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News in Brief

Referrals double

The number of children sent to pupil referral units this year because of behavioural and discipline problems is more than 16,000, compared with 7,740 in 1977. A pamphlet published by the Centre for Social Justice and the Smith Institute said that more early intervention is needed to tackle the widening gap between rich and poor children.

Top marks for AQA

Examination officers believe AQA, England's largest exam board, provides the best customer service, according to a survey by its professional body. AQA topped the rankings for the fourth successive year. OCR was second, with Edexcel ranked lowest. The Examination Officers' Association compiled the survey based on responses from 209 members.

Director steps down

Chris Waterman, executive director of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, will step down at the end of January after eight years. Maggie Atkinson, the association's president, said: "Chris has worked hard for our association and it would not be what it is today without his efforts."

Band against bullying

The millionth blue anti-bullying wrist-band has been sold in the UK, after a campaign backed by celebrities including Graham Norton and Kym Marsh. The charity Beatbullying has produced the bands for three years to mark Anti-Bullying Week at the end of November. Westfield Sports College in Sheffield sold the millionth wrist-band, winning itself a special prize - 200 more wrist-bands.

www.antibullyingweek.org

No cash for students

Around 100,000 teenagers are still awaiting education maintenance allowances more than three months after they were due to be paid. Figures obtained by the Conservatives show 381,647 students had so far received one of the payments by the end of November. Delays by the contractor are blamed by the Government.

Right on, Jim

Schools minister Jim Knight, MP for Dorset South, has become a Privy Counsellor. He said: "This is a historic position that means I carry the title Right Honourable in front of my name for life." He said he can now offer advice to the Sovereign at meetings.

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