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Jubilee to pass without mugs

PERHAPS it is a sign of the times. In 1977, millions of schoolchildren went home clutching a mug to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee. This year, as Elizabeth II celebrates 50 years on the throne, children will go home empty-handed.

Junior education minister Ivan Lewis has told Parliament that there are no plans to give pupils a commemorative mug to mark Jubilee Day on June 3.

Teachers and pupils will get an extra day off to celebrat the Golden Jubilee at the end of the 2002 summer term. The late spring bank holiday which usually falls at the end of May will move to June 4. Councils have been encouraged to shift half term to the first week in June.

Details for schools about Jubilee activities are to be posted on the Department for Education and Skills website shortly but there are little signs of enthusiasm.

ADFES spokesperson said: "We are not providing mugs because the Queen has made clear that celebrations should not incur any significant public expenditure."

Just two schools - Fellgate primary in Sunderland and King's school, Macclesfield - have so far been earmarked for special visits by the Queen. Prince Philip will also visit Bradford Grammar.

Reports have suggested that only one in five local authorities are considering specific arrangements to mark the Golden Jubilee.

Graham Lane, chair of education at the Local Government Association said that few councils would be planning celebrations and delivered possibly the most damning indictment of the Jubilee so far.

"I think it will be less popular than the general election," he said. "Individual schools and teachers might organise something but I don't think it will happen on a national scale. It's not a case of boycotting it but I think people will be concentrating on exams."

Staff at Crescent juniors in Leicester met this week to discuss whether it should be celebrated.

"There hasn't been a lot of enthusiasm. We aren't talking about mugs and medals," admitted head Ian Proud. "This is a deprived area and this issue is not a priority."

Schools with royal links seem most likely to be putting on a show.

Amanda Wright, administrator of Fincham primary which is near Sandringham in Norfolk, said: "We intend to visit the estate and hold a street party in the schoool precincts. The Queen and Prince Charles are regular visitors and we feel this is well worth celebrating."

The main national event so far announced is a poetry competition for seven to 18-year-olds. Age group winners will be presented with commemorative medals by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Leader, 22

The official Golden Jubilee website is at www.goldenjubilee.gov.uk

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