Friday, June 08, 2018

Scotland’s private schools eye international expansion as market booms                       
 Scotland’s private schools are following the lead of English institutions by opening new campuses overseas in an attempt to cash in on the growing international demand for British-style education.

Gordonstoun, the elite academy in Moray attended by Prince Charles, this week confirmed it was considering whether to establish offshoots in Asia and North America.

Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh already plans to open a campus in Shenzhen, China, later this year. Mary Erskine and Stewart’s Melville, also based in the capital, each signed an agreement in 2017 to establish Chinese bases by next year.

Expanding overseas could provide the independent sector with additional revenues at a time when the domestic market remains resilient despite pressures from Brexit and reputational damage caused by UK-wide claims of abuse.

It was revealed last year that UK private schools were now educating more pupils in the rest of the world than in Britain.

“I don’t see it as a negative that Scottish schools are looking to open abroad as it is what they have been doing down south for over a decade now,” said John Edward of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS).

“It’s not a case of playing catch-up, it’s a case of identifying the right opportunities at the right time. The circumstances of our schools have always been very different to the ones in England, they tend to be more rooted in the community.

“There is a huge growth in international interest in the sector. It is a very competitive and global market as there are other schools elsewhere in the English-speaking world, such as Canada or South Africa, which are also looking to bring pupils from overseas to board.

“But there is a British international school being opened every day in places like mainland China and the Middle East. There is almost an unquenchable thirst for English-speaking education.

“There is not just a demand for pupils – but also teachers from the UK being headhunted to work in the schools. In UK terms, I would say it is the biggest soft export we have at the moment.”

The private school sector in Scotland has remained steady despite a slight fall in pupil numbers in the past decade.

There are 29,664 pupils in 74 independent schools north of the Border, accounting for 4.1 per cent of pupils in the country. Of those schools, 19 offer boarding to 3,023 pupils – 32 per cent of whom are from overseas.

The capital remains the biggest market, with the number of secondary-age pupils in Edinburgh being privately educated rising from 25 per cent to 30 per cent in recent years.

Gordonstoun, which charges up to £38,000 per year, saw its income from fees fall by around £1.5m according to its latest accounts, with the number of pupils dropping by 8 per cent in 2016 to 520.

A spokeswoman for Gordonstoun told The Times it has received “considerable interest” from the rest of the world in its curriculum.

They continued: “It is therefore not surprising that Gordonstoun is receiving a large number of requests from those around the world wishing to adopt our approach.

“Gordonstoun has always embraced an international outlook and we are exploring a number of ways in which we can grow the international reach and impact of our world-leading approach to character education. This is at an early stage of development and we are excited about the opportunities under discussion. International opportunities will enable us to spread our educational ethos.”


Rev. Graham: San Diego Ed. Dept Seeks to 'Lure' Kids Into Sexual 'Promiscuity'

Commenting on the Sexual Health Education Program implemented in the San Diego Unified School District -- a sexually graphic "education" curricula for 6th grade, 8th grade, and high school students -- Christian leader Franklin Graham said California, like many states, is trying to "lure" children into sexual "promiscuity" and accept "lifestyles" contrary to "God's Word."

Many parents who have children in the San Diego public schools have objected to the program and sought to opt their children out of the class. The program includes graphic descriptions of anal, oral, and vaginal sex presented to kids 11 and 12 years old, according to the Concerned Parents of San Diego, which wants the class suspended until more age-appropriate material can be crafted with parents' input.

"There’s an agenda in California and every other state to target the minds and hearts of children," said Rev. Franklin Graham in a June 3 post on Facebook.  "The agenda is to lure them into promiscuity and condition their minds to accept lifestyles that are against the teaching of God’s Word."

"What do we do?" he said.  "Parents have to be involved and not accept curriculum such as the sex-ed curriculum these San Diego parents are fighting. Using smutty language and imagery to taint the minds of elementary school children—or any age students for that matter— is wrong."

"Teaching 6th graders about sexual pleasure and how to go to websites to learn to 'ask for consent in a sexy way' should not be happening," said Graham.

He continued, "This is an example of why we need men and women who believe in God to run for school boards at the local and state level. It’s also imperative that Christians vote in every election for candidates who support biblical principles, including the legislators who make these laws."

"I hope that every pastor will encourage the members of their congregation to let the Christian voice be heard in the elections," said Graham. "Let’s be salt and light as Jesus commanded and make a difference for our children and grandchildren!"


The hypocrisy and bigotry of the academic Left

"Academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation”

A course in Western civilisation has proved too provocative for the Australian National University to take on, yet its Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies has been at the forefront of contentious discussions around Middle Eastern politics and society with minimal backlash from its ­academics.

The centre, which has benefited from sizeable donations from the United Arab Emirates and the governments of Iran and Turkey, frequently publishes ­articles supportive of a Palestine state and Iran, hosts lectures on “deconstructing the extremist narrative” and “Islamophobia in post-communist Europe”, and has featured guest speakers who are critical of US policy.

It has also spruiked the success of a delegation to Iran late last year — led by ANU chancellor Gareth Evans — as the “first round of the Australia-Iran dialogue” after a 10-year suspension.

ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt has been forced to ­defend the centre in the wake of criticism of the university’s decision to withdraw from negoti­ations with the Sydney-based Ramsay Centre over a proposed degree in Western civilisation and scholarship program.

Professor Schmidt announced the decision last Friday, citing concerns for academic autonomy. However, it also followed threats of a backlash from the National Tertiary Education Union, which had claimed that the Ramsay Centre — chaired by former prime minister John Howard and with Liberal politician Tony Abbott on the board — sought to pursue a “narrow, radically conservative program to demonstrate and promulgate the alleged superiority of Western culture and civilisation”.

“Any association, real or perceived, with this divisive cultural and political agenda could potentially damage the intellectual reputation of the humanities at ANU and the ANU more broadly,” the union wrote in its letter to the vice-chancellor.

Politicians and conservative academics have since questioned how ANU had been able to successfully negotiate donations with foreign entities but had been unable to resolve any issues preventing the Ramsay Centre ­alliance from going ahead.

Mr Abbott this week pointed out the “hypocrisy” of the union opposing the course when the university had accepted funds from Dubai, Iran and Turkey in the past. A member of one of the donors, Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Foundation, is listed as a member of the centre’s advisory board.

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has also accused the university of double standards. “They are accepting money from Iran. That’s a despotic government … that does everything to suppress academic freedoms, the freedoms of women,” Mr Kelly told Sky News.

“When it comes to a course on Western civilisation, absolutely, any course of Western civilisation is going to be pro-Western civilisation, simply because of the facts, because Western civilisation is why we have the great society that we have today.”

Bella d’Abrera, the program ­director of Western civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs, said she struggled to understand how a course that was “for” Western civil­isation should be viewed any more contentiously than that of the Arab studies centre’s promotion of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics and culture and the role of Islam in the broader world.

She pointed to an upcoming symposium sponsored by the centre on “alternative traditions of law, norms and rules” that will seek to examine “new ways of seeing the relationship between ­interpretation, law and justice”.

“The fact that ANU is prepared to accept funds to promote the study of other civilisations but has rejected Ramsay Centre’s generosity reveals academia’s deep ­antipathy towards its own civilisation,” Dr d’Abrera said.

Arab studies centre director Amin Saikal did not return calls or emails yesterday. The highly distinguished academic has written extensively on Middle Eastern politics.

In an article last June published in the centre’s Bulletin, titled “Fifty Years of Israel’s occupation”, he wrote about Israel’s unwillingness to implement any deal that could require it to relinquish its occupation of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

He was critical of Benjamin Netanyahu and referred to Hamas, “which Israel, as well as many of its Western supporters, especially the US, have denounced as a ‘terrorist organisation’.”

An article by his deputy director, James Piscatori, also published in the Bulletin, critiques Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which prompted Iran to issue a fatwa against the author, as ­“gratuitously offensive”.

“One wonders: would he have been able to achieve the same ­effect of questioning the ­sacred with less confrontational language?” Professor Piscatori writes.

“For when the intended audience finds the metaphors crudely constructed and the political instrument of language blunt, ­offence is bound to be taken.

“What may have been intended as literary licence, even a philosophical challenge, is destined to be greeted by those within the ­tradition as ‘literary terrorism’.”

Professor Schmidt has declined repeated interview requests, but in a letter on ANU’s website on Tuesday he said he was “disappointed” that the Arab studies centre had been singled out.


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