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Sean Coughlan

Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent

Here are my ideas and insights on what’s making the news in education

Competing for the university vote

28 August 2014
Piggy bank with a mortar board

Like a monster re-awakening from a deep freeze, the debate about tuition fees in England and the future of universities seems to be coming back to life.

If there was a top 10 of education stories in the life of this Parliament, it would be hard to think of anything bigger than the ferocious dispute over raising tuition fees.

There were riots in the streets and rebellions among MPs. There was unprecedented interest in what had been the backwater of higher education funding.

But then it all went quiet. No one seemed to want to disturb the sleeping dragon.

The calm seems to be being broken, as universities are rapidly emerging as a political battleground, with competing visions.

Aspirational vote

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Michael Gove: Radical, controversial, divisive

Michael Gove, July 15th
Michael Gove, in Downing Street on Tuesday, has been education's great divider

Last week Michael Gove was the headline act at an international education conference - where a former senior Labour adviser, Sir Michael Barber, hailed him as one of the four most influential education secretaries since the Second World War.

Looking at the reaction from teachers on Twitter, staffrooms across England might hear some other less flattering accolades.

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How did London become an education superpower?

London skyline
Graduate economy: 60% of London's working-age population has a degree

Inner city schools, high levels of deprivation, not speaking English as a first language, a large majority of pupils from ethnic minorities...

And what do you get? The most successful school system in the country.

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Why do white working class pupils fail in school?

Dock Workers statue, Royal Victoria Dock
Lost communities: Dock Workers statue in London's Royal Victoria Dock

Why do white working class children underachieve in schools?

MPs on the education select committee delivered the verdict that they are "consistently the lowest performing group in the country".

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What is the fall out from the Trojan Horse?

Trojan horse

The inspection reports into the so-called Trojan Horse allegations have finally been published.

After what must be an unprecedented amount of leaking, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has delivered his verdict.

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'Trojan Horse': Birmingham academy trust criticised

Park View School in Birmingham
A leaked report has been critical of Park View School in Birmingham

The Birmingham academy trust at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse allegations has been accused of running schools which have "taken the Islamic focus too far".

A leaked draft report on Park View Educational Trust from the Education Funding Agency says some parts of the school curriculum are "restricted to a conservative Islamic perspective".

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Sean added analysis to:

Trojan Horse leaked report says pupils 'not protected from extremism'

Parents in Birmingham must be wondering how everyone else seems to have these "Trojan Horse" inspection reports when they are still kept in the dark.

This latest leak shows Golden Hillock school, part of the Park View academy chain, to be inadequate and failing to "keep students safe from the risks associated with extremist views".

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Birmingham schools to be run by trusts?

Birmingham City Council

How are Birmingham's schools going to be run after Ofsted delivers its inspection reports into the so-called Trojan Horse allegations?

The investigations following the allegations of extremism have raised major questions about the governance of schools in Birmingham - with the council having warned of "significant structural changes".

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What do young Harvard graduates believe?

Harvard
Harvard's Class of 2014: 42% had sought mental health counselling

What are the views and experiences of the bright young things leaving Harvard University this summer?

These will be the movers and shakers in US society in the years ahead, many of them about to step into influential jobs in business and government.

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Is the Russell Group really an 'oligarchy'?

Piggy bank with a mortar board

The Russell Group, that most select of UK university groups, should be very pleased with its marketing success.

Schools all over the country will be organising trips to university open days - and teachers and parents will be talking to their ambitious pupils about applying to Russell Group universities, the magic circle of 24 leading institutions.

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About Sean

Sean Coughlan is an award-winning education correspondent for the BBC News website.

As well as covering news about schools and universities in the UK, he is editor of the BBC's international education online series, The Knowledge Economy, which looks at the impact of education from a global perspective and how it is shaping the economies of the future.

He is author of several books, including a cultural history of sleep.

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