What should be our new Education Secretary’s top priorities?

What should be our new Education Secretary’s top priorities? Education professionals and readers respond to this question from The Guardian newspaper, but what would be yours?

Crossfields Institute shares the concern of Koen Lamberts, Richard Evans and many others in Higher Education about the impact of “Brexit” on collaborative research work and access to UK HE institutions by overseas students. Both of these bring diversity and depth to our universities and HE Institutes. We also hope that Justine Greening will take seriously the question “what will actually be best for children, teachers and parents?” and encourage her department to be open to creative, learner-centred approaches to education for all ages.

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The education secretary, Justine Greening. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

As a heatwave and end-of term-in England coincide…

As a heatwave and end-of term-in England coincide, our thoughts turn to the pleasure of being outdoors. Outdoor learning can improve student well-being at any time of the year, and this link provides tips for teachers to do just that:
https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/jul/17/tips-tricks-teachers-how-outdoor-learning-boosts-student-wellbeing

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Our outdoor education experts discuss how taking education outside can benefit students academically and emotionally. Photograph: Datacraft/Sozaijiten/Alamy

“Merchants of Knowledge”?

In this article, A J Angulo provides a view of the marketisation of higher education and a quick summary of its history. Socrates warned us against creating “Merchants of Knowledge”. On that point, we wonder: what have we learnt from the current situation? As an independent Awarding Organisation, a Higher and Research Education Institute, the question of widening access to high quality education is on our agenda every day. In the current financial and political climate, how do we provide for education in a format that allows access to as many people as possible? We have very good reasons to believe that what we offer makes a positive contribution to society and we want to offer what we have developed to all those who are ready to engage. We are not about to create a consumer-supplier relationship with those people. But intelligent, innovative solutions are urgently needed. We are working on it. Are you? Join us and tell us what you think.

https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/jul/06/dont-turn-students-into-consumers-the-us-proves-its-a-recipe-for-disaster

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Trump University has hit the headlines due to recent lawsuits. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Failing Beautifully

Interested to read Lucy Clark’s Beautiful Failures, a reflection on the failure of one-size-fits-all schooling and the impact on young people’s mental health. Read Lucy’s account here:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jun/27/pay-close-attention-to-who-our-kids-are-not-who-we-want-them-to-be

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‘When my daughter failed school, it was unexpected.’ Picture posed by model. Photograph: Phovoir/Alamy

Could Steiner schools have a point on children, tablets and tech?

Interesting article yesterday in the Guardian, questioning the overuse of technology in schools and asking whether Steiner schools have the right approach. We believe that technology has its place in classrooms, but that the early years particularly should involve young people learning through making and doing.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jun/14/steiner-schools-children-tablets-tech

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Maria Woolley with her class at the Iona school in Nottingham, a Steiner school that rejects the use of tablets and computers. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

How a network of volunteers are helping poor children learn

The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr takes a look at the ‘granny cloud’ – volunteers using Skype to help poor children around the world educate themselves. Despite this nickname, the volunteer teachers of the School in the Cloud are of various ages. The educational experiment was started 15 years ago by a professor at the University of Newcastle when he was working in India.

Read the full article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/aug/02/sugata-mitra-school-in-the-cloud

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Sugata Mitra with children at a hole-in-the-wall project in Delhi in 2011 Photograph: TED

Should seven-year-olds have school tests?

As MP Nicky Morgan is planning to reintroduce national tests at key stage 1, the Guardian’s Jethro Shirley-Smith asks whether it’s such a good idea? Should children just be allowed to be children, without the pressure of tests?

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/nov/03/seven-formal-testing-nicky-morgan-destroy-learning

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We must ask what testing at key stage 1 is for – is it to make our school brochure statistics look more glossy? Photograph: Alamy

Syrian Academics Offered Lifeline by UK Universities

The Council for At Risk Academics in co-operation with 110 universities in the UK, has been offering lifesaving opportunities to academics in conflict ridden countries. Reem Doukmak talks about her experience:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/uk-universities-offering-lifeline-to-syrian-academics-refugees

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‘We never experienced fighting and bombing in Syria in my generation. That’s why it’s hard to accept’ … Reem Doukmak. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian