Welcome to Teachit's fortnightly round-up of all things English and educational!
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Free schools open their doors
24 free schools, set up as part of Education Secretary Michael Gove's plan to drive up standards, will open their doors this month.
Gove argues that ‘Too many children are being failed by fundamental flaws in our education system. The weakest schools are concentrated in our poorest towns and cities, and we are plummeting down the international education league tables. By freeing up teachers and trusting local communities to decide what is best, our reforms will help to raise standards for children in all schools.’
Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, along with teaching unions, have opposed the introduction of free schools fearing they will take resources and pupils from other schools and destabilise the current system. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, describes the free schools programme as a 'reckless experiment with the future of children and young people'.
First group of 24 'free' schools to open next month (The Independent)
Google chairman condemns British education
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, has criticised what he sees as 'a drift to the humanities' in the UK education system and a failure to capitalise on former innovation and success in science and engineering.
Echoing sentiments expressed by Steve Jobs, Apple's former CEO, who once said ' The Macintosh turned out so well because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets and historians – who also happened to be excellent computer scientists', Schmidt claims that for UK business to compete on a global scale, the education system needs to look back to the 'glory days' of the Victorian era to appreciate how science and the arts can work together.
'If the UK's creative businesses want to thrive in the digital future, you need people who understand all facets of it integrated from the very beginning.'
Brilliant books and riveting writers
Authors in play to close Edinburgh Book Festival
In one of the closing acts of the Edinburgh Book Festival 18 writers and actors including Ian Rankin, Will Self and poet Liz Lockhead took part in a reading of Fleck, a modern version of Goethe's Faust by Scottish writer Alasdair Gray.
Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: ‘This is the most ambitious event we have ever staged at the book festival and we are delighted that it has been so well received by participants and audiences alike.’
Scotland’s wettest August on record and continuing economic uncertainty did not deter 190,000 visitors coming to the festival.
Where there's a will …
The design for the UK's first ever statue of Charles Dickens has been chosen. The statue is the creation of Martin Jennings, who has previously designed bronzes of Betjeman and Larkin, and is to be unveiled in August as part of the celebrations to mark the bicentenary of Dickens' birth.
Although monuments in his honour exist in Sydney and Philadelphia, as a result of a request in his will there has never been a statue of the author in this country. Surviving family members claim that Dickens' request related specifically to 'the mausoleums so prevalent in Victorian times'.
Ian Dickens, great great grandson of the author, said the maquette produced by Mr Jennings would show the personality of the writer. The statue is based on a photograph of Dickens reading to his daughters Mary and Catherine at his home in Gad's Hill in Kent.
What the …? Dickens to get unwanted statue (The Independent)
Competitions and other lovely things