Monthly Archives: May 2017

Turkish schools to stop teaching evolution

Evolution will no longer be taught in Turkish schools, a senior education official has said, in a move likely to raise the ire of the country’s secular opposition.

Alpaslan Durmuş, who chairs the board of education, said evolution was debatable, controversial and too complicated for students.

“We believe that these subjects are beyond their [students] comprehension,” said Durmuş in a video published on the education ministry’s website.

Durmuş said a chapter on evolution was being removed from ninth grade biology course books, and the subject postponed to the undergraduate period. Another change to the curriculum may reduce the amount of time that students spend studying the legacy of secularism.

Critics of the government believe public life is being increasingly stripped of the secular traditions instilled by the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The secular opposition has long argued that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pursuing a covert Islamist agenda contrary to the republic’s founding values. Education is a particularly contentious avenue, because of its potential in shaping future generations. Small-scale protests by parents in local schools have opposed the way religion is taught.

There is little acceptance of evolution as a concept among mainstream Muslim clerics in the Middle East, who believe it contradicts the story of creation in scripture, in which God breathed life into the first man, Adam, after shaping him from clay. Still, evolution is briefly taught in many high school biology courses in the region.

The final changes to the curriculum are likely to be announced next week after the Muslim Eid or Bayram festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The draft changes had been put forth for public consultation at the beginning of the year.

The subject of evolution in particular stirred debate earlier this year after Numan Kurtulmuş, the deputy prime minister, described the process as a theory that was both archaic and lacking sufficient evidence.

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is to stop teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in high schools, deeming it controversial and difficult to understand, a senior education official said, a move likely to alarm secular Turks.

Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted AK Party are undermining modern Turkey’s secular foundations by pushing a conservative agenda, including tighter regulation of alcohol and other restrictions, since coming to power in 2002.

A chapter entitled “Beginning of Life and Evolution” will be deleted from the standard biology textbooks used in schools and the material will be available only to students who go on to university studies from age 18 or 19, Alparslan Durmus, head of the national education board said in an online address this week.

“We are aware that if our students don’t have the background to comprehend the premises and hypotheses, or if they don’t have the knowledge and scientific framework, they will not be able to understand some controversial issues, so we have left out some of them,” he said.

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is rejected by both Christian and Muslim creationists, who believe God created the world as described in the Bible and the Koran, making the universe and all living things in six days.

The Bible presents that as the exact time needed for creation but the Koran says “days” actually means long periods of time.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said earlier this year that Darwin theory, first published in the 19th century, was “old and rotten” and did not necessarily have to be taught.

A lobby group that promotes secular education, the Egitim-Is (“Education Work”) Union has voiced concern at the changes to the curriculum, saying it reduced emphasis on the achievements of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey who banned Islam from public life.

School for the super-rich opens in London’s

School assemblies will be held in a state-room hung with original 1761 green silk wallpaper. History will be taught in neoclassical rooms designed by Robert Adam, and chemistry experiments will be carried out in basement laboratories being converted from what are amusingly described as “Mrs Patmore’s kitchens”.

This is Eaton Square upper school, the first new co-ed private school in central London for decades, which is preparing to open its doors to the children of the super-rich bankers, aristocrats and oligarchs of Mayfair and Chelsea.

On 6 September, the headteacher, Sebastian Hepher, will welcome 96 12- to 14-years-olds through the doors of 106 Piccadilly – a Grade I-listed townhouse, once home to Lord Coventry and for more than a century the location of the St James’s Club. The co-ed school roll will eventually number 450 and the building is currently undergoing a £5.2m conversion – backed by private equity funding – into what might be the most fancily located school in the world.

“Are our parents super-rich?” It is a description that Hepherchooses not to use. He prefers to just say they are “certainly wealthy enough to pay the school fees … which are high.”

The historic building – on some of London’s most valuable land – is restricted by the council for use for social or community benefit. It was previously the London outpost of a Malaysian university. It was once the home of the French ambassador and for 110 years it was the St James’s gentlemen’s club, where Ian Fleming and Evelyn Waugh were members.

Hepher said “a lot” of his pupils live on Eaton Square, the most expensive residential street in the country where the average home is worth £16.9m according to Lloyds Banking Group, and a pleasant 15-minute walk around Buckingham Palace Gardens from the school’s front door.

Other pupils live “in Chelsea, on the Kings Road”, he said. “South Ken today is a hugely international population so the schools are populated by those families, which makes it the richest melting pot.”

Hepher meant rich in diversity, but the parents are also probably among the richest financially. Hepher said stumping up the school fees of nearly £22,500 a year would not be a problem. The fees are actually slightly cheaper than at Westminster School which costs £26,000 a year and St Paul’s, in leafy south-west London, at £24,000.

Eaton Square upper school said demand for places has been much stronger than expected and the school will open with three classes of Year 7s, two Year 8s and one Year 9 class. Hepher had originally planned on two Years 7s, and one class in each of Years 8 and 9.

The divide between academic and technical education

The economic arguments for widening access to higher education are widely accepted. The UK is moving towards a skills crisis that will be exacerbated by Brexit. We are facing some of the worst productivity levels in the OECD, and we have acute shortages in many sectors, with a record number of advertised vacancies. The UK’s engineering industry alone will need another 1.8 million trained individuals by 2025. But we will only be able to plug these gaps if we focus on all learners, and not just those on academic courses.

The Social Mobility Commission’s most recent report notes that the funding and expertise ploughed into widening participation have resulted in more working class young people at university than ever before. But that comes with the large caveat that both student retention rates and graduate outcomes for the same group have scarcely improved in the last two decades.

What is less recognised is that many widening participation strategies are inadequate because they put too much emphasis on academic pathways and thus ignore the majority of learners. This year around 43% of young people will enter higher education having studied A-Levels or BTECs. While access issues remain for many disadvantaged students, those on an academic route benefit from a clear, simple pathway to level 4 (equivalent to an HNC) on to level 6 (Bachelors’ degree) and above. The same cannot be said for the rest of the school population.

Universities’ widening participation strategies have rarely accounted for those in further and vocational study. Faced with a complicated and fragmented system, only 2.4% of these learners navigate through FE colleges to higher education study at Level 4 or above, and consequently face careers which often have little chance of meaningful progression. The social impact of this failure is feeding into an ever more divided society, as indicated by the fault lines shown up in the recent general election and last year’s Brexit referendum.

My institution, London South Bank University, was founded 125 years ago to “promote industrial skill, general knowledge, health and wellbeing to young men and women belonging to the poorer classes of south east London”. We are now pioneering a bold new solution to local educational provision which could help meet this challenge. Through a series of mergers, we are creating a family of educational providers: a group of like-minded specialist educational providers sharing a common approach to educational delivery and linked through a formal group structure. Currently in addition to the university, this includes a technical college and an engineering academy. A tie-up with Lambeth College is also under discussion.

The family of educational providers seeks to address this in two ways – firstly by providing access back into education both through adult education courses and through an Institute of Professional and Technical Education which helps employers to upskill their staff. Secondly, it puts aside arbitrary age-based barriers, allowing students to learn what they need when they need it.

For example, if a student was particularly gifted at subjects such as design and computer science but struggled at maths, they probably wouldn’t fulfil their potential because they would be unable to get into a FE college or sixth form if they failed their maths GCSE at 16. In a learning family with shared educational objectives this learner could start their A-Levels while continuing to study for their maths GCSE, allowing them to take the exam when they were ready. If they made good progress they could even move on to taking foundation degree modules at the university.

The family approach represents LSBU’s response to the needs of our corner of south-east London. It is not prescriptive and will not be suitable for every local area. However, I would encourage all educational providers to engage critically with the ideas in our new paper Families of Learning: Co-Creating Local Solutions to Education System Failings [pdf]. Together we can explore whether they present opportunities to meaningfully widen participation, tackle the skills shortages and boost genuine social mobility.

The University of Law

The University of Law (ULaw) has been awarded a gold ranking in the government-led teaching excellence framework (Tef) – a new scheme managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England which aims to recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching in addition to existing national quality requirements. Here’s a quick explainer on what Tef is all about. The Tef panel judged that ULaw “delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK”.

The Tef panel found (pdf) that ULaw has consistently strong and established links to employers and the legal profession; course design and assessment practices that ensure that all students are challenged to achieve their full potential; the provision of many personalised development opportunities for students; and a culture of professional practice and teaching excellence, which is embedded with academic staff continuing involvement in professional practice.

The awards are decided by an independent Tef panel of experts, including academics, students, and employer representatives. The provider’s undergraduate teaching is assessed against 10 criteria which cover teaching quality, learning environment, and student outcomes.

Professor Andrea Nollent, vice-chancellor and chief executive at The University of Law, said:

“Our students are smart and ambitious and rightly demand the highest standard of teaching, so we are delighted to receive the Tef gold standard. The award is testament to our tutors, all of whom are qualified solicitors or barristers, together with our teaching approach, which focuses on equipping our graduates with the skills they need and employers want. This award builds on our success of last year, when we were voted joint-first for student satisfaction, teaching, academic support and learning resources in the National Student Survey 2016.”

ULaw’s courses include a fully-integrated employability service to maximise students’ employment prospects.

Established in 1912, the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan is the oldest law school in Western Canada, exemplifying a tradition of excellence in teaching, research and innovation.

With a strong history in Indigenous legal education, developing strength in dispute resolution and access to justice, and leading and emerging scholars in the fields of constitutional law, health law, criminal law and commercial law, the college also offers a highly-regarded mooting program, joint degree programs and global exchange opportunities.

*Intellectual Property and Information Law

They frame ways for attorneys to protect client interests in areas as varied as law enforcement, print journalism, pharmaceuticals, fashion design, video syndication, and the arts.

The Concentration offers you a solid substantive grounding in both IP and information law and provides flexibility for you to develop a set of courses that is tailored to your specific interests and career objectives.

*Courses and Faculty

Foundational, core specialty, and elective specialty courses compose the intellectual property and information law Concentration. You are also encouraged to take an experiential course.

For full requirements, current students can log into Lawnet.

For further information please contact the Office of the Registrar or Professor Olivier Sylvain.