Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh
Eve Austin is vividly volatile as a schoolgirl adrift over summer holidays in Sophie Ellerby’s slow-burning drama for HighTide
Year 9 is said to be the toughest for schoolchildren. The looming GCSE workload hasn’t yet fixed their focus, bodies seem to change by the day, emotions explode and a no man’s land opens up between childhood and adulthood. Sophie Ellerby’s slow-burning debut play, Lit, mostly unfolds over the summer holidays bridging years 9 and 10 in a Nottingham secondary. These are weeks that may be spent reading Harry Potter at home, as the sheltered Ruth does, or partying in a field off the A52 with an older boy, which is where Ruth’s unlikely new friend Bex finds herself.
Bex Bentley (“Like the car – proper classy”) can light up a room with her smile and her filthy wit, which is frequently deployed in raging retorts to her beleaguered foster mum, Sylvia. Bex, like Ellerby’s play, can be both as fizzy and sour as the Tangfastic sweets she demands from Dillon, her new boyfriend, before she’ll take her top off.Continue reading...
It’s that moment in the year, things are moving on, time to turn a page in life’s new notebook
Three little words that every adult longs to hear: back to school. Words infused with possibility, fear and the smell of strawberry rubbers, they perform a kind of time-machine spell, almost entirely dissociated from a parent’s reality of the new autumn term. Rather than simply a period in which Tesco does a decent two-for-one deal on notebooks, “back to school” is an existential obsession. Without wanting to sound like an ageing cheerleader caked in nostalgia, this time of year has started to inspire in me a kind of yearning for a grown-up equivalent, an opportunity to return, refreshed, and start again.
To bin the uniforms we’ve grown out of, in my case dresses that, instead of making me look cheery and smart, on a body reshaped by time’s mean claw, give me the appearance of Nicholas Lyndhurst dragging up for a Goodnight Sweetheart special. To replace them with new ones suitable for a new term. A chance to look closely at oneself, a year older, and consider who you want to be.Continue reading...
The young learners working the kitchen at Hoxton’s OKN1 could teach seasoned pros a thing or two
OKN1, 40 Hoxton Street, London N1 6LR (020 7613 9590). Starters £6.50-£8, main courses £11-£15, desserts £3-£6, wines from £22
Few people would describe the building at 40 Hoxton Street as a glamorous landmark, probably not even the architect’s mother. It is a block of yellow brick, with a few glacial cliffs of glass so the light can get in. There are vaguely interesting spindly design features put there, I think, to stop it looking too much like a correctional facility. It is a building with a purpose for which it is fit. So no, not a landmark. Instead, a beacon of hope.Continue reading...
How we greeted the arrival of ‘do-it-yourself degrees’
It’s been 50 years since the formation of the Open University, now one of the largest universities in Europe. The Observer Magazine of 15 November 1970 looked ahead to the start of operations in January 1971 when ‘25,000 ordinary men and women’ were about to realise ‘the promise of belated academic qualifications’. Alan Road’s piece was headlined ‘Do-it-yourself degrees’ (though aren’t all degrees that?)
One of the first things the OU had to overcome was ignorance about how it would work. As Road put it: ‘It will not be possible to obtain a degree by sitting down for a few nights and watching the telly.’ In fact ‘only 5% of a student’s time will be spent viewing’. Ironically enough, I spent at least 20% of my time at a regular university watching TV.Continue reading...
Retirement benefits are indeed declining, and funds are in deficit. But those on zero-hour jobs at universities have it worse
Britain’s university sector is a jewel in the nation’s crown. It is a world leader in research, generates £20bn in export revenues and is credited with playing a big part in raising the productivity of the UK’s workforce during a period of rapid expansion in the 1990s and 2000s.
So successful have universities been in attracting students – even in the teeth of a huge rise in course fees – that they have managed to paper over deep cracks in their finances.Continue reading...
The financier’s links to the institution are symptoms of a deep malaise in big tech
In the parallel moral universe known as the tech industry, the MIT media lab was Valhalla. “The engineers, designers, scientists and physicians who constitute the two dozen research groups housed there,” burbled the Atlantic in a profile of what it called the Idea Factory, “work in what may be the world’s most interesting, most hyper-interdisciplinary thinktank.” It has apparently been responsible for a host of groundbreaking innovations including “the technology behind the Kindle and Guitar Hero” (I am not making this up) and its researchers “end up pollinating other projects with insights and ideas, within a hive of serendipitous collaboration”.
That was written in 2011. In the last two weeks, we have discovered that some of this groundbreaking work was funded by Jeffrey Epstein, the financial wizard who took his own life rather than face prosecution for sex trafficking and other crimes. It should be pointed out that most of those researchers were entirely unaware of who was funding their work and some of them have been very upset by learning the truth. Their distress is intensified by the discovery that their ignorance was not accidental.Continue reading...
- University rejected proposed gift after his conviction
- Largest gift was $6.5m for Program for Evolutionary Dynamics
Harvard University received nearly $9m in donations from the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein before his 2008 guilty plea to sex charges, but rejected a proposed gift after his conviction, according to the institution’s president, Lawrence Bacow.Continue reading...
Incorrect figure on school spending used alongside BBC logo and web address
The Conservative party has been funding ads on Facebook that present a BBC News article as endorsing the government’s inflated figure for school spending – when the article actually criticised the figure’s credibility.
Since the beginning of September the Conservative party has paid for ads on Facebook that link to a BBC article on school funding, with the headline “£14 billion pound cash boost for schools” appearing between a photo with the BBC News logo and its web address BBC.co.uk/News.Continue reading...
As drivers of inequality, private schools are at the heart of Britain’s problems. Labour must be bold and radical on this
The British class system is an organised racket. It concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the few, while 14 million Britons languish in poverty.
If you are dim but have rich parents, a life of comfort, affluence and power is almost inevitable – while the bright but poor are systematically robbed of their potential. The well-to-do are all but guaranteed places at the top table of the media, law, politics, medicine, military, civil service and arts. As inequality grows, so too does the stranglehold of the rich over democracy. The wealthiest 1,000 can double their fortunes in the aftermath of financial calamity, while workers suffer the worst squeeze in wages since the Napoleonic wars. State support is lavished on rich vested interests – such as the banks responsible for Britain’s economic turmoil – but stripped from disabled and low-paid people. The powerful have less stressful lives, and the prosperous are healthier, expecting to live a decade longer than those living in the most deprived areas.Continue reading...
Vor 100 Jahren wurde die vierjährige, "für alle gemeinsame Grundschule" in der Weimarer Verfassung verankert. In einer Zeit des Auseinanderdriftens täte eine längere, verbindende Grundschule der Gesellschaft gut, kommentiert SZ-Autorin Susanne Klein.