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The life
A Christian perspective on society and the education industry for the Christian professional in education.

Literacy challenges leads to shorter lives.

Children who grow up in areas that have the greatest literacy challenges are also likely to live much shorter lives than their peers, a study suggests.

It argues that there is a “staggering” gap in life expectancy between those living in communities at the highest and lowest risk of literacy problems.

For example, a boy growing up in a place that is among the most likely to have literary issues has a life expectancy around 26 years shorter than a boy living somewhere that is among the least likely, the National Literacy Trust (NLT) study calculates.

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Teenagers spending habits revealed.

Girls start spending more than boys as they enter their teens and discover more expensive shampoo and make-up.

At the ages of seven to nine, weekly spending is higher among boys (£8.50) than girls (£7.50), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Girls' spending then overtakes boys' at the age of 10 to 12 and accelerates in the 13 to 15 age group.

While boys spent less than 10p a week on soap and cosmetics, girls spent £1.70 by the age of 13 to 15.

But the figures also show that the teenagers spent less than they used to.

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North Lanarkshire may feed children 365 days a year.

A Scottish council is planning to provide school meals 365 days a year to children from low income families.

North Lanarkshire Council said its proposal would help tackle "holiday hunger".

The "Food 365" programme would cover the 175 days of the year when lunches are not served in school.

If approved, the council will run a pilot project in the spring break and could then extend the scheme over the summer holidays.

Frank McNally, convener of education, said: "These proposals to tackle weekend and holiday hunger are the most ambitious in the country.

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Should school leavers be given £10,000 to continue studies?

School leavers should be given £10,000 of taxpayers’ money to continue their education, a study suggests.

It says that every young person in England, as well as adults who did not go to university, should be given state funding to use towards university tuition fees, or the cost of other qualifications.

The move would help to boost adult and further education, and encourage take-up of a wider range of courses, the research paper argues.

Such a scheme – dubbed a “national learning entitlement”, or NLE – would cost the public purse around £8.5 billion a year, the study authors calculate.

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Children unaware of food production.

Children have a "huge lack of knowledge" when its comes to knowing how and where their food is produced, the NFU has said.


National Farmers' Union Deputy President Minette Batters said the industry "believes passionately" about educating young people, and food production should be part of the national curriculum.


The comment follows research which shows children across the UK exhibiting serious flaws in their knowledge of food and farming.


A survey of more than 27,500 children conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) found that nearly a third of children believe cheese comes from plants, tomatoes grow underground and fish fingers are made of chicken.


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Last minute rush from EU students before Brexit.

A last-minute rush to study at British universities before Brexit closes the door may be behind a rise in applications from EU students, according to the latest figures for courses starting in autumn.

After last year’s slump in applications from European students in the aftermath of the EU referendum and widespread uncertainty over funding, British universities report an upturn in numbers received by January’s deadline for undergraduate entries.

The rise in international applications, including a record number from students outside the EU, helped disguise modest domestic figures showing a 3% fall in applications, the second successive decline following a 4% drop last year. 

Leading universities such as Warwick and University College London (UCL) said they had seen strong interest from applicants from the UK, EU and other countries, despite increased competition for students both at home and abroad.

Prof Seán Hand, University of Warwick’s deputy pro-vice-chancellor for Europe, said applications from EU students had risen by 10%.

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Sexual misconduct reports at Cambridge University.

Trust in universities’ ability to safeguard students and staff from sexual abuse will remain low until reports of sexual misconduct are in triple figures, according to Graham Towl, former chief psychologist for the Ministry of Justice.

The University of Cambridge has now passed that point, with 173 reports received through our anonymous reporting tool between its introduction in May 2017 and 31 January 2018. The start of an awareness campaign against sexual misconduct called Breaking the Silence in October 2017 prompted the second largest spike in reports.

Several other universities have introduced similar anonymous reporting tools, such as the University of Manchester, but Cambridge is the first to publish such a high number of reports.

We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success. It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly.

Under-reporting of sexual misconduct is a problem generally, not just in universities. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in the US, more than 90% of those who were sexually assaulted on campus did not report it. The charity Rape Crisis describes the numbers in terms of a pyramid. The wide base is the total number of incidents, reports of incidents are in the middle and at the tip are the few that result in convictions.

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Car parking charges for teachers in Swansea?

Car parking charges for teachers could be brought in under plans being considered in Swansea.

Each school would be able to decide whether to introduce the charges, which would increase depending on a member of staff's pay.

Any money raised would stay in the school's own budget.

Swansea Council said no decision had been made but the cabinet was aware of the "strength and depth of feeling about this proposal".

Council staff working in the Guildhall and the civic centre in the city already pay for parking on a similar system.

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Wales lowers age of voting for local elections.




Stephen Lambert examines the evidence

MOST of Britain’s principal political parties are now signed up to reducing the voting age to 16 to boost electoral turn-out in an era of declining participation in civic affairs: what some experts refer to as the ‘democratic deficit’.

In the last general election, held in 2017, only 53 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 voted. Just under a half didn’t bother for a variety of reasons, ranging from apathy, lack of knowledge of the issues, or what the main parties stand for, alienation, anomie, or the perception that all the major political parties had nothing meaningful to offer to youngsters.

Nothing could be further from the truth; but perceptions still shape reality. The British government needs a wake- up call, if representative democracy, is to survive during the rest of the twentieth-first century.

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Poorest children face biggest cuts.

Mary, not her real name, knows all about the consequences of family breakdown.

She has taken a relative's two children into her home in Birmingham and believes that with earlier intervention from social services they would still be living with their mother.

But, she says, social workers took action only once the family had reached crisis point.

Earlier help, perhaps in the form of parenting classes or counselling for the children's mother or even budgeting and cooking classes of the sort available in many council-run children's centres would have made a big difference, she says.

"It would have made a lot of difference. It maybe would have helped probably keep the family together and not have it broken up the way that it is," she says.

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