The upcoming diplomas for 14-19s were dealt a blow when business leaders said they risked creating a two-tier education system. Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, criticised "academic" diplomas in humanities, languages and science which, he said, would undermine traditional GCSEs and A-levels. The CBI continues to back the vocational versions of the diploma subjects, which start this September.
Gordon Brown said a scheme to attract graduates from top universities into teaching will double in size over the next five years. He said Teach First, which recruits 380 teachers per year to work in tough inner-city schools, will find more than 800 new graduates a year by 2013. In a speech to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, focusing on social mobility, Mr Brown clarified plans for academies, saying 300 would be open by 2010.
The number of pupils expelled from school is falling, figures showed. There were 7,520 permanent exclusions from secondaries in England in 2006-07, a drop of 7.7 per cent on the previous school year. But fixed-period exclusions rose by just over 4 per cent during the same period. Headlines varied from "2,200 pupils sent home every day" in The Daily Mail to "Labour 'too soft on problem pupils'" in The Express. Academies, which make up only 0.3 per cent of schools, were responsible for 3 per cent of the expulsions.
Almost a third of secondaries now operate "sex clinics", a survey by the Sex Education Forum suggested. It defined a school as having a sexual health service if pupils who needed them could obtain condoms or pregnancy tests. One in six of the surveyed schools offered more advanced services, including giving out the morning-after pill and providing tests for sexually transmitted infections. The findings were widely welcomed by health charities, but Andy Hibberd of the Parent Organisation said: "This is the end of innocence."
Caterers criticised Jamie Oliver-style healthy school meals again, blaming them for a downturn in pupils eating hot lunches. A report by the Local Authority Caterers Association said canteens were "like restaurants with no customers", as pupils opted for junk food. The association said the Government had not given enough support to implement healthier menus and most caterers were now running at a loss.