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Why we should all share the cost of early-year childcare

The Observer, 22/02/2015, p.41, Anushka Asthana

Opinion article on early-years education and childcare notes that research by Birkbeck and Oxford University’s Professor Edward Melhuish has found that the “home learning environment” is the most significant factor affecting a child’s life chances. Professor Melhuish’s research has shown that access to quality pre-schooling from the age of two can be the critical factor on outcomes not just in the teenage years but on into adulthood. The boost it provides is greatest for those who are most disadvantaged, but significant for middle-class children as well.

Read more on The Observer website (opens new window)

Endangered Archaeology: Project launched to map ancient sites in Middle East before they are destroyed

International Business Times UK, 20/02/2015, Hannah Osborne

A project has been launched to record and map ancient sites in the Middle East before they are destroyed by warfare, looting and urban expansion. Endangered Archaeology, launched by researchers at Oxford and Leicester universities, will record the archaeological heritage of sites across the Middle East and North Africa using satellite and aerial photography.
Project director Dr Robert Bewley, from Oxford University's School of Archaeology, said: "This exciting project is very timely as the threats to the region's most important archaeological sites are increasing at an unprecedented pace and the situation is only going to become more critical if we don't act now." Principal investigator Professor Andrew Wilson, said: "The project will provide tools and strategies for the future conservation and management of threatened heritage, both individual sites and entire archaeological landscapes. This region contains the world's richest concentration of significant archaeological remains spanning prehistory, the Persian, Greek, Roman, and Islamic empires."

Read more on the International Business Times website (opens new window)

Don't let statistics do all the talking, says exam board

The Times Educational Supplement, 20/02/2015, p.14, William Stewart

One of the country’s biggest exam boards has cast major doubts on Ofqual’s plans for setting standards in reformed GCSEs, which could significantly downgrade the role of examiners in deciding grade boundaries. The regulator is considering relying far more heavily on statistics to decide the cut-off points between grades in the revamped qualifications, as part of its drive to counter grade inflation.

But senior researchers from Cambridge Assessment, which runs the OCR exam board, have accused Ofqual of overstating the evidence against examiners’ judgements. They take issue with a summary of research by Professor Jo-Anne Baird, director of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment, which Ofqual has cited to support its case for moving away from examiner judgement.

Professor Baird said: “Most standard setting methods include statistics and expert examiner judgements. That is also the case in England today. A convincing, evidence-based rationale needs to be made to move away from the statistics. Cambridge Assessment’s reinterpretation of the existing research does not convince me.”

Read more on The Times Educational Supplement website (opens new window)

You Will Need To Sign Up To 'British Values' Just To Visit The UK

Huffington Post UK, 20/02/2015, Jessica Elgot

Article on reports that the government is considering asking those who want to visit, work or study in Britain to ‘abide by and respect’ British values discusses research by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory which found that the coalition's immigration crackdown has put skilled workers off coming to Britain while failing to control migration. Researchers also found that the number of highly skilled migrant workers in the UK dropped by 10% overall, from 270,000 to 242,000, between 2011 and 2013, the figures showed.

Read more on the Huffington Post website (opens new window)