Thursday, October 06, 2016

UK: Labour's opposition to new grammar schools is 'rank hypocrisy' because they send their own kids to selective schools

Labour's opposition to new grammar schools is 'rank hypocrisy' because senior figures send their own children to selective schools, the education secretary has claimed.

Justine Greening - who is thought to be sceptical about Theresa May's plans for a new generation of grammar schools - used her main speech to the Tory faithful in Birmingham to slam Jeremy Corbyn's campaign against the policy.

Ms Greening launched a defence of the policy and insisted it would offer more flexibility to parents and help ensure every child got a good education.

She also announced she would spend £60million on creating 'opportunity areas' in six parts of the country most struggling with social mobility.

Days after it emerged controversial peer Shami Chakrabarti was sending her son to the exclusive Dulwich College, Ms Greening said the Labour campaign against new grammars was 'classic' from a party which insists on telling voters 'do as I say, not as I do'.

Speaking at Birmingham's International Convention Centre, she said: 'Unless you can afford to move to the right area, education has been the ultimate postcode lottery.

'That’s why our green paper is asking how we can create more great school places in more parts of the country, including selective places.

'Grammar schools have a track record of closing the attainment gap between children on free school meals and their better off classmates.

'That's because in grammars, those children on free school meals progress twice as fast as the other children, so the gap disappears. And 99% of grammars schools are rated good or outstanding.

'But in spite of this, Labour's approach to grammars is: close these schools down.

'And it’s rank hypocrisy. Because Labour Shadow Ministers send their children to grammars too.'

Labour leader Mr Corbyn found a rare issue on which he could unite his fractious party by coming out firmly against grammar schools.

He has been criticised for the move as he and several colleagues attended grammars as children while senior Labour politicians have used private selective schools.

Despite the controversy, Mr Corbyn scored a win over Mrs May in the final PMQs before party conference season by focusing on the issue.

And he used his main conference speech in Liverpool last week to call Labour activists out for a national campaign day against the policy.

Ms Greening's plan for 'opportunity areas' will aim to offer high-quality careers advice, and mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities.

And they will work with organisations such as the Careers & Enterprise Company, the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the National Citizen Service.

The Education Secretary told activists in Birmingham: 'This Conservative Government is determined to build a country that works for everyone, and education is at the heart of that ambition.

'Opportunity Areas will help local children get the best start in life, no matter what their background.

'Ensuring all children can access high-quality education at every stage is critical. This is about giving children in these areas the right knowledge and skills, advice at the right time, and great experiences.

'My department will work with local authorities, education and skills providers, businesses, and the wider community, not just to focus on what we can do to help inside schools, but also create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people.'


Oxbridge freshers are to get classes in sexual consent that teach them how not to rape their fellow undergrads

Freshers at Oxford and Cambridge universities are being put in classes telling them not to rape.

Each first year has to attend a controversial 'consent class' during Freshers' Week in October, which teaches students not to sexually assault others.

Classes at Oxford University are compulsory - with the same workshops at Cambridge being run on an opt-out basis.

Rugby players at Oxford University will also be made to attend anti-misogyny workshops later in the year to stamp out 'lad culture' among players.

The initiative has been branded too little too late by some, with one student saying: 'I've never been to a consent class and I've still managed never to have sexually assaulted anyone.'

But Orla White - Vice President for Women at Oxford University, has defended the classes, saying the discussions 'break taboos'.

The 21-year-old, who graduated from Oxford in 2016 and is now in charge of running the workshops, said: 'The classes are really important to initiate conversations around consent.

'They break taboos and encourage discussions which didn't happen in sex education at school.

'The feedback we get is extremely positive because students can discuss the issues in a safe environment with people their own age.'

Not everyone agrees, with one undergraduate refusing to attend a similar workshop at Warwick University.

George Lawlor, 20, said: 'If you need to be taught what is and what is not consent by the age of 18, a 90 minute seminar at the start of university is not going to fix that.

'Most people at university know exactly how to treat other people and would never take advantage of someone, whether they're drunk or not.'

George, from Rugby, Warwickshire and is in his final year at Warwick University, added: 'I've never been to a consent class and I've still managed never to have sexually assaulted anyone.

'Consent education starts at home and it's about something more than that - it's about having respect.'

At Oxford, each undergraduate college must schedule a 90 minute sexual consent class as part of their welcome timetable.

Here students will be told that no means no and it is still classed as rape even if the victim was drunk.

Classes are compulsory for all first year students, but there is no penalty if students fail to attend.

Miss White, from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, said: 'We say the classes are compulsory to encourage people to attend, but we don't follow up on who does and doesn't go.

'There could be a number of reasons why a student doesn't attend.'

During sessions, students are given several scenarios where they must discuss if sexual consent was given - such as if alcohol has any impact on consent and whether someone in a loving relationship can be assaulted.

At Cambridge University, similar classes are put on and at certain colleges students must opt-out if they don't wish to attend.

Audrey Sebatindira, Women's Officer at Cambridge University Students' Union, commented: 'The purpose is to bust myths about sexual violence, encourage students to openly discuss sexual consent, signpost them to relevant organisations and individuals and to reinforce the importance of bodily autonomy.

'There's only one workshop that freshers attend as part of a host of other freshers talks, but students are encouraged to continue having these conversations throughout the year.

'Some have even gone on to run uni-wide campaigns of their own around the issue of consent.'

Oxford University have also been criticised in the past for hosting Good Lad workshops which are compulsory for members of the rugby team.

Last year, rugby players were banned from one of the biggest tournaments of the year if they didn't attend the anti-sexism workshop.

Good Lad are set to run the workshops for the rugby team again this year - and failure to attend will affect the team's accreditation within the university.

A spokesperson for Good Lad added: 'We have worked with the rugby team [at Oxford] for a number of years now and this is set to continue this year.

'Furthermore, we run workshops with all the college rugby teams at Oxford each year.

'Our core product is workshops promoting a decision-making framework which equips men to deal with complex gender situations and become agents of positive change within their universities, sports teams, social circles and broader communities.

'We call this 'Positive Masculinity'.

'We then discuss proximal and salient scenarios to demonstrate how positive masculinity can work in situations young men are likely to encounter.

'To date, the response has been extremely positive with several groups coming back year after year, and feedback indicating an extremely high approval rating.'

Miss White said it's up to individual sports teams whether or not they ask the organisation to come in, but has confirmed if Good Lad do put on a workshop for a team then every team member must attend.

Failure to do so affects the team's accreditation by the university.

Miss White added: 'Good Lad is their own organisation, but we collaborate with them and the workshops are recommended by SportsFed.

'It's down to individual sports clubs to decide whether or not to run them, but many do, and when they are run within clubs, attendance is compulsory.

'Later in the year, we'll be rolling out an accreditation scheme for sports clubs, and one of the requirements for an excellent mark will be engagement in training provided by Good Lad and the student union.'


Racist policy at ANU

Discriminating against the Han.  American Ivy league universities do the same.

Australia's top-ranked global university is moving to lower its proportion of Chinese international students, a group it describes as "dominating" international student numbers.

Documents unearthed in a freedom of information request reveal the Australian National University has since 2015 quietly implemented a "diversification strategy" in an attempt to lower its share of Chinese enrolments.

ANU has the largest proportion of Chinese students in the Group of Eight universities. Over 60 per cent of its commencing international undergraduate enrolments were from China in 2016.

The documents, obtained by ANU student newspaper Woroni, reveal the university has been concerned about the financial risk of heavy dependence on the Chinese market.

There was a need to "mitigate potential risk exposure in the event of market downturn," Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington is recorded as saying in the minutes of a February 2016 ANU Council meeting.

The diversification strategy aims to recruit students from other nations such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.

But the documents reveal mixed success for this strategy, with enrolment from only Singapore and India growing since the implementation of the diversification plan in early 2015. Enrolments from those countries grew by 8 per cent and 24.7 per cent respectively. 

However, in the past five years, enrolments from Chinese students have grown from 42.1 per cent of the international student intake to 59.1 per cent in 2016.

"The University remains exposed to the Chinese international market," a report dated May 2015 said. "Diversification strategies at College and Central level are addressing this issue, but will take time to make a meaningful impact," it said.

 Anne Baly, Director International for ANU, told Fairfax Media the university was motivated mainly by creating a diverse, internationalised student body.

"I suspect ANU is not totally alone in this," she said. "We welcome and actively recruit the best and brightest students from around the world. For us, having a student body that is reflective of the global community at large is great for all students."

Ms Baly said over-reliance on any one country for international students "in itself is not a great business model, but I think that the driver behind this is about diversity. It's not like we're moving away from recruiting students from China. They are overwhelmingly great students to have."

There had been no particular problems with racial tension between groups on the campus, Ms Baly said.

But she said concentrations of students from any one country makes it "hard to provide them with the international experience", because they tended to socialise and work within their language group.

"We would be looking to encourage a broader group of students across all disciplines as well."

The uni was pursuing its diversification strategy through marketing in other countries and pursuing student exchanges through partnership agreements, she said.

ANU International Students department president Harry Feng said he was unaware of the diversification strategy, but said "I am not concerned as long as all the applicants… are treated fairly with the same set of standards."

ANU has agreements with hundreds of overseas education agencies who act as middlemen in the recruitment of ANU international students. One of the FOI documents, a May 2015 report on the diversification strategy, indicates the university management was aware of the need to improve the management of such agents.

In 2015, an ABC Four Corners investigation exposed the sometimes corrupt and fraudulent activities of Chinese education agents, including some representing ANU.

Ms Baly said the university worked through reputable education agents and managed such relationships very carefully.

Several issues involving pro-Beijing Chinese students at ANU have made the news this year, including an incident where the head of a Chinese student group allegedly bullied a campus pharmacy worker over displaying the Falun Gong-linked paper The Epoch Times in the shop.

Chinese dissident and ANU maths student Wu Lebao told the Australian Financial Review he was forced to move out of a flat he sublet from fellow Chinese students after they discovered his political views. A Chinese PhD student at ANU drew attention for creating a pro-Communist party nationalist video that went viral online.

The university also launched an investigation into students using essay cheating services advertising online in Mandarin in January. 

Andrew Norton from the Grattan Institute said universities were exposed when overly dependent on international students from a single market.

"As a general rule, heavy financial reliance on an international source country does have risks – we saw this with Indian students a few years ago, when bad publicity about crime in Australia, a high dollar and changes to visa rules combined to reduce student numbers," he said.

"There is also the risk that political factors overseas make it harder for students to travel overseas or economic problems in their country make foreign education less affordable."

ANU was Australia's top-ranked global university in the 2016 QS World Rankings and second highest in this year's Times World University Rankings. International students' enrolment decisions are typically influenced heavily by global rankings.


No comments: