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Please can Sir have some more?

HARD-DONE-BY teachers should take heart from events at the exclusive French lycee in London's South Kensington. Several hundred students walked out of lessons in protest at threatened cuts to their teachers' pay. David Blunkett please note.

The Education Secretary had more than pay on his mind. As well as the ongoing row over Section 28, he confronted the problem of "arcane" education research. Mr Blunkett castigated academics for "ivory-towerism at its worst", saying many failed to take account of the reality of people's lives. He said they should be more "streetwise in their approach".

Just like children who walk to school, in fact. Youngsters who use feet rather than the family car are more streetwise and aware of traffic dangers, Warwick University psychologists said. "Children learn from experience about road safety, not from a book."

The Anglican and Catholic churches, however, do not want children to learn from eperience at all, at least when it comes to sex education. "Lifelong celibacy can be fulfilling," they say in a statement opposing the repeal of Section 28.

Gambling triggered another of this week's moral controversies. Even Camelot is worried about the sharp rise in children buying scratch-cards and lottery tickets. The BBC is to blame for presenting a family-focused lottery show, said Dr Sue Fisher of the centre for research into the social impact of gambling in Plymouth.

Finally, it seems that A-level candidates are increasingly muddled over syntax, spelling and punctuation. Examiners said that many didn't know when to use a comma.

GCSE examiners added: "Apostrophes are still a significant problem; colons and semi-

colons rarely make an appearance." Too many pupils used "slipshod, slangy expressions", and some couldn't distinguish between verse and prose - or "pros", as one spelt it.

Diane Spencer

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