Voices The Government has faced a barrage of criticism over the HS2 plans

The Government is looking to spend upwards of £50bn to improve a journey taken by only 2 per cent of commuters

Place guarantee for founders of free schools

Parents who set up the Government's flagship free schools would be guaranteed places under new admissions proposals being considered by ministers.

Youths face life for boy's murder

Three youths face life sentences after being found guilty today of murdering schoolboy Nicholas Pearton.

Pandorama back in reckoning for Gold Cup

In the fortnight still dividing jump racing professionals from their defining challenge, all they expect is for things to go wrong. For punters, equally, fresh positives for the Cheltenham Festival will be few and largely inconsequential. It would be wrong, however, to treat absolutely every racecourse gallop as stage-managed, every pronouncement of optimism as bland or meaningless. And Noel Meade, for one, surely deserves to be taken at his word, after working Pandorama at Leopardstown yesterday morning.

What's in the Welfare Reform Bill?

The Government has pledged the biggest shake-up of the benefits system in 60 years, saying that 2.7 million households will be better off and almost a million people will be taken out of poverty.

Online House Hunter: Back to school

Whether you have opted for that three-bedroom house in Twickenham or four-bedroom house in Finchampstead, choosing the right school is vitally important.

Events to focus on vocational training

The National Apprenticeship Service will host sessions and conferences for businesses and prospective young workers throughout Britain starting tomorrow as part of Apprenticeship Week.

A World By Itself, Edited by Jonathan Clark

"This volume cannot be a universal compendium," says Clark in the introduction to this massive history of the British Isles. "It can, however, give some sense of why historians find history important."

Teaching of Urdu has doubled in four years

The number of state secondary schools offering Urdu as a foreign language has almost doubled in the past four years, according to figures released today. According to a report by CILT, the national language learning centre, pupils at more than 10 per cent of schools study the subject – up from 6 per cent in 2007.

Mayor caught speeding by local schoolchildren

The Mayor of Doncaster has been caught speeding by children in a police road-safety exercise.

Former 'Blair Babe' rises to key Labour post

Yvette Cooper is one of the most powerful women in British politics and was once tipped to become Labour's first female prime minister.

Ofsted

On 14 September we reported, based on an Ofsted report and on a subsequent press briefing, that Ofsted had found that up to 750,000 children have been wrongly labelled as having "special educational needs". Ofsted has since clarified its findings. We are advised that the true figure was up to around 450,000.

Independent/Durham Business School MBA scholarships: High flyers spread their wings

If MBA student Tim Forber was hoping for a quiet fortnight to study for impending exams, he'll have been disappointed. Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and the BNP all came to Oldham in the coming days ahead of the by-election – and Forber is the senior police officer in charge.

The Independent/Durham Business School MBA scholarships: International high flyers spread their wings

If MBA student Tim Forber was hoping for a quiet fortnight to study for impending exams, he'll have been disappointed. Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and the BNP all came to Oldham in the coming days ahead of the by-election – and Forber is the senior police officer in charge.

The Top 50 Selective Schools at A-level

Click HERE for comment by Richard Garner, Education Editor, and full related links

The school point score is devised through a new system introduced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the Government's exam watchdog. Under it, equal weight is given for each A-level with 270 points awarded for an A-grade pass, 240 for a B, 210 for a C, 180 for a D, and 150 for an E. The International Baccalaureate is also recognised with 1,380 points for a maximum diploma score of 45.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk