A Week in Education

23rd May 2008 at 01:00
Ofsted's chief inspector warned that school standards had "stalled"
Ofsted's chief inspector warned that school standards had "stalled". Christine Gilbert dismissed claims by government ministers that standards were rising and said that England's state schools would never rank among the world's best without major improvements. Her comments come as she outlined plans for a major overhaul of the way Ofsted monitors schools. This includes plans for no-notice inspections and allowing children and parents to trigger Ofsted visits. Pages 6-7

Ministers announced plans to overhaul support for excluded and badly behaved pupils including getting private companies and charities to run rebranded pupil referral units. The plans, first revealed by The TES on May 9, will also include earlier intervention for children with behaviour problems. Most newspapers' headlines echoed those of the Daily Telegraph: "School sin bins for children aged five". But a Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesman said: "No one is talking about routinely sending children of five to other institutions." Page 4

A review into the commercialisation of education will examine whether pupils' learning is being affected by government initiatives such as privately sponsored academies. David Buckingham, a professor at London's Institute of Education, told The Guardian his inquiry for the Government would be wide-ranging. He said he saw a "continuum", from commercial resources used in the classroom, such as introductions by Shell to the oil industry, to the privatisation of school management.

Police seized more than 900 weapons from children in schools over a two-year period, including guns, knives and knuckledusters. Twenty-one out of 51 police forces in Britain revealed the figures after a Freedom of Information Act request by The Sunday Telegraph covering the years 2005 to 2007. According to the Ministry of Justice, 75 people were sentenced for carrying weapons into school in 2005 and 90 in 2006. Previous research by the National Union of Teachers had suggested that crime and violence was dropping in most schools but that a core existed where they were on the increase.

Plans to open a sex shop near a leading girls' school have sparked strong opposition. The Pillow Talk company wants to open a branch less than 100 yards from Chatham Grammar School for Girls in Kent. David Gaundry, its head, called for the "ludicrous" plans for the shop to be blocked. Parents and residents have signed a petition claiming the shop would leave pupils at "a great risk from paedophiles".

The band Coldplay has donated a pound;3,000 piano to a school that lost all its musical instruments in last summer's floods. The band stepped in to help St David's School in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, after seeing a photograph of the old piano floating down the water-filled hall last July, when water wrecked all its instruments. Bob Forster, the headteacher, said: "I was impressed they cared enough to want to help."

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