Imperial College London pulls auction of unpaid internship following student opposition

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The internship on Westminster School’s website before it was removed

Imperial College London has pulled an unpaid internship which was up for auction at one of the country’s most expensive private schools. 

Westminster School, which charges in excess of £7,000 per term, is running an online auction for internships and were offering a one week unpaid position at Imperial College to the highest bidder. Continue reading

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MAPPED: Department for Education spent more than £1m on hotels last year

MAP: The Department for Education’s spend across London hotels in 2012/13. 

The Department for Education spent more than £1m of taxpayers’ money on hotel rooms for staff last year, including at 4* hotels in the heart of London. 

The biggest spend was at the 4* Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington where £215,240.37 was spent on rooms. A room booked one month in advance can cost £117 per night. The hotel also offers a gym for guests and those in the “Club” rooms are offered free breakfast, internet and bath robes. Continue reading

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When is a leak not a leak: An investigation into children’s home data

Childrens homes data - an Ofsted leak that wasn't

While working on a story relating to children’s care homes, Beth Ashton stumbled across some data that shouldn’t have been public. What she did next illustrates the ethical and legal issues facing journalists and public bodies dealing with sensitive subjects.

A few months ago, in the process of looking at children’s care home inspection reports for a story, I stumbled across a Freedom of Information request which I believed contained sensitive information.

Children’s homes are inspected by Ofsted – but each home is identified only by a Unique Reference Number (URN).

It is the only way to confirm that the report corresponds a specific home, and a URN is the only way to find a specific Children’s Home inspection on the Ofsted website. Continue reading

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Useful education links for 3rd-10th May

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the May 3rd-10th 2013.

Michael Gove attacks ‘infantilisation’ of school curriculum which encourages pupils to compare Nazis to Mr Men (The Independent)

Education Secretary Michael Gove attacked the school curriculum at a speech in Brighton this week, where he criticised using Mr Men to teach pupils about the Nazi regime. The speech has been widely criticised following reports that the children’s cartoon was used by one teacher, and as a revision tool, rather than being used widely in schools. Mr Gove is currently considering the changes he will make to the school curriculum as part of reforms to the education system.

Pupils ‘segregated from society’ by exclusive private schools (The Telegraph) Continue reading

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Useful education links for April 26th-3rd May

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the 26th April and 3rd May 2013.

Universities veto adverts over unpaid internships (The Times)

Some of the UK’s leading educational institutions are refusing to advertise unpaid internships for its students and graduates. They say it’s unfair graduates are expected to work for up to a year for free and that only those from wealthy backgrounds can afford to take up an unpaid internship. The list of universities who have decided to ban advertising the unpaid internships include York, Leeds, Nottingham, Oxford and Sussex.

Ofqual: teachers ‘losing confidence’ in GCSE exams (The Telegraph) Continue reading

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Department for Education faces scrutiny after responding late to one in five FOI requests

The Department of Education continues to perform poorly in responding to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, according to recently published figures.

The figures, published by the Ministry of Justice, show the department responded late to 21% of the requests they received last year.

In total 1,309 requests for information were received by the deparment throughout the year. 269 of those received a response later than the 20 working day limit outlined by the FOI act. A further 31 are yet to be resolved.

The key points are:

  • 1,309 requests were received.
  • Of these 1,038 requests were “resolvable” – 686 were given the information they asked for in full, 139 were partially withheld, 182 were fully withheld.
  • 269 requests were responded to late – and 31 are still outstanding.
  • 57 internal reviews were asked for following refusal, of these two were overturned.
  • 30 appeals were made to the Information Commissioner. Of 12 outcomes known the Information Commissioner overturned zero of these appeals.

Continue reading

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University complaints – get the data

Last week we reported on complaints to universities ranging from one for every five thousand students to one in every fifty. The data behind that, says @UnileaksUK, raises questions about the body which handles complaints where a student is unhappy with the way their university has handled it:

“Of those complaints whose justification was determined, 78% were found not justified.

“It is suggested that a result of 22% of complaints being found to be at least partially justified is too low a figure to be the realistic outcome of a complaints system which takes due cognisance of fairness … The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman … upheld or partly upheld 79%”

A report commissioned by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) also finds that: Continue reading

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Academies present schools with greater opportunity to “innovate” says committee member

Reporting by Emily Jeffery, editing by Nicole Froio

Painsley Academy in North Staffordshire received academy status last August. At the same time it also achieved a record-breaking 100% of year 11 students receiving grades A*-C in their GCSE’s.

Painsley shared the achievement with its six Catholic feeder schools. The seven schools work together as a ‘federation‘ to help with finances, resources and services – and they now also share the title of ‘Academy’.

Veronica Johnston Jones, an academy committee member, says there was much to think about in changing status. The change was discussed by the school’s governing body and worked on for over a year before academy status was finally awarded. Continue reading

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Useful education links for April 19th through April 26th

These are some of the education stories we found interesting between the 19th and 26th April 2013. Continue reading

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How are university student complaints handled? Unileaks crunches the numbers

The OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education) has published its first set of complaint figures for the individual institutions who subscribe to its Scheme.

The figures show rates varying considerably with some universities having as few as one complaint per five thousand students, and some as many as one for every fifty.

British universities have had since the Higher Education Act of 2004 – almost a decade – to adapt to having an external complaints body consider student complaints.

Each institution has been sent an Annual Letter setting out their own complaints handling performance for 2011 compared with other institutions of a similar size.

The OIA has not published consolidated data and refused a request to supply them – so Unileaks UK has compiled the figures manually from the annual letters. Continue reading

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MAPPED: How many hours do children spend at school around the world?

Recently proposed reforms could allow UK state schools to stay open until 4:30pm each day with pupils taking shorter, four-week summer holidays to spend more time in the classroom.

We’ve mapped the amount of hours pupils across the world spend in education each year. Click on a country to find out more about the hours spent in the classroom at primary, lower secondary and upper secondary level.

Primary study – less time than the global average

Speaking at the Spectator Education conference last week, Education secretary Michael Gove used the example of successful education systems in Asia which currently give students more time in the classroom and less free time and school holidays.

In the England, primary school children in state schools currently spend 635 hours in the classroom each year. Continue reading

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Factcheck: Schoolchildren ‘left behind’ by shorter school days?

Education secretary Michael Gove has called for longer school days and shorter school holidays to improve pupil performance and make life easier for working parents – but does the evidence support him? Matt Burgess and Emma Greatorex investigate. Continue reading

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