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In brief

Columbine court case

Two teenagers appeared in a Manchester youth court this week accused of plotting to blow up a school to mark the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High massacre in the United States. The two, aged 16 and 17, are accused of planning to attack a school and shopping centre on April 20, which police said was chosen to mark the Colorado atrocities. They face a joint charge of conspiracy to cause an explosion, endanger life and damage property. The elder boy is also charged with possession of child pornography. Neither the youths nor the school can be named for legal reasons.

Parents enlightened

The Government is to turn to new technology to help parents gain a better understanding of their children's school day. A report, by psychologist Tanya Byron, showed two-fifths of parents are being left in the dark about their children's school life. Becta, the government ICT agency, said technology could give parents a better grasp of what their children are being taught, their attendance and achievements in class. Professor Byron said: "By harnessing the new and exciting technologies that enable seamless communication between school and home ... we can all enable children to maximise their academic potential and enjoy their school and further education years."

Private pupils' safety

Child safety rules in independent schools and academies should be "comprehensively overhauled", according to a report released this week by Sir Roger Singleton, chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority. It found "scope for substantial improvement" in England's independent sector. Sir Roger also called for boarding schools to toughen rules on the use of the internet and mobile phones as reports had emerged of pupils being "abused" online. The report said: "There is increasing evidence of the way children can be abused via the internet, and schools have an important part to play in creating awareness of the dangers and ensuring that (their) own equipment is not misused."

Dinners declined

Pupils are likely to avoid school dinners because of restrictive nutritional guidelines, a caterers' conference heard this week. The Local Authority Caterers Association said 80 per cent of its members felt new guidelines for England's schools to make school lunches healthier would lead to fewer pupils choosing them.

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