News at a glance

14th March 2014 at 00:00

Better maths skills could add billions to economy

Poor maths skills are costing the UK economy pound;20 billion a year, a numeracy charity has said. The maths skills of around 17 million adults are at the level expected of primary school children, according to research by National Numeracy. Simply raising the skills of these adults to lower-secondary level would increase the country's income by pound;20 billion, claims the research, carried out by Pro Bono Economics.

US teachers oppose ban on their flip-flops

Teachers are challenging an attempt to ban them from wearing flip-flops, facial piercings, jeans and other casual items of dress to work. West Virginia's largest school district, Kanawha County, wants to introduce a lengthy dress code outlawing such attire. But the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is opposing the plan, arguing that it is enough to simply tell teachers to "dress and behave in a professional manner". Fred Albert, local president of the AFT, told the Charleston Daily Mail: "We don't need a prescriptive and strict policy." The education board tried to pass a dress code in 2001, but the measure failed amid teacher opposition.

Depression levels spark call for resilience lessons

Research has revealed alarming levels of depression among Australian high school students. A study of almost 4,500 Year 7-12 students (aged 12-18) shows that a third of girls and a quarter of boys are depressed, with many responding to their problems through violence, alcohol and damaging sexual behaviour. The research shows that a third of teenagers are drinking at dangerous levels and one in four lacks the confidence to say no to unwanted sexual experiences. The findings, from Resilient Youth Australia, have prompted calls for emotional resilience lessons to be made part of the national curriculum.

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Spectacles project brings problems into focus

Giving glasses to short-sighted children in rural China has raised their test scores by as much as 18 per cent in six months, Stanford University in the US has found. Short-sighted students' initial test scores were generally around 68 per cent, but their average score rose to 86 per cent after the Rural Education Action Program distributed 4,000 pairs of glasses. The joint project between Stanford and Chinese universities found that 25 per cent of the 20,000 students tested were short-sighted, but only one in seven of them had the glasses they needed. The study also highlighted that many Chinese families could not afford glasses for their children and could even be suspicious of them, believing that they worsen vision.

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