By Wanstead and Woodford Guardian
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By Wanstead and Woodford Guardian
YEAR six students at Snaresbrook College Preparatory school are celebrating test success after winning scholarships to grammar and independent schools.
Jamie Patel, a pupil at the school in Woodford Road, South Woodford, has been offered scholarships to four separate independent schools Bancroft's, Forest, Chigwell and the City of London School.
After deciding on the City of London School Jamie will be starting there in September.
Meanwhile, children from years four and five have returned from a four-day trip to York.
After getting their bearings with a trip on the River Ouse, the children explored the city's Roman heritage at Brigantium in Murton Park, before digging up the past in the city's Archeological Research Centre.
Other attractions including the Yorvic Centre, the National Railway Museum and York Minster were also visited during their stay.
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The University of Manchester’s School of Dentistry is celebrating after being ranked top among all UK dental schools for student satisfaction.
The news follows the success of the School’s class of 2008 which made history in June by becoming the first year ever to achieve a 100% pass rate in the final examination of their Bachelor of Dentistry Surgery degrees.
Tradition dictates that should this remarkable achievement ever occur the students present the Head of School with a pair of white gloves; the presentation was made to Dr Nick Grey at the Graduation Ball.
Dr Grey said: “The excellent performance of our students in achieving a 100% pass rate and our top ranking for student satisfaction reflects the School’s commitment to placing student feedback high on the agenda.
“These successes are a credit to both our staff and students and I was both proud and delighted to be presented with the pair of white gloves.”
The success was celebrated by a School-wide photograph at the beginning of the Academic year and the white gloves are on display in the Head of School Office.
For further details contact:
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Life Sciences
The University of Manchester
Tel: 0161 275 8383
Mob: 07717 881 563
THERE are many different types of optical illusions, some can warp the way you see the world around you, and others are like a workout for your brain.
But this clever illusion can reveal loads about your personality - but it all depends on what you see first.
The illustration was shared on TikTok by Charles Meriot and shows a huge elephant walking straight ahead.
But some viewers didn't see the elephant first at all, and instead noticed the two trees with twisting braches.
So which did you see first?
According to Charles, they both reveal something very different about your personality, so look closely.
If you fall into the group who spotted the trees first you're probably a very persistent person.
Charles explained: "You're not afraid of failure and you'll keep doing the things you need to until you succeed."
However, if you're one of the people who saw the majestic elephant first, success might not be the first thing on your mind.
In fact, you're probably more concerned about being a kind person.
"You have an incredible memory, but sometimes you get distracted very easily," Charles explained.
After sharing the illusion on TikTok, viewers were impressed by how accurately it pinned them down.
One commented on the video: "I saw the elephant first and that's so me."
A second agreed: "I only saw the trees until you pointed the elephant out, very accurate."
And someone else commented: "Why do these things keep calling me out?"
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For close to three years, Gamini Singla stayed away from friends, did not go on a vacation and avoided family meetings and celebrations.
She stopped bingeing on takeaways, going to the cinema and stepped away from social media. Instead, at her family home near the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, she woke up at the crack of dawn, pored over text books and studied for up to 10 hours a day. She crammed, did mock tests, watched YouTube videos of achievers and read newspapers and self-help books. Her parents and brother became her only companions. "Loneliness will be your companion. This loneliness allows you to grow," Ms Singla says.
She was preparing for the country's civil service exams, one of the toughest tests in the world. Rivalled possibly only by gaokao, China's national college-entrance exam, India's Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams funnel young men and women every year into the country's vast civil service.
A million candidates apply to appear in the gruelling three-stage test every year. Less than 1% make it to the written test, the second stage. In 2021, when Ms Singla sat the exam, the success rate was the lowest in eight years. More than 1,800 made it to the interviews. Finally, 685 men and women qualified.
Ms Singla came third in the exam, along with two other women, a first in the history of the exam. She qualified to become a part of the elite IAS (Indian administrative service), which mostly runs the country through collectors of India's 766 districts, senior government officials and managers of state-owned companies. Successful candidates get to choose the state where they prefer to work.
"The day my results came in, I thought a weight had lifted. I went to the temple and then went dancing," the 24-year-old says.
In a country where good private jobs are limited and the state has an overwhelming presence in everyday life, the job of a civil servant is a coveted and powerful one, says Sanjay Srivastava, a sociologist at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. A government job also comes with an array of perks like loans, rental subsidies, travel and holidays at concessional rates.
Also, the civil service is of great attraction for people from small towns. "Joining the private sector might be easy enough, but moving up requires cultural capital. On the other hand, getting into [the] civil service is itself cultural capital," says Mr Srivastava.
Like most other aspirants, Ms Singla was an engineering graduate - a computer engineer who also interned with banking giant JP Morgan Chase. And like the others, she had her sights set on eventually becoming a bureaucrat. On a trip to the local government transport office to get her driving licence, she saw a bureaucrat there and sought an appointment with her, seeking her guidance. (She got it.) "The journey is so hard. It takes a long time, and the stakes are so high," she says.
Ms Singla's story of relentless endurance and monkish sacrifice at an age when many don't have a clue about what to do with their lives offers a glimpse into India's brutal test system: endless cramming, involvement of the family, finding ways to save time and avoiding any distraction and a near-total withdrawal from the world. "There are moments of frustration and tiredness. It's mentally very tiring," she says.
Ms Singla followed what seemed like a marathon training plan. To take care of her health and last the distance, she moved to a diet of fruits, salads, dry fruits and porridge. To make sure no time was wasted, she would jump "200-300 times" in her room after every three hours at the study table instead of stepping out for exercise.
Free time needed to be used wisely so she read self-help books. She took scores of mock tests online to test her abilities. How do you, for example, answer 100 questions in a general knowledge objective test in two hours? "When I listened to videos of [previous] toppers, I realised everyone actually knows answers to 35-40 questions, and the rest is calculated guesswork," says Ms Singla.
Since one of the key exams is held in the winter, she would try to step "outside my comfort zone and experience a cold and disagreeable environment" by choosing the "coldest room with the least sunlight" for mock tests. She tried out three different jackets and chose the one that felt most comfortable. "I had heard of aspirants discussing their inability to write in their ill-suited, heavyweight jackets. So it is all worth it," says Ms Singla. "You are just giving it your best in every way."
The marathon also became a shared experience with her family. Ms Singla's parents, both government doctors, joined in enthusiastically. Her father, she says, read at least three newspapers daily - "newspapers make up 80% of your preparations for the exams" - and marked the important news to speed up his daughter's current affairs knowledge. Her brother helped with the mock tests. Her grandparents simply prayed for her success.
No effort was spared to make sure that Ms Singla was undisturbed. When construction work on two buildings opposite her home created a racket and blocked sunlight, her family demolished a room on their terrace to create a quieter and better lit place for her to study. To shield her from inquisitive relatives who wondered why their daughter was missing at family functions, her parents "stopped socialising and avoided family gatherings so I did not feel left out or isolated".
"They are part of my journey. They trod the same path. It's [the exam] a family effort," says Ms Singla.
Ms Singla belongs to India's privileged middle class who face fewer obstacles to their dreams of joining the bureaucracy. But the exams have also created a path of upward mobility for students from deprived backgrounds. Their families sell land and jewellery to send their children to coaching schools in big cities, says Frank Rausan Pereira, who produced a popular current affairs show on state-run TV, which became a hit with civil service aspirants.
Mr Pereira says most of today's aspirants come from India's teeming small towns and villages. He spoke of a young civil servant who was the son of a manual scavenger - someone who cleans human and animal waste from buckets or pits; it's a job performed mostly by members of low-caste communities - and who studied at home, cracked the test and joined the prestigious foreign (diplomatic) service.
"I know aspirants who have prepared for 16 years after failing to crack the test more than a dozen times in as many years," says Mr Pereira. (Aspirants have six attempts until the age of 32 - some underprivileged caste groups can sit the exams as many times as they want. Aspirants can first take the test on turning 21.)
Ms Singla says becoming a civil servant gives her a "great opportunity to make a true difference and impact many lives" in a vast and complex country. She has written a book on what it takes to "crack the world's toughest exam". It has chapters on 'How to make sacrifices', and 'Dealing with tragedies beyond your control' and 'Handling the pressure from your family', among other things.
Ms Singla told me she sometimes thinks she's "forgotten how to relax". She's enjoying the training and travelling around the country to prepare for her first assignment in the districts. "Life will become hectic," she says. "And it will become difficult to relax again."
He’s up. He’s down.
After a campaign he’s effectively been running for the last two years, all is lined up for the Florida governor to take the next step, formally moving forward as a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Among the multiple frenzies of speculation about DeSantis is one about timing. When does he take the next step, either a presidential “exploratory committee” or a formal declaration of candidacy?
“Mid-May is the target,” for some kind of announcement, NBC News reported at the end of April, citing “GOP operatives familiar” with conversations about the planning.
As he cruised to re-election, and in the aftermath of his overwhelming re-election victory, supporters viewed DeSantis as a mighty Republican force. He was depicted as someone more effective than former President Donald Trump and a potential president who could carry forward with more discipline and effective implementation than Trump.
And he’s put himself on the national stage as a scourge of Democrats in Florida, and been able to get fellow Republicans who control the Florida Legislature to fall in line with just about anything he wants.
More recently, however, a much different narrative has developed around DeSantis.
“It does seem as though his campaign is struggling before it begins,” said Gregory Koger, a professor of political science at the University of Miami. “It’s very noticeable that his support base has been dwindling out there for the last few months.”
His popularity in Florida “created some pretty stratospheric expectations for him. And because of that the only place he could go is down. That, I think, is the challenge of the DeSantis effort. It may very well be the victim of its own success in Florida and the victim of its own sky high expectations that it set,” said Joshua Scacco, an associate professor of political communications at the University of South Florida, and author of The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times.
Still, no one should count out DeSantis, said Matt Terrill, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Firehouse Strategies.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint. We still have a long way to go,” Terrill said. The 24/7 news cycle of cable news is largely gone, he said, replaced by a 24-second news cycle in which a moment can have a huge impact on social media.
“All it takes is one moment on a debate stage, or one moment on the stump, to potentially catch fire for any of these candidates,” he said.
Terrill was chief of staff for Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and later that year ran get-out-the-vote operations for Florida Republicans.
A new DeSantis coming?
The pending formal launch of the campaign provides DeSantis a chance to change course, present a new story, and begin shaping a new narrative that goes beyond what people have already seen and know.
“They probably need to, when they launch the campaign, tell a story that Americans haven’t heard about Ron DeSantis. He’s already had a great deal of publicity. Voters have learned a lot about him, especially through Fox News and other conservative outlets. A campaign launch would be a chance for him to reframe his story, bring up new elements,” Koger said.
And that could make up for any perceived shortcomings.
Brian Crowley, a Florida political analyst who as a Tallahassee and South Florida-based journalist spent decades covering the state’s governors — and presidential campaigns as they blossomed or stumbled in early states of Iowa and New Hampshire — expects that “when he announces, we’re going to see a new Ron DeSantis. We’re going to see someone who is ready to take the national stage.” He thinks “the presentation is going to be really different from what we’ve seen so far.”
“He knows what he has to do. He’s not dumb. He knows what he’s up against. He knows the adjustments he’s going to have to make in order to win this,” Crowley said.
That could mean a more amiable DeSantis, Crowlely said. “From what we’ve seen of his public personality, that’s not an easy thing for him to do. But he’ll do what he needs to do to win.”
Scacco also said DeSantis has an opportunity for a reset. “He can fix this fairly quickly,” he said, aided by the campaign funds he’s been accumulating. “He’ll have $100 million to begin to shape that narrative.”
DeSantis has plunged in poll after poll of Republican primary voters, falling farther and farther behind Trump. (Though he’s still the clear second place choice, at least for now.)
An Emerson College poll released on Jan. 24 found Trump had the support of 55% of Republican voters and DeSantis had 29%. An Emerson poll released on April 28 had 62% for Trump and 16% for DeSantis.
Over the three months, Trump’s support increased 7 percentage points — and DeSantis lost 13 points.
Some influential big-money donors reportedly are disenchanted, on several levels.
Among the questions are a widely discussed personality that’s seen as curt and lacking in social niceties of the kind people like to see in their political leaders. Some feel DeSantis has made problematic policy moves, both because of the substantive impact and the political implications.
That view isn’t universal. Plenty of others are strongly supportive of the governor, and plenty are willing to financially support his candidacy.
Cultural, social issues
His moves to position himself as a culture warrior is celebrated on the political right, but has generated intense opposition, and even ridicule, from others.
The two most often cited moves are his feud with the Walt Disney Co. and his decision to sign into law a near-total ban on abortions in Florida after the sixth week of pregnancy.
Disney incurred DeSantis’ wrath when it opposed what the governor calls parental rights and critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law that prohibits instruction in sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade, and limits it in older grades. (The Legislature voted this year to expand it and DeSantis’ state Board of Education subsequently broadened it to apply to all grades.)
Disney has retaliated against DeSantis, prompting a round of state laws, legal actions and other skirmishes. And the governor has been mocked for getting into a fight, and many say losing, with Mickey Mouse.
“I think ultimately, the Disney thing hurts Ron DeSantis. It’s partly because it’s an unexplainable fight. He picked a fight simply because he was mad, not because it was a good policy issue,” Crowley said.
And, he said, DeSantis’ response to Disney is concerning to business leaders and conservatives who don’t think the government should retaliate against businesses for their statements. “That poses a threat to every other business that would have to worry that a President Ron DeSantis would go after them simply because he got mad about something, and that’s not a healthy look for a president.
Even the schedule of his unofficial campaign has left him open to attack.
DeSantis has been campaigning across the country. Ostensibly his purpose has been to promote his pre-campaign book to friendly crowds, including key appearances early in the presidential nomination process.
And he spent the penultimate week of the annual legislative session away from Tallahassee, traveling on “an international trade and cultural mission” to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.
He’s been traveling so much that the Trump campaign issued an illustration of a calendar on which more than a third of the days in March and April were covered with Post-It notes listing the places where DeSantis was out of state. “Ron DeSantis Spends Half His Time Running for President Outside of Florida, While Florida Taxpayers Pay the Tab,” the Trump campaign proclaimed.
As parts of Fort Lauderdale and southeastern Broward County contended with the aftermath of record-breaking rain and began recovery efforts from historic flooding in mid-April, DeSantis headed to Ohio for political events on April 13. He returned to Florida that night, where he held a late-night event in his office where he hosted anti-abortion activists and signed the new, restrictive law.
The next day, he flew to Virginia and New Hampshire for political events.
DeSantis was pilloried by Democrats — and the Trump camp — for not visiting the flooded areas that a preliminary state estimate said caused more than $100 million of damage, including “major damage” to almost 1,100 homes, and hundreds of temporary and permanent layoffs by affected businesses.
Reelection, then Trump
After his stunning reelection victory last year in which he finished 19.4 percentage points ahead of Democrat Charlie Crist, in a year when Republican performance around the country was worse than expected, DeSantis captured enormous attention, especially as fingers were pointed at Trump as a drag on the party’s performance.
Even before voting was done, DeSantis drew the ire of Trump, who’s focused much of his energy on tearing down his rival. In accurate months, Republican voters’ support for the former president has been increasing and DeSantis has been slipping, even as Trump was indicted, and is the subject of other investigations and courtroom battles.
“If Trump becomes disqualified then DeSantis would become obviously the next leading candidate,” Koger said.
Trump, whose support propelled DeSantis to the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination and a narrow November victory that year, regards DeSantis as an ingrate. And he’s delivered a constant barrage of criticism in person and through posts on his Truth Social social media platform.
Trump’s attacks are tricky for DeSantis. Respond too forcefully to Trump, and it risks alienating the MAGA base of supporters the former president made a potent force in Republican politics. Don’t respond and Trump’s attacks can take hold.
Owing to the hold Trump has on Republican primary voters and the candidate’s approaches to wooing influential party members – Trump does it; DeSantis doesn’t – the former president has racked up many more primary endorsements.
Trump has the endorsements from 11 of the 20 Republican members of the Florida Congressional Delegation; DeSantis has one. The endorsement of a particular member of Congress isn’t going to convince many, or any, people to vote for Trump. But the cumulative effect is important, Koger said, adding that endorsements do a good job of predicting the outcomes of presidential nominations.
DeSantis has some endorsements of his own; on Thursday the Republican majority leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives endorsed DeSantis. A week earlier, Trump announced he had endorsements from more than 50 state legislators in New Hampshire, the first primary state on the Republican nominating calendar.
Don’t count him out
DeSantis foes may love the gloomy portrait, but a range of analysts said it is premature. The Never Back Down super PAC supporting DeSantis is hiring staff and started advertising.
It’s so early in the campaign that DeSantis hasn’t yet campaigned during the Iowa State Fair, an iconic summer stop in the state that will hold the party’s first presidential nominating caucuses next year. If he does, he’ll have a chance to display his appetite for a corn dog or his admiration for an intricately crafted replica of a full grown cow — sculpted out of butter.
“He’s not doomed. There’s a lot of time to go. He still hasn’t launched his campaign. He still has time to launch and reshape the narrative,” Koger said.
Anthony Man can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter @browardpolitics and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.
IF you're shopping on a budget then you'll want to know about this deal on one of Apple's most affordable handsets.
You can grab a whopping 100GB of data on the iPhone SE, for just £24 per month.
Apple markets the iPhone SE as one of its more affordable options alongside its flagship range, and it's remained one of its most popular.
This deal comes with a huge 100GB of data for just £24 per month, and even better, there's nothing to pay upfront either.
The SE is a no-fuss option, featuring the classic Apple design that users love, including a home button with Touch ID.
Thanks to its popularity, Apple has updated the SE too, with this third iteration coming 5G ready with the A13 Bionic chip - so it's pretty future-proof in the Apple world.
It still has an impressive 12MP Wide camera and features like Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Depth Control, more than enough for the average user.
We always recommend you shop around for a deal that suits you and your needs, so we've rounded up the best iPhone SE 3 deals on the market right now.
But if you want something more up-to-date then we've got the ‘as new’ iPhone 13 with 100GB data for £35 per month in this superb Three deal.
Or for Andriod fans, we reported on the Samsung Galaxy A53 for only £19 per month, which also comes with £0 to pay upfront.
We also regularly report on great-value phone contracts from the likes of Samsung and Google too - head to our tech deals hub to see the latest offers.
Discover more top deals and savings at your favourite tech retailers by heading to Sun Vouchers. Sun Vouchers is the one-stop shop where you can find hundreds of discount codes for top chains including Currys, Argos, AliExpress, and more.
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