A far cry from Peter and Jane;The Week in View

9th April 1999 at 01:00
TEACHERS slugged it out on the verbal battlefields of Brighton, Eastbourne and Harrogate: a war of words between ministers and union leaders over performance-related pay.

The beleaguered chief schools inspector survived yet another call for his resignation. This time by former teacher-turned actor, Tony Robinson, the Blackadder star and Labour luvvy, who claimed Chris Woodhead had lied about his affair with a pupil.

But good news for Teletubbies, video manufacturers and redbrick universities. Tinky Winky et al are breaking sales records worldwide and most British children own at least two of their products, says the Beeb.

Sales of videos aimed at toddlers also soared to 5.2 million last year, accounting for 27 per cent of the overall children's market. Barney the purple dinosaur is among the characters luring kids into telly addiction, child psychologists fear. Eva Lloyd, chief executive of the National Early Years Network, warned parents not to use the video as an electronic babysitter.

Another media expert thought day-time television would be a worse option. "They could flick a switch and end up by watching something like The Jerry Springer Show." Perish the thought.

That's a far cry from the dear dead days of Peter and Jane - so much so that publisher Ladybird has been forced to close its printing works in Loughborough, Leicestershire. But the books will be produced elsewhere with a revamped image. Managing director Michael Herridge promised there would be no dumbing down. "Although we can improve the presentation it's not about lowering reading standards."

Oxbridge should be looking to its laurels as the latest league table shows that London's Imperial College came a close second to Cambridge and pushed Oxford to third place. For the first time the School of Oriental and African Studies, also part of London University, made it to the top 10.

As the week is never the same without a crop of research findings, here's a sample of the latest: children who walk or cycle to school do better in exams than those who are driven every day by their parents, a team from Glasgow University's Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences found; and the most creative people come from homes where parents are at war, says Canada's McGill University in Montreal.

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