News at a glance

29th November 2013 at 00:00

Objections from `Darwin sceptic' delay approval of biology textbook

Officials in Texas have been forced to delay signing off a biology textbook after a panel member raised concerns that it presented evolution as fact rather than theory. The annual schoolbook review process in the US state has been steeped in controversy this year, because a number of members of the group appointed to scrutinise the books are known to oppose the description of evolution or climate change as scientific truth. The concerns were raised by a chemical engineer who is listed as a "Darwin sceptic" on the Creation Science Hall of Fame website.

Universities urged to emulate US `social engineering'

The UK's top universities should look to the US for inspiration on "social engineering" so that they can avoid accepting too many "posh students", a leading higher education expert has said. Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the UK's Higher Education Policy Institute, warned that the most prestigious universities were not doing enough to attract poorer students. The proportion of young people from poorer backgrounds attending the most selective universities had not changed in 15 years, he said. "I don't think that there is snobbery or explicit bias, but nor do I think that they try hard enough," Mr Bekhradnia added. "In the US, the top universities explicitly engage in social engineering and are clear that they seek to represent wider society as far as possible."

PM pulls plug on controversial Australian reforms

The Australian government has announced that it will scrap the previous Labor administration's school funding plans, known as the Gonski reforms, within a year. The controversial changes, which were intended to provide schools in disadvantaged areas with extra funding, were hampered by resistance from some states, including Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott has called a halt to the plans and will instead implement a new system providing the same amount of funding pledged by the Labor government.

Fancy yourself as a digital inclusion `hub'?

The Brazilian government is set to distribute hundreds of thousands of tablet computers to state school teachers. More than 460,000 devices have been purchased and will be given to teachers in early 2014. According to the government, the idea is for school teachers to act as digital inclusion "hubs" and enhance their lessons with multimedia content. Previously, the intention had been to give the devices to students. The project has been criticised for the apparent lack of strategy around how teachers will use the technology.

A chance to sing with the stars

Young people are being encouraged to enter a competition to find England's most talented school band or singer to perform alongside chart-topping artists. The Rock Assembly concert at Wembley Arena in London is run by education charity the Transformation Trust and will take place in July 2014. Previous events included acts such as Tinchy Stryder, Misha B and Chipmunk. Entrants to the Act 10 competition will be asked to submit a YouTube clip along with their application, which will be judged by industry insiders including BBC Radio 1 DJ Nihal Arthanayake. For more information, go to


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