Free schools: Successful experiment?

Cameron in a free school
David Cameron wants to carry on with the formula of free schools and academies. But what's the difference?

When people argue about free schools, they're often not really arguing about free schools.

What they're arguing about is what they think free schools will become.

Are they stalking horses for selling-off state education in England to the private sector? Or are they a test-bed for a more innovative way of running schools?

Will they be a template for creating more school choice? Or are they outriders for a fragmented, deregulated school system that side-steps local democracy?

But when you peel off the ideological wrapping paper, a free school is not really any different from many other schools.

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Clever girls, stupid boys?

Gender keyboard

Clever girls, stupid boys. That's become something of a modern educational orthodoxy, as girls across the developed world are more likely to get top exam grades and university places.

The gap is so great that the UK's university admissions authority has warned that being male could soon be seen as a new form of social disadvantage.

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Parents lose their car paying price of university

Student loans

When you hear about someone getting their car repossessed, you wonder what kind of financial calamity must have hit them.

You might think about redundancy or illness. But not that their child has done really well and got into university.

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Are we missing the real student loan story?

Bank of Mum and Dad

When Labour finally shows its hand on tuition fees in England's universities it's going to be one of the biggest calls of the election campaign.

Whether Ed Miliband sticks with £9,000 or goes for a cut to £6,000 or a switch to a graduate tax it's going to trigger a blizzard of stories about student debt.

Read full article Are we missing the real student loan story?

Sean added analysis to:

School league tables branded a 'nonsense' amid changes

Should parents still trust the league tables, after all the claims that they are lost in a mire of confusion?

Head teachers and teachers have always disliked them - as they seem to boil down huge amounts of effort to a simplistic ranking.

Read full article School league tables branded a 'nonsense' amid changes

Did £9,000 fees cut applications?

University applications

When tuition fees in England's universities rocketed to £9,000 per year, applications plunged in the opposite direction.

Applications slumped by the biggest ever amount, down by about 40,000 in England when they were introduced in 2012. It looked like thousands of young people were going to be frozen out of higher education.

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How many attacks on schools around the world?

Aftermath of attack on school in Peshawar
School attack in Peshawar: There have been almost 10,000 attacks on education in recent years

The murderous attack on a school in Peshawar has appalled people around the world, but perhaps even more dreadful is that this is far from an isolated incident.

The deliberate targeting of places of education has become a global blight.

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The persistent appeal of grammar schools

Top of the Form, 1962
Top of the Form, 1962: There are calls to open more grammar schools

What's behind the undying fascination with grammar schools? Four decades after almost all of them disappeared in England, there are still appeals for their return.

Many other types of school have disappeared, largely unmourned. Most secondary schools in England had gained "specialist" status, but that was washed away with a change of nameplate and a coat of paint.

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How many good schools are there really?

Upward graph on a blackboard

How many good and outstanding schools are there in England? Record levels, never been so many before. That's the official verdict of the education watchdog Ofsted.

"The proportion of schools judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection reached 81%.

Read full article How many good schools are there really?