News Dr Andrew Davis claims rival camps in the debate over how to teach children to read are acting like 'religious fundamentalists'

Children who are fluent readers are being damaged by the Government’s insistence on using synthetic phonics in the classroom, a leading academic warns today.

Food for thought

The musings of the ancients: What can dead thinkers teach us about modern life?

Matilda Battersby meets the new philosophy clubs

Mr Gove’s drive to promote academies and free schools helped prompt NUT strike demands this Easter

Oliver: 'Gove is playing with fire over nutrition'

School meals campaigner Jamie Oliver has warned the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, he is endangering the health of millions of children.

Gove's nutrition policy risks child health, says Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has warned Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that his school meals policies are endangering children's health.

Philosophy: Far more than a witty remark

Studying philosophy equips you with an adaptable mind and vital life skills, writes Russ Thorne

Circulation: William Harvey's Revolutionary Idea, By Thomas Wright

How anyone recovered from serious illness in the 1600s is beyond me. According to Thomas Wright, diagnosis consisted of urine-sniffing and treatments included leeching, belly rubs and (most useless of all) abstinence from alcohol. William Harvey (1578-1657), the subject of Wright's book, was responsible for helping to bring about a world in which these so-called cures would be exposed as quackery.

Book Of A Lifetime: The Bell, By Iris Murdoch

The respectable titles to give would be 'Middlemarch' or 'Howards End'. Both pulled me up short in my late teens with their ability to make me care deeply about the emotional lives of unimportant people. Until then I'd thought novels were purely for bravura storytelling. I hadn't noticed that, at their best, they involve a curious chain reaction of empathy linking reader, writer and character which leaves the reader not simply moved, but somehow altered. But I fear having to dissect and write essays about Eliot and Forster made them less an influence on me than they might have been.

Book Of A Lifetime: The Bell, By Iris Murdoch

The respectable titles to give would be 'Middlemarch' or 'Howards End'. Both pulled me up short in my late teens with their ability to make me care deeply about the emotional lives of unimportant people. Until then I'd thought novels were purely for bravura storytelling. I hadn't noticed that, at their best, they involve a curious chain reaction of empathy linking reader, writer and character which leaves the reader not simply moved, but somehow altered. But I fear having to dissect and write essays about Eliot and Forster made them less an influence on me than they might have been.

The Monday Book: Pantheon by Sam Bourne

Britain in 1940. Europe is torn apart by war, but America is not persuaded that it should join the fight against the Nazis.

Cioffi: he persuaded many students at Essex to pursue philosophy

Professor Frank Cioffi: Philosopher and authority on Freud

Frank Cioffi was a remarkable member of the early-1950s Oxford generation of philosophers. In his later career he was known for the fresh, original, combative precision of his essays and lectures, his half-century of critical engagement with Freud and his illuminating explorations of often neglected aspects of Wittgenstein's later works. The enormous range of his reading and conversation provided a wealth of accessible examples, often humorous or earthy, to anchor difficult philosophical points. His explorations of the character, scope and complexity of humane knowledge offer strength to those who seek to develop a philosophy of the humanities to supplement or rival the philosophy of science and expand our philosophical understanding of human knowledge.

Soko is about to release her debut album - see the video for 'First Love Never Die' at bit.ly/Ah8kem

Agenda: Clarks; Soko; David Lynch; Jack White; The Thirsty Bear

Fashion: Clarks goes back to the bronze age

The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, By Greil Marcus

Greil Marcus records that, in 2010,listening to the radio on a regular car journey around San Francisco revealed that The Doors got more airplay than anyone else of their era, and with a greater number of songs - though they weren't a Bay Area band. As Marcus tells it, this drove him to re-assess their work and to reconsider the grotesque fetish status the 1960s have acquired as the enviable Neverland of stalled possibility, used to render impotent all that comes after.

Harvey does not care about critics

All hail the 21st-century Socrates...

...or, rather, don't, says the novelist Samantha Harvey, in explaining to Danuta Kean why we prefer not to question our beliefs

All is Song, By Samantha Harvey

After her first novel The Wilderness, an extraordinary exploration of Alzheimer's, was showered with critical acclaim, the subject Samantha Harvey would tackle next has been much anticipated. All is Song begins with Leonard Deppling returning to London after nursing his dying father in Edinburgh. In mourning and lonely, having split from his partner, Leonard stays with his brother William, his wife and three children. He hopes to rebuild intimacy with his only living relative, but one who was absent from either the care or funeral of his father. Despite his brother's eccentricities and his own frustration and resentment, Leonard wants to recreate "the island of understanding" that defined their relationship in the past.

Editor-At-Large: Bin those useless self-help books and tuck in to a pie

January is traditionally the month of deep self-loathing. Big bills and big bellies inevitably lead to thoughts of new beginnings, a chance to mend our ways, and start afresh. Turn on the television, open any newspaper or magazine and you can't ignore exercise DVDs and diet books. Davina McCall (slender mother of three) reigns supreme at the top of the bestsellers (again), and even the comical Towie mob is flogging a keep-fit routine, complete with extras such as "what to wear to work out in Essex". Ignore them. Here's how to deal with windy and grim January: eat the same food as in December. I've enjoyed macaroni cheese, fish and chips and fruit cake, done the same amount of walking, played the same amount of tennis. When appearing in public, I wear a pair of buttock-clenching pants.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
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Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee