A Week in Education

14th September 2007 at 01:00
THE EDUCATION topic dominating news stories and editorials this week was the ever-divisive issue of faith schools. Ministers support expanding their number and making it easier for private faith schools to join the state sector.

"There's no denying it: faith schools divide" said one headline in The Independent, representing some of the opposition to the plan.

Meanwhile, The Times reported that fears about fundamentalism were making it difficult for Muslims to establish their own schools.

The Government claims faith schools have an important role to play in promoting community cohesion. But Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, questioned if taxpayers' money should be used to promote particular faiths.

Report, pages 16 and 17

children as young as 5 will be taught about opening bank accounts and managing their finances in maths lessons, the Government has announced.

Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, and a former economic secretary to the Treasury, said it was never too early for children to start learning about money.

"Reading, writing and bank interest rates" was how the announcement was greeted in The Times.

The first children to benefit from the Government's Child Trust Fund which will give children a pound;250 voucher to open a savings account started school this term.

schools offering the International Baccalaureate instead of A-levels risk lowering attainment, academics have warned. A study led by Professor Peter Davies of Staffordshire University said widespread take-up of the IB would hit results because pupils would not focus on their strongest subjects.

"Dumping A-levels will harm results' said The Daily Telegraph.

Tony Blair said that by 2010 at least one school or college in every town in England should offer the IB, where pupils study a broader range of subjects including science and a foreign language.

truancy figures are getting worse, fuelled by parents who take their children on holiday during term time, official figures suggest.

Cheaper term-time holidays accounted for 5.4 million lost school days, about one in 10 of all absences, during the autumn and spring terms, the Government said.

Academies suffered the worst levels of truancy, with rates twice as high as those in other secondary schools.

The Sun reported "66,000 kids a day skip class", while The Daily Telegraph said the increase came despite the Government spending pound;1 billion to tackle the problem.

a failing school earmarked for closure has stayed open despite having only one pupil.

Worsbrough St Mary's Primary, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, has only 8 year-old Sam Campbell on its roll after other parents transferred their children to other schools.

The village school is due to close at the end of the year. It got a taste of things to come when Sam called in sick on the first day of term, leaving no children to teach.

David Marley

they said...

'Brown's school building programme is 74 years behind schedule'

Conservative Party press release

we say...

Michael Gove, the Shadow Children, Schools and Families Secretary, used the opening of the first new school under the Building Schools for the Future programme to criticise delays.

And well he might. One hundred new or refurbished secondary schools were supposed to open by the end of the year. In fact, only one, Bristol Brunel Academy, will be finished.

But after a start beset by delays, the signs are that the programme is beginning to pick up speed. Twelve schools, including Bristol Brunel, are expected to be finished by March.

Even at that rate of progress, the 100 target will be met within nine years, rather than the pessimistic 74 quoted by the Conservatives.

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