Alternative Manifestos – Influencing Politicians’ School Plans

John Tomsett: ‘We have to get back to supporting teachers to be better at their job.’ Photograph: Gary Calton


The Guardian’s Fiona Miller, specialising in education and parenting issues, looks into the ways in which “alternative election manifestos” aim to influence education policy in the run up to the election. Authors reviewed range from the right of centre think tank Policy Exchange, to left-leaning pressure groups such as New Visions for Education and Compass, the teacher unions and professional bodies.

One of the issues that preoccupies every group is the reform of Ofsted. Absent are issues around diversity, choice, school type or government mandated structural reform.

Private Higher Education to Face Tougher Quality Standards

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In an effort to make sure private higher education providers contribute to, not detract from Britain’s reputation for excellent higher education, Universities minister Greg Clark says that they will face tougher quality standards. For example, they will need to register their students with the appropriate qualifications body before they can claim student support.

New Initiative at Oxford University Sets About Tackling Sexism Within Universities

Photograph: David Levene. Taken from


Traditionally, the academic world has been dominated by men, with women struggling to be seen as equals. A new group of women are campaigning to turn things around…

Charlotte von Bulow, Chief Executive of Crossfields Institute:

“Dr Selina Todd has written an interesting article about the lack of equality in universities. She is introducing the readers to the initiative ‘Woman in the Humanities,’ which sets out to explore how gender, ethics and politics of gender identity plays out in the world of humanities academia The article talks about recurring situations that woman academics face within the current university system. I ask myself: can we expect to experience real change if the system itself doesn’t change? I believe not. Post-structualism touched the issue in the sixties, seventies and eighties and facilitated some movement but we did not see a fundamental change to the system as a result. Equality is therefore still an add-on to the current system we have (a policy, really), rather than embedded in it. Dr Todd’s article raises two questions for me: 1) what does a system look like where equality is embedded, rather than an add-on and 2) if we work on the premise that we (women) are part of the problem, what is our role in the change process?”

As Online Learning Grows In Popularity, Do Universities Need to Adapt?



FutureLearn, the UK’s first online-only learning platform, recently reached the 1 million mark for enrolments. As more people are looking to learn in this way, universities may need to incorporate new technologies into their teaching methods.

We Need to Take Care of Our Planet’s Soil

In our efforts to strive to improve our planet, are we forgetting to take care of one thing that really matters? The Guardian’s George Monbiot certainly thinks so…

Jonathan Code, Lecturer at Crossfields International:

“Happy International Year of the Soil! If you are wondering why we might have attention directed to soil this year you can get one perspective from George Monbiot who is writing in the Guardian about the importance of preserving, supporting and cultivating good soil. At Crossfields Institute we are committed to education in sustainable agriculture and supporting the growth of awareness for one of our most precious resources – soil.”