A Week in Education

14th December 2007 at 00:00
Ministers promised to turn teaching into a "master's-level profession" as they launched a much-trailed 10-year strategy to improve services for children. The Children's Plan promises to provide professional development for teachers so that they can gain a master's qualification during the early stages of their careers. Overall, the plan aims to bring together initiatives aimed at improving the health, education and family lives of children. Ed Balls, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, himself a father of three, said he wanted parents to play a bigger part in their children's education.

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The present testing system for 11-year-olds is to be scrapped. It will be replaced by a system of testing-when-ready, if a trial run held last week is judged a success. The change will accompany a review of the primary curriculum being carried out by Jim Rose, former chief inspector of primary education. The review is aimed at creating space for compulsory modern foreign language classes.

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The Government responded to growing concern about the commercialisation of childhood by announcing an investigation into the impact of television adverts on pupils. Ministers said there had been a huge increase in marketing and advertising aimed at children, which could affect their well-being. The charity Alcohol Concern reported that alcohol advertising peaked between 4pm and 6pm.

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Hillcross Primary School in Morden, south London, has cancelled its Christmas pantomime to "focus on learning". One angry parent told the London Evening Standard that families were upset as they wanted children to have some fun at Christmas. But Julian Greenfield, deputy head, told The TES that plenty of other Christmas events were planned and the school would have a pantomime in the summer.

John Darwin, 57, the former science teacher who faked his death in a kayaking accident, appeared in court on Monday on two charges of deception. He was remanded in custody until today. His wife, Anne, 55, was charged with two deception offences on Tuesday, after flying back to Britain from Panama, and was also expected to be remanded in custody until today.

It was an unlucky week, too, for another former teacher. David Leggat, a retired English and history specialist, survived for four days on tap water after being trapped in a lavatory at a bowling club in Aberdeen. Leggat, 55, who found the door jammed when he tried to leave, fought off the cold by dipping his feet in warm water in the basin. He was eventually freed after a cleaner, Cathy Scollay, heard his cries for help and raised the alarm.

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