A Week in Education

4th January 2008 at 00:00
The number of very bright children in secondaries is to be published in league tables.

Schools will have to report the proportion of pupils achieving levels 7 and 8 in key stage 3 tests from this summer as part of the Government's gifted and talented programme.

The move is designed to put pressure on those schools which have not yet signed up to the scheme, which provides extra tuition and summer schools.

But the plan has been criticised by unions, which said that adding the results to league tables was "the last thing" schools needed.

Bureaucracy and poor pupil behaviour have been blamed for the increasing numbers of qualified teachers leaving the profession.

Figures obtained by the Conservative party showed there were more than a quarter of a million teachers aged under 60 who did not have jobs in schools. About 100,000 had left for another profession between 2000 and 2005 - more than twice the number during the previous five years.

Jim Knight, schools minister, denied there was a problem, saying that recruitment into teaching had "never been more buoyant".

A prestigious London public school has announced it hopes to give free places to boys from poor families.

Harrow School aims to raise pound;40 million by 2012 as part of a campaign to cast off its image as a school for the very rich.

The move by the pound;26,000-a-year school comes ahead of legislation expected to put pressure on private schools to prove their public benefit or be stripped of their charitable status.

Other private schools have started similar fundraising drives, including Eton College, which aims to raise pound;50 million.

A report by a former adviser to Tony Blair has suggested that teachers who hold back schools that perform poorly should be sacked by staff from successful ones.

The report, "Achieving More Together", was written by Robert Hill and published by the Association of School and College Leaders. It suggests putting weak schools under the control of high-performing ones, which would enforce significant changes in the first days of the takeover.

Staff from the lead schools would be expected to "identify staff who are in effect hardened blockers of progress and deal with them".

The Christmas holidays saw a string of helpful announcements from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. These included telling parents to make sure their children got at least an hour a day of exercise during the winter break.

Then they were told not to allow children to take their new toys into school.

The Government also issued advice to nursery teachers suggesting that young boys should be allowed to play with toy weapons.

The guidance said staff should resist their "natural instinct" to stop boys playing games with toy guns and swords as these could actually engage them with learning.

The guidance document said: "Sometimes practitioners find the chosen play of boys more difficult to understand and value than that of girls."

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