Activity Yachting Holidays

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Family sailing in the Mediterranean. Tailor made sailing holidays in Croatia for young people, families and adults. Learn to sail course the first week and in the second week skipper a yacht yourself as part of the flotilla.

The Top 50 Selective Schools at A-level

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The school point score is devised through a new system introduced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Government’s exam watchdog.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Under it, equal weight is given for each A-level with 270 points awarded for an A-grade pass, 240 for a B, 210 for a C, 180 for a D, and 150 for an E.….Continue Reading

Schools boost GCSE results by avoiding hard subjects

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Only one in six pupils in England achieved five A* to C grade passes in English, maths, a science, a language and a humanities subject at GCSE, league tables published yesterday show.

By Richard Garner, Education Editor

The figures mean that 269 schools didn’t register one pupil as eligible for the Coalition’s flagship new “English baccalaureate”, designed to boost the take-up of academic subjects at GCSE. In more than 600 schools, only one in 50 pupils qualifies. Nationally, just 15 per cent of GCSE candidates would have obtained the certificate, earned by pupils who obtain five A* to C grade passes in English, maths, a science, a language and a humanities subject.….Continue Reading

DNA blood test cuts invasive testing for Down’s syndrome

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DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood can reliably show whether her foetus has Down’s syndrome, thus hugely reducing the need for invasive test procedures such as amniocentesis, research published on Tuesday said.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Down’s syndrome, a major developmental disorder also called trisomy 21, occurs in around one in every 800 live births. Pre-natal diagnosis mainly entails sampling fluid, drawn by a needle, from the amniotic sac enveloping the foetus. Another technique is called chorionic villus sampling, and entails taking a sample of placenta.….Continue Reading

How to knock pupils into shape – get them to Come Dancing

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It was a nostalgic moment when Ann Widdicombe turned up in Blackpool last week to chair the annual North of England Education Conference.

By Richard Garner

The last time the Conservative MP turned Strictly Come Dancing Star was in town was when the BBC1 show visited its glitzy ballroom just before Christmas. Not surprisingly, perhaps, she issued a clarion call for pupils to be encouraged to take up ballroom dancing. It would, she said, help with discipline and fitness and also memory skills. “If I’m making a 45-minute speech, I never get lost for words but – in a 30 second dance routine – if Anton (her dancing partner Anton du Bec) says ‘go left’, I go right,” she said. “I just can’t remember which foot goes where.”….Continue Reading

Student voice helps put school in with a shout

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Since their merger, two struggling schools are more than the sum of their parts. By Richard Garner.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Pupil power – or to give it its proper name “student voice” – it seems can produce some interesting results. When youngsters at the Strood Academy in the Medway Towns, Kent, were given a chance to have a say in how their school was run, they opted to have longer lessons. The 1,370-pupil academy opened its doors for the first time in September 2009. At that time pupils had five one-hour lessons every day.….Continue Reading

Early medical abortions

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Women having an early medical abortion should be allowed to take some of their pills at home, a charity says.

By Sonya McGilchrist BBC News health reporter

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) is seeking a change in the law so women can choose where they complete their treatment. Women currently have to make two visits and are given pills each time. The Department of Health opposes the change, which would bring England, Scotland and Wales into line with countries including Sweden and France ….Continue Reading

The children who never see daddy

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Source: DAILYMAIL

Tragedy of Britain’s fatherless families where one in five youngsters lose touch with a parent.

By JAMES CHAPMAN
Last updated at 8:55 AM on 13th January 2011

One in five children from a broken home loses touch with a parent within three years and never sees them again, it is revealed today. Many more lose contact as they grow older, most often with fathers after mothers are awarded custody. Families minister Maria Miller described the scale of family breakdown as a ‘tragedy’, saying urgent reforms are needed to ensure children maintain relationships with both parents. The Government will today unveil the biggest overhaul of child maintenance for more than a decade.….Continue Reading

Tunisia’s youth finally has revolution on its mind

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We’ve become used to gossiping about the regime and feeling that we’re plotting. But now we see the time to rebel has come.

By Sam

I am part of the new generation that has lived in Tunisia under the absolute rule of President Ben Ali.

In high school and college, we are always afraid to talk politics: “There are reporters everywhere,” we are told. Nobody dares discussing politics in public; everyone is suspicious. Your neighbour, your friend, your grocer might be Ben Ali’s informer: do you or your father want to be forcibly taken to an undefined place one night at 4am?

We grow up with this fear of activism; we continue studying, going out and partying, regardless of politics.….Continue Reading

Strabane swine flu mum warns others to get vaccine

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A Strabane mother who contracted swine flu while she was pregnant with twins has urged other expectant mothers to get vaccinated.

13 January 2011 Last updated at 09:31 GMT

Andrea Burke delivered two healthy babies five weeks early after being taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. Fourteen people have died from the virus since November. It’s not clear how many had underlying problems. Mrs Burke said she believed she would have died had she not been vaccinated.….Continue Reading

Minister welcomes child support reform

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The families minister, Maria Miller, says the overhaul will encourage separating parents to work together to find a settlement.

By Press Association

Urgent reforms in the child support system are needed to halt the “tragic” scale of family breakdown, the families minister, Maria Miller, said. Statistics show that one in five children from separated families loses touch with a parent within three years and never sees them again, while many more lose contact as they grow older. The government will today propose the biggest overhaul of child maintenance for a decade, arguing that the current system encourages conflict between parents.….Continue Reading

Does cash get results in schools?

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The novel inclusion of school-by-school spending figures alongside academic results in the English secondary school league tables, published on Wednesday, has been described by the government as part of its drive for “transparency”.

By Mike BakerAnalysis

However, at a time when the government is facing criticism for spending cuts, it is easy to see the advantage to be gained by identifying those schools that are spending more than others. With many schools expecting to receive real terms cuts in their budgets from April, this might be seen as the rugby equivalent of “getting your retaliation in first”. The government’s argument is that there are “significant savings to be made”. As it says, if a typical secondary school is spending £1,000 more per pupil than its neighbour, that amounts to an extra £1 million a year.….Continue Reading

‘They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you’

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Source: DAILYMAIL

Pilot delays plane so passenger can say farewell to his murdered grandson.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 11:19 AM on 14th January 2011

A pilot showed an act of extraordinary kindness by delaying his plane by 12 minutes to ensure a passenger would be able to say goodbye to his murdered grandson. Mark Dickinson  was rushing from Los Angeles to Aurora, Colorado to pay his last respects to his two-year-old grandson who had allegedly been attacked by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend. The little boy was later that night due to be taken off his life support machine ahead of donating his organs to up 25 people. But his grandfather was in danger of missing his connecting flight from L.A. to Tucson, Arizona – until the Southwest Airlines pilot stepped in to help him.….Continue Reading

School field trips ‘help students engage with subjects’

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Increasing the number of school field trips could help improve children’s understanding and knowledge, according to a group promoting science education.

13 January 2011 Last updated at 11:40 GMT

The Association for Science Education says getting outside to study biology, geology and other sciences helps pupils engage better with what they are studying. But in recent years more teachers have become reluctant to take their students out of the classroom….Continue Reading

New genetic test for severe childhood diseases

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Couples are to be offered a simple test to stop them passing on any of more than 500 genetic diseases to their children.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent

The blood test that costs £400 per person could be available in months and eliminate hereditary illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anaemia. But it is also controversial because critics claim it could lead to a new form of eugenics.….Continue Reading

Bah gum! Baby boy born with two perfect front teeth

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Source: DAILYMAIL

A baby boy surprised his first-time parents when he was born with two fully-formed FRONT TEETH.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 2:10 PM on 13th January 2011

Most babies six months to a year to grow their first teeth but Oliver James had two pearly whites from the start.

His parents Joanne Jones, 31, and Lee, 32, said they have already booked their son’s first dentists appointment.….Continue Reading

Worship has no place in schools

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Expecting children to worship a god they might not believe in is a violation of rights – and may impede spiritual development.

By Jacob Huckle

Lots of children like studying religions. They enjoy thinking about religions, philosophy and morality. They are engaged by questions about capital punishment, euthanasia and whether prayer actually works. What they don’t like, they tell me time and time again, is feeling that it’s “being rammed down their throats”, or that they’re “being told what to believe”. Such activities should have no place in our schools. To argue, as The Church Mouse does, that it is “hard to imagine how a child’s spiritual development can be supported if they never experience any form of worship” is fallacious, and conflates the terms “spiritual” and “religious”. We should see “spiritual’ as a flexible term, that could incorporate the religious and the nonreligious. Look, for example, of the definition Ofsted offered in 2004:….Continue Reading

KPMG offers to pay tuition fees for trainees

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Accountancy firm KPMG is offering to pay university tuition fees for its intake of trainees from this autumn.

By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

The company says the scheme will be a “blueprint” for private sector support for students when fees in England rise in 2012 to up to £9,000 per year. KPMG’s Oliver Tant says the scheme will protect the firm’s ability to maintain a diverse intake of staff. ”Social immobility” can put the UK at a disadvantage against global competitors, says Mr Tant. The scheme, launching with 75 places for school leavers, will pay for four years of a degree course at Durham University, plus a salary of £20,000 for a further two years of training.….Continue Reading

After 70 years of wedded bliss, couple ‘who liked to sit holding hands’ die within hours of each other

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Source: DAILYMAIL

A devoted couple who were married for nearly 70 years have died within 11 HOURS of each other.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 5:33 PM on 13th January 2011

Their true love story ended when Bert Swan, 93, passed away from a chest infection in the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire. His wife Doreen 91, had died earlier in the day at their nursing home. But Bert was never told of her death. The couple had moved into the 62-room Merlin Court nursing home in Marlborough because they could no longer look after themselves at their home in Ramsbury.….Continue Reading

Pro-life group could intervene abortion legal challenge

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Pro-life spokesperson Paul Tulley says the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children will seek to intervene following a legal challenge that could allow women to have ‘abortions at home’.

1:09PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

Abortion provider, BPAS, is demanding that women be allowed to take the second of two drugs for an early medical abortion in the comfort of their own homes rather than in clinics.….Continue Reading

10 Christian names you don’t really hear

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The Pope says children should be given truly Christian names. But why have some saints and biblical figures inspired baby names, but not others?

By Jon KellyBBC News Magazine

Our playgrounds are blessed with a multitude of Daniels, Sarahs and Adams, but not quite so many Amminadabs, Zipporahs or Habakkuks. The names of saints Andrew, Catherine and Frances might echo down the ages, but the phone book is not exactly bursting with Abbos, Etheidwithas and Leocritas. But could these holy, if inexplicably unfashionable, titles be due a comeback? In a speech, Pope Benedict XVI urged parents to name their offspring in the Christian tradition, and bequeath “an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit will allow the person to blossom in the bosom of the Church”.….Continue Reading

More students achieving first class degrees

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Rising numbers of university students are graduating with a first class degree, official figures show.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Some 46,825 students graduated with the top honour in 2010, up from 43,125 the year before – an extra 3,700 people. It means one in seven people (14%) are now graduating with a first class degree. The statistics, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), also show that nearly half of first degree graduates (48%) scored a 2:1, some 156,950 students.….Continue Reading

Separating parents encouraged to agree on child support settlement

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Parents who get state support to agree child maintenance payments after divorce will be charged.

By Amelia Gentleman

New fees will be introduced for parents who need state support in agreeing child maintenance payments after a divorce, according to government proposals outlining a radical reform of the child maintenance system.

While charities welcomed the decision to rethink the much-criticised current system there was concern that the decision to impose a fee for government intervention in resolving maintenance disputes would hit poorest families hardest.….Continue Reading

It took a brush with death to get me to write a will

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One minute I was sitting down with the entire family for a New Year celebratory meal and the next I was being given the Heimlich manoeuvre.

By Paul Farrow 3:43PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

A near-death experience certainly gives you a jolt. OK, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic, but one minute I was sitting down with the entire family for a New Year celebratory meal and the next I had my father (a retired GP), my sister (a nurse) and my brother-in-law (a policeman) performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on me outside on the patio as I choked alarmingly on a tasty piece of medium-rare topside.….Continue Reading

Behind the music: Why music education cuts could be a dumb move

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The coalition government clearly sees music lessons as a luxury we can do without. But evidence suggests music can be beneficial to both overall academic performance and wellbeing.

Posted byHelienne Lindvall

The first things to go when there are governmental budget cuts are”luxuries” such as arts funding. Education secretary Michael Gove’s decision to declare music students ineligible for the new English baccalaureate certificate sends the message that music education is another luxury we can live without. As does cutting the £82.5m a year in funding specifically aimed at providing music education – not to mention the news that one in four councils have already issued redundancies for music teachers. What these decisions appear to ignore are the overall benefits music lessons provide to children and teenagers. Growing up in Sweden, I went to a music school that provided regular academic education with extra lessons in music and choral singing.….Continue Reading

China’s youth heaviest mobile internet users

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Teens and twenty-somethings around the world are embracing the mobile phone culture that has come to define their lives.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Their phones are a gateway into their social lives and using them has become an integral part of the daily routine. ”Usage patterns vary greatly among youth throughout the world, demonstrating how culture, economy and age can all play a large part in mobile behavior. These factors affect device selection, payment and usage,” said market researcher Nielsen in a new study on youth and cellphone usage published on January 11.….Continue Reading

Ninjago toy range set for ‘Lego Universe’ and DS game

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Lego have announced plans to release their new range of Spinjitzu ninjas – the Ninjago – not only as toys but as characters within PC and Mac game Lego Universe, and stars of the show in a new Nintendo DS title.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The mini figures sit atop spinners, with sets of trading cards used to steer the course of battle, before hurtling into one another. The Ninjago can be seen as Lego’s take on the popular Bakugan Battle Brawlers spinning toys.….Continue Reading

Scientology’s key advice for childbirth? Keep your mouth shut, woman!

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Source: GUARDIAN

John Travolta and Kelly Preston used the birth of their son to plug their religion. But Scientology’s philosophy on giving birth is not something to shout about.

By Alexis Petridis Thursday 13 January 2011

There are few things that irk Lost in Showbiz more than a celebrityScientologist who chooses to play down their religion. Frankly, if it believed that Xenu, Dictator of the Galactic Confederacy was locked in an electronic mountain trap – possibly somewhere in the Pyrenees – and that the human race was under constant threat from the disembodied souls of aliens he killed 75m years ago by lowering hydrogen bombs into volcanoes, it would never shut up about it.

So, it’s with some delight that we turn to the interview given by John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston to Hello! in celebration of the birth of their son Benjamin. No underplaying the crackalackadingdong stuff with these operating thetans. The secret of their marriage? “The tools ofScientology,” says Travolta.….Continue Reading

Laughter may increase probability of IVF pregnancy, study finds

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Source: GUARDIAN

Israeli researchers say pregnancy rate almost doubled when ‘medical clown’ visited clinic after embryo transfer.

By Reuters

Laughter may help women who are trying to become pregnant through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), an Israeli study found. In a study of 219 women undergoing IVF published in Fertility and Sterility, an Israeli team led by Shevach Friedler found that the odds of success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional “medical clown” just after the embryos were transferred to their wombs.

Overall, 36% became pregnant, as compared to 20% of women who’d had a comedy-free recovery after the transfer procedure.….Continue Reading

Keeping up with a young bookworm

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It’s great to bring up an advanced reader, but progress can come with problems. Cherry Maslen reveals her misgivings.

By Cherry Maslen 5:02PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

Much as I’d like to take credit for über-parenting skills, I can’t claim to have made much effort to teach my daughter, Maisie, to read before she started primary school. She just did it by herself. All I did was point to the words as I read her bedtime stories on my lap. It wasn’t long before she’d turned into a miniature librarian, never seen without a book under her arm and neatly arranging her growing collection in her bookcase, strictly arranged by author.….Continue Reading

If I can’t have you I don’t want to be here’

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Source: DAILYMAIL

Teenager’s last text to boyfriend before she leaps off bridge.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 8:39 AM on 14th January 2011

A heartbroken girl jumped to her death after a text row with her boyfriend – and left her latest message on her mobile phone on top of a 120ft aqueduct. Amy Wright, 19, texted her boyfriend: ‘If I can’t have you, I don’t want to be here. Thanks for the best six months of my life.’ An inquest heard her phone was found on the aqueduct after her body was discovered dead at the bottom. The hearing was told care worker Amy had been ‘extremely happy’ with her boyfriend in their short romance.….Continue Reading

Teacher ‘astonished’ at suspension over online book

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A teacher sacked after writing a novel about her pupils was “utterly astonished” when she found out she was being suspended, a tribunal has heard.

13 January 2011 Last updated at 17:06 GMT

Leonora Rustamova, 40, was sacked from Calder High School in West Yorkshire in 2009 after the novel appeared on a self-publishing website. The story, which described teenage fantasies, named several teachers and featured year 11 pupils. Mrs Rustamova is claiming unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. The novel, called Stop! Don’t Read This!, also described violence and featured a drug den. It was later removed from the website.….Continue Reading

Miss Rusty: I was promoted one day, suspended over racy novel the next

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English teacher Leonora Rustamova was promoted just the day before her suspension over a risqué novel that she had written to encourage problem pupils to read, a tribunal has heard.

By Paul Stokes 11:36PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

In Mrs Rustamova’s book, Stop! Don’t Read This, several boys from her Year 11 class appear as characters. It discusses one boy fantasising about her, and compares others to “Mr Gay UK finalists”. The plot involves drugs and violence, and the “f” word appears 27 times.Mrs Rustamova was suspended from Calder High School, in Mytholmroyd, near Halifax, West Yorks after the book appeared on a self-publishing website. Yesterday she told the employment tribunal in Leeds that she was “utterly astonished” when informed she was being suspended from the £34,000-a-year job to which she was “totally devoted”.….Continue Reading

My darling daughter died for the lack of a £6 jab

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Grief and anger of swine flu victim’s doctor father.

By SOPHIE BORLAND and JAMES TOZER
Last updated at 2:18 PM on 14th January 2011

The doctor whose little girl died just hours after falling ill with swine flu yesterday accused Ministers of denying children a life-saving jab for the sake of £6. Parents across the country were moved to tears by the haunting image of three-year-old Lana Ameen lying on a life support machine, one of the youngest victims of this winter’s deadly outbreak. Now her father, registrar Dr Zana Ameen, has told how, with all his medical knowledge, he can see only one reason not to offer the swine flu vaccine to young children – cost.….Continue Reading

One in 10 secondary schools offered heads £100,000 salary

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Rising salaries for headteachers caused by introduction of academies and free schools could inflate them further, warn education analysts.

By Jessica Shepherd, education correspondent

One in 10 state secondary schools offered potential headteachers a salary of £100,000 or more last year and increasing numbers are told they could earn up to £86,000, a survey has shown. Some 40 of the 381 secondaries in England and Wales that advertised for a headteacher last year claimed the role would come with a salary of £100,000 or more, an annual study of school vacancies found. This is a drop on the year before when 16% – or 64 out of 394 – of the vacancies for secondary heads came with a £100,000 or more salary.….Continue Reading

Six months of breastmilk alone is too long and could harm babies, scientists now say

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Fresh review of evidence contradicts WHO breastfeeding guidance leaving campaigners outraged and mothers baffled.

By Sarah Boseley

To the outrage of breastfeeding campaigners and probably the utter confusion of most women with small babies, scientists today advocate rewriting the rulebook to drop the current guidance that says mothers should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their child’s life. It was 2001 when the World Health Organisation announced that exclusive breastfeeding for six months was best for babies. In 2003 the then Labour minister Hazel Blears adopted the recommendation for the UK. But today, in the British Medical Journal, doctors from several leading child health institutes say the evidence for the WHO guidance was never there – and that failing to start weaning babies on to solids before six months could be harmful.….Continue Reading

Review into Birmingham toddler’s death to be held

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A serious case review is to be held into the death of a boy in Birmingham, a committee has said.

14 January 2011 Last updated at 13:08 GMT

Two-year-old Keanu Williams was taken to hospital from a house in Ward End on Sunday. Police said post-mortem tests indicated the child, known as Kiwi, had died as a result of “non-accidental injuries”.….Continue Reading

Schools ‘struggling to recruit new head teachers’

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Schools are suffering a leadership crisis as they struggle to recruit head teachers, despite offering six-figure salaries, ministers have been warned.

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor

More than four-in-10 primary schools and a quarter of secondaries failed to appoint a new head last year, figures showed. They were forced to re-advertise more than once, it was revealed, as a shortage of top teachers hit a 26-year high. A report by Education Data Surveys said failure to appoint new leaders came despite some schools offering £100,0000-a-year salaries.….Continue Reading

Teacher pursues seven-year battle to return to classroom after being acquitted of sexual assault

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A teacher falsely accused of groping school girls is to launch a final bid to clear his name after a seven-year battle in which the allegations on his police record have prevented him from getting another job.

By Victoria Ward 8:00AM GMT 14 Jan 2011

Robert King, 45, was acquitted of sexually assaulting four girls following a criminal trial but was subsequently fired from his job and lost an appeal in which he claimed unfair dismissal. He has since been unable to teach as the allegations appear on enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, casting a permanent veil of suspicion.The experience has left him battling depression and has cost him £154,000, including his home.….Continue Reading

Ice hockey crowd rescues eight-year-old girl from national anthem disaster after her microphone cuts out

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Source: DAILYMAIL

She’s only eight and must have been a bundle of nerves as she stepped out onto an ice rink to sing the U.S. national anthem in front of a packed crowd.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 12:59 PM on 14th January 2011

But Elizabeth Hughes, despite the occasional nervous glance, stepped up and gave it her all – even when the microphone cut out. It was as she was hitting the high notes when the sound fell away and a confused look flitted across her face.In the brief silence that followed as the youngster’s voice dropped away there was a nervous laugh from someone in the crowd at the Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.….Continue Reading

Alan Bennett condemned for ‘closing libraries is child abuse’ comment

Alan Bennett has been accused of ‘madness’ for claiming that closing libraries was akin to ‘child abuse’.

By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 1:59 AM on 26th May 2011

The playwright condemned the closure of hundreds of libraries, saying that many children do not have computers and books at home. The Coalition has cut the grant to libraries, putting hundreds of the 4,000 nationwide at risk of closure. Mr Bennett is supporting a campaign to save Kensal Rise library, one of six earmarked for closure by Labour-run Brent Council in north London—half the libraries in the borough. The campaign group is raising funds for a legal challenge to the council’s decision to close half the libraries in the borough. If successful, it could become a blueprint for other challenges in the rest of the country. The 77-year-old Yorkshire-born humourist told a 400-strong public meeting: ‘Closing libraries is child abuse.’

Source: DAILYMAIL

‘Mickey Mouse’ courses soared under labour while traditional exams fell

The number of GCSEs and A-Levels taken by pupils plummeted under Labour while ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses such as ‘food safety’ soared, official figures show.

By Kate Loveys
Last updated at 9:15 AM on 26th May 2011

For five successive years, the number of GCSEs gained by teens slumped from 6.4million in 2006 to 5.8million in 2010, according to exams watchdog Ofqual. Meanwhile the number of equivalencies – soft, unacademic courses like BTECS and NVQs – taken rose from 6.1million to 6.8million. More teens sat a Level 2 course in ‘food safety in catering’ last summer than traditional GCSEs such as biology, chemistry, French, geography, history or religious studies.

Source: DAILYMAIL

Brazil sex education material suspended by President

President Dilma Rousseff has suspended the distribution and production of sex education films for schools in Brazil.

25 May 2011 Last updated at 21:07 GMT

President Rousseff believes the footage is not suitable for youngsters.The education packs contain gay and lesbian video scenes and are supposed to combat homophobia. However, evangelical church groups and their allies in Congress threatened to block any upcoming legislation unless President Rousseff halted the films.

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Are Finnish schools the best in the world?

They have no uniforms, no selection, no fee-paying and no league tables. Yet Finland’s education system consistently tops global rankings. Richard Garner finds out what we can learn from them

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The task is as hard as weeding out the brightest youngsters for places on Oxford and Cambridge Universities’ most popular courses. There are 16 candidates for every vacancy and somehow the 2,000 applicants have to be whittled down to 120 by the time the course starts. We are not talking about law and medicine at Britain’s most prestigious universities, though. This is Finland and the applicants are desperate for a job in what is the most sought-after profession in their country: teaching.

Finland is the country that has topped the international league table of the developed world’s education systems for almost all of the past decade. And England’s Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has been taking a close look at its policies to see if there is anything he can glean from them to improve standards over here. Finland’s top-level ranking is based on its performance in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests of 15-year-olds around the globe in reading, maths and science. It is published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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Michelle tells students: ‘Work hard and don’t be afraid to fail’

She spoke framed between portraits of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in the grandest and most elite of Oxford colleges that has educated thirteen Prime Ministers.

By Oliver Wright

Her audience were 40 young girls from an inner London state school – turned down by a Tony Blair for his daughter – where 50 languages are spoken. It was symbolism laid on with a trowel – but somehow still strangely affecting. Despite being tall, in person Michelle Obama is smaller than she appears on television. And she seemed dwarfed – almost cowed – by her surroundings in the great hall of Christchurch College as she spoke quietly without a microphone because of a technical glitch. “I remember how well-meaning but misguided people questioned whether someone with my background could succeed at an elite university,” she said.

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Give children feedback to improve standards in school, says new guide

Reducing class sizes or setting homework contribute little to raise standards, research finds

By Jeevan Vasagar, education editor

Forget school uniforms and streaming by ability: schools will raise standards if they focus on giving children effective feedback. New guidance developed by academics at Durham University shows what works and what doesn’t to improve exam performance. Reducing class sizes and setting homework for primary school children are among the least effective ways to raise standards, the research finds. So are school uniforms – there is “no robust evidence” that blazers make any difference. Instead, students should be encouraged to develop independent “learning strategies” and to learn from each other.

Source: GUARDIAN

Why coffee cuts your chance of pregnancy

Scientists say they have discovered why drinking coffee makes it harder for women to conceive.

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:47 AM on 26th May 2011

Caffeine, the stimulant in coffee, impairs the transport of eggs from the ovaries to the womb, they found.Previous studies had shown that consuming too much coffee affected female fertility. Recent research involving 9,000 women found that drinking more than four cups a day cut the chances of conceiving by a quarter. Until now, the reason for the link was a mystery. The new investigation, conducted on mice, showed that caffeine inhibits contractions of the fallopian tubes which are needed to carry eggs to the womb.

Source: DAILYMAIL

Dogs help families with autism, RSM conference told

Dogs can help reduce stress in parents of children with lifelong developmental disability autism, a study suggests.

By Anna-Marie Lever Health reporter, BBC News

The University of Lincoln compared 20 families with dogs with 20 without. Daniel Mills told a Royal Society of Medicine conference early results suggested any breed could improve communication and relationships. The veterinary behavioural medicine professor hopes to use video footage to show how dogs can improve child eating, sleeping and tantrum behaviour. At a three-day Parents’ Autism Workshops and Support course, the families listed more than a thousand ways their dog had helped – from developing language and establishing a routine to using the pet to request action in a non-confrontational way. The Saunders family decided to get Boogie, an 18-month King-Charles-cocker-spaniel cross, because of four-year-old son Oak’s close connection with animals.

Source: BBC NEWS>> Read full article and comment

‘Hands up Mickey’

U.S. Navy fighting Disney to trademark elite ‘SEAL’ name

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:32 PM on 25th May 2011

The elite Navy SEALS who shot and killed Osama Bin Laden have a new target in sight – Mickey Mouse. They are taking on Disney over plans by the family friendly company to trademark their name and cash in on the success of the daring raid. Two days after the al-Qaeda leader was killed by members of the SEAL 6 team, Disney filed a trademark application to use the name.

Source: DAILYMAIL

GB Archers get a taste of Olympics atmosphere at Lilleshall

Team GB archers were subjected to a barrage of noise from schoolchildren while they practiced at Lilleshall in Shropshire for the 2012 Olympics .

25 May 2011 Last updated at 18:04 GMT

The idea was to simulate the possible noisy atmosphere competitors would face from a crowd during the real Games. Team GB programme manager, Ceri-Ann Davies, said it was important the archers gained a sense of the pressure they would be put under. The Olympic archery is being held at Lords Cricket Ground in London. Ms Davies said it was also important to get the local community involved in what was happening at Lilleshall. “We are one of the only British programmes that’s based in this part of the country so we want this end of the country to get behind us,” she said.

Source: BBC NEWS>> Read full article and comment