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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.”

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.

Letters: Televised political debates

Election debates? A real clash would be more honest

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea