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Professor Robert Coe, from Durham University:  “This seems to underline the view that improvements in GCSEs and some other examinations have had more to do with grade inflation than real sustained improvements over time.”

Letters: Televised political debates

Election debates? A real clash would be more honest

Mark Seddon: He really was a Tribune of the People</I>

Michael Foot, orator extraordinaire, parliamentarian, journalist and bibliophile, radical, internationalist and socialist has passed away at the very grand old age of 96, and rarely can it be said with such certainty that we shall not see his like again. He died, peacefully in his own home in Hampstead, surrounded by his still extensive library, and by pictures of his beloved wife, the film maker and feminist Jill Craigie.

100 Magic Moments of the Turf, by Graeme Roe

Having written a quartet of well-regarded racing thrillers, Graeme Roe has swapped fiction for fact with this collection of reminiscences from a high-class field of folk talking about their days to remember.

Cameron condemns 'inappropriate sexualisation' of children

Conservative leader David Cameron today spoke out against the growing "inappropriate sexualisation" of children.

Seeing Further, Edited by Bill Bryson

This year the Royal Society celebrates its 350th birthday. The "Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge" was founded on 28 November 1660, when a dozen "ingenious and curious gentlemen" met at Gresham College, London, after a lecture by Christopher Wren, the 28-year-old Professor of Astronomy, and decided to found "a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning." Among the signatories of that historic memorandum were Wren, chemist Robert Boyle, clergyman and polymath John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and mathematician William, Viscount Brouncker.

Balls acts to protect children in reality shows from &lsquo;exploitation&rsquo;

Tougher rules governing the use of children in reality TV shows were demanded by the Government today.

Simon Carr: Bercow undermined by the embarrassments of Mrs Speaker

Sketch: I'd say a challenge is now a certainty and a new Speaker the highest probability

The past comes back to haunt John Bercow &ndash; and his other half

She was a &lsquo;ladette&rsquo;. He penned a politically incorrect dating guide. It&rsquo;s not been a good week for the Speaker, says Andy McSmith

Lord Pearson plays the Islam card to win leadership of Ukip

Millionaire campaigner against immigration sees off four rivals to head party

Former Tory peer is new Ukip leader

A former Conservative peer was today elected the new leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

Heritage Oil sells Ugandan fields to Eni for $1.35bn and backs out of Genel deal

Shareholders set for special dividend payout

Editor-At-Large: Nurses are not heroines. They are professionals

There's been plenty of hand-wringing over the news that from 2013 all new nurses will have to spend three years studying for a degree to qualify. At present the majority train for two or three years and are awarded a diploma. Critics claim these higher standards mean that trainee nurses will spend time sitting in lectures when they could be learning practical skills on the job, and widespread concern has been expressed that the profession will attract the wrong kind of applicants, more concerned with their careers than carrying out menial tasks.

Letters: Why I won't wear a poppy

Parading of poppies has turned into a sick joke

Richard Garner: There is much to be recommended in Mandelson&rsquo;s blueprint

It is, of course, hard to argue with the concept that our universities should do their best to equip the nation with the skilled workforce that it needs to compete in the globalised economy of the 21st century.

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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor