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Universities ‘should set targets’ on recruiting male students

Times Higher Education – John Morgan

“Only two English universities have targets to increase recruitment of male students, according to a Higher Education Policy Institute report on the sector’s gender gap “problem”. The report, published on 12 May, cites Ucas UK figures showing that at the mid-January 2016 application deadline, 343,930 women and 249,790 men had applied to enter higher education – a difference of 94,140 that was “the highest on record”…The report, titled Boys to Men: the Underachievement of Young Men in Higher Education – and How to Start Tackling It…observes that “other developed countries have undergone a similar shift” in balance towards female undergraduates. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Education at a Glance 2015 report, which looked at 28 developed and developing nations including the UK, found that “women make up the majority of entrants into tertiary education in all countries except Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Turkey”…The report’s recommendations include a “Take Our Sons to University Day”, more access spending on the recruitment of disadvantaged male students and “more institutions [to] consider setting themselves targets for male recruitment in future”.”(more)

Urgent action needed to close UK languages gap – Staff Writer

“The UK Government needs to urgently adopt a new, comprehensive languages strategy if it is to keep pace with its international competitors and reduce a skills deficit that has wide-reaching economic, political, and military effects…Recent independent research, highlighted within the report, indicates the language deficit could be costing the UK economy billions of pounds per year…”A UK strategy for languages would mean that UK businesses can participate fully in the global market place using the language and communication skills of their workforce,” said Professor Ayres-Bennett. “It would also mean that the UK is able to maximise its role and authority in foreign policy through language and diplomacy. Educational attainment in a wide range of languages brings with it personal cognitive benefits as well as the ‘cultural agility’ vital to international relations and development, as well as enhancing the cultural capital and social cohesion of the different communities of the UK.””(more)

Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates – survey

The Guardian – Damian Carrington

“Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, according to a new survey revealing the extent to which time playing in parks, wood and fields has shrunk. A fifth of the children did not play outside at all on an average day, the poll found. Experts warn that active play is essential to the health and development of children, but that parents’ fears, lack of green spaces and the lure of digital technology is leading youngsters to lead enclosed lives.”(more)

London pupils ‘behind global competition’

BBC – Sean Coughlan

“London’s schools are falling behind many global competitors, according to an analysis of international tests. The capital’s schools have been held up as a showcase of rising standards. But the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education study, using OECD Pisa test results, suggests they are weaker than those in many Asian cities and the rest of the UK. However, the OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher, has rejected the findings as “not credible”.”(more)

A-level maths standards down on 1960s but not on 1990s

BBC – Staff Writer

“Students who achieve a B in A-level maths today would only have secured an E in the 1960s, suggests research. However standards have been stable since the 1990s, with no evidence of any further fall since then, says the Loughborough University paper. The researchers compared the level of mathematical knowledge needed to tackle today’s maths A-level papers with those from the 1960s and 1990s. The government said its reforms would help tackle grade inflation in England. The authors say their work, published in the British Educational Research Journal amounts to one of the most comprehensive studies into A-level standards.”(more)

Early language skills ‘key to later success’

BBC – Branwen Jeffreys

“Children with poor language skills at age five are significantly more likely to struggle with maths at age 11, a study for Save the Children suggests. It found 21% of pupils who struggled with language as they began school, failed to meet the expected standards in national tests when they left. The researchers said poor language skills had an effect on all children, regardless of family background…Gareth Jenkins, from Save the Children, says the research demonstrates for the first time the most crucial determinant of success in Sats tests is how well children can communicate when they start school. The poorest children are more likely to start school without simple skills, such as being able to tell a short story, express feelings and communicate easily with a wide range of adults.”(more)