News at a glance

Swedish teachers to prepare for school shootings

Teachers in Sweden are to be trained to deal with school shootings after a spate of violent incidents in the US, Germany and Finland. Sweden's education department said it was essential for teachers to be prepared for a potential shooting on school premises, even though the vast majority of them were unlikely ever to be affected. "When it actually happens everything turns to chaos and people don't think normally," said Annika Hjelm, director of education at the agency. "But they have to react quickly. There's a chance that some form of mental preparation for such events can save lives."

Prince William to judge remembrance contest

Schools are being asked to enter a competition to design a permanent memorial to the "Christmas truce" of the First World War. The event, in which German and Allied soldiers downed their weapons on Christmas Day 1914 to play a game of football in no-man's-land, is seen as one of the war's most iconic moments. Prince William and Arsenal footballer Theo Walcott will judge the competition, which is part of this year's centenary commemorations.

`Teacher tenure' harms students, says judge

A California judge declared this week that laws preventing teachers from being fired were unconstitutional, in a move that is likely to galvanise legal challenges across the US. Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Rolf M Treu stated this week that statutes protecting "teacher tenure" should be overturned, along with "last-in, first-out" policies that kept longer-serving teachers in jobs regardless of whether they were effective. The judge agreed with the claim that the laws were hurting students' chances of success.

Government told to be smarter on funding fiddles

The government agency that funds state schools needs to be "quicker and smarter" at spotting financial irregularities, a report published this week has claimed. The Education Funding Agency does not spot risks or intervene in schools quickly enough, according to the Public Accounts Committee. The government watchdog's report suggests that the agency put in place a "fit and proper persons" test to vet chief executives of academy chains, saying that the government has "no way of knowing" if they can be trusted. It highlights the case of the E-Act chain, which was found last year to have spent nearly pound;400,000 on "procedural irregularities" and to have used public money to fund "extravagant expenses". The report also calls on the agency to "be more robust" in taking action.

Teachers unprepared for sex education

More than two-thirds of teachers say they need more training in order to deliver effective sex and relationships education. Of the 208 teachers surveyed by the Sex Education Forum, 68 per cent said they had not been given an adequate foundation in the subject. Some 21 per cent said that they had no idea whether or not their schools had a sex education policy and 90 per cent said that trainee teachers should be given an option to become PSHE specialists. The survey forms part of the It's My Right campaign, intended to persuade the UK government to introduce statutory sex education into schools. For more details, visit

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