A week in education

8th August 2008 at 01:00

The results of key stage 2 tests attracted plentiful attention after the almighty mess over their marking. Cheeringly, the proportion of pupils gaining the target level 4 grade rose by 1 per cent. But the press were more concerned with the number still getting lower grades and a small decrease in pupils gaining level 5s. The Mirror opted for the headline "Sats alarming", while The Sun reported that "3 million flop 3Rs", but neglected to mention that many had achieved level 3 in English, so had the basic skills required to read most tabloid papers.

The key stage tests themselves were criticised in a report by think tank Civitas. It found that nine out of 10 secondary teachers interviewed felt the results were not an accurate reflection of pupils' abilities. Most had so little faith they had to make pupils sit additional tests, a finding that sparked the front page Daily Telegraph headline: "Children pay price for Sats failure".

Plans to write to parents warning them if they have overweight children were announced by the Department of Health. They might have feared nanny state accusations. Instead they were criticised for being too soft for using the phrase "very overweight" rather than "obese". "Now you can't call fat children `obese'", said the Daily Express.

The Conservatives warned that equality was worsening. Michael Gove, shadow education secretary, renewed the party's pledge to introduce a "pupil premium", whereby per-pupil funding would be increased for disadvantaged children. But his suggestion on Radio 4 that education maintenance allowances had almost no effect on staying-on rates backfired after it emerged he had ignored FE colleges.

The Financial Times reported on a study that suggested families spent more than amp;#163;10 billion a year on sending their children to state schools, with the largest portion of that money going towards uniforms and PE kits. And which civic-minded organisation commissioned the research? Why, that would be the supermarket giant Asda, which, by a happy coincidence, was this week promoting its amp;#163;4 school uniform.

Teachers will have to buy uniforms too if Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, has his way. In the Mail on Sunday, he called for school dress codes to be applied to teachers, as it would force them to smarten up and wear ties. "Bankers don't turn up for meetings in chinos, deck shoes and sweats, so why should teachers?" he asked. Given that GQ was this week promoting tweed hoodies, we are not sure teachers should follow Mr Jones' fashion advice.

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