10 ways to be the cleverest country

  • 30 November 2016
  • From the section Business
Pokemon characters in Singapore Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conformist cultures might have a head start in education rankings?

When it comes to global education rankings it always seems to be the same story. Asian educational superpowers take all the top places and everyone else goes in for bouts of doubt and recrimination.

For education ministers across most of the world this must be a gloomy time, trying to come up with an upbeat explanation for another round of mid-table mediocrity.

This week Singapore was rated as the best in the world for maths and science - and next week the OECD will publish its PISA test international rankings.

So what does it take to get into the international education winners' enclosure?

1. Move to east Asia: There is no escaping the relentless geography of education rankings. Singapore is now in first place, followed by the likes of South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan. Shanghai has been a previous high flyer - but next week's PISA tests will incorporate the city with other parts of China. Add Taiwan, Macau and Vietnam to this list.

Read full article 10 ways to be the cleverest country

'I got to know death': Syrian youths start again in London

Syrian refugees leave the Calais Jungle camp Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Young people were moved from the Calais Jungle camp, but what happened next?

"I was introduced to the concept of death. My cousins died, my brother was mutilated, my parents died.

"I got to know death.

Read full article 'I got to know death': Syrian youths start again in London

Working hard and going backwards

Brian Morris
Image caption Brian Morris is a volunteer in a food bank, which now has to help people who are working

Travelling to work can be grim enough at the best of times - but imagine if you got there and were told there was no work and you had to go home again without getting paid.

That is the kind of experience described by workers trying to keep afloat in a job market of casual jobs, agency work and zero-hour contracts.

Read full article Working hard and going backwards

School rebels in 'head teachers' spring'

downing street Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Head teachers have been knocking on the door of Downing Street for emergency funding

There is something of a "head teachers' spring" going on at the moment.

It is the politest uprising, but it is giving ministers some very difficult homework over how schools in England are run and funded.

Read full article School rebels in 'head teachers' spring'

Why grammars refuse to be written off

grammar pupils
Image caption Facing the future with confidence: Pupils at Harold Hill in the early 1960s

When Norma Jennings talks about grammar schools, she does not talk about statistics or education policy, she talks about her memories of teachers and how her schooldays still make such a strong impression decades later.

The debate about creating new grammar schools in England has heard many attacks on the negative impact of selection.

Read full article Why grammars refuse to be written off

Why do Finnish pupils succeed with less homework?

homework arguments Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Homework can be the cause of friction in families - but not in Finland

How do Finnish youngsters spend less time in school, get less homework and still come out with some of the best results in the world?

The question gets to the heart of a lot of parental angst about hard work and too much pressure on children in school.

Read full article Why do Finnish pupils succeed with less homework?

Mosul's citizens face 'frenzy' and fear of IS

forces approaching Mosul Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption As Iraqi forces close in on Mosul, the city's residents face the anger of the Islamic State authorities

The forces of so-called Islamic State, now besieged in Mosul, are in a state of "frenzy" inside the city, increasingly blaming and terrorising the local population and preparing to conceal themselves if defeated.

These are the close-up views provided by academics from Mosul, who have maintained covert contacts linking the city with the outside world.

Read full article Mosul's citizens face 'frenzy' and fear of IS

Which country really has the cleverest students?

  • 20 October 2016
  • From the section Business
University of Sydney Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Celebrating at the University of Sydney: Australian graduates are ahead of those from US and UK

Higher education has a strong sense of hierarchy.

And high-profile international league tables are a very public form of this pecking order.

Read full article Which country really has the cleverest students?

Should there be more Muslim state schools?

Madani
Image caption The number of Muslim state schools does not reflect the size of the population

Will there be a new wave of Muslim state schools opening?

Is the best way to guard against radicalisation to make sure Muslim pupils are in religious state schools that are robustly regulated?

Read full article Should there be more Muslim state schools?

Are universities secretly sexist?

  • 21 September 2016
  • From the section Business
Elizabeth Nyamayaro
Image caption Elizabeth Nyamayaro says universities must act to ensure more women professors

Universities might have a reputation as bastions of Guardian-reading liberalism.

But when it comes to the top academic jobs they stand accused of failing to give women a fair chance.

Read full article Are universities secretly sexist?