A Week in Education

1st December 2006 at 00:00
This was the week Alan Johnson sought to haul school trips to the top of the agenda, announcing a pound;2.7million giveaway to promote outdoor learning.

No surprises there, according to cynics. The Education Secretary was simultaneously being fingered for allegedly misusing public money, in the form of civil servants, to further his deputy leadership campaign. No wonder a week of kayaking in the Malverns seemed so appealing.

But today's youngsters have other things on their mind if the Daily Mail is to be believed. Three-year-olds are facing academic burn-out as their parents drag them to private tutors to brush up on their three Rs. Could that be responsible for the simmering resentment catalogued by a NUT survey? Increasing numbers of teachers are falling victim to verbal abuse and innuendo at the blackboard, the union alleges. Young teachers are seen as fair game by pupils, said the union's general secretary, Steve Sinnott.

Meanwhile, more controversy over religious extremism. But this time it was atheism, rather than spirituality, causing a stir. Oxford geneticist Richard Dawkins announced he is launching a campaign against creationism.

Schools will be sent anti-creationist DVDs and literature, by an organisation modestly-titled The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

At last, it seems there is an end in sight for the saga of the Yorkshire teacher sacked for wearing a face veil. School representatives officially terminated 24-year-old Aishah Azmi's contract last week. Ms Azmi has been awarded pound;1,100 for injury to her feelings, but the claim that she was discriminated against on religious grounds has been rejected. Her lawyers are considering an appeal.

And finally, teachers were accused of not being asble to spell. Half of them failed to find a misplaced apostrophe in an online test, according to Kelly Services, a recruitment firm .

Unions met the findings with characteristic good humour. "Teachers are only human and subject to error," growled an NUT spokesman.

they said...

Revealed: Rise of creationism in UK schools

(The Guardian)

we say...

Schools are awash with wrong-headed religious literature being foisted upon pupils by gullible science teachers. In fact, the situation is so dire that only Professor Richard Dawkins, self-appointed defender of the faithless, can save us. This is the situation some newspapers will have us believe.

In fact there is no evidence to support the belief that the 59 schools who had admitted to using the Truth in Science packs - designed by the Christian group to attack Darwinism and support biblical theories of creation - are doing so with anything other than scepticism.

A recent TES poll found that while two thirds of teachers wanted the right to teach creationism, many did so because they wished to attack those beliefs. As one London teacher put it: "At least in science you can put the counter arguments". While many will disagree, reports of a Christian coup are greatly exaggerated.

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