News

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.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
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Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

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Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
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Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

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Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little