What you don’t want to hear during exams

Seriously, if you asked any adult to take that same exam tomorrow, they wouldn’t have a clue! So ignore them and crack on. If you don’t take kindly to being wished luck, please stop reading now.

Everyone else: Good Luck with your Exams!


But what else annoys you during exam week? Do any of these ring a bell?

  • That there’s always something on an exam that you just so happen not to have revised
  • The teachers (examiners, invigilators?) playing stupid games in the examination room
  • When the weather is so bad it ruins the mood even more
  • When the weather is so nice you’d rather be going out
  • That exams are over sooner than you can say ‘revision’
  • The strange limbo that follows – when lessons no longer mean much, but it isn’t holidays yet either
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Gaining soft skills worth £88bn

A campaign puts the economic value of soft skills at £88bn, according to the BBC. There are many ways to gain your slice of these must-have skills, so let’s quickly look at the top 6.

University and the Student Union

You need not look much further than your own campus to be able to find student jobs. The union bar needs waiting staff, the stationery shop someone to man the till. If you’re bilingual there may be openings for casual translators, and for science geeks a lab helper position might be available in a research department. If not an internal job, your careers office should also have a host of options for student employment, casual and part time jobs that you can explore.

Working for your own university can subtly show potential employers a certain level of loyalty, which can’t be a bad thing.


You could also work as a cashier or stack shelves in the local supermarket. Aldi for example are expanding and pay above minimum wage, but supermarket work can be tiring and the hours inconvenient. Or you may not have a big store nearby that’s taking on more student staff. But if you do get the opportunity and can work the hours around your university timetable, or work weekends when everyone else is partying or sleeping off the lectures, this is an excellent way to earn some much needed cash. Oh and if you’re lucky (or just a loyal employee), you might even get discounts on your groceries!

Fast food

McDonald’s (which prominently supports the campaign) and competing chains are great places to find jobs, with fairly decent standards of training and pay. When it gets busy you’ll really be pushed, and dealing with a group of impatient grumpy people will test your communications skills to the limit. This is solid experience that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Private tutoring

Signing up as a private tutor on sites like Student Tutor UK gives you the opportunity to pass on what you’ve learned to the next generation. Teaching can be extremely enjoyable and also tests skills like time management and communication. As a bonus you can reinforce your own knowledge by seeing the subject ‘from the other side’, so this is quite unique. If you’re not as outgoing as your peers, it’s also an excellent way to meet a different type of people and come out a little.

Not all tutoring agencies are equal. Some will take a commission, others may pay you a retainer plus travel costs. Working with clients other than through the agency can be contractually prohibited, so reading the fine print can be a good idea here. (Student Tutor UK doesn’t do any of those by the way, they let you keep whatever you’ve agreed with the client, which is your client).


This has to be one of the most popular options for students to replenish funds, where tips can significantly boost the amount you take home. Hours are typically late though, so for those with early morning lectures this could be just as bad as constant partying. Thanks to the smoking ban at least you won’t smell of smoke.


You may say “Hang on, eBay isn’t face to face”. But while starting a shop on eBay doesn’t necessarily help you deal with people ‘live’, you do get customer service queries that need prompt and accurate replies. Written communication is the key here, and if you can sell some unwanted items or find a new market niche, so much the better. If you can organise a small team to turn a profit (even if enlisting the help of mum and dad to post items), that’s not a skill that an employer can look down on and dismiss.


So there you have it. 6 ways to earn money as a student, and gain some valuable skills on the way. Not all jobs are for everyone and it can take a certain disposition to work in a high speed high stress environment in addition to your studies, or to fit around your uni workload.

Try them all, find the one you like, and give it your best.

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Grammar schools ‘to favour poor pupils in admissions’

Middle-class parents are facing a fresh battle to get children into grammar schools after it emerged that more than half are planning to give priority to pupils from deprived homes.

Figures show around 90 academically selective state schools are fundamentally reforming their admissions rules to engineer a more socially-balanced intake.

For the first time, schools are planning to effectively discriminate in favour of children who are eligible for free school meals – those with parents on benefits or earning less than £16,000.

The move is designed to give poor children access to a highly academic education and stop them being edged out by richer families who can pay to tutor children for the 11-plus.

It follows claims last year from the head of Ofsted that grammar schools were “stuffed full” of pupils from wealthy homes.

Read the full article on The Telegraph

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Schoolchildren ‘not ready’ to choose their GCSEs at 14

A leading neuroscientist says that schoolchildren should not be required to choose their GCSE options at 14 because pupils’ brains have not developed properly at that age

Children should not be required to pick their GCSE options at 14 because their brains have not yet fully developed, according to a leading scientist.

Asking teenagers to make important choices about qualifications half-way through secondary education places a “lot of responsibility” on teenagers who have yet to reach maturity, it is claimed.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a professor in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, said that major decisions about pupils’ future education and career path should be delayed.

Under the current system, teenagers are required to choose which subjects they want to take at GCSE at some point during Year 9 – when pupils are aged 13 or 14.

The move has a major bearing on pupils’ progression in later life because the wrong GCSE choices can act as a barrier to selecting particular courses at A-level and university.

Read the full article on The Telegraph

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English students ‘could get free tuition at Scottish universities’

Thousands of English, Welsh and Northern Irish students will study at Scottish universities for free in the event of a “yes” vote in this year’s independence referendum, according to the higher education minister.

Up to 20,000 students from outside Scotland will be eligible for free tuition because of EU rules prohibiting states from discriminating on the grounds of nationality, said David Willetts.

It was claimed that an independent Scotland would be left with a £150 million blackhole in its higher education budget because of the loss of income from fee-paying students.

Mr Willetts also said that universities north of the border risked missing out on millions of pounds worth of research funding.

Some £257m was handed to institutions in Scotland from UK research councils in 2012/13, which represented some 13 per cent of the overall budget, significantly higher than its eight per cent share of UK GDP, he said.

Read the full article on The Telegraph

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Teachers’ pay could rise to £70K

The new performance-related pay system could result in top teachers earning up to £70,000 a year, a report by the Policy Exchange claims.

The best-performing teachers could earn higher wages within a much quicker time frame than under a time-based system, according to research by the right-leaning thinktank. But implementation must be fair, transparent and reward real excellence, it said.

In a paper released on Friday , the thinktank welcomes the move, which came into effect in September, but recommends the system include an evaluation based on several measures, not just test or exam scores.

Financial rewards should be based on increases in base salary, rather than through bonuses, and performance-related pay must be used as a real reward for excellence and not as a way of holding down the overall pay bill, it said.

Qualified teachers in maintained schools currently earn a minimum of £21,804, or £27,270 in inner London. Senior teachers can make up to £57,520, or £64,677 in the capital, while headteachers can expect a salary of between £42,803 and £113,303.

Read the full article on The Guardian


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Controversy as University of Southampton vice-chancellor pockets 6% pay rise whilst striking staff struggle this winter

Staff at Southampton University were left dumbfounded at news that vice-chancellor Don Nutbeam had accepted a £17,000 pay rise, just days after telling them that no money for extra wages could be found.

All three campus trade unions – the University and College Union, Unison and Unite – have called on Professor Nutbeam to reject this pay rise and make the case that universities should invest in their staff, whose pay has fallen by 13% in real terms in the last four years.

Professor Nutbeam had warned striking workers, including cleaners, caterers and lecturers to accept the real-terms pay cut, or risk facing job losses. Staff should treat a 1% pay rise, (well below increases in costs of living) as ‘fair and generous’, Nutbeam argued.

UCU, Unison and Unite, who represent staff ranging from cleaners to professors, said that the news was only going to galvanise union members in their campaign for living wages and fair pay. More strike action is planned for the new year if a resolution to the national dispute can’t be found.

Local UCU spokesperson, Eric Silverman, speaking on behalf of the campus unions said: ‘It is quite outrageous for the vice-chancellor to tell staff to accept a pay rise of 1%, because there’s no money left, when he’s set to pocket a rise six times that.

Read the full article on the UCU website

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Top universities warn ‘quality’ is at risk with more students

Britain’s top universities have dramatically opposed George Osborne’s plans to increase student numbers by lifting the cap on recruitment in 2015.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the UK’s most selective universities including Oxford and Cambridge, said that “quality higher education should be prioritised over quantity, especially in times of limited funding”.

She added that the elite group of institutions was “concerned” that the Government was choosing to plough more of taxpayers’ money into growing student numbers. The Russell Group’s comments are a major embarrassment for the Government, since it is highly respected by ministers and its support will be regarded as essential to expansion plans.

The Chancellor announced yesterday that 30,000 extra student places will be created next year, and the cap on student numbers which applies to all universities will be scrapped in 2015. The changes do not cover Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, whose assemblies and parliament will decide how to proceed.

But Dr Piatt also raised questions over the Government’s decision to fund the scheme by selling off student debts to private companies. “Time will only tell if this sale will fully meet the costs of this expansion,” she added. If not, it would shore up financial trouble for future governments, she said.

Read the full article on The Independent

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Scotland top of the class in UK for maths and reading tests

SCOTLAND outperforms other UK countries in core school subjects, according to a major world study.

The survey of 15-year-olds puts Scotland at the top of the list for reading and maths compared with England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

However, the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) shows that, for science, Scotland was slightly behind England.

Overall, Scotland’s ­performance has remained similar to previous years both in terms of its score and its international position.

The rankings, by the ­Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), are dominated by Asian school systems – although China so far does not participate as a whole country and is represented by high-performing cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are also among the highest ranked across all subjects.

Read the full article on the Herald Scotland website

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Simon Cowell condemned as ‘irresponsible and stupid’ by Education Secretary Michael Gove who blasts X Factor star’s advice not to bother with school

Simon Cowell was branded ‘irresponsible and stupid’ by the Education Secretary yesterday after suggesting children shouldn’t bother about school and just hope to ‘get lucky’.

The media mogul claimed he didn’t take work seriously until he had left school. The key to success, he said, was often simply being in the right place at the right time.

But Michael Gove hit back, saying: ‘This is an irresponsible and stupid thing to say. Teachers strive every day to ensure children understand the importance of learning, hard work and discipline. Simon Cowell’s comments undermine their efforts.’

Read the full article on the Daily Mail

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