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Student

Week 7 04.11.08

Scots of the Antarctic fly south Patrick Andelic

Katy Kennedy

SCOTS ON THE ROCKS: Edinburgh scientists aim to analyse the physical makeup of the Antarctic

SCIENTISTS FROM the University of Edinburgh are to be the first ever to map the landscape of East Antarctic in detail. The four-year project is being led by scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Texas, with the cooperation of the Australian Antarctic Division. The team will fly over the region using a heavily modified Douglas DC-3 aircraft, which will use highresolution radar and other instruments to gauge the thickness of the ice and examine the composition of the rocks beneath. It is hoped that the findings from this £3million study will fill one of the largest gaps in scientists’ knowledge of Antarctica, thus advancing the understanding of climate change and helping to forecast future rises in sea levels. Professor Martin Siegert, Head of the School of GeoSciences and a joint leader of the study, told Student, “It’s exploration, it’s adventure, and it’s exciting, but there are sound scientific reasons for undertaking this project.” “Satellite measurements are showing that the ice sheet surface is lowering, and has been doing so for the last ten years, and we need to know why. We’re worried about these small changes.” Professor Siegert said that previ-

ous research of this nature had been undertaken but was halted in the 1970s. “In the 1970s the U.K was the leader in long range air exploration,” commented Professor Siegert. “They covered over 40 per cent of the ice sheet, but they left data gaps.” It is now possible to resume research because the Australians have built an airstrip that can be used for this project. The data gathering will take place over three Antarctic seasons, and it is expected that work will begin in December this year. According to Professor Siegert, this is only one of the projects that he is hoping to see realised in the near future. Beneath the Antarctic ice sheet there are more than 145 subglacial lakes. These lakes represent unique biological habitats, and it is hoped that by drilling, sampling and studying these lakes remotely more information can be amassed about that life that dwells there. Lake Ellsworth in West Antarctica is well suited for such a study and a £7m proposal to explore this lake is currently under review. “It’s a very exciting time at the moment” said Professor Siegert, “It’s lovely to see all these projects coming to fruition.” Contact news@studentnewspaper.org

Private schools State schools uninformed ‘not charities’ Jordan Campbell

Matt Oldfield EDINBURGH’S MERCHISTON Castle School is one of four leading Scottish private schools that has been told this week that it must improve its community service or risk losing its charitable status. The Office of the Scottish Charitable Regulator (OSCR) has ruled that the boys’ school, which is located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is not doing enough to help poorer students. Also under scrutiny is Hutchesons’ Grammar in Glasgow. The OSCR’s verdict is part of a wider scheme to put more pressure on British private schools to justify their charitable status. New rules state that private schools must make clear their charitable aims, and serve a wider cross-section of society. The ruling comes despite the fact that Conservative peer Lord Laidlaw gave £1 million to Merchiston Castle in 2007 to create the “Laidlaw Awards”, which offer up to 100% discounts for “boys who are talented, but whose circumstances would not allow them to fund the School fees.” These awards are a part of what Merchiston describes as its “com-

mitment to broadening access to the school”. However, current figures suggest that only 16 of the 437 pupils are on these bursaries and only 4 of these have 100% support. The regulator ruled that this level of support was not enough “to mitigate the exclusory impact of the fees”, which currently stand at over £16,000 a year. The school must now work on its bursary schemes over the next twelve months, or face being stripped of its all-important charitable status. Charitable status gives UK Charities a number of tax exemptions and reliefs on income, gains and profits. Charities do not have to pay business rates or VAT and this saves Scotland’s 50 charitable private schools an estimated £4.5 million each year. It is predicted that the loss of that charitable status could result in fee rises of up to 8%. Merchiston Castle says that it is disappointed by the results of the OSCR review but has vowed to work hard on addressing its criticisms immediately. Contact news@studentnewspaper.org

A DAMNING report has claimed that poor advice in state schools prevents pupils from poorer backgrounds from progressing to university. The Sutton Trust, which works towards improving social mobility, warned that the system has not improved and that “inadequate and inappropriate” guidance is resulting in “swathes” of youngsters not achieving their full potential. The report claimed that those in state schools and from underprivileged backgrounds who receive little support are facing a “cul-de-sac” of opportunity without the right guidance on their future. The report found that only half of 16-17 years old found the careers and higher education guidance they received at school to have been help-

ful and that two-thirds of pupils had not received enough information regarding the link between course choices and future employment implications. It comes in addition to the “increasingly complex” process of applying to competitive universities, which without solid information about how to choose the right pathway can be extremely difficult. It was also revealed that many state schools view the provision of higher education guidance as a low priority. The report proposes that support and guidance should be targeted early, at the end of primary school or the very beginning of secondary education, and that every school should have a lead teacher responsible for the higher education system. James Turner, Policy Director of the Sutton Trust, said: “The fear

is that too many are making illinformed choices early on, which effectively put them out of the running for certain university choices and careers later in life.” The results come as a blow to the Government, which has made greater university inclusion for pupils a major policy, with the aim of having 50 per cent of pupils going onto higher education by 2010. Higher Education minister David Lammy said: “We must ensure that the most talented and hard-working children and young people are given every chance to achieve their full potential, whatever their background.” He also noted that the report’s recommendations would be accepted as part of the Government’s ongoing work on education policy. Contact news@studentnewspaper.org

Turn to Page 9 to play


1. Cut out your candidates and special Democracy Spinner, found on page 6, using safety scissors (ask an adult to help you) 2. Take turns spinning the spinner and moving your candidates.

3. You must land on all of the blue corner squares, and fulfill their requirements before moving on. 4. If you roll a number that would take you beyond a corner

square without landing on it, you must count up to the corner, then count the remainder of your roll backwards. 5. Lead with honour and wisdom!


US Election Board Game (The Student 04/11/08)