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Jotter - Vatican boon for Ibrox

The papal visit to Glasgow's Bellahouston Park on September 16 has brought an unexpected bonus for local non-Catholic schools. Bellahouston Academy is being given a day off because of road closures, with half-days off for several others - including Ibrox Primary, surely a school unlikely by its name to welcome Pope Benedict (government attendance statisticians take note).

By contrast, RC schools Lourdes Secondary and Our Lady of the Rosary and Lourdes primaries only qualify for a half day. Perhaps Pope Benedict is not as well connected to the education authority as Pope John Paul II when he said Mass at Bellahouston Park in 1982 and Catholic schools got a whole day off.

Schools like Ibrox Primary should take full advantage and travel to Edinburgh for the St Ninian's Day Parade next Thursday to welcome the Pope to this country. Nearly 1,000 pupils from the 14 schools in Scotland named after St Ninian will march through the city centre, honouring the first man to become a saint in Scotland.

It promises to be "inclusive - welcoming to everybody regardless of religion". So there's the invitation. And Ibrox pupils should feel even more at home with the St Ninian school colours, which the Church says "will help turn Princes Street into a sea of blue".

Defenders of the faith

Talking of the faith (the same faith, as it turns out), Tony Blair has not had a good week. His memoirs, published last week, have not been critically acclaimed. Now, he appears to be a turn-off for students: the Tony Blair Faith and Globalisation course at Durham University has attracted only three students so far.

The TB Faith Foundation, which runs similar courses at Yale University and the University of Singapore, says it hopes Fettes College's most famous recent son "would eventually take part in classes and seminars".

As our sister paper, Times Higher Education, commented: "Part-time teaching when he likes, tiny classes and a huge bank balance: Mr Blair may find he is shunned by academics as well as students."

Perhaps it's time to rekindle some old rivalry in the theological field: step forward Gordon Brown, son of the Kirkcaldy manse.

Mind your language

Maintaining standards of English is not just of linguistic importance, it seems. Bernard Lamb, a specialist in genetics who is also president of the Queen's English Society, has just brought out a book entitled (perhaps not surprisingly) The Queen's English: And How to Use it.

One error he particularly enjoyed came from a student who wrote about a cow being fertilised with "seamen". He still knocked a mark off: "It is bad science," Lamb observed wryly.

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