by the MP’s office for further information.

In contrast 17 institutions entirely or mostly refused to provide the information asked for.

The angriest responses came from the Vice-Chancellor of Worcester University, David Green – who first publicised the letter – and Bill Rammell from the University of Bedfordshire, a former Labour MP.

David Green wrote: “I look forward to receiving your letter of apology for sending me this sinister letter in which you ask me to supply the ‘names of professors’. I will do no such thing. If you are committed to freedom as you now claim, you will write to me by return apologising and withdrawing your damaging letter in its entirety.”

Bill Rammell said he shared the “deep concerns” expressed about the intentions of the request, adding: “I am not willing to share with you the names of academics teaching on the subject area of European affairs and/or Brexit, as your letter does not make it clear your purposes in asking, and I am concerned that there is a whiff of McCarthyism in the request and a desire to foment public opposition to perfectly legitimate and valuable academic activity.”

Several other universities gave links to basic course information but cited a mixture of academic freedom, commercial interest or staff safety as reasons to refuse most of the information sought by Mr Heaton-Harris.

The universities of Royal Holloway, Northampton and Sheffield Hallam raised concerns that releasing names of staff could lead to “harassment”, “threatening their safety” or “unwarranted repercussions”.

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AFP/Getty Images

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The letter asked for “the names of professors at your establishment who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”

Another 26 institutions said they did not respond at all to the Tory MP’s request. This could be a breach of freedom of information law, since universities are covered by FOI and the letter was clearly a request for information.

Several universities told us that they decided to treat the letter as personal correspondence to the Vice-Chancellor and not as an FOI request. These included the universities of the West of Scotland, Brunel, Nottingham and Lincoln.

The University of Surrey told us “We did not treat this request as an FOI, which in hindsight was perhaps wrong. We apologise for any misunderstanding, as we endeavour to respond to all requests under the Act in a full and timely way.”

Chris Heaton-Harris was approached for a response to the BBC’s findings but declined to comment. At the time of the initial fuss, universities minister Jo Johnson told the BBC’s Today Programme that Mr Heaton-Harris was conducting research for a book.

Fourteen universities replied to tell Mr Heaton-Harris they had no information to supply, as they did not teach relevant courses.

Twenty-six universities told us that they did not actually receive the letter. They include Cambridge, Leeds, Birmingham, Plymouth, Exeter, UCL and Queen Mary.

Fifteen of the 135 universities approached by the BBC have not responded to our FOI request.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42431780

Toby Young resigns from university regulator

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Media captionToby Young: The man behind the tweets

Toby Young has resigned from the board of a new university regulator after criticism over controversial comments.

Writing for the Spectator, Mr Young said his appointment had “become a distraction” from the “vital work” of the Office for Students.

The right-wing journalist unreservedly apologised for past comments he said were “ill-judged or just plain wrong”.

The OfS chairman said Mr Young was “right” to quit and his remarks were “not in line” with the body’s values.

Sir Michael Barber said he had done some “good work” in education and to promote greater social mobility.

But he added: “Many of his previous tweets and articles were offensive… he was correct to say that his continuation in the role would have distracted from our important work.”

The Department for Education said it remains confident the OfS, the regulator for England’s higher education sector, will deliver for students.

‘We made a mistake’

A petition calling for Mr Young’s dismissal had gathered almost 220,000 signatures.

He faced a backlash after his appointment was announced, with critics attacking his suitability for the role.

The columnist co-founded the West London Free School – which opened in 2011 – and runs the New Schools Network.

The charity promotes free schools in England – of which there are currently 475.

Following his appointment to the OfS, Mr Young deleted up to 40,000 tweets posted since 2009, including references to the size of women’s breasts.

Comments made about working class students, about “inclusivity” in a Spectator column in 2012, and remarks aimed at gay people, were also criticised.

Who is Toby Young?

Toby Young started out as a journalist founding the culture magazine Modern Review with Julie Burchill.

Following the collapse of the magazine he was recruited to work on Vanity Fair in New York, an experience that inspired his book “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”.

As a Spectator columnist, Mr Young made a number of controversial comments including a description of wheelchair ramps as part of “ghastly” inclusivity in schools.

In 2011 he set up the West London Free School which placed importance on discipline, ambition and “a competitive atmosphere”.

After resigning from his position as CEO of the West London Free School Trust, he said he hadn’t “grasped how difficult it is to do better” and that he regretted his earlier criticism of teachers.

His experience with schools led to his appointment to the Office for Students regulator – a move critics argued he was neither suitable nor had the right expertise for.

Chair of the Commons education committee Robert Halfon said remarks Mr Young had made on disability, eugenics and working people went too far.

“If we are to stand up as the Conservative party for what is right,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, “we also have to accept when we have made a mistake”.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, said it was “utterly unacceptable” to have such a person on a public body, involved with education.

In his resignation article, Mr Young said “the caricature” drawn of him during the past week was “unrecognisable”.

He wrote: “I am a passionate supporter of inclusion and helping the most disadvantaged, as I hope my track record of setting up and supporting new schools demonstrates.

“But some of the things I said before I got involved in education, when I was a journalistic provocateur, were either ill-judged or just plain wrong – and I unreservedly apologise.”

Mr Young thanked Prime Minister Theresa May and the former education secretary Justine Greening for their support.

Mrs May has said she was “not at all impressed” by his previous remarks.

Media captionPM on Sunday: “If he was to continue to use that kind of language… he would no longer be in public office”

An ‘unwelcome distraction’ for May

By BBC political correspondent, Alex Forsyth

Toby Young wasn’t appointed directly by the prime minister, but the pressure was on her to sack him when the details of his previous remarks emerged.

Her decision to defend his position – while criticising his past comments – allowed opponents to once again question her judgement and authority.

Mrs May’s supporters have pointed to Mr Young’s achievements in the field of education and said his resignation was a matter for him.

It’s unlikely it will have huge or lasting consequences for the prime minister, but just two days into Westminster’s new year it’s an unwelcome distraction from the authoritative image Mrs May wants to portray, and it adds to the overall perception of a government where things don’t tend to run too smoothly.

The Office for Students has been established to hold universities to account on issues like vice chancellors’ pay and free speech on campus.

It has powers to fine universities which fail to meet the required standards.

Image Copyright @JoJohnsonUK

Twitter post by @JoJohnsonUK: Toby Young's track record setting up  supporting free schools speaks for itself. His decision to stand down from the OfS board and repeat unreserved apologies for inappropriate past remarks reflects his character better than the one-sided caricature from his armchair critics.Image Copyright @JoJohnsonUK

Image Copyright @AngelaRayner

Twitter post by @AngelaRayner: The Toby Young saga has cast great doubt on the judgment of the PM who failed to sack him in the first place. Then yesterday we had the spectacle of government universities minister defending his appointment in parliament, he had to go. Tory cronyism could not save his job...Image Copyright @AngelaRayner

Critics have welcomed the resignation. Angela Rayner, Labour’s education spokeswoman, said events “cast great doubt” on Mrs May, who, she said, had failed to sack him in the first place.

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt said Mr Young was right to resign and the “whole sorry episode poses serious questions about the appointments to the board of the Office for Students”.

Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, called the appointment “a serious mistake“.

But others have scorned the furore.

Piers Morgan said Mr Young had been forced out by the “howling Twitter mob”.

“I don’t defend his more offensive tweets or columns,” the Good Morning Britain presenter wrote, “but I do think he would have brought a valuable and distinctive perspective to university education”.

Universities minister Jo Johnson said Mr Young’s resignation and apology “reflects his character”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42617922

UK student ambition exported to South Africa’s townships

January 10, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Ikamva Youth Students in Nyanga

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The award-winning Brilliant Club. developed for poor students in the UK, is being piloted in South Africa

A project to get more disadvantaged youngsters in the UK to apply to leading universities is being applied to schools in South Africa’s townships.

The Brilliant Club is an award-winning scheme that puts PhD students into schools in the UK, with the aim of teaching new skills, raising aspirations and making university seem a more attainable goal.

In South Africa, operating as AccessEd, it has completed a pilot year in 16 schools and two youth centres, with pupils aged about 13 to 15.

In the UK, the big divide in access to university is social background. Young people from wealthy families are much more likely to go to university than poorer youngsters.

University gap

This is also the case in South Africa – but with the big overlaying factor of race casting a post-apartheid shadow.

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Pupils get extra lessons with postgraduate students, showing them university is in reach

The university access rate for white teenagers is over 40%, for their black counterparts it is below 10%.

Programme director Rajbir Hazelwood says that as well as academic challenges, there are some big practical difficulties to overcome.

In townships such as Philippi in Cape Town and Alexandra in Johannesburg, the problems can be about the lack of basic infrastructure and “classrooms fit for purpose”.

In Philippi, she says: “The majority of our pupils had no access to ICT [information and communications technology].

“With basic needs not met, these under-resourced schools face an upward struggle in supporting their pupils in the matriculation exams which allow you to go to university in South Africa.”

Ms Hazelwood adds that university dropout rates are very high in South Africa, as much as 40%.

Image caption

Putting young people in the frame for university

While the focus of the project in the UK is giving young people the confidence to apply, in South Africa they have to give their students the “academic and social skills” needed to complete their degrees.

But in both the UK and in South Africa, a key part of this project has been to give disadvantaged youngsters a sense of intellectual challenge, inspiring them to think beyond their immediate horizons.

The postgraduate students working with the project run tutorials and teach university-style courses, with assignments and marking.

In South Africa, for those who successfully finish the programme, the graduation event is to go to a university and see, perhaps for the first time, what it’s like to be a student and to show that it’s an accessible target.

Unequal chances

It’s a chance for the university too to talk to young people about how they might take the next steps and what they will need to get on to a degree course.

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When pupils complete the course, they go on a visit to university to find about life as a student

University access in South Africa is also highly political, with protests that poor, black youngsters are still not getting their fair chances, either through cost or inadequacies in their school-level education.

Last month, responding to such dissatisfaction, the president, Jacob Zuma, promised free higher education for poorer students, with grants covering fees to be phased in from this year.

But this has raised questions about whether the university system has the capacity for many more students and how this will be delivered.

Although continents apart, the projects in the UK and South Africa both reflect the significance of getting young people into university.

“Graduates have better employment prospects and earning power, better health and wellbeing and better civic engagement,” says the impact report on AccessEd’s pilot phase.

But access to becoming a graduate remains deeply unequal.

More from Global education

Ideas for the Global education series? Get in touch with sean.coughlan@bbc.co.uk

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42572139

Singing ‘speeds up’ recovery from post-natal depression

January 9, 2018 Posted by Josef Shomperlen

Mum singing to babyImage copyright
Getty Images

Singing could help mothers recover from post-natal depression more quickly, a study suggests.

Researchers found that women who took part in group singing sessions with their babies experienced a much faster improvement in their symptoms than those who did not.

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 134 mothers with post-natal depression.

Early recovery is seen to be crucial to limit effects on mother and baby.

Post-natal depression is estimated to affect one in eight new mothers.

Previous studies have indicated singing can help improve the mental health of older people and those with dementia, but this is the first controlled study of its effect on post-natal depression.

The women were placed into three groups:

  • one took part in group singing
  • another took part in in creative play sessions
  • a third group received their usual care, which could include family support, antidepressants or mindfulness

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Getty Images

The singing workshops saw the mothers learning lullabies and songs from around the world with their babies and creating new songs together about motherhood.

And those with moderate to severe symptoms of post-natal depression reported a much faster improvement than mothers in the usual care and play groups.

All the groups improved over the 10 weeks, but in the first six weeks the singing group had already reported an average 35% decrease in depressive symptoms.

Principal investigator Dr Rosie Perkins said the study, although small, was significant because it was important to tackle the symptoms as quickly as possible.

“Post-natal depression is debilitating for mothers and their families, yet our research indicates that for some women something as accessible as singing with their baby could help to speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives,” she said.

Lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt, from University College London, said singing was another useful therapy to offer women.

“Many mothers have concerns about taking depression medication whilst breast-feeding and uptake of psychological therapies with new mothers is relatively low,” she said.

“So these results are really exciting as they suggest that something as simple as referring mothers to community activities could support their recovery.”

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Getty Images

Dr Trudi Seneviratne, who chairs the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty, said: “It’s exciting to hear about the growing evidence base for novel psychosocial interventions such as singing to facilitate a more rapid recovery for women with post-natal depression.

“I look forward to more work in this area in the future, as it will be enjoyed by both mothers and their babies.”

Since the study, Breathe Arts Health Research has started running singing workshops in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for women with post-natal depression across the south London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42607141