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15 changed over so far, but many more could follow, says Lord Adonis

A-levels must be revamped, says head of exam board

A major review of the A-level grading system is necessary to maintain public confidence in the exam, the head of one of the country's biggest exam boards said yesterday.

Past masters: The PhD students who are giving history a lift

A university society is challenging the model of doctorate study, creating a sense of community – with a flash of colour. Michael Prest visits Leicester’s New History Lab

Leading Article: Counting the hours

Today's report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) returns to the issue of how much formal contact time students have with academic staff in universities and finds that there has been little change. Students on average get a meagre 14.5 hours of lectures, seminars and lab sessions a week compared with 14.3 in 2007. Some universities are taking action. Lancaster and the LSE, for example, have given their undergraduates a pledge about how much contact time they can expect, and Manchester is reviewing its practice.

Trainees sign up to teach maths and science

Increasing numbers of people are signing up to train as maths and science teachers, figures showed today.

Davos diary: A chance to share memories of Corfu

Tory shadow Chancellor George Osborne is in town, but will he find time for a drink at Oleg Deripaska's soirée after all those shenanigans in Corfu? The Russian tycoon has bought his own Davos chalet just so he can host the bash, having decided that the party he held last year, at Nat Rothschild's place in down-the-road Klosters, was a bit of a pain for everyone to get to. Mr Rothschild is expected at the Deripaska shindig too, so this could be the ideal moment for the three to reminisce about those long summer nights. What a pity Peter – now Lord – Mandelson isn't here to complete the set.

Parties: It's full-on at half-term

When the London College of Fashion held a catwalk show and after-party on 27 October to kick off its inaugural Fashioning the Future summit, a series of seminars on the subject of sustainability, your average punter would have been hard-pressed to spot a famous face. But for the clamouring students, a veritable dream line-up was present, from the ever-dapper Jaeger chairman Harold Tillman and ex-Topshopper Jane Shepherdson (now of Whistles) to Browns boutique owner Joan Burstein.

Inside the world of the celebrity assistant

They're the unsung heroes of showbiz – the assistants who pander to every whim of Hollywood's pampered A-list. Guy Adams enters a world of paranoia, poodles, and lobster thermidor at 2am

Steve Richards: The Tories want to deliver improved public services. But does their approach add up?

By coincidence the Conservative leadership and a left-of-centre pressure group held seminars this week on precisely the same theme. Both debated the role of the state in delivering public services, a pivotal policy area and one that impacts on all our lives. The first gathering took place on Tuesday, attended by David Cameron and several members of the Shadow Cabinet. The second was held yesterday morning under the auspices of Progress, described often as "Blairite" in outlook.

Brown pledges shake-up of social care

Gordon Brown today pledged fundamental reform to social care of the elderly and disabled in England as the Government warned that the system is facing a £6bn funding gap within 20 years.

Kevin McCloud: How to embark on an odyssey of passion, aspiration, creativity and pure effort

Building your own house s a primal urge, one of those universal genetic drives like the need to provide for your family. It's also a mammoth and somewhat frightening exercise that can take years to complete and cost so much you could stump up a Premiership footballer's wages for a few months instead.

FA launches investigation into £50,000 thrown match

The Football Association has opened an investigation into The Independent's report yesterday that a footballer with a serious gambling problem has admitted to getting sent off deliberately after colluding with a bookmaker. The player owed the bookmaker £50,000, a source familiar with the situation told The Independent, and the bookie wrote off the debt when the player collected his card, as arranged, having profited from gambling on it.

Footballer 'fixed match to pay off gambling debt of £50,000'

How an 'epidemic' of addiction is destroying the careers and lives of some of the game's top players

Preview: Sounds Like Music, City Halls, Glasgow

It's music, Jon, but not as we know it

Appointments secretary leaves Brown

The Prime Minister's appointments secretary is to leave Downing Street to be policy director for the Faith Foundation which is being set up by Tony Blair, sources have revealed.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Career Services

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Independent Travel
Panama
Languedoc Roussillon
Marrakesh & the Atlas Mountains
Bruges
The Jura Mountains
Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Coast
Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week