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Graduates of 24 top UK universities are more likely to find work soon after graduating than those from other universities, research says.

Four-fifths of Russell Group graduates entered full-time work within weeks of leaving compared with two-thirds of those from other institutions, a survey for graduate recruiter Milkround found.

It said firms used a tick-box system to filter candidates via the league table position of their universities.

Milkround surveyed 1,500 new graduates.

The graduate jobs board has helped students and graduates to connect with leading employers for decades.

‘Fairer recruitment’

It pointed out that some of the best academic universities, such as Aberdeen, St Andrew’s and Lancaster, did not belong to the prestigious research-focused Russell Group.

Young ‘pessimistic’ about social mobility

Private school and Oxbridge ‘take top jobs’

Georgina Brazier, a graduate jobs experts at Milkround, said businesses were missing out on the chance to recruit some “fantastic grads from other universities”.

She also urged employers to take a more balanced approach, rather than taking “tick-box exercises such as filtering candidates by university league tables”.

“While there’s no doubt that many students dream of attending reputationally prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge, most graduates are left with the same level of debt or student loans (and same tuition fees) regardless of what university they attended,” she said.

“The investment students make to attend university and gain their degree is substantial and whilst academic success should be applauded, some graduates feel the return on investment when entering the workplace should be fairer.”

A separate poll of 7,000 students for Milkround found a significant minority wanted recruitment to be carried out “blind” to candidates’ gender, religion and anything that would denote socio-economic background.

A number of high profile firms, such as Deloite, KPMG and the civil service, already use name blind application processes.

Teachers in England have worked long hours – an average of 46 to 49 hours a week – for many years, research finds.

The University College London study found primary and secondary teachers’ hours have remained “relatively stable” over the past 25 years.

The researchers say this means reducing teachers’ hours will be difficult and may require “radical action”.

They also say that long working hours are unlikely to be the sole issue in the problem of teacher retention.

The UCL researchers examined data from more than 40,000 primary and secondary teachers in England who took part in four different surveys between 1992 and 2017.

Their analysis found:

  • primary school teachers work between 47 and 49 hours a week “without any substantial change to this figure”
  • the average hours of secondary school teachers “sits between 46 and 48 hours per week” and has remained “broadly stable”
  • a quarter of teachers work more than 59 hours a week
  • 10% work over 65 hours per week
  • 40% of teachers report that they “usually'” work in the evening, 10% at the weekend and 7% at night
  • teachers in England work on average eight hours more a week than teachers in comparable industrialised countries.

The report concludes that “five years of policy initiatives – implemented by three separate secretaries of state for education – have so far proven insufficient for achieving a reduction in the total number of hours worked by teachers.

“Reducing working hours to bring them into line with international norms will therefore likely require additional, more radical action on the part of policymakers.

“Indeed, our research reveals that working hours have been at the present high levels for many years, which suggests perhaps that they will be more difficult to shift than previously anticipated.”

The UCL study also says: “These findings suggest that workload may have been given undue emphasis in the debate on teacher retention.

“Policymakers might therefore be better off focusing on other, better evidenced approaches to improving retention, such as increasing teacher pay, improving school leadership and improving working conditions.”

Katie’s story

For Katie Evans, a primary school teacher for four years, the report findings come as no surprise.

“I’d be spending 50 or 60 hours a week working, with being at school and then extra work at home,” says Katie.

“I’d be at school no later that 0730 and I’d normally be there until 5pm or 6pm and then I’d come home and do at least two hours of marking and planning for the next day – and I’d still be trying to catch up at the weekend.

“It was depressing. It got to the point where I thought ‘I can’t do this any more’.”

It was this lack of work-life balance, as well as a lack of flexibility after having her first child, that led Katie to decide to give up teaching.

What do the researchers say?

Lead report author, Professor John Jerrim from UCL’s Institute of Education, said: “Successive secretaries of state for education have made big commitments to teachers about their working hours – how they are determined to reduce the burden of unnecessary tasks and how they will monitor hours robustly.

“Our data shows just how difficult it is to reduce teacher workload and working hours.

“We’d like to see much closer monitoring of teachers’ working hours, so that the impact of policy can be assessed as soon as possible.

“Overall, bolder plans are needed by the government to show they are serious about reducing working hours for teachers and bringing them into line with other countries.”

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation which funded the report, added: “Addressing teachers’ working hours is key to the improvement of both teaching quality and supply.

“Taking a wider view of the health of teachers over the past 25 years, the next phase of the project will help us to gain an even better understanding of the teacher workforce.”

What does the government say?

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said it had been making “concerted efforts” to reduce workload driven by unnecessary tasks.

“And we will continue our work with the sector to drive down on these burdensome tasks outside the classroom so that teachers are free to do what they do best – teach.”

Salaries for new teachers were also set to rise to £30,000 by 2022-23, she added.

The global wealthy will soon be able to send their children to a top English private school without having to leave home.

Harrow is setting up a virtual sixth form which will teach A-levels online to pupils anywhere in the world.

It will charge £15,000 per year and will initially focus on science and maths subjects, with education firm Pearson providing the technology.

The new Harrow School Online will begin teaching from September 2020.

Principal Heather Rhodes said the historic school was adapting to a “rapidly changing world”.

This is the latest attempt to use online technology to sell UK education overseas – with the school’s brand being used to attract pupils who want to be taught through the internet.

Global wealthy

The online classes will only be available to pupils outside the UK – and so will not compete with its own bricks and mortar school in north-west London, where fees for boarders are almost £42,000 per year.

The school is expected to appeal to affluent families in Russia, China, Nigeria, the Gulf and Hong Kong, who want A-levels from a prestigious private school teaching in English.

Ms Rhodes said it might also appeal to families working abroad who want more flexibility than a conventional international school.

Harrow School Online will operate as a joint project with Pearson, which provides educational technology and also A-levels through its Edexcel exam board.

Sharon Hague of Pearson said the online platform had already been tested, and was being used by more than 75,000 pupils learning online in the United States.

The A-level subjects – chemistry, physics, maths, further maths and economics – will be taught through video-conferencing, with classes of up to 15 pupils per teacher.

The school expects to begin with a relatively small number of online pupils, but as the numbers grow, classes are likely to be scheduled around different time zones.

Admissions test

There will also be one-to-one teaching and extra-curricular projects, said Ms Rhodes, creating a “full-school experience”.

Unlike the rest of Harrow, which only admits boys, the online school will teach both boys and girls – with entry depending on passing an admissions test.

Founded in the 16th Century, Harrow has taught many famous pupils, including Sir Winston Churchill and actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

The income will be shared between Pearson and Harrow, with the school saying money from online courses will be used to support bursaries for disadvantaged pupils.

Facebook says it is going to make changes to prevent advertisers from altering headlines and links to other people’s online stories.

It follows the removal by Facebook of a Conservative advert – after claims that it misrepresented a BBC News story.

Facebook says it wants to introduce the changes by the end of this year, and is currently testing how this might work.

The Conservative party says it is reviewing how its Facebook adverts are produced.

The social media firm took down Conservative party online adverts which had added a different headline to a BBC News story about education spending.

The headline shown in the Conservative advert on Facebook replaced the original headline on the BBC story – and contradicted the contents of the story.

Fact-checking charity Full Fact said political parties should not “misrepresent the work of independent journalists in this way”.

‘Misused’

Facebook said these political adverts had “misused” the advertising platform – and they are now covered up on Facebook’s advert library, with the warning they were taken down for breaking the website’s rules.

The advert carried a BBC logo and headline saying “£14 billion pound cash boost for schools” – despite the story it linked to putting the figure at £7.1bn.

A spokesman for Facebook said the changes made in the Conservative adverts “were not how we want our tools to be used”.

Advertisers who link to another story or website are not allowed to alter how this third-party content appears in their adverts.

Facebook said it wants to protect the original publishers of materials and strengthen “enforcement” and to “better prevent this behaviour” in the future.

Earlier this month, the firm was part of a group of organisations, including the BBC, which committed themselves to tackling “fake news” and disinformation.

‘Misleading’

The advert, which started running on 2 September, followed a government announcement on new funding for schools in England.

Clicking on the advert took readers to a story on the BBC News website with the headline “Multi-billion pound cash boost for schools”.

Analysis in the story challenged the claim of £14bn extra spending – setting out why £7.1bn was a more accurate figure.

In his House of Commons speech announcing plans for school budgets in the spending review, the Chancellor Sajid Javid also specified that the increase would be £7.1bn.

Fact checkers for Full Fact had highlighted concerns about the altered headline – which had almost doubled the level of increase to £14bn, saying that it could be “misleading, particularly for readers who don’t click through to the article”.

A statement from the Conservative Party said: “It was not our intention to misrepresent by using this headline copy with the news link, where the BBC’s £7bn figure is clearly displayed, but we are reviewing how our advert headlines match accompanying links.”

The father of a student found hanged at university has criticised staff for not telling the family about a previous suicide attempt, an inquest heard.

Ceara Thacker, 19, was found dead in her halls of residence at the University of Liverpool in May 2018.

Her father Iain Thacker insisted it would have “made a difference” if they had known about an overdose just three months earlier.

An inquest heard that the family were not told of the suicide attempt.

The hearing at Liverpool’s Gerard Majella Courthouse was told that Ms Thacker, from Bradford, had suffered mental health problems since she was 13.

The philosophy student was found dead at about 23:30 BST on 11 May last year.

Mr Thacker, of Guiseley, Leeds said the family kept in regular contact with her after she moved to university in September 2017.

He said she had disclosed her mental health problems when applying to university.

However Mr Thacker said the family were unaware she had had an overdose in February and believed she was continuing to take anti-depressant medication.

He said: “Ceara’s death was a horrible, terrible shock to us all.”

Her father added: “We don’t know why Ceara didn’t feel able to tell us what was going on.

“However, we feel very strongly that someone in a position of responsibility needed to ask her if she wanted us to be told.

“Someone needed to recognise that they were dealing with a really vulnerable 19-year-old who was living away from home for the first time, who wasn’t thinking straight, who wasn’t coping and who needed her family to support her.”

The court heard on the morning of her death, Ceara had posted on Twitter about the death of Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison, who took his own life.

She wrote: “Honestly got no words, am so upset. What awful news to wake up to.”

The hearing was told that Ceara left three letters with one addressed to “World”.

The inquest continues.

Many parents (76%) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland say the cost of sending their children to school is rising, a poll by Parentkind suggests.

The charity’s annual survey found most (51%) of the 1,500 parents polled were concerned about the cost.

The cost of uniform was the most common concern (46%), followed by school trips (44%) and school meals (19%).

Almost two-fifths (38%) of the parents had been asked to donate to a school fund this year.

Of those that have donated to these funds, about a quarter (26%) said they gave more than £10 a month.

Of all the parents surveyed:

  • 22% had been asked to pay for school clubs that used to be free
  • 20% had been asked to pay for events such as sports day or concerts
  • 16% had been asked to supply teaching equipment
  • 11% had been asked to help with maintenance activities such as redecorating classrooms and cutting grass and hedgerows
  • 6% had been asked to supply essentials such as toilet paper

The survey, conducted before £7.1bn extra funding for schools in England was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in August, asked parents how any additional money given to their child’s school should be spent:

  • 55% said it should go on learning resources such as textbooks and science equipment
  • 43% said IT equipment.
  • 39% said child mental health services
  • 36% said maintaining school buildings
  • 36% said school trips
  • 34% said pupils with special educational needs and disabilities

‘Financial burden’

Parentkind chief executive John Jolly said: “These findings clearly show that parents are worried about the increasing cost of sending their child to school and the impact that squeezed budgets are having on the day-to-day delivery of a good education.

“Schools should regularly engage with families to fully understand the challenges they face – many already do this well.

“But, no school funding decision that impacts directly on the families in their community should be made without consultation and particularly if it increases the financial burden placed on parents or results in the unintended consequence of mums and dads participating less in their child’s education.”

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Parents and carers are not the only ones who worry about austerity.

“Tragically, children are well aware of their family’s money troubles.

“Our members tell us that children’s worries leave them unable to learn and enjoy school – they are often embarrassed and ashamed.

“It’s a message that sticks in the throat of everyone who has young people’s best interests at heart.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the extra funding announced last month would mean all secondary schools in England would level-up to at least £5,000 per pupil next year and primary schools would receive at least £4,000 per pupil by 2021-22.

Universities should be bound by law to meet the mental-health needs of their students, an ex-health minister says.

Information gathered by Sir Norman Lamb’s office reveals a “complex and fragmented” picture of mental-health provision across UK universities.

Many of the 110 universities which responded said they did not record all relevant key statistics, such as their budgets or waiting times.

Universities said they could not deal with the issue of mental health alone.

They added that they were already working on a voluntary mental-health charter.

It comes as an inquest opens into the suicide of a 19-year-old student.

Ceara Thacker, originally from Bradford, took her own life in May 2018 while studying at Liverpool University after her mental health deteriorated.

She had struggled with it earlier in her teenage years, and attempted suicide in the February before her death.

‘In a fog’

Mental-health campaigner Sir Norman obtained information from 110 universities, under freedom-of-information laws, on the demand for, and investment in, mental-health support for their students.

The responses revealed that many universities did not monitor how well services were used, or whether they were meeting the needs of students.

And while some, such as Bristol, Kingston and Sussex, are spending more than £1m a year on well-being services, including counselling, others have a budget of less than half that.

Many did not even know how much they spent on mental health, and only a handful of universities could supply information on how long students were waiting for counselling.

For the few that did, the longest wait was, on average, 43 days – more than half the length of a standard university term.

Sir Norman praised some universities, including Cambridge and Northumbria, for taking their responsibilities seriously, but said many others were not doing enough to measure the scale of the problem.

“If we are operating in a fog, if we have no idea how long students are waiting… this is putting students at risk,” he added.

“We know from the data that the longest waiting times could be over half a term for some students.

“We know also that there have been some tragedies among some student populations – students who have taken their own lives.

“If that happens while they are waiting for support, that’s utterly intolerable.”

Duty of care

He added: “These are young people at a vulnerable age, many living away from home for the first time. There is a risk of some students self-harming, or some students finding themselves in a desperate situation and taking their own lives.”

He pointed out that students paying high fees had every reason to expect a duty of care from their universities.

He is calling for a legally binding charter with minimum standards that universities are required to meet, so parents know their adult children will be safe.

A spokesman for Universities UK said: “Funding to support mental-health services at universities will vary depending on the needs of each student population.

“Universities cannot address these challenges alone.

“The NHS must provide effective mental-health care to students, and Universities UK is working closely with NHS England to ensure that commitments in the NHS long-term plan are implemented.”

Facebook has removed a Conservative Party advert which misrepresented a BBC News story.

The ad carried a BBC logo and headline saying “£14 billion pound cash boost for schools” – despite the story it linked to putting the figure at £7.1bn.

The social media giant say the Tories had “misused” its advertising platform and it was working to stop headlines being changed in this way.

The party has said it is reviewing the way its Facebook adverts are produced.

The advert started running on 2 September following a government announcement on new funding for primary and secondary schools in England.

Clicking on the ad took readers to a story on the BBC News website by Sean Coughlan, with the headline “Multi-billion pound cash boost for schools”.

Analysis in the story queried the government’s claims about its additional funding, with the BBC’s head of statistics, Robert Cuffe, explaining the government was not calculating the spending increase in the usual way.

The spending announcement provided an extra £2.6bn next year, £4.8bn the year after that and £7.1bn in 2022-23.

Added together that makes £14bn, but it is not how spending increases are normally worked out, Mr Cuffe said.

Because budgets are normally discussed for individual years, he said the usual practice is to measure the spending increase for one year – usually the last where the increase is the largest.

Fact-checking charity Full Fact said various versions of the advert with the altered headline had received between 222,000 and 510,000 impressions – although these can include multiple viewings by the same person.

It was already known that the adverts were no longer being run but Facebook has confirmed this was because it had taken the decision to deactivate them.

However, it said they will be kept on show in their ads library “so people can see how our tools were misused”.

A Facebook spokesperson added: “We are working to put safeguards in place to ensure publishers have control over the way their headlines appear in advertisements.”

An earlier statement from the Conservative Party said: “It was not our intention to misrepresent by using this headline copy with the news link, where the BBC’s £7bn figure is clearly displayed, but we are reviewing how our advert headlines match accompanying links.”

A head teacher and her father have been found guilty of running an unregistered school in a run-down building, in the second prosecution of its kind.

Nadia and Arshad Ali were convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of running an unregistered private school, Ambassadors High in Streatham.

The school charged £4,500 a year per pupil and had 45 children on the roll.

By law, any institution which has more than five full-time pupils has to be officially registered and inspected.

Mr Ali and the company behind the school were fined, while sentencing of Ms Ali is due to take place on Monday.

Warning notice

In June 2018, inspectors from Ofsted’s unregistered schools taskforce visited the school – which was described as having an Islamic ethos – and warned the head teacher, Nadia Ali, that they believed the school was operating illegally.

When inspectors returned a month later they found the school was still open and a second warning notice was issued.

In September 2018, the school applied to register as an independent school, with Nadia Ali’s father, Arshad Ali, named as proprietor.

Ofsted carried out a pre-registration inspection in February 2019, which identified serious safeguarding issues.

It also judged that the school would not meet the Independent School Standards.

However, the school remained open after failing its pre-registration inspection and continued to operate illegally.

Lack of checks

The school charged fees of up to £4,500 per pupil, per year, but its record keeping on admissions and attendance was found to be poor.

At the pre-registration inspection, inspectors were told there were 45 children of compulsory school age on the roll.

Inspectors observed different numbers of children at each inspection and were given different accounts of how many pupils were on roll.

It also emerged that the school’s leaders had not conducted even the most basic suitability checks on teachers working at the school.

Inspectors also found that the head teacher had no plan or strategy to promote fundamental British values, or encourage respect for other people.

‘Wellbeing at risk’

HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said the case was just the “tip of the iceberg”.

She said: “As I have said several times over the last few years, Ofsted urgently needs stronger investigatory powers, allowing us to seize evidence and interview suspects and we need the government to tighten the legal definition of a school.

“I urge them again to do so at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Despite Ofsted inspecting almost 260 suspected unregistered schools since January 2016, and issuing warning notices to 71 settings, this is only the second time a case has been brought for prosecution.

This is because Ofsted’s powers to investigate unregistered schools are severely limited, making prosecutions less likely to succeed.

Ms Spielman added: “Ofsted is clear that unregistered schools deny children a proper education and put their safety and wellbeing at risk.

“I hope today’s judgment sends a clear message to these schools that Ofsted will not waver in our efforts to bring them to justice.”

Thousands of women in England are fleeing domestic abuse only to find themselves homeless, government figures show.

According to abuse support charity Women’s Aid many face further violence while they wait for a refuge place.

Between January and March 2019, some 6,000 people became homeless due to domestic abuse, according to official statistics just published.

This was one in eight of the number of known homeless people in England.

Theresa May’s government introduced a Domestic Abuse Bill in January which aimed to give abuse victims automatic rights to access housing firstly in a refuge and then in longer-term accommodation.

It had its first reading in Parliament before it was prorogued, but it is now unclear whether it will be brought back in the next session.

Following an intervention by the former head of the family courts Sir James Munby, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said in a Tweet he will bring back the legislation in the next Parliamentary session.

‘Hellhole’

A report by Womens Aid on its work with abuse survivors, called No Women Turned Away, describes the insurmountable financial difficulties survivors can face when fleeing domestic abuse.

One described going from one “hellhole” to another.

The charity helped 309 women in England struggling with homelessness as a result of domestic violence during 2019.

They were given pseudonyms to protect their identities so they could safely share their experiences in the report. They were also asked to draw images reflecting their experiences.

Emira said: “I have no money at all, for my daughter, for her food, for her clothes, it’s getting colder day by day.”

Safa also told how she struggled to feed herself and her children in the hotel where she sheltered for three months.

“The money I got from social services was never enough… I would get a portion of chips and the children would eat and I would stay hungry,” she said.

“It was very expensive [in the hotel] and I couldn’t go out to get food.”

‘Help from strangers’

The report tells how many women had to endure unsafe living arrangements, overcrowding, broken friendships and further abuse and discomfort while sleeping on other people’s sofas.

Emira, who, together with her young daughter, was sleeping on the floor of her friend’s son’s bedroom, told how sometimes the boy would wake up at night and scream: “No, no, no, they can’t live in my room, they can’t stay here”.

Another participant, Nidhi, who was fleeing her abusive husband with her teenage daughter, had to rely on the help of a complete stranger to find a bed for the night.

“I’ve got nobody. I’ve got no relatives, nothing, and I was scared about what his family would do,” she said.

“And we just sat at a bus stop. It was like a gift from God… this woman that we don’t know, we’ve never met, just came past, saw our suitcase.”

They told her something of their situation and ended up staying with the woman for the night.

Another woman described how she ended up staying with parents of a friend of her son’s from school whom she barely knew.

The charity blamed a shortage of bed spaces in refuges and support services.

Acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, Adina Claire, said it was scandalous that in 2019 women fleeing domestic abuse still faced the terrifying prospect of returning to their perpetrator or facing homelessness.

“We are facing a chronic shortage of bed spaces in specialist refuge services, and this is causing unimaginable suffering for women at a time when they are most in need of support.”