Rosie Edwards Obituary

Rosie Edwards, my beloved wife and renowned teacher of outdoor education, has passed away suddenly due to complications from colitis. She was 62 years old. Throughout her professional life, Rosie was dedicated to instilling a love and appreciation for nature in children.

Raised by farmworkers Leslie and Dorothy Williams in Shrewton, Wiltshire, Rosie attended Salisbury’s South Wilts grammar school for girls before going on to study geography at Leeds University. She later became the head of geography at Bretton Woods community school in Peterborough during the late 1970s. In 1984, Rosie’s dual passions for environmental education and working with children converged when she was appointed first as the deputy and later as the head of the Stibbington field studies centre in Cambridgeshire.

Despite inheriting a run-down Victorian school and dilapidated prefabricated buildings, Rosie transformed the centre into a hub of excellence over the course of 32 years. Her inspiring leadership resulted in a natural learning environment where primary school children could immerse themselves in the world of nature, free from the usual confines of the classroom. Schools from all over the eastern region and beyond flocked to the centre for day and residential courses. Exciting activities like pond-dipping, investigating renewable energy sources, and learning how to read maps allowed young students to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Rosie even used an old-fashioned classroom to recreate a classroom experience similar to what Victorian pupils would have experienced.

As both teachers, Rosie and I met at the Geographical Association’s annual conference in Sheffield in 1993. I moved from Northern Ireland to be with Rosie in Castor, Peterborough, and we later married in 1999. For almost a decade, Rosie chaired the National Association of Field Studies Officers, which helped produce teachers’ guides on ways to integrate environmental education with mainstream academics. Rosie also edited a local community magazine and sang in her church and the Peterborough Choral Society.

Countless children who attended the Stibbington centre are sure to remember Rosie’s influence on their lives. Her legacy will continue through the next generations of young people who will learn to care for the world around them as she had taught.

Rosie is survived by myself and her brother, Chas.

Can A Relationship Survive If One Of You Studies Abroad For A Year?

Being in a committed relationship for a long time and then deciding to move abroad for a year to study is far from convenient. I found myself faced with this dilemma when I started my relationship a year before university. I had to weigh the options and make the decision to try long-distance. After successfully surviving two years apart due to attending different universities in the same country, we decided to give it a shot for another year even though we would be in different countries this time.

Yasmin Levy-Miller and Alex Bartlett have mostly been in a long-distance relationship, with two years physically apart from each other. "We’ve had challenges in showing each other our love when we are many miles away. It’s essential to make sure the little things are done. Whether it’s a letter in the mail or a voicemail to wake up to, it’s crucial to ensure that you both feel valued and remembered. It’s difficult when you live separate lives", says Levy-Miller. They follow a vague routine of Skyping every two weeks, having short phone calls multiple times a week or long catch-ups, depending on their flexibility.

The true challenge is learning to be comfortable while your other half lives elsewhere. "It’s essential to realize that your life is less synchronized when you two have different groups of friends. While involving them in your life is great, be independent. Embrace where you are but also acknowledge that you’re in different places. Although your heart may not be entirely in the city without your beloved, put as much effort into the place and other relationships as possible", says Levy-Miller.

Another couple that has been through the challenge of long distance are Stephanie Abery and Thomas Tolfts, who met during fresher’s week. They too have sustained their relationship while Abery was studying in America for a year. "Although it was tough for both of us, Tom had it worse since I was exploring a new country while he had to stick with his normal routine. Our frequent communication via Skype aided us in staying together". They believe that without technology and communication means, their long-distance relationship would have failed. They are now happily together five years later.

My partner and I use WhatsApp and Twitter to communicate regularly, which eliminates the need to arrange a specific time for calls. It has also helped me focus on my studies without feeling guilty of neglecting my relationship.

Although a year is long, being realistic about your relationship and staying in touch frequently keeps the distance from becoming a reason for a breakup.

Few Laptops, Nowhere To Work: Remote Learning At A Deprived Hackney School

During the first week of the third national lockdown in the UK, the Urswick school in Hackney had just 35 out of 890 pupils present in school. Remote learning remained a challenge for many pupils who were still without laptops and clarity on how free school meals would be delivered. Despite other schools in England having to deal with too many children of key workers, at Urswick, the school was deserted, with empty classrooms, playgrounds, and canteens. Pupils were learning from home again, yet the lack of laptops promised by the government has severely restricted their learning capacity, with many pupils still waiting for their devices.

The headteacher of Urswick, Richard Brown, is still waiting for the 250 laptops promised by the government. Despite having received 150 laptops in July, it was too late to be of use during the first lockdown in March. Remote learning poses a challenge for many pupils who do not have an area to work effectively. The lack of digital devices is not the only problem, as some students face real physical barriers. The high anxiety among local families and soaring Covid infection rates locally add to the problem of why many pupils have not shown up for this week’s learning in school.

Urswick school, the most disadvantaged secondary school in London and fifth in England, deals with many vulnerable pupils. During lockdown, many students experienced difficult home scenarios, including domestic violence and substance abuse. As Martha Braggins, the school’s designated safeguarding lead noted, the last lockdown was "miserable" for some students. Pupils were stuck in houses with domestic violence occurring while others were scared of abusive parents. Many students retreated to the insides of their bedrooms and did not leave their homes for months on end.

Remote learning presents its own set of challenges with some pupils finding it difficult to engage in online classes. Despite this, students have shown resilience to the situation and have been proactive and engaged. Having one-to-one classes with teachers offers a good opportunity for students in school to learn, even though some pupils miss their friends who are not in school with them. While remote learning continues to pose challenges, the students at Urswick School remain determined to continue learning despite the difficulties.

Brown and his team dedicated tireless efforts to provide additional English and Maths courses to pupils who required catch-up assistance during the previous semester. These extra academic programs were delivered both during and beyond school hours, even on Saturdays. However, despite the tremendous efforts made, Brown wonders if the repeated lockdowns will have a prolonged influence on his pupils. He promptly replied that it’s their responsibility to ensure it won’t.

Lionel Wilson: Lava Lover

Lionel Wilson, a renowned volcanologist at Lancaster University, has a strong connection to Hawaii, with the state flag and pictures of the island’s volcanoes adorning his office. He spends a significant amount of time each year in Hawaii studying the unique geographical features of the islands. However, Wilson recently traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to receive the Gilbert award from the Geological Society of America, in recognition of his outstanding career achievement in planetary geoscience.

Although he is well-respected in the US, Wilson has chosen to remain in the UK due to his affection for the Lune Valley, which he and his wife Dorothy enjoy exploring on foot. Wilson has been a professor at Lancaster University since 1970, but due to a rare genetic condition, he has trouble recalling significant events and people he has previously encountered. Fortunately, his work is not affected as much of it is done electronically.

Wilson’s fascination with volcanoes began with the Apollo moon landing in 1969 when Tommy Gold, an American scientist, predicted that the dark areas on the moon’s surface were basins of dust through which the Apollo would plummet. However, it turned out to be impact craters from asteroids and some volcanic activity. Intrigued by the implications of volcanic activity on Earth, Wilson’s mentor, George Walker at Imperial, guided him towards studying the correlation between physics and volcanic eruptions, which cemented his career in volcanology. Although the field has grown substantially in the UK since then, Wilson still stands out as a pioneer in the field of planetary geoscience, with no one else having divided their time between the Earth and other planets as much as he has.

In the event of a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone, Wilson projects that over 50% of North America would be smothered in ash, causing a substantial temperature drop in the atmosphere. However, the timing of such an event is unpredictable. Wilson aims to inform authorities of this possibility without inciting unnecessary panic. Regardless, the potential eruption does not deter him from traveling across the Atlantic to reunite with familiar colleagues.

Personal Details:

Name: Lionel Wilson

Age: 61 years old

Profession: Emeritus Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Lancaster University

Previous Experience: Post-doctoral research fellow at London University

Likes: Hiking, tennis, playing classical music, and caring for cats

Dislikes: Motorists who crank up their car radios while lowering their windows

Interests: Studying volcanoes on Earth and in outer space, serving as the UK editor for the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

Marital Status: Married without children.

20 Universities Account For Bulk Of Rise In Unconditional Places

According to recent data from the UK higher education admissions service, UCAS, a small number of institutions have contributed to the sharp rise in the number of sixth-formers receiving unconditional offers from universities. Most universities offer students a conditional place, dependent on them achieving particular grades, but roughly 20 universities are heavily reliant on unconditional offers. In 2018, for example, three universities – the University of Suffolk, York St John University, and the University of Bolton – made over 70% of their offers unconditional. Nottingham Trent University alone made an unconditional offer to 8,660 applicants. Last year, one third of sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland received at least one such offer compared with just 3,000 five years ago.

Many are concerned about the rise of unconditional offers in what is seen as an increasingly competitive market. The Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, has expressed concern, particularly with “conditional unconditional offers”, where a university will make an unconditional offer only if an applicant names them as their first choice institution. Nicola Dandridge, the OfS’s chief executive, has stated that “for a number of universities this data will make uncomfortable reading – where they cannot justify the offers they make they should reconsider their approach”. A spokesperson for Universities UK said the organisation will discuss with UCAS whether more can be done to use conditional offers more sparingly.

Out of the 140 largest UK universities, 85 make no or very few unconditional offers, although some prestigious institutions, such as the University of Birmingham, are among those that do. In 2018, Birmingham made 4,765 offers with an unconditional component out of 25,000, compared with just 330 in 2013. UCAS also found that the University of Nottingham – another of the UK’s Russell Group universities – also made nearly 3,000 unconditional offers, accounting for 11% of its total offers. However, Nottingham University recently announced it would no longer be using unconditional offers after this September. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said that the growth in unconditional offers was evidence that the UK’s free market system in higher education was failing students.

The rise in unconditional offers occurred after the UK government lifted the cap on undergraduate places for individual institutions in 2015. Some are calling for an overhaul of the admissions system. Matt Waddup, head of policy for the University and College Union, has urged a move toward a system where students apply to universities after receiving their school-leaving results.

How Strict Is Too Strict At School?

A school in Great Yarmouth has recently updated their behaviour guidelines following complaints from parents that the previous policy was too strict. The rulebook issued to staff had insisted that teachers should be viewed as "unquestioned authority" and that students must smile and thank their teacher after each lesson, with resulting punishment for those who failed to comply. However, the school has since issued new, more lenient guidelines for parents and students.

A spokesperson for the Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, part of Inspiration Trust, stated that the school had experienced poor performance outcomes in comparison to other borough schools, and thus adopted a stricter approach to behavioural standards. The spokesperson claimed that the school is not punishing pupils for the sake of punishment, but rather to cultivate an environment of learning, noting that children cannot learn in unruly classrooms.

The question of how strict a school should be in order to ensure effective learning is one that has divided opinion amongst experts. Iain Kilpatrick, headteacher of Somerset’s Sidcot School, which is a Quaker establishment, is critical of approaches that focus only on punishment. He advocates a questioning and explorative approach, suggesting that respect can coexist with critical inquiry. Conversely, Stuart Lock, Principal of Bedford Free School, believes that strict routines can actually free up students’ attention for learning, and can make students feel safe and secure in a structured environment. However, chartered psychologist and former secondary school teacher, Pam Jarvis, contends that some strict rules can amount to child abuse and can cause emotional problems for students. Meanwhile, Joanne Golann, an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, suggests that strict policies can lead to emotional detachment amongst students.

Nick Moss, the Headteacher of Minchinhampton C of E Primary Academy in Gloucestershire, has recently implemented a new approach to managing behaviour in his school. Rather than relying on a traditional behaviour policy, Moss believes that building strong relationships between teachers and students is the key to fostering positive behaviour.

In fact, last year, his school completely eliminated its behaviour policy altogether. Moss believes that rewards and consequences, as they are traditionally understood, do not contribute to the development of intrinsic motivation and can actually distract from the enjoyment of learning.

Moss argues that attempts to control students with extrinsic rewards and punishments can be counterproductive. Instead, he believes in creating a supportive environment where students feel valued and respected. By building relationships with his students, Moss has found that they are more motivated to behave positively and learn.

He acknowledges that implementing this approach in schools with a larger proportion of students from challenging backgrounds can be more difficult, but he believes that it can be successful everywhere. He believes that strict behaviour policies often benefit teachers more than students and thinks that the needs of students should remain paramount in every school.

At Minchinhampton C of E Primary, the focus is always on the children, and the dialogue at the school revolves around how to best support their needs. By prioritizing relationships over punishment, Moss hopes to create a culture of respect and kindness that will benefit his students in the long term.

Behaviour Adviser Urges English Schools To Crack Down On Pupils’ Vaping

The government’s behaviour adviser for schools has urged headteachers to take action against the increasing incidence of vaping among pupils, referring to it as a "significant health risk" and a "major distraction". Concerns express the fear that children are becoming addicted to both the practice and the chemicals involved. Tom Bennett has called for school leaders to confiscate any banned items, set unambiguous sanctions, and enforce them. Headteachers throughout the country have reported older children in secondary schools primarily indulging, but there are incidents involving young students in primary schools as well. In Blackpool, a Conservative councilor revealed during a full council meeting that vaping was rampant in the town’s schools and that as much as 75% of students were vaping. It is currently illegal to sell vaping items to under-18s in the UK. Newton Abbot College’s headteacher, Amy Grashoff, has found a noticeable increase in the number of students vaping at her school and is now aware of situations where children sell vapes on behalf of older children and relatives. The college has implemented numerous measures, such as CCTV, limited admission to washrooms, and keeping outer doors open to decrease antisocial behaviour, to tackle the situation. Grashoff indicated that concerns exist over the health implications for children. In Oldham, the head at Newman RC College says that while vaping incidents have dropped following the installation of CCTV, the issue remains concerning. Glyn Potts mentions that vapes can be easily concealed and saved, clarifying how vapes with a memory stick and vape at both ends are popular among students. Sean Maher at Richard Challoner School has declared that pupils caught vaping on their site will suffer a two-day exclusion, Ben Davis at St Ambrose Barlow RC High School in Manchester has chosen a health-promotion angle. Bennett asserts that vaping is now a primary issue in schools, equivalent to cigarette smoking in the past, the children view it as a symbol of maturity and independence. He claims that it is a significant health risk and disturbance to young students, causing extended absences and breaching codes of conduct. Schools must teach pupils why vaping is harmful, make them realise that vaping is prohibited, and the sanctions of breaking the rules, according to Bennett. For students, schools must be a place where narcotics are prohibited, and stringent guidelines must be implemented to ensure student safety because they are especially at risk from the media, corporations, and their own stupidity.

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Oxford Makes Progress On Diversity – But Too Slowly, Says University Head

According to the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, progress in tackling inequality and disadvantage is still slow. Despite admitting record numbers of women, state-educated pupils, and students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds last year, wide variations among the university’s colleges were highlighted in the review. The proportion of UK state school students was more than 60% for the first time, while a record number of disabled undergraduates joined Oxford. However, Balliol College was shown to admit nearly double the number of men as women, while only 48% of Trinity’s students come from state schools.

Louise Richardson, the vice-chancellor, recognizes the slow pace of progress and the university’s inequality, which mirrors society’s socio-economic, regional and ethnic barriers. This led to the development of policies to increase the number of successful applications from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. These policies include a foundation year for talented students without the necessary grades, along with extra support for those from less privileged backgrounds. The university also identified a rise in the number of applicants from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds, which doubled the number of admissions. However, it also revealed a significant variation among individual courses, with no offers made to black students in biological sciences, biomedical sciences and earth sciences, among others.

Additionally, while the proportion of students from outside the EU continues to rise, those from the UK were 77.7% of the total intake in 2018, the lowest on record. Meanwhile, international students paid roughly £25,000 annually compared to £9,250 for their UK counterparts.

The Rise And Fall Of Corinthian Colleges And The Wake Of Debt It Left Behind

When Corinthian Colleges Inc., one of America’s largest for-profit college companies, had its flow of student aid money suspended by the Department of Education, the investigation of the chain involving 20 state attorneys general, various federal bodies, and the Department itself came to a temporary halt. The decision of the DOE to freeze these funds, expected as a 21-day hold, saw Corinthian predict its own downfall, leaving 72,000 students without tuition, and placing the American taxpayer on the hook for $1bn in federally-backed loans. The DOE took control of a supervised liquidation of Corinthian and released $16m in student aid money to keep schools open. A deal was struck whereby 85 campuses would be sold, while the remaining dozen would close. The company has revealed its plans for the closure of these schools, and in the interim period, pursuing buyers remain interested in Corinthian.

As organisations such as Corinthian collapse, the question of how for-profits fit into the higher education mix comes under scrutiny. Although many have criticised for-profit colleges as being unnecessary and deleterious, these institutions are needed to meet growing demand for workers, particularly in healthcare. This branch of the industry tends to focus on certificate granting programmes such those training medical assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this occupation is expected to add 162,000 jobs over the next decade, and an estimated 40% of America’s medical assistants train with for-profit colleges. That being said, the closing down of colleges such as Corinthian leaves students on uncertain ground, with debt and credits unlikely to transfer. While the closing of institutions through a “teach-out” can result in the DOE reimbursing some federal grants, students will need to contact lenders and State Departments of Education to discharge private loans; the forgiven loans will impact taxpayers.

The collapse of companies such as Corinthian may have a larger impact on how the Department of Education deals with companies in the future, according to Robyn Smith, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center specialising in student aid and for-profit education issues.

According to the National Consumer Law Center’s Smith, Corinthian’s student population is mostly made up of low-income students who are not financially sophisticated. However, Smith also believes that any student who finds themselves in this situation would find it difficult as the situation is complex. In light of this, Smith and a number of other analysts are calling for a halt on new enrollments to Corinthian schools, although this could make it more difficult to sell parts of the corporation. A number of senators and the California attorney general have also called for new enrollments to stop as well.

The students who have already enrolled in Corinthian schools are being notified about the corporation’s status. However, Corinthian is still going ahead with its plans to advertise and recruit more students. It is not known what impact these actions will have on new enrollees as more schools could be closed in the future. Others may not be recertified for student aid, and some may be bought and change the programs they offer.

Despite being expensive, Corinthian’s schools have never been a bargain. A two-year degree costs up to $40,000 which is significantly more than the average tuition cost of community college, which is $6,528. The least expensive healthcare certificate that Corinthian offers is $17,000. It is concerning to note that nationally, only 10% of all for-profit college students graduate without debt. In contrast, 70% of certificate-holding community college students do not incur debt, according to the College Board.

Consumer advocates have been concerned for some time about the high loan default rates for students leaving Corinthian’s schools. While student default rates have been higher than average, the state agencies that oversee them, along with the department of education, have not provided adequate oversight.

Corinthian was founded in 1995 and by 2004 its revenue had surpassed $800m. In 2008, its revenue reached $1 billion and it had 114 campuses. However, in 2011, Corinthian started to experience difficulties and lost $111m. The company had posted negative earnings in each of the two preceding years, with sector-wide contraction being blamed for the losses. Without jobs for graduates, placement rates fall and default rates rise. This then leads to higher scrutiny from government agencies and a fall in the company’s stock price.

Corinthian has been subject to investigations by a number of government agencies and attorneys general, who were looking into allegations of inflated job placement numbers, aggressive marketing tactics, altered grades, and attendance. The Department of Education stated that Corinthian had admitted to faking job placement figures, although the corporation disputed this.

According to a legal complaint made by California’s state attorney general, Corinthian allegedly utilized temporary agencies to employ their graduates and inflate its job placement rates. For Corinthian, boosting these numbers was crucial because it not only helped attract prospective students but also justified the accreditation that allowed them access to federal funds, which contributed to more than 80% of the company’s revenue. The US Department of Education had stopped funding Corinthian on the 22nd of June due to claims made against the company, including allegations of falsifying job numbers and tampering with grades, attendance, and documentation for placement rates.

The current situation for these schools may signify the disturbance afflicting the industry. As per Kinser, we still don’t have a clear image of the for-profit sector’s future, which is going to be substantially different from what it was five years ago.

Enrollment at for-profit schools decreased by 12% between 2010 and 2012, which some analysts attribute to changes in regulations. For-profit schools are now disallowed from paying recruiters based on enrollment. Proposed regulations by the DOE would aid in determining a company’s student loan eligibility based on graduates’ default rates and earnings, which threatens the core business model of for-profit schools, according to Kinser.

One proposed solution is controlling the growth of these institutions. According to Kinser, "An institution can go from 5,000 students to 50,000 students in a couple of years."

According to Urdan, "This is already an incredibly volatile sector from the standpoint of publicly traded stocks." Nevertheless, as per the agreement between Corinthian and the Department of Education, investors and lenders are not included on the stakeholder list, which is quite concerning.