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European universities invited to join Ucas

Sixth-formers will soon be able to apply to study degrees in countries throughout Europe via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas). Currently, students must contact overseas institutions directly, but Ucas has decided to allow higher education providers across the European Union to join its service. About 30,000 UK students take up undergraduate places abroad each year, and Ucas' announcement could open up access to popular universities in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Finland. Universities applying to join Ucas must "demonstrate that they meet equivalent standards to those in the UK".

Poorest hit hardest as creativity is `squeezed out'

Creativity and the arts are being "squeezed out" of schools, with pupils from low-income families hardest hit, according to a major report. A commission led by the University of Warwick to examine the value of culture in British society warns that the most deprived students are missing out on opportunities in the creative industries. The report (bit.lyFutureCulture), drawn up by academics and cultural leaders, calls for evidence of "excellent cultural and creative education" to be a prerequisite for an "outstanding" Ofsted grading. It also urges the creation of a dedicated arts and culture pupil premium, similar to the pound;450 million PE premium for primary schools.

Allow good grammars to grow, PM urges

Grammar schools should be allowed to expand, according to David Cameron. The prime minister described the issue of grammar schools as an "electoral albatross" for his party before he came to power, but this week he offered a more positive message to proponents of selective education. "I strongly support the right of all good schools to expand," he said. "I think that's very important and that should include grammar schools. Under this government, grammar schools have been able to expand and that is all to the good." Mr Cameron's intervention came as education secretary Nicky Morgan was considering a bid by Weald of Kent Grammar School to establish an "annexe" in nearby Sevenoaks, which would effectively be the first new grammar school to open in 50 years.

China aims high with 6,000 football schools

China has announced plans to establish 6,000 specialist football schools to transform the fortunes of its national team. Despite being the most populous country in the world, China's men's team is ranked joint 82nd, alongside Guatemala. Schools have shied away from offering football coaching because of fears that students will be injured, according to Wang Dengfeng, chief of the education ministry's department of physical, health and arts education. Schools in China will be able to apply for the status if football accounts for at least a quarter of its PE classes each week.

Martin Sheen will tell pupils to `change the world'

Award-winning US actor Martin Sheen will address thousands of pupils and teachers at the second annual We Day UK next month. On 5 March, 12,000 pupils and teachers will gather at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London, to hear activists and celebrities talk about their passion for social change. "This generation's conviction to speak out about issues that they are passionate about will create a chain reaction, generating positive change around the world," Sheen said. Participating pupils and teachers earned their free places at We Day by committing to take action on behalf of one local and one global cause this year. For more details go to www.weday.comuk

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