Eleanor Doughty is dismayed at the news that some universities and colleges are offering rewards like fee reductions or laptops to students with good grades

Present perfect: Christmas gifts for fashion followers

From bunny ears to designer skis, from killer heels to the ultimate pair of pants, Harriet Walker has the definitive guide for the fashion follower this Christmas

Rhiannon Harries: Look closely at boarding schools and 'Cracks' in the fantasy soon appear

Trying to explain your home nation's cultural peculiarities to an outsider is the best way to gauge the degree of their absurdity, as I found out the other day when a French friend asked me what exactly Eton is. "Well, it's just a school really..." I began, before launching into a labyrinthine explanation of how it was actually much more than just a school. I covered tailcoats, rowing songs, Gothic architecture, 18 British PMs (not by name, obviously – I'm not that good) and a recipe involving broken meringues.

Tom Sutcliffe: The over-complicated life of Belle de Jour

I wonder how many men looked at the photograph of Dr Brooke Magnanti – who outed herself the other day as the real Belle de Jour, blogger horizontale – and thought to themselves, "Yeah ... well I reckon I'd pay £300 for that". I know I did – and it's not because I'd pay £300 for that.

Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Allegra McEvedy, chef, writer, broadcaster and restaurateur

'School was a golden time – until I was 17'

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With no more Harry Potter tales on the horizon, how to get the ankle-biters to get into a good book?

The magic of treehouses

The great British treehouse is under threat – from the planners. But looking at the world through leaves is a rite of passage no child should miss, says Brian Viner

Kids prefer bedtime stories read to them by Dad

A new poll from Silentnight has found that children prefer their Father's to read to them at bedtime. 76 per cent of children surveyed said that they prefered their dad's funny interpretations of bedtime stories, as opposed to the strict rules their mothers' impose on bedtime reading.

Fever Crumb, By Philip Reeve

London calls for a master of invention

DJ Taylor: Let's forget about imposing our tastes on our children

The trouble is that the roots of this list of 'great books' lie in adult nostalgia

One Minute With: Glen Duncan

Ripping yarns: Enid Blyton's secret life

Enid Blyton's life was not always as jolly as her stories. As a new BBC biopic is announced, John Walsh reveals the author's darker side

Minor British Institutions: Ginger beer

For some reason ginger beer is regarded as a kid's drink, and a particular kind of middle-class 1950s Famous Five type of kid as well – thirsty for "lashings of ginger beer" after catching the smugglers of Kirrin Island, or whatever. (Actually, that phrase more likely comes from an Enid Blyton spoof made by the Comic Strip in the 1980s, but the point stands.)

Famous Five return to solve last case

New Enid Blyton stories featuring original characters from some of her most famous books are to return in a series of novels, her estate said yesterday.

Letters: Miscarriages of justice

When jury members need to do their own research
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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London