News at a glance

Minister takes action over sexual exploitation

Communities have failed to tackle sexual exploitation of the young, a phenomenon occurring "in far greater numbers than was ever imagined", the children's minister has warned. Introducing a set of reforms, Tim Loughton was insistent that there is a widespread failure to pick up such abuse. He announced new specialist training for police and other bodies, more help for parents in recognising the signs of sexual exploitation, and improvements to court services to assist young victims. "This country has to wake up to the fact that children are being sexually abused in far greater numbers than was ever imagined. It could be going on in every type of community and in every part of the country," Mr Loughton said. "Too many local areas have failed to uncover the true extent of child sexual exploitation in their communities and failed to properly support victims and their families."

MP queries link between calculators and maths skills

A backbench Conservative MP has questioned the value of using calculators to improve pupils' skills in mathematics. During this week's education questions in the Commons, Elizabeth Truss pointed to England's position of 28th in the world in international league tables when it came to maths, and asked schools minister Nick Gibb whether he thought there was a link. "The top-performing countries in maths, such as Singapore, hardly use calculators at all in primary school," Ms Truss said. "Britain uses calculators more than any country in the world and is 28th in the world for maths. Does the minister think there is a correlation?"

Almost 90% of pupils shun five-a-day fruit and veg

Nearly nine in 10 pupils are not eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, preferring to eat a daily diet of junk food, a survey has found. Despite a high-profile campaign to encourage the public to eat more fruit and vegetables, a study by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has shown that 88 per cent of students ignore the recommended five a day. A survey of more than 2,000 pupils aged 11-16 showed that 40 per cent chose fizzy or energy drinks as their daily drink of choice, while a third are tucking into crisps and chocolate three or more times a day. Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the BHF, said: "We've all got to realise that this generation's food choices today could have long-term consequences on their future health."

Half of primary teachers don't bother with exercise

More than half of primary school teachers said they did little or no exercise despite having to teach PE, according to research. A study conducted for Bupa by the Youth Sport Trust also found that one in three respondents said their bad experiences of PE prevented them from teaching the subject effectively. A lack of confidence among teachers was one of the major barriers to them delivering high-quality PE classes. Just 45 per cent of teachers said they felt confident in their knowledge of PE, while only 35 per cent were positive about their own experience of PE at primary school.

Master's for NQTs in Wales in bid to raise standards

Newly qualified teachers in Wales will have the chance to study for a master's degree as part of their induction and early professional development from September 2012, the Welsh Government announced this week. The move is part of a wider drive to improve school standards and performance. The qualification, which will focus on the three national priorities of literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of poverty on attainment, will not be compulsory at first.

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