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Alan Smithers

Milner request for move adds to intrigue at St James’ Park

Evidence of the sometimes conflicting agendas at the top at Newcastle United came yesterday when James Milner's written transfer request was made public by the club, one week after it was actually delivered to the hierarchy at St James' Park by the 22-year-old. The outcome may be that Milner joins Aston Villa for £9m, though Milner is unhappy with his pay at Newcastle, not the overall situation.

Grades slashed to fill science courses

Some of Britain's most prestigious universities have been forced to slash A-level requirements for science degrees by up to four grades as they struggle to fill unpopular courses.

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Alan Smithers: A new year of non-stop government initiatives

Another year, another education bill: this one compelling young people to remain in education or training until they turn 18. To pave the way, 17 diplomas for 14- to 18-year-olds are being introduced, the first five from September. Changes to curricula, qualifications, inspections and buildings are also due come into effect. Waiting in the wings is a 10-year children's concoction – not a plan – aimed at turning schools into centres for social services.