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Makeover complete at Bodleian libraries

It's cost eighty million pounds and taken three years to finish but one of the world's leading research centres has had a major overhaul. The Bodleian libraries in Oxford are home to some of the most important books and manuscripts in history. From tomorrow, for the first time, one of its finest buildings along with its rare collections will be open to the public.

The Oxford Bodleians form the largest university library system in the country with more than 11 million printed items. The plan was to modernize the Grade 11-listed New Bodleian building and create a state-of-the-art facility for researchers to work with the special collections.

Five years ago a purpose built storage centre was constructed 30 miles away in Swindon. Millions of books were moved there as refurbishment work began. Now the volumes and manuscripts that are in high demand from students and academics have been moved back along the A420 to Oxford and are filling shelves in the renamed Weston library.

The building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott - the architect behind Waterloo Bridge and Battersea Power Station and he designed the iconic red telephone box.

Millions of pounds have been spent bringing this Bodleian into the 21st century. After it opens its doors this weekend, millions of people will be able to enjoy the atmosphere of library that holds a special place in academic history.

Portsmouth selected for new technical college

A new university technical college, which will cater for 14-19 year olds, has been approved by the government today.

More than 600 school places will be created in Portsmouth, as part of a £67 million cash boost nationwide to support the next generation of engineers.

The college will work together with the Royal Navy to train up future generations to become engineers and manufacturers and help the local economy's growth.

Portsmouth is set to benefit from today's announcement surrounding a new technical college in the city Credit: ITV

The new university technical college is set to put local employers in the driving seat – allowing them to develop technical learning plans that will ensure young people have the skills to meet the needs of these growing industries.

The plans announced today will raise standards in maths and physics further to ensure more children leave school with these valuable skills and can go on to compete for the top jobs and succeed in life.

We want to attract more high quality candidates to teach maths and physics and further raise the status of teaching as a rewarding career. By offering more flexible routes, we will open up the teaching profession to talented career changers who can bring a wealth of experience and transferrable skills to the classroom."

– Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary


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Cameron pledges 500 new Free Schools under Tories

A Tory government will open hundreds of new free schools across England by 2020 under a major expansion of the policy, David Cameron will declare today.

The plan to open at least 500 of the schools, which can be set up by community groups including parents, charities or teachers, will mean an extra 270,000 places at the institutions which were introduced as part of former education secretary Michael Gove's reforms.

Cameron pledges 500 new Free Schools under Tories. Credit: PA

If you vote Conservative, you will see the continuation of the free schools programme at the rate you've seen in the last three years.

That means, over the next parliament, we hope to open at least 500 new free schools resulting in 270,000 new school places.

– David Cameron's speech in London

Mr Cameron's plans for a major extension of the policy if he remains in Number 10 come as the Government announced that 49 more free schools have been given the green light in the final wave of approvals before the election.

  1. National

NUT rejects conclusions of report on Free Schools

The opening of a Free School was associated with substantial improvements of the lowest performing primary schools nearby in every year apart from 2010, a report by the think tank Policy Exchange said.

And at secondary level, the opening of a Free School was associated with improvements for all secondary schools with below average results.

The NUT does not accept the conclusions of this report.

The findings claimed by the authors are not supported by the 'evidence' presented in the report itself and the authors themselves admit that no link can be made between the cause and effects that they nevertheless seek to claim for the Free School policy, stating: 'It should be obvious - but bears setting out explicitly - that such data cannot demonstrate conclusively that any changes seen are as a response to the new Free School'.

– Deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said it did not accept the conclusions of the report.

  1. National

Free Schools are 'raising standards,' report claims

A report published today claims that Free Schools are raising standards for other pupils across the local community, especially in some of the poorest performing schools.

Free Schools are raising standards report claims. Credit: PA

Competition is driving up standards at both primary and secondary level, undermining one of the key criticisms of opponents of the new schools, says the report by the think tank Policy Exchange.

The research looked at results in the three geographically closest 'similar' schools to the 171 relevant Free Schools opened so far.


Two Schools in Ramsgate set to merge into Academy

It has been announced by the Governors of The Ellington & Hereson School and Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate that the two schools will join together.

The new school is called The Augustus Pugin Academy and is set to open in September 2015.

The schools joining is in response to a recent decline in student numbers at Marlowe Academy that has resulted in financial issues.

This is then combined with the strong academic performance of The Ellington & Hereson School alongside its limited 600 student capacity.

New Academy seeks to improve results all round Credit: PA

The Ellington & Hereson School has had high academic results which they hope to carry over into the new school.

The Augustus Pugin Academy will also be able to handle the increase in demand of secondary school places predicted in 2018.

The new school will be led by the current Ellington & Hereson School Headteacher Mr Simon Pullen.

Discussions are about to begin with all those involved regarding the arrangements for the change.

I believe that the circumstances are right for this fresh approach that will bring significant benefits to students of the existing schools and their communities. The new school will be able to benefit from some superb facilities, including an eight lane athletics track, and it will offer a broader curriculum, a wealth of enrichment activities and a stronger sixth form, with greater breadth of provision.

– Chair of Marlowe Academy Governors Sir Roger De Haan
New school set to merge in September 2016

Anxious day for families as school places offered

Families will find out via email, letters and websites Credit: PA

It's set to be an anxious day for parents and children across the region as thousands of secondary school places are allocated.

Emails and letters will let people know if they've received their first choices.

Different counties handle the process in different ways . In Medway, for example, nearly 95 per cent of primary aged children have been offered one of their preference places at secondary school according to the Council.

If you have a problem with a decision affecting you or your child, please let us know by emailing us the details on

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