A Week in Education

28th September 2007 at 01:00
The qualifications and Curriculum Authority is to be broken up and its regulatory powers handed to an independent watchdog.

Speaking at the Labour party conference in Bournemouth, Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, announced the creation of a body free from ministerial interference and designed to end speculation that exam results are improving because they are getting easier. Mr Balls said the "inherent conflict of interest" in the QCA needed to be addressed.

As well as ensuring the standard of qualifications, the body will accredit boards to set GCSEs and A-levels and ensure value for money, reporting regularly to Parliament.

gordon brown also highlighted education in his first conference speech as Prime Minister.

He declared education was his passion, promising a "genuinely meritocratic Britain, a Britain of all the talents". Among the initiatives he wheeled out were one-to-one tuition for 300,000 pupils in English and maths, a personal tutor for all secondary pupils and financial aid for A-level and university students.

He also mentioned meeting Max Beadnell, a six-year-old at Lauriston Primary in Hackney, east London, whose reading improved dramatically after being put on the Reading Recovery coaching scheme.

Labour conference, page 4

a christian private school could become England's first all-black state school, it emerged this week.

Harper Bell School in Birmingham has 118 pupils, all black, and only one of its 15 teachers is white.

The school, which is run by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, wants to become voluntary aided.

Meanwhile, a primary in the Republic of Ireland is at the centre of controversy as it is made up almost entirely of children of immigrants.

Bracken Educate Together in Balbriggan, county Dublin, has been set up largely to cater for children rejected by local Roman Catholic schools.

pupils and staff at a private school in Liverpool had a narrow escape when a nail bomb exploded in a teacher's car just before children were due to leave for the day. The home-made device reportedly, a firework with nails packed around it blew out the windows of the car, which was parked only 30 feet away from school buildings.

The blast had been timed to go off as St Edward's College's 1,300 pupils left for the day. But it went off 10 minutes early, injuring no one. Police are investigating.

and finally, a former teacher from Hove in Sussex gave birth at home in eight minutes flat, halfway through a dinner party.

Susannah Kendrick, who taught at Brighton and Hove School for Girls, reportedly made a rapid exit mid-meal, calling out to amazed guests: "The rhubarb crumble is in the fridge!"

So this is what the Government means when it says teachers should focus on delivery.

Warwick Mansell

THEY SAID...

'Forcing children to watch Al Gore's film is stupid unless they are also forced to watch The Great Global Warming Swindle'

Jeremy Clarkson

WE SAY...

Mr Clarkson was referring to court action being taken against the Government by a Kent lorry driver, who hopes to stop climate change film An Inconvenient Truth being shown in schools because he says it is political indoctrination.

But Mr Clarkson should realise that teachers are skilled at presenting controversial material and using it as the basis for intelligent debate. Showing Channel 4's controversial The Great Global Warming Swindle, which denies climate change, is one approach but, given that it has been widely criticised by the scientific community, it would be wrong to give it equal weight to Al Gore's documentary.

Classroom debate will help pupils make informed choices in the future about whether to drive 4x4 vehicles or watch Top Gear, for example.

Letters, page 26

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