Friday, January 15, 2016

Diversity Dogma in California

Twenty years ago California voters banned racial and ethnic preferences in public education, public hiring, and public contracting. But now some in Sacramento, including the governor, the attorney general, and the new senate boss, wish to repeal it. But even if they succeeded in lifting or circumventing the ban, known as the California Civil Rights Initiative or Proposition 209, their policies would fail to achieve the proportional representation they claim to seek, according to Independent Institute Policy Fellow K. Lloyd Billingsley.

The reasons are especially clear in the case of college admissions. Whereas the exact proportion of various races and ethnicities in the general population at any given time is, in an important sense, arbitrary, the qualities that go into getting admitted into the University of California should not be. Academic eligibility and effort, for example, are not evenly distributed across all groups. Instead, these and other factors tend to cluster. Thus, writes Billingsley, “Asians represent 14.4 percent of the California population, but they account for 36 percent of the fall 2015 UC enrollment.” Tinkering with that percentage in order to promote “representative diversity” would be arbitrary and unfair.

The blatant unfairness on the part of opponents of Prop 209 can be shown with a simple thought experiment. Imagine that they were to introduce a ballot measure exactly like the one they oppose, but with a single key difference. Suppose it dropped the word “not” from the first provision in Prop 209: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” If the opponents of Prop 209 doubt that the public would be indignant, let them try it.


Parental Choice Is a Better Path to Student Proficiency

Parents and kidsToday Education Week released its annual “Quality Counts” report. This is one of the main annual spending rankings used to justify more money for public education.

However, spending proponents never seem to tell us just how much more we’ll need to spend for students to be proficient in the basics.

Of course it costs money to educate students, but even a cursory glance at where the money goes raises serious doubts about how academic achievement is prioritized.

As of the 2011-12 school year, the latest data year available, total per-pupil spending averaged just over $12,000 nationwide. Only slightly more than half of that amount, $6,500 or 54 percent, went toward instruction, which includes teacher salaries and benefits, supplies such as textbooks, and purchased instructional services—including services from private schools.

If these “instructional” expenditures were primarily used to pay great educators, then they should be making six-figure salaries based on an average class size of 16 students ($6,500 * 16 students = $104,000), or at least a whole lot more than the average base salary of $53,000. Meanwhile, much of the remaining $5,500 per pupil is spent on administration, which is a significant expense given that the national median annual wage for K-12 education administrators now approaches $92,000.

Thus, it’s worth keeping in mind that about half of everything we spend on public education isn’t really funding what most of us would consider “education” after all.

But as a thought exercise, let’s all push the “I believe” button and pull out our imaginary checkbooks because if we could spend our way to 100 percent student proficiency, here’s a rough estimate of how much it will cost us under the current public school system.

Using combined fourth and eighth grade math and reading proficiency percentages from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, and per-pupil instructional spending figures from 2011-12, nationwide each proficiency percentage point costs an average of $132 for a student who is not low-income, and $329 for a student who is low-income (whose family income would quality him or her for the federal National School Lunch program).

As of 2011, 49 percent of non low-income students and just 20 percent of low-income students nationwide were proficient on NAEP. It would cost an additional $6,750 per pupil to reach 100 percent proficiency for non low-income students. It would cost nearly four times as much per pupil for 100 percent of low-income students to reach proficiency, $26,400.

This means the national average per-pupil expenditure would jump to nearly $19,000 for non low-income students and more than $38,000 for low-income students. It would be cheaper to send school children to college.

Parental choice in education is a better way to help all students succeed without breaking the bank. The average funding for the 50 parental choice scholarship and education savings account (ESA) programs operating in nearly 30 states is $5,700—which likely overstates the actual funding because many parental choice programs include children with disabilities who have more expensive educational needs than general education students.

Nearly two decades of scientific research shows that disadvantaged students who use scholarships to attend the schools of their parents’ choice have higher academic achievement, as well as higher high school graduation, college attendance, and college completion rates.

Research also shows that public schools improve their performance in response to competition from private schools for students, so public school students benefit as well.

In fact, no scientific study to date has ever found that parental choice programs harm students.

When it comes to education, money certainly does matter. But how we spend it and who’s in charge of education funding matters far more. Instead of ranking states by how much they spend, we should be recognizing—and emulating—states that empower parents over their children’s education funding.


FactCheck: does Australia run one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world?

"Australia runs one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world". - Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, speaking with Sarah Dingle on ABC Radio National Breakfast, January 4, 2015.

When asked for data to support the assertion, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training said that

    "Compared to other student loan schemes, the income-contingent nature of both Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) loans Trade Support Loans (TSL) protects low income earners from making loan repayments they may not be able to afford. Australia's student loan schemes allow deferment of repayment obligations in cases of extreme financial hardship. During the life of the loan Australian students pay no real interest rate".

Overall, it is true that many features of Australia's loan schemes for tuition fees make it more generous than most other countries that charge for higher education. But from a student's perspective, how generous Australia is depends on exactly which aspect of the loan scheme you're looking at.

This FactCheck will examine how Australia compares to other countries when it comes to:

    the two key types of student loan schemes on offer here and overseas;

    how generous Australia's scheme is compared to countries with similar schemes;

    how much you have to earn in different countries before loan
repayments start;

   how much different governments internationally subsidise the cost of higher education;

    the interest rates charged on student loans;

    and finally whether there are any countries where students don't need a loan to get a degree.

The two key types of student loans

Australia's Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) lends students the cost of their tertiary education fees, and requires repayment on an income-contingent basis.

For 2015-16, repayment starts when HELP debtors reach an annual income of A$54,126. At that point, debtors repay 4% of their income.

Many other OECD countries also offer public loans to students for higher education, usually a mortgage-style loan. Under mortgage-style loans, repayments are required regardless of income and do not vary with how much debtors earn.

Only a few countries offer national level income-contingent student loans, including Australia, England and New Zealand.

Unlike mortgage-style loans, income-contingent loans prevent students who are unable to repay going bankrupt or having their credit rating downgraded. That could be considered generous.
How does Australia compare to other countries with income-contingent student loans?

Three key aspects of HELP's settings determine how generous it is among countries with income-contingent student loan schemes:

    the initial threshold for repayment

    how much needs to be repaid each year, and

    the interest rate on debt.

Repayment thresholds

The HELP income threshold of around A$54,000 makes it the highest in the OECD. For graduates with a relatively low to average income (below A$54,000), the scheme is more generous than in other countries.

For people earning above the threshold, repayment systems are harder to compare. HELP has the lowest repayment rates, between 4% and 8% depending on income. This compares to 9% in England, 12% in New Zealand, and 10% to 20% on some limited US income-based loans. But HELP repayments are calculated on a debtor's entire income, while in other countries repayments are based on income above the threshold.

If a HELP debtor earns just above the threshold, she or he would repay 4% of total income - A$2,100.

Compared to New Zealand, this is relatively generous. New Zealand loans require debtors to repay once their income is above around A$18,000 (NZ$19,000). Assuming an income of A$54,000, with a repayment rate at 12%, the compulsory repayment would be around A$4,400 a year - twice Australia's compulsory repayment level.

In England, the threshold is around A$35,000 (œ17,000) repaying at 9%. As in New Zealand, compulsory repayment is calculated based on income above the threshold. A debtor who earns A$54,000 would repay around A$1,700 under the English system.
Compulsory repayments by income and country

Interest rates on debt

The last test of generosity is the interest rate the government charges on student loans. Australia indexes HELP loans to the consumer price index, which means that loans keep their value in real terms. The government typically borrows at a higher rate, so taxpayers pay much of the interest on student debt - a point that was emphasised by the minister in the interview referred to at the beginning of this article.

While Australia's system on interest is generous, New Zealand's is more so: the NZ government charges no interest on student loans unless debtors live overseas for longer than six months.

In England, interest rates on student loans vary by income. If debtors earn below the income threshold, their debt would be indexed to the retail price index or RPI (a measure of inflation).

But on income above the threshold (or study full-time), the interest is up to RPI plus 3%. High-income debtors face higher interest rates making their student loans less generous than the Australian system. Both the US and the Netherlands charge the government's cost of borrowing on their student loans.
Are there any countries where students don't need a loan to get a degree?

Finally, it's worth noting that several OECD countries, including Germany, Finland and Sweden, charge only nominal tuition fees or no fees at all.

Both Australia and New Zealand provide a direct government subsidy to most undergraduate students that reduces their fees and how much they have to borrow. But the New Zealand government subsidises a higher proportion of total course costs than in Australia on average.

In England, most teaching subsidies have been abolished and students pay the full cost of their degree.


Senator Birmingham is right: Australia does run one of the most generous student loan schemes in the world. It's one of the few countries to offer income-contingent student loans - saving people on low incomes from paying off their students loans, as is more common in the US and other countries.

Is it the cheapest place in the world to get a degree? That's a different question altogether. As noted above, several OECD countries, including Germany, Finland and Sweden, charge little or no tuition fees.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

 Oxford University's senior leaders tell students who shut down 'open-minded' debate amid Cecil Rhodes controversy 'we should never tolerate intolerance'

Oxford University’s most senior leaders have launched a stinging attack on campus zealots who shut down debate with so-called ‘no-platforming’ policies.

Louise Richardson, the new Vice Chancellor, and Chancellor Chris Patten, said yesterday that students must learn the value of engaging with ‘objectionable’ ideas in universities.

They said youngsters must understand the true nature of freedom of inquiry, which can involve discussing concepts which they may find uncomfortable.

Their extraordinary intervention comes amid a growing culture of censorship on campuses across the country which has seen a number of controversial speakers banned.

‘Safe space’ policies have been adopted by many branches of the National Union of Students, allowing them to banish speakers, magazines and events which might be deemed ‘offensive’.

In Oxford, Oriel College is consulting on removing a statue of benefactor Cecil Rhodes after campaigning students claimed it is ‘racist’ because the 19th Century politician was a colonialist.

In a speech to mark her installation as Vice Chancellor of Oxford, Professor Richardson said freedom of debate must be ensured amongst the student community.

She said students should be educated to ‘embrace complexity’ while ‘daring to disturb the universe’, and to understand that ‘an Oxford education is not meant to be a comfortable experience’.

She added: ‘How do we ensure that they appreciate the value of engaging with ideas they find objectionable, trying through reason to change another’s mind, while always being open to changing their own? How do we ensure that our students understand the true nature of freedom of inquiry and expression?’

She added that it is the role of Oxford to provide leaders who have been ‘educated to think critically’ and to ‘always question’.

These people will ‘prevent the next financial crisis’ and grapple with other issues facing future generations, she said.

Professor Richardson, the first woman to hold the post at Oxford, added: ‘Let’s keep our eyes firmly fixed on the future, without forgetting the traditions that bind us to our forebears and the values and interests that unite us to one another.’

During the ceremony, Lord Patten said in a separate speech that while the university should listen to people who ‘shout… about speech crimes and no-platforming’, they should not necessarily obey.

He said: ‘We have to listen to those who presume that they can re-write history within the confines of their own notion of what is politically, culturally and morally correct…

‘But speaking for myself, I believe it would be intellectually pusillanimous to listen for too long without saying what we think…

‘One thing we should never tolerate is intolerance. We do not want to turn our university into a drab, bland, suburb of the soul where the diet is intellectual porridge.’

In an apparent reference to the Rhodes campaigners, who have been accused of trying to erase history, he warned that ‘education is not indoctrination’.

He added: ‘Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudices.

‘We work, study and sleep in great buildings, many of which were constructed with the proceeds of activities that would be rightly condemned today.

‘Moreover, many who are studying here or are doing research here are assisted with financial support from similar sources.’

Oriel College has already agreed to remove a plaque of Rhodes from one of its buildings after campaigners said making ethnic minority students walk past it every day amounted to ‘violence’.

Rhodes left a vast sum of money to the university, and one of the leaders of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign benefitted from a Rhodes scholarship himself.

The row over the statue is the latest in a string of attempted bans by students on campuses across the country.

Last year, students tried to stop feminist Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University because her views might offend transgender people. Historian David Starkey was removed from a promotional Cambridge University video over claims his views were ‘racist’.

Students also tried to ban human rights activist Maryam Namazie from Warwick University for so-called ‘Islamophobia’ and Macer Gifford, who went to fight with the Kurds in Syria, from UCL.

Other bizarre bans have included ‘racist’ sombreros at the University of East Anglia and a ‘fascist’ Nietzsche society at UCL.

However, the so-called ‘safe space’ policies do not appear to have stopped extremist Islamist speakers appearing before university students across the country.

A Daily Mail investigation revealed last week how representatives from CAGE have toured Islamic societies at universities, making a series of inflammatory claims unchallenged.

The organisation, which called Jihadi John a ‘beautiful young man’, have been holding events to tell young Muslims to sabotage the Government’s anti-extremism policy Prevent, claiming it is an attempt by the State to spy on them.

In September, David Cameron said universities hosted at least 70 events featuring extremist preachers in the last year, a claim some of the institutions dispute.


Standing up for kids and minorities

Will Congressional Republicans push for reauthorizing the D.C. school voucher program?

Republicans say they care about the poor and minorities, but do they really?  We have a test case in front of us right now over whether the congressional leadership will reauthorize and then hopefully expand the Washington D.C. school voucher program. President Obama is against the program though it’s $25 million budget is less than 0.1 percent of federal education spending. The opportunity scholarship program was created in 2004 and was the handiwork of John Boehner and President George W. Bush. The results have been uniformly positive for these families.

But something unforgivable happened at the end of last year. The House leadership admits that they “inadvertently” left out of the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed late last year. They forgot to fund the voucher program for poor black and Hispanic parents because apparently they were too busy funding the Export Import Bank to help Boeing. So amazingly, about the only domestic program that got eliminated was the one that matters the most. Message: Republicans don’t care about these families any more than the Democrats do — which is very little.

The very first order of business for this Congress should be to immediately reauthorize the Washington, D.C. school voucher program. Do it now. Hold a rally in front of the Capitol with the thousands of minority parents and kids who depend on these vouchers. Stand with them. Fight with them loudly and proudly.

A first-rate education for the nation’s poor children is a righteous fight and, as Jeanne Allen, the president of the Center for Education Reform puts it, “the civil liberties issue of our time.”

What is for sure is that Democrats will never stand with these parents. They can’t because the teachers unions won’t let them and the political contributions would dry up. So union brass and the leaders of the Democratic Party oppose programs that take control from Big Labor and instead empower parents. It’s all about power and money for the education blob. The opposition has nothing to do with what’s right for the kids. Only rare Democrats like former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman dare support the program — and he was ousted from his own party. Nothing exposes the spectacular hypocrisy of the Democratic Party more than their brick wall opposition to education voucher programs.

Meanwhile the Republicans won’t call them out on this. Why not?

The D.C. voucher program has helped thousands of very low-income and mostly black kids opt out of the often dismal public D.C. schools and opt into high-performing private and Catholic schools. A major assessment study funded by the Department of Education found the graduation rates for the students with vouchers is an estimated 12 percentage points higher than for those who didn’t get the vouchers. More of the kids go on to college — some to Harvard and Yale. The odds are high that a large percentage of these kids from good schools but poor neighborhoods will be financially successful and rise into the middle class or higher. Is there a better way to reduce income inequality?

The most powerful evidence is to meet these kids because the impressive results hit you right in the face. The parents almost universally describe the vouchers with words like a “godsend” and a “lifesaver for my children.” Republicans should sit down with Joseph Kelley, a single father with several kids who have received vouchers. “The public schools in my neighborhood aren’t just extremely poor academically, They are physically unsafe,” he tells me. “At our neighborhood school there was cursing and shoving with a total breakdown in any discipline. Total mayhem. I couldn’t expose my son to this environment or I would have wound up hurting some of those bullying kids.” How many politicians would send their kids to such schools?

I know one who doesn’t. Barack Obama. The Obamas live in public housing in Washington D.C., but they are rich so they send their daughters to the very elite, expensive private school called Sidwell Friends. The president’s daughters sit next to some of the voucher kids. But Mr. Obama wants to kill the program, because apparently only rich people should get to go to the finest schools.

Rather than shut down this program it should be expanded dramatically in Washington, D.C. and bring the program to cities with failing schools all over the country. The goal should be for every parent who wants a voucher to get one. We spend more than $30 billion on the Department of Education every year and Republicans even gave DOE a pay raise last year. DOE spending has had zero impact on test scores, as the graph shows.

This is the perfect political fight for these times. Paul Ryan should announce tomorrow that there will be no budget this year without vouchers. If Mr. Obama wants to shut down the government to stop this from happening let him.

What better way for Republicans to show that they believe black lives matter.


Australia's largest uni goes smoke free

Smokers will no doubt call this tyrannical but a ban would not be needed if they had the decency to stop imposing their foul habit on others

Smoking has been banned on all campuses of a major Victorian university.  Monash University announced that smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, would be banned from every campus, including grounds and vehicles from January 2016.

The university said it was part of a broader commitment by all Victorian universities to provide healthier smoke-free environments.

"There is clear evidence to show that smoke-free environments increase the rate of quitting and reduce the amount of people taking up smoking," the university said in a statement.

Students, staff and visitors will need to leave the campus to light up and those caught smoking on university grounds may face "disciplinary action".


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Education Results, Not Spending Rankings, Count Most

studyingTomorrow marks one of education’s most important  rituals: the annual release of Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report, which grades states on several criteria including spending. If history is any indication, howls about “underfunded” public education are sure to follow. In fact, by my tally at least a dozen states all claimed to be 49th in K-12 funding in 2015 alone, about the same number as 2014, depending on the ranking and the methodology used.

The reality is total public elementary and secondary school spending now amounts to $635 billion. If that kind of spending represented market value, public K-12 education would rank second only to Apple valued at $725 billion and far ahead of ExxonMobil and Microsoft, each with a market value of more than $300 billion.

The trouble is, annual spending rankings tell us virtually nothing about how much value students and taxpayers are receiving for what we’re spending.

Right now, for instance, total per-pupil spending averages more than $12,000 nationwide. Yet alarmingly small numbers of students are doing well in reading and math based on combined proficiency rates from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

Less than half (46 percent) of fourth and eighth grade public school students nationwide who are not low-income (those whose family incomes are too high to quality for the federal National School Lunch program) are proficient in NAEP reading and math. Barely one in five low-income public school students (21 percent) is proficient.

Yet these averages conceal huge spending and performance variances. In fact, many states are simply paying more for poor results. This is especially true for low-income students based on combined fourth and eighth grade NAEP math and reading proficiency rates and per-pupil instructional spending, averaging $6,500 nationwide for the 2011-12 school year, the latest spending data available.

At more than twice the national average, New York is the country’s top spender, $13,500 per student, but just 22 percent of low-income students are proficient. Numerous other states do as well or better spending a whole lot less.

Montana and New Hampshire spend $6,300 and $8,900, and each have a 29 percent proficiency rate—the highest nationally for low-income students, tying with Vermont, Massachusetts, and Wyoming, which spend $10,400, $9,600, and $9,500, respectively. Other states spending below the national average and achieving better results than New York include Idaho ($4,000), which performs as well as top-spender contender New Jersey ($10,800), Indiana ($5,600), Kansas ($6,100), Kentucky ($5,400), Ohio ($6,400), Washington ($5,600), and South Dakota ($5,100).

Another six states spend thousands of dollars less than New York and achieve the same proficiency rate: Colorado ($5,000), Florida ($5,200), North Carolina ($5,100), Pennsylvania ($8,000), Texas ($4,900), and Utah ($4,100).

Yet New York is not an isolated case. Alaska and Connecticut each have an 18 percent proficiency rate in spite of spending $9,700 and $10,700. Nearly a dozen states spend less than the national average and perform as well or better than these states: Arizona ($4,000), Arkansas ($5,400), Georgia ($5,700), Iowa ($6,200), Michigan ($6,100), Missouri ($5,700), Oklahoma ($4,300), Oregon ($5,500), Nevada ($4,800), South Carolina ($5,200), and Virginia (just under $6,500).

A striking difference between top-spending states and the vast majority of lower-spending but better performing states is the availability of parental choice programs. Scholarships and education savings account (ESA) programs, such as those in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, empower parents to choose the education providers, including private schools, they think are best for their children. All providers, in turn, must compete for students and their associated funding, which introduces powerful pressure for them to improve their performance.

Instead of fixating on spending rankings, we should be focusing on results—and emulating the states that get the best achievement for every dollar spent.


Campaigning on campus, group that helps families of IS killers: Charity gave talk at university before students held Christmas appeal asking for donations

A notorious group that funds terrorists’ families has been allowed to campaign for donations at a leading university, the Daily Mail can reveal.

HHUGS supports the family of Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, an Islamic State fighter whose father Adel is a convicted terrorist linked to Osama Bin Laden.

But in November it was permitted to campaign unopposed during a talk at the London School of Oriental and African Studies by Moazzam Begg, director of the CAGE group which described Jihadi John as ‘a beautiful young man’.

In December students at SOAS held a Christmas appeal for donations to HHUGS, calling it a ‘great cause’.

HHUGS – Helping Households Under Great Stress – provides ‘practical support and advice’ to families of those arrested under UK anti-terror laws.

The group has published articles in support of terrorist Munir Farooqi, a former Taliban fighter given four life sentences in 2011 for trying to recruit jihadi fighters. It also once published an article on its website which claimed there was ‘no evidence’ for Bin Laden’s involvement in 9/11.

The group’s supporters include Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad – an imam who has described homosexuality as ‘a criminal act’ and defended the practice of female genital mutilation – and Lauren Booth, the Muslim sister-in-law of Tony Blair.

She was quoted in a HHUGS leaflet as saying: ‘Our brothers are routinely being taken from their homes, households are wrecked and they are held often without charge and when they are charged families are often left alone. HHUGS gives emotional and practical support to those left behind.’

Undercover reporters from the Mail Investigations Unit found HHUGS running a stall at a lecture on November 2 at SOAS about ‘wrongly imprisoned’ Islamists, titled ‘Brothers Behind Bars’. A female member of the group in a niqab was giving out promotional cards, including one about Adel Abdel Bary. Forms requesting donations were also given to students.

HHUGS has covered bills, tuition fees, food vouchers and even driving lessons for the Bary family, who live in a £1million home in Maida Vale, North-West London.

The card handed out at the SOAS event stated: ‘Adel Abdel Bary – Detained without charge since 1999.’

In fact in 2014 Bary, 55, admitted working for Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad after being extradited to the US from Britain. Last February he was sentenced to 25 years in a US jail for conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa which left 224 dead.

The card handed to students also did not mention that Bary’s son Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is a terrorist fighting for IS who has posed on social media with a severed head.

HHUGS paid out £172,259 to ‘those living in financial hardship’ last year. The charity says no money goes to convicted terrorists or those involved in extremism, only to their dependants.

A spokesman for HHUGS said it was an ‘oversight’ that it handed out the leaflet about Bary’s case at the SOAS event. ‘The postcard was produced in 2010 at a time when Mr Bary was detained without charge,’ he said. ‘The postcards should not have been utilised at the stall.’

He added: ‘We can confirm that HHUGS has never provided any support to Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.’

The Bary family declined to comment. Lauren Booth did not respond to requests for comment. SOAS said: ‘These events were legal and no concerns were raised with us by police.’


Bullying parents: NSW principals among most threatened in Australia

The "safety and welfare of employees is a paramount concern," the NSW Department of Education has said, after a damning report found that NSW principals suffered some of the highest rates of bullying and violence in the country.

The study, released in December, found that parents were the primary source of threats of violence against principals and that NSW principals were five times more likely to be threatened than the general population.

"The trend is extremely worrying in NSW," said Philip Riley​ from the Australian Catholic University. Professor Riley interviewed more than 4000 principals around the country for the Australian Principal Occupation Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey.

"A lot of the offensive behaviours are increasing in a very big way in NSW. It's right up there, in terms of trends NSW and Tasmania are the two worst states."

Professor Riley said that there were countless examples of parents intimidating principals across the state with parents in large rural towns the worst offenders.

"In one instance a principal was being stalked by a parent because they didn't like how they were treating their children. The principal would be working late at night in the country town and car lights would flash across the window and then follow them home."

In another instance a principal was slammed against a wall by a senior lawyer demanding a refund for a school trip his child could not attend due to illness.

In Western Australia last year, three principals were hospitalised due to being bashed by members of the school community .

"The overriding thing is there is a sense of entitlement that parents have that they know how to run a school and they know what they should be done for their child," said Professor Riley 

Now in its fifth year, the longitudinal study found that principals are up to twice as likely to suffer from burnout, depression and sleeplessness than the general population.

Professor Riley said that the cross sector analysis showed little improvement in the experience of principals between government, independent and Catholic schools.

"The common rhetoric is that everything is better in private schools but that is just not true in terms of health and wellbeing, and that has to translate to students," he said.

On average, female principals experienced 10 per cent more violence and bullying in the workplace.

Only 50 per cent of principals reported feeling supported from colleagues inside the school, while only one in 10 felt they were being supported by their employers.

The President of the NSW Secondary Principals association, Lila Mularczyk​ said the findings on parental bullying were not a surprise.

"It can be difficult and awkward for parents as they want to do the best for their child and sometimes they may respond in a volatile way," she said.

She said she had experienced abuse first hand.

"There have been instances when I have received verbal and physical intimidation from adults in the community. That has lessened over the years as I developed trust and relationships."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said that the department continues to work closely with its principals to review and develop new resources to support health and wellbeing.

Professor Riley said that he hoped to extend the survey to teachers next year, describing the bullying culture as "endemic".

"The survey has just uncovered something that is entrenched and been there for a long time," he said.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

British High School students to be taught that the nation's earliest inhabitants were Africans who were in Britain before the English  

GCSE students are to be taught that some of our nation’s earliest inhabitants were Africans who arrived here long before the English.

The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the extraordinary rewriting of our island’s history – the politically correct work of a Marxist academic – will be offered to thousands of history students throughout England from September.

Its creators claim the course addresses the ‘white male-dominated’ view of history – but it has outraged some of Britain’s most eminent thinkers.

Booker and Nobel prize-winning novelist V.S. Naipaul said: ‘Once again political correctness is distorting our history and the education of our children.’

And historian Sir Roy Strong, author of The Story Of Britain, said: ‘This stands history on its head, projecting back on to the past something that isn’t true.’

The ‘Africans in Britain’ quotation is the opening line of a key book on the course reading list by a Marxist historian and refers to a Roman legion of North Africans briefly stationed on Hadrian’s Wall in the 3rd Century, before the arrival of Anglo-Saxons.

Up to 500 ‘Aurelian’ Moors – named in honour of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, popularised in the film Gladiator – manned a fort near Carlisle.

But there is no evidence they ever settled there.

Offered by the Oxford and Cambridge examination board (OCR) and approved for use in schools, the course literature states: ‘This course will enable students to learn how the movement of people – European, African, Asian – to and from these islands has shaped the story of this nation for thousands of years.

‘The history of migration is the story of Britain: in 1984, Peter Fryer wrote, “There were Africans in Britain before the English came.” ’

The course – Migration To Britain c. 1,000 to c. 2010 – was created with academics from the Black and Asian Studies Association but has been condemned as ‘pro-immigration propaganda’ at a time when the subject is especially sensitive.

Last night, eminent military historian and author Antony Beevor said: ‘Migration is a very valid area to study, but if it’s a question of rewriting history to bolster the morale of certain sections of the population, rather than a scrupulous attitude towards facts, then that is a total distortion and it’s outrageous.’

Sir Roy Strong said: ‘The only Africans who came here were a few with the Romans who came and then left! I find it disturbing that our children should be taught something that is clearly designed to feed into contemporary problems rather than tell our island’s story properly.’

V. S. Naipaul added: ‘This absurd supposition of Africans inhabiting Britain before the English only goes to show how our once esteemed centres of learning, Oxford and Cambridge, have been insidiously eroded by a dangerous dogma that, very like IS today, wrought misery and havoc in Russia, China and the Eastern bloc, where for all practical purposes it has failed.’

Although the new course takes its starting point as the Middle Ages, one section is headed ‘Population diversity in England before 1066’.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, a specialist adviser to the Commons Education Committee, said: ‘This seems to be aimed more at indoctrination than education. It is dangerous because a cohesive society depends on an authentic shared view of history.’

And Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern said: ‘The country is being sold down the river by the politically correct brigade and national identity sacrificed for minority groups to feel included. It’s pro-immigration propaganda.’

But Professor Mark Ormrod, of York University, one of the historians researching the new topic, said: ‘It is an outstanding example of how a long view of history helps us to understand and to find a place for ourselves in contemporary society.

‘Our research project shows how, for example, in the late Middle Ages, no one was more than ten miles from an immigrant.’

Mike Goddard, head of history at OCR, said: ‘There is no political bias. The GCSE will present facts. It is not pushing any particular argument.’

And Martin Spafford, of BASA’s education committee, stressed that ‘students will hear both positive and negative views about migration. It’s been a controversial subject and we don’t shy away from that’.

The Department for Education said: ‘The law is crystal clear – all political discussions in schools should be unbiased and balanced.’


Oxford? It's magic says Hogwarts generation: University dusts off its daunting reputation thanks to Harry Potter fans

Its daunting reputation for academic robes and dusty traditions has made applying to Oxford a terrifying prospect for generations of students.

But now the university is enjoying a resurgence in popularity among state school pupils – thanks to Harry Potter.

University chiefs say that teenagers steeped in Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts are no longer deterred by Oxford’s traditions – because they echo scenes in J. K. Rowling’s bestselling books.

Instead, Oxford’s head of admissions Samina Khan says the ‘Hogwarts generation’ is excited by the prospect of grand dining halls, flowing robes and ancient ceremonies.

‘This is a generation that’s grown up with Harry Potter,’ says Ms Khan. ‘They recognise the benefits of that small college community, the grand tables and talking about current affairs.’

In fact, Oxford’s Christ Church College inspired the set design for Hogwarts school hall in the Potter films, and Oxford remains one of the few universities where formal academic dress is still worn.

Last year, more than 75 per cent of students at the university voted to keep formal academic dress a part of student life.

Emma Hine, who is reading geography at St John’s College, said: ‘As a student ambassador, the school pupils I’ve spoken to are always interested in the ceremonies and quirks and see it as a positive.’

More than half of Oxford students now come from state schools, but with 17,000 applicants for just 3,200 places each year, winning a place remains far from easy.


Primary teachers labelling ten pupils a week 'racist': Figure up by 23% on previous year with children as young as four being kicked out of classrooms

Primary school children are being kicked out of classes at the rate of more than ten every week for racist behaviour, government figures reveal.

The figure, which is at a six-year high, even includes children from schools’ Reception year, which is for children aged just four and five.

All schools are obliged to deal with racist incidents ‘effectively’ under government guidelines on promoting tolerance, with those failing to do so penalised with sanctions.

Infants can be suspended from school for racist words or bullying which is considered to be racially motivated.

The statistics for the school year that ended in the summer of 2014 show there were 430 occasions when a child aged 11 or younger was suspended from school for racist behaviour.

This is up 23 per cent on the figure for the previous year when 350 such incidents were recorded.

With a typical school year amounting to 190 days in the classroom, it means more than two young children are disciplined for displaying serious racist behaviour every school day.

Government officials said tackling racist bullying would make children feel safer at school, but yesterday critics said the punishments may be disproportionate.

Christopher McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Very often young children will blurt out comments that adults may consider racist but which the child may say in all innocence.

‘Threatening infants with suspension or other punishment if they unknowingly say something considered inappropriate can be both intimidating and disturbing for impressionable children.

‘It can create an atmosphere of fear that is damaging to a child’s long-term development. Greater sensitivity, not rigid rule enforcement, needs to be exercised in these matters.’

Children suspended for racist behaviour included six cases from Cornwall including one where a child called another pupil a “n*****”.

Birmingham City Council revealed it had one case where a nine-year-old boy was permanently expelled from school for a range of bad behaviour including racist abuse of fellow pupils.

Others excluded were another nine-year-old boy, from Solihull, who got in trouble for repeatedly using racist language.

Meanwhile, three children at schools in East Sussex were excluded for racist abuse and physically attacking other students.

Brent Council, in London, said it handed a suspension to an eight-year-old pupil for racist abuse.

In Barking and Dagenham the council revealed its schools suspended eight children for racist behaviour including five who were aged seven to nine.

Kent Council, which is one of the largest local authorities in England, said it saw 18 occasions where children aged seven to 11 were given fixed term exclusions for racist behaviour.

In West Sussex a girl aged six was sent home from school after she was found guilty of racist behaviour.

Simon Woolley, director of the anti-racist group Operation Black Vote, said: ‘In most cases young children who repeatedly use racist language at school are often mimicking the language they hear at home.

‘Better a child learns early on that this is unacceptable rather than they get sacked when they’re adults at work.’

Under government guidelines, all schools must show they are promoting fundamental British Values by encouraging pupils to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance.

They must also safeguard children from both verbal and physical bullying by their peers.

Schools have been penalised heavily by education regulator Ofsted for either having too many racist incidents or for failing to tackle racist incidents effectively.

A Department for Education spokesman, said: ‘Racism has no place in our schools. We want to make sure every child feels safe at school and is able to learn without disruption, so they can fulfil their potential.

‘Schools are required to have a behaviour policy in place with measures to tackle bullying, and they are already held to account by Ofsted.

‘We are also going further by appointing behaviour expert Tom Bennett to lead a review to ensure new teachers are fully trained in dealing with disruption and consider all of the challenges of managing behaviour in 21st century schools.’


Monday, January 11, 2016

Mandatory union fees getting hard look by Supreme Court

Harlan Elrich is a high school teacher in California, and that means he must pay about $970 a year to a labor union. He teaches math, and he said the system did not add up.

“I get to choose what movie I want to go see,” Elrich said. “I get to choose what church I want to go to. I get to choose what gym I want to join.”

He should have the same choice, he said, about whether to support a union.

Elrich and nine other California teachers have sued the union, saying that they are being forced to pay money to support positions with which they disagree, in violation of the First Amendment. Their lawsuit, if it is successful, will be the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign to undermine public unions.

And there is good reason to think they will win. The Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the case on Monday, has twice suggested that the First Amendment bars forcing government workers to make payments to unions.

“Because a public-sector union takes many positions during collective bargaining that have powerful political and civic consequences, the compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled speech and association that imposes a significant impingement on First Amendment rights,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority in 2012 in one of the cases. Inviting a fresh legal challenge, he wrote, “We do not revisit today whether the court’s former cases have given adequate recognition to the critical First Amendment rights at stake.”

The new case is that challenge. The court’s decision, expected by June, will affect millions of government workers of all kinds and may deal a sharp financial and political blow to public unions. (The ruling is unlikely to have a direct impact on unionized employees of private businesses, as the First Amendment restricts government action and not private conduct.)

“It’s scary,” said Steve Rosenthal, a former AFL-CIO political director, noting that “most of the growth in the labor movement over the last few decades has been in the public sector.”

“It’s part of a concerted effort trying to dismantle the labor movement and to weaken worker’s rights in this country,” he added. “At the same that we are facing a near crisis in the elimination of the middle class, people are also trying to destroy one of the main vehicles to the middle class.”

Limiting the power of public unions has long been a goal of conservative groups, and some California teachers detected a political agenda in Elrich’s suit, which was organized by the Center for Individual Rights, a libertarian group partly financed by conservative foundations.

“It’s corporate special interests that are backing this,” said Reagan Duncan, a first-grade teacher in Vista, California. The core issue in the case is not free speech but basic fairness, she said, arguing that Elrich and the other plaintiffs sought to take a free ride on the union’s work, which includes negotiating for higher wages and better benefits for all workers.

“It’s not right for some people to get union benefits for free while others have to pay,” she said. “If I went to a grocery store, I wouldn’t walk out with my groceries and not pay while the guy behind me had to pay for my groceries and his groceries.”

Elrich said he could do fine without the union’s help. “I can negotiate for myself,” he said. “I’m a good teacher, highly respected, and I can go anywhere.”

Under California law, which is similar to ones in more than 20 other states, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an agency fee, which is typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.”

Such fees are constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled in 1977 in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. “To compel employees financially to support their collective-bargaining representative has an impact upon their First Amendment interests,” Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority. But, he wrote, “such interference as exists is constitutionally justified” to prevent freeloading and to ensure “labor peace.”

What crossed a constitutional line, though, he added, was forcing objecting workers to pay for “ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining.”

Elrich said he got a refund of “between $350 and $400 a year” based on the union’s determination of what part of its activities were political. But he and the other plaintiffs say that everything the union does in negotiating with the government is political and that the Abood decision should be overruled.

“In this era of broken municipal budgets and a national crisis in public education,” a brief for the plaintiffs said, “it is difficult to imagine more politically charged issues than how much money local governments should devote to public employees, or what policies public schools should adopt to best educate children.”

“Yet California and more than 20 other states,” the brief continued, “compel millions of public employees to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a very specific viewpoint on these pressing public questions.”

Karen Cuen, an elementary school music teacher in Chino Hills, California, and a plaintiff in the suit, gave an example. “I disagree with seniority-based layoffs, seniority-based school assignments,” she said.

Duncan, the first-grade teacher and union supporter, said the line between politics and collective bargaining was clear. “I do absolutely understand not wanting your money going to actual political campaigning,” she said.

“But when you think of politics, you think of political campaigns like school board races and ballot propositions,” she said. “I don’t think it’s political to care about working conditions as far as class size or your benefits.”

In the new case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, urged the justices to leave the Abood ruling alone. Reaping the benefits of collective bargaining, he said, is not the same as being compelled to support a political position.

“The typical worker would surely perceive a significant difference between, on the one hand, contributing to a union’s legal and research costs to develop a collective-bargaining proposal for his own unit, and, on the other hand, making a political contribution to a union-favored candidate for governor,” Verrilli wrote.

Kamala D. Harris, California’s attorney general, told the justices in a brief that workers who object to the positions taken by unions suffer no First Amendment injuries because “they remain free to communicate their views to school officials, their colleagues and the public at large.”

In 2014, in Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court stopped just short of overruling the Abood decision, ruling only that the home health care aides who had brought the suit did not have to pay union fees because they were not full-fledged government workers.

In dissent in the 5-to-4 decision, which divided along ideological lines, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that her side had dodged a bullet. “Readers of today’s decision,” she wrote, “will know that Abood does not rank on the majority’s top-ten list of favorite precedents — and that the majority could not restrain itself from saying (and saying and saying) so.”


'It's fine to hit a wife who doesn't please you': What Islamic cleric is telling students as he tours British universities unchallenged... and he's not alone

An Islamic cleric who defends domestic violence is among a string of extremist speakers touring British universities unchallenged, the Mail Investigations Unit can reveal.

Egyptian cleric Fadel Soliman spoke at five such events last year, using them to refer Muslim students to an online lecture series in which he speaks in favour of hitting women and outlines the Islamic case for sex slavery and polygamy.

Mr Soliman told students at Sheffield University that watching his lectures could be ‘a turning point’ in their lives.

In his extraordinary videos, he advises physical punishment for wives who have displeased their husbands, saying ‘the hitting must be done with a small stick’.

Explaining why it is necessary, he says that when a husband is unhappy with the behaviour of his wife, ‘after passing through two stages of non-physical interaction, the next stage must involve something physical, in order to escalate the intensity of the warning’.

The preacher is one of several extremists being permitted to espouse their views unchallenged at Britain’s universities – in a possible breach of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy, Prevent. Since September, universities and colleges are legally required to have policies to stop extremists radicalising students on campus. This includes an obligation to ‘ensure those espousing extremist views do not go unchallenged’.

The Mail revealed yesterday how CAGE – the notorious organisation which called Islamic State killer Jihadi John ‘a beautiful young man’ – has participated in at least 13 university events since September, calling on students to sabotage Prevent.
The true implication of the spanking is to sound an alarm that the husband has passed to a new stage of serious displeasure.
Egyptian cleric Fadel Soliman

Another group, MEND, an Islamist organisation whose director has condoned the killing of British troops, appeared in at least ten events on campuses across the country last term.

And a speaker from an organisation which mocked last year’s Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris spoke at a student event despite having being refused permission, using the platform to tell students the State was ‘fundamentally racist’ and they should oppose Prevent.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the revelations show universities need to do more to stop ‘damaging, extremist rhetoric’ going unchallenged on campuses.

Up to 19 universities where the Mail identified extremist-linked speakers or events could now face an inquiry by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, it is understood.

Lord Carlile, one of Britain’s top legal experts, said last night that universities that allowed Mr Soliman to speak unchallenged had ‘failed in their duty of care’. He said: ‘This is a person who has given at least tacit approval to what sounds like criminal behaviour. Universities really should not be permitting people like this on to their campuses.’

Mr Soliman is thought to have spoken at Nottingham, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield universities. He urged young Muslims to watch his disturbing 30-part video series endorsing violent and extreme practices.

In one, he suggests it is acceptable for a man to hit his wife, if she repeatedly ‘goes out and refuses to say where she’s going’. He says: ‘The hitting must be done with a small stick’ and ‘should not be painful’, adding: ‘The true implication of the spanking is to sound an alarm that the husband has passed to a new stage of serious displeasure.’

In another video he says it is forbidden for men and women to ‘engage in frivolous talk’, that ‘men and women should lower their gaze and avoid unnecessary eye contact, especially with lust’. He says Muslims should avoid interacting with members of the opposite sex, even at work, and women should not wear perfume as it ‘arouses men’. In other videos, he outlines the Islamic case for sex slavery and polygamy.

At an event at the University of Sheffield on December 3, Mr Soliman urged 120 Muslim students: ‘Put these videos on your Facebook pages, share it with people.’ He was also allowed to speak at the University of Manchester last month, despite concerns being raised by university staff. At the event, the cleric said: ‘They told me not to say anything controversial.’

Mr Soliman denies he supports domestic violence. He said: ‘I have provided the Mail with a detailed response to the allegations which are published in this article and informed them in detail why I am not guilty of the things which they allege against me. Once the paper is published, I will respond to the allegations on my own website.’

He has a strong following among young female students. The Sheffield event – which was not formally segregated but at which men and women sat on opposite sides of the hall – had an audience of more than 100 students, mostly female.

Beforehand, groups of young women could be heard discussing how much they ‘love’ Mr Soliman – even making swooning gestures and fanning themselves. One woman in her early 20s, who travelled from London, told others how excited she was to see the cleric in person.

Debora Green, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at the University of Sheffield, said: 'External speakers play a central role in university life and allow students to be exposed to a range of different beliefs, challenge other people’s views and develop their own opinions.

'Like all universities, the University of Sheffield adheres to UUK guidelines and we have our own protocols and procedures that have to be satisfied before external speakers are given the green light to speak at campus events. This event was no exception.

'The University takes its role in preventing people being drawn into terrorism extremely seriously and is committed to protecting the safety of our staff and students. We are actively involved in the Government's Prevent strategy and have had strong partnerships with the police and security services for a number of years.'

Another organisation allowed to speak unchallenged at recent university events is MEND – a radical Islamist group that has been associated with a number of extremist statements. MEND’s head of community development, Azad Ali, has suggested the killing of British troops can be justified.

He has also said that the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in which a gang of Islamist militants slaughtered more than 160, were ‘not terrorism’ and that implementing Sharia law was more important than democracy.

Last year MEND supported hardline Indian preacher Zakir Naik – who claims that ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’ – calling on the Government to revoke a ban on him travelling to the UK. Despite this, it was permitted to host ten university events last term.

At one MEND-linked event, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, speakers suggested the treatment of Muslims was akin to Jews under the Nazis. They also suggested IS had been created by ‘power structures’ in the West. One speaker, Sahar Al Faifi, said: ‘It’s within their interest to fuel Islamophobia. It’s within their interest to sell more weapons. It’s within their interest to make the Middle East unstable.’ These views went unchallenged at the event, entitled Muslim Women In The West.

Another group given platforms at student events is the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). It is notorious for bestowing an ‘Islamophobes of the Year’ award on the murdered staff of Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Like CAGE and MEND, IHRC has been involved in the Students Not Suspects university movement, which campaigns against Prevent. An advocate of IHRC, Lena Mohamed, was invited to lead a talk at SOAS in September, where she encouraged students to sabotage counter-extremism measures at universities.

At an event in Manchester, Mrs Mohamed denied extremism was an issue at universities and said the State was ‘fundamentally racist’. Yesterday a SOAS spokesman said the school was confident it upheld its duties under Prevent, adding: ‘We provide a forum for speakers who ... represent different viewpoints. We encourage open debate and aim to create an atmosphere where all perspectives can be aired and challenged.’

MEND said there had ‘never been any substantiated links’ between it and extremism ‘and all allegations to the contrary are false’. It denied it had any role in organising the Muslim Women In The West event at SOAS.

IHRC said: ‘Our opposition to Prevent is well documented and our views are shared by many individuals and organisations, from unions, teachers, lecturers, students, lawyers and academics to some politicians. As a human rights organisation, we support everyone’s rights, regardless of whether we agree with them.’


Poor pupils 'more likely' to get an Oxford interview, says head of admissions

Samina Khan, head of Oxford admissions, has said bright pupils should be encouraged to “read widely” and "go on visits"

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are “more likely” to get an interview at Oxford University, its head of admissions had said.

Samina Khan also said bright children need to start preparing for getting into Oxbridge from the age of 11, according to the head of Oxford admissions.

Asked if a pupil predicted top grades was more likely to get an interview at Oxford if they came from a disadvantaged home or low-performing school, she told the TES: “You are more likely to be looked at and shortlisted for an interview. All those indicators are giving us information about your academic journey in a particular context.”

However, she explained this is the case when the university reaches a “threshold point” when it becomes more difficult to select one pupil over another just based on their grades.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she said: “We had 19,000 applicants for 3,200 places who came from a range of different educational backgrounds.

“So to help us to understand their academic potential, we use contextual data, which gives us information on any prior attainment. It tells us if they come from a poor performing school, we understand if the grades they have achieved to date have been achieved in quite a challenging environment.

She said that information is used by admissions tutor to do their “shortlisting” and to understand an applicant’s performance beyond just their statement and academic references. This way, she said, Oxford is “able to compare applicants from different backgrounds”.

A spokesman at the university qualified her comments: “The point about students from disadvantaged backgrounds getting extra consideration is related to our use of contextual flags to invite extra candidates to interview (not pushing out otherwise more qualified candidates) on the one hand, and making marginal decisions about candidates on the borderlines on the other.”

Ms Khan, who is also a school governor, has argued the process to nurture successful applicants should begin that early so children understand “what they will need to have achieved” to enter a highly selective university.

However, some have expressed concerns that this will lead to pushy parents overcoaching their children, which will in turn widen the gap between children who get support and those who lack help.

Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement (TES), Ms Khan said schools should start preparing children for successful applications at Oxbridge from Year 7.

She said: “I would say with some of the schools we visit, it very much falls upon the head of sixth form and I think they are then perhaps realising, in terms of Oxford and selective universities, it needs to have happened further down.

“I’m a governor at a school and one of the things I’m trying to encourage there is to say, for the talented cohort, let’s start in Year 7. Let’s start raising aspiration…let’s start showing them what they will need to have achieved.”

She said students’ talents should be nurtured through reading and articulation of thoughts around specific subjects at school.

She added: “Encourage them to read widely. If they are interested in history, go on visits that inspire them.

“Get them to start to articulate their thoughts, to talk about their subject, because that’s one of the things that will help them in terms of interview practice.”

But Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said advice to parents to start coaching children from age 11 might be counterproductive.

He said: "Certainly, entry to university begins at an early age but one wonders how useful these comments from Oxford University will be.

"The risk is that they will act as an encouragement to over coaching. This will widen the gap between the children who get a lot of support and those who don't".

But Rebecca Williams, head of Oxbridge Applications, agreed it is “healthy” to have a goal in mind from an early age. She said: “It makes school easier if you’re working towards [getting into Oxbridge]”

“The application process is not something that can be done in a few weeks before the interview.”

“The more they can think on their feet…that needs to happen earlier and not just a couple of weeks before the interview is due. It drives the passion for the subject and that’s really what we are looking for.”


Sunday, January 10, 2016

UK: Fanatics' campaign of hate on campus is revealed: Islamic zealots who backed Jihadi John are poisoning the minds of students

The notorious organisation that backed Jihadi John is now targeting young Muslims at their universities in a sinister campaign, the Mail can reveal.

CAGE – the group that provoked horror after calling the Islamic State killer a ‘beautiful young man’ – was involved in at least 13 student events last term.

Its representatives are being given unchallenged platforms at campuses across the country.

They are using them to tell young Muslims to sabotage the Government’s anti-extremism policy Prevent, claiming it is an attempt by the State to spy on them.

The organisation’s outreach director Moazzam Begg has been given extraordinary access to students – speaking without being challenged on at least 11 separate occasions last term.

In a series of inflammatory lectures, he has told impressionable young Muslims that they are being treated in a similar way to Jews under the Nazis.

He also claimed Western reaction to the Paris terror attacks was disproportionate – because, he said there were ‘no children reported killed’ – and spoke dismissively of the deaths of only a ‘handful’ of Western hostages beheaded by IS.

Last night Home Secretary Theresa May said universities should not be allowing such ‘damaging, extremist rhetoric’ to go unchallenged.

And she said the investigation showed that ‘there is still more work to be done to challenge those who spread hatred and intolerance’.

It is thought that up to seven universities which held CAGE-linked events could now face an investigation by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Disturbingly, some of them told the Mail they’d had no idea that CAGE-linked events had even taken place on their campus.

Some events saw hostility and even abuse levelled at members of university staff who had been sent to monitor them.

In CAGE-linked university events last term, the Mail witnessed students being told:

    ‘As terrible as Paris was, there were no children reported killed’,

    The Paris attacks were simply IS ‘responding to what it sees as an assault on itself’,

    There ‘is no Islamic threat’ and ‘no evidence or proof’ that ‘so-called radicalisation is actually happening’,

    The Government are ‘white-supremacists’ who want to ‘isolate’ Muslims,

    There is nothing wrong with ‘being extreme’ and that the very notion of extremism is racist,

    They should support convicted terrorists, many of whom been ‘wrongly imprisoned’ due to ‘prejudice’ and ‘fabricated accounts’.

The revelations will horrify parents at a time of mounting concerns over radicalisation in schools and on campuses. 

Advocacy group CAGE provoked a public outcry in February after claiming the security services were to blame for the actions of knife-wielding Mohammad Emwazi, known as Jihadi John. Despite the outcry, it has been allowed to hold a string of events aimed at young people.

None of those attended by the Mail featured any opposing viewpoint.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘This investigation highlights exactly the sort of damaging extremist rhetoric which none of us should allow to go unchallenged.

‘Our universities have a proud tradition of championing free speech – but this should never be at the expense of giving extremist views the oxygen they need to flourish.’

The ease with which CAGE is able to hold events on university campuses is all the more astonishing given that atheists, right-to-life groups, and those who support Israel are amomg those who have been prevented from addressing students.

Last night CAGE – which is not a proscribed organisation and denies any links to terrorism or support for violent extremism – said it was among hundreds of organisations which oppose Prevent.

A spokesman added: ‘CAGE has been invited to speak at a numerous public events including universities for several years. This has always been with the full awareness of the relevant institutions.’

Mr Begg said he had repeatedly condemned the actions of IS, including the Paris terror attack.


Prominent British Leftist branded a 'total sell-out' for sending her son to private school

The charmer herself -- a big wheel in Britain's Labour Party

Diane Abbott has been branded a 'total sell-out' for sending her son to private school as open warfare continued at the top of Labour today.

Miss Abbott, the shadow international secretary, caused fury when she wrongly dismissed MPs who quit the shadow cabinet as career politicians.

She used a Newsnight interview to attack Jonathan Reynolds and others who resigned yesterday, but he responded by saying: 'You’re a total sell-out for sending your own kids to private school'.

Miss Abbott was hitting out at MPs who quit Mr Corbyn's frontbench yesterday over Trident and security issues.

She said: ‘If you look at Jonathan Reynolds, if you look at Mr Dugher, if you look at some of these others, what do they have in common? They are all former special advisers.

‘What you are seeing is people that came up under a certain system - where you did politics at uni, you became a special adviser, you became an MP, you became a minister - who are rightfully upset because Jeremy has brought a whole lot of new energy and new people into politics’.

A furious Mr Reynolds hit back on Twitter: ‘At least Google us before slagging us off. For the record I was a trainee solicitor when elected, having gone to law school as a mature student and single parent. And I think you’re a total sell-out for sending your own kids to private school.’

Mr Dugher - who was a former special adviser - did not resign, he was sacked by Mr Corbyn as shadow culture secretary.

Although not mentioned by name Stephen Doughty, who quit as a shadow Foreign Office minister, told Miss Abbott he had worked for charities for seven years before moving into politics.

Miss Abbott has previously denied she is a hypocrite for sending her son to private school while being a Labour MP.

She has previously insisted her decision was the 'making' of her son James, who went to a £10,000 a year school before going to Cambridge. He is now working for the Foreign Office.

In 2012 his mother risked fury among her white colleagues in the party by saying they would 'never understand' the Afro-Caribbean culture of parents wanting to do the best for their children.

She said: 'I knew what could happen to my son if he was sent to the wrong school and got in with the wrong crowd. I realised they were subjected to peer pressure and when that happens it's very hard for a mother to save her son.

'Once a black boy is lost to the world of gangs it's very hard to get them back and I was genuinely very fearful of what could happen.' 


Australia: Future Federal education funding still uncertain

Jennifer Buckingham

When federal education minister Simon Birmingham confirmed last week he will not 'give a Gonski' and commit to the ultra-expensive final two years of the former Labor government's schools funding policy, he drew a line under one aspect of the debate but left open the more important question of what it will do instead.

Only one thing is certain. A new federal funding model will not be as generous. The federal government budget deficit is a problem and is likely to be for the foreseeable future. Large increases in federal spending on education are not on the cards, especially given the chequered relationship between funding and school performance.

There is ample research showing that not all education spending can be considered an investment in the sense that it leads to measurable benefits. This is not to say that school funding should not increase at all but that any funding increases must be carefully targeted and used in ways that are most likely to be effective.

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) in NSW, recently published an evaluation of the impact of the former federal Labor government's multi-billion dollar Smarter Schools National Partnerships over four years from 2009 to 2012.

The analyses of the results are highly detailed and compare NAPLAN scores, School Certificate and Higher School Certificate results, and attendance and retention rates of schools that received Low SES NP funding with similar schools that did not.

Although the impact on NAPLAN scores was reported to be statistically significant, this is partly a function of the very large sample size. In real educational terms, the effects of the funding were small. Over the four years of Low SES NP funding, NAPLAN scores in participating schools increased by a total of 5.04 points on average compared to non-participating schools, after controlling for student characteristics and school location. To put this in context, Year 3 NAPLAN reading scores are out of 700 scaled score points. It is difficult to see this as a strong result given the amount of the funding involved.

Any new federal funding agreement is likely to have an impact factor, with proven effective practices and programs, or accountability for results as conditions. Wanting to see the benefits of increased funding is understandable but getting the right balance of autonomy and accountability, both for individual schools and for states, will be a challenge.