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for Christians working in education

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

Pupils reject cigarettes.

Secondary-school pupils in England appear to be rejecting cigarettes in greater numbers than ever before.

The most recent survey in a series that began in the 1980s indicates just 16% of the pupils have ever smoked tobacco, down from 19% in 2016 and 49% in 1996.

However, a quarter of the 13,000 pupils surveyed, from 193 schools across England, have tried drugs.

This includes nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, as well as cannabis.

The 2018 survey also shows:

  • 17% overall - and 38% of the 15-year-olds and 2% of the 11-year-olds - usually drink alcohol at least once a month 
  • 6% drink at least once a week
  • 13% overall - and 30% of the 15-year-olds - think it is OK to try cannabis
  • 25% had used e-cigarettes, the same proportion as in 2016

NHS Digital, which compiled the statistics, said the findings showed half of the young people who had recently either drunk alcohol, smoked cigarettes or taken drugs experienced low levels of happiness.

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£28m of overpayments in student loans.

More than £28m of overpayments on student loans in England are being held by the government, researchers have discovered.

It is the result of cases in which repayments continued to be taken even though loans had been paid off in full.

The Student Loans Company says it has tried to contact people who have been overcharged to arrange refunds.

The Department for Education says data sharing has recently been improved to prevent such overpayments.

The scale of overpayments sitting unclaimed has been revealed by Research Professional News, a publication for higher education.


They relate to money borrowed to cover tuition fees and living costs - with repayments deducted from graduates' salaries each month.

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Young people - do I need to go to Uni?

Young people in Britain are increasingly sceptical of the need to go to university and are more aware of apprenticeships, according to polling, as a record proportion of school-leavers await their A-level results.

More than 300,000 sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will find out the results of their summer exams on Thursday and in many cases use the grades to gain places on undergraduate courses. But only two-thirds of young people rate a university education as important, according to the poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Sutton Trust.

Sixty-five per cent of young people up to the age of 16 said they thought it was important to go to university, continuing a downward trend seen since 2013, when 86% said a university education was important. A year ago the figure was 75% .

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Unhealthy school lunches?

There are more than 91m school children worldwide now defined as living with obesity – and the UK is in the top 20 countries for obesity levels. In the UK, the obesity rate for children doubles during primary school years – and then increases again in secondary school.

This is in part because teenagers in the UK consume poor quality diets, low in nutrients and high in processed foods. Indeed, girls in England do not get essential nutrients required for reproductive and overall good health (vitamin A, folate, iron). And young people are also generally low in at least five micro-nutrients needed for development, immunity, mood and energy levels.

Teenagers in the UK also consume the highest amount of added sugars and sugary drinks compared to all other age groups. Teenagers also consume the highest amount of breakfast cereal products (that are also known to be filled with sugar), and confectionery. And only 4% of UK teens meet daily fibre recommendations. This is concerning given that dietary fibre is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Young people are also only eating around two and half portionsof their recommended five a day of fruit and vegetables.

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Deaf pupils struggling.

Deaf pupils in England are struggling “at every stage of their education”, with fewer than half leaving school with two A-levels, compared with almost two-thirds of their hearing peers, according to new analysis.

The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) analysed government data and found that 44% of deaf pupils achieve two A-levels or equivalent, compared with 63% of hearing pupils.

Fewer than three-quarters of them (73%) will gain five GCSEs or equivalent by the age of 19, compared with 88% of hearing pupils. If English and maths are included, that figure goes down to just over half (52%) of deaf pupils and three-quarters (76%) of their hearing classmates.

The analysis was published before A-level results day on Thursday, when deaf pupils are expected to significantly underachieve again, with similar disappointing results expected for GCSE students the following week.

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Social media and teenagers.

Using social media isn't directly harming teenagers - but it can reduce the time they spend on healthy activities, such as sleeping and exercising, a study suggests.

Parents should ban phones from bedrooms after 22:00 and encourage more physical activity, the UK researchers said.

Girls were particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying on social media, which could lead to psychological distress.

But what drove boys' distress needed more research, the study said.

In the UK, nine out of 10 teenagers use social media and there is growing concern about its impact on the mental health and the wellbeing of young people.

So far, research has thrown up contradictory evidence because of the lack of long-term data.

Read more.

60% of disbled students miss out on funding.

Confusion over what is meant by disability, and poor awareness of a widely available fund, has led to 60% of eligible students missing out on financial support at university.

With A-level results due out on Thursday, thousands of young people will soon be deciding whether to take on the expense of a university education. For those students who are disabled and have additional access requirements, university could prove much more expensive than average, perhaps prohibitively so.

A report from the Department for Education in England, released earlier this year, revealed 60% of eligible students had never heard of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) - which could make attending university more achievable.

Read more.

Facebook friends ‘far better than neighbours’

To those who lament the social media generation’s online relationships and hark back to an era of face-to-face contact, there’s a notification: millennials have more meaningful friendships.

The “Facebook generation” is able to forge more worthwhile social connections based on choice, not proximity, unlike the postwar generation, a cultural historian has said.

The “golden age” of tight-knit communities was actually an era of squabbling neighbours, feuding families and difficult friendships, according to Jon Lawrence, associate history professor at the University of Exeter.

Neighbours in towns and inner cities in postwar Britain often had fraught relationships and people jealously guarded their privacy, he said.

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Deaf children left behind.

Deaf children are being "left behind" in Scottish education, the National Deaf Children's Society has said.

Its analysis suggests deaf pupils are eight times more likely to leave school with no qualification than their hearing classmates.

The charity also found that only 29% of deaf school-leavers go to university. The figure for hearing students is 45%.

The Scottish government said it is committed to giving all young people the support they need.

The society has called for action to address the achievement gap, including the introduction of a bursary to train specialist teachers.

It said nearly a third of specialist teachers for deaf pupils had been lost over the past eight years.

Read more.

Students at risk from email scams.

UK's students are at risk of email scams as many institutions have not installed right tools to block such threats, research has found.

According to a report by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, Britain's top 20 universities were not using any inbuilt software to protect their students from falling trap to fraudulent emails.

65 per cent of universities in the top 20 ranking were not using any form of an industry-recommended email authentication tool, the research claimed.

This could easily allow cyber criminals to imitate university emails and steal students' personal data.

The email authentication software recommended by cybersecurity companies is called the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) record.

Read more.


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