A Week in Education

17th November 2006 at 00:00
Gordon Ramsay got a tongue- lashing from anti-bullying campaigners this week, eager to lay the blame for the 69 per cent of children bullied in schools. Yes, it's nearly Anti-Bullying Week, and while Jim Knight, schools minister, urged pupils to "celebrate diversity" and reject Islamophobia, the unions preferred to blame celebrities.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, lambasted Sir Alan Sugar and Gordon Ramsay for setting a bad example by reducing contestants on their TV shows to tears. "It's wrong when youngsters see celebrity status and money can be acquired on the basis of shouting, swearing and humiliating others,"

she said, inadvertently making a case for a ban on Today in Parliament.

It was left to R'n'B superstar Craig David to act as the last bastion of celebrity morality, admitting he was pumped for 50p pieces while a chubby youngster at a Southampton comprehensive.

Meanwhile, front pages recounted a stern warning from Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5, to the effect that terrorists are recruiting in British schools.

"I do not speak in this way to alarm," she said, before adding the threat could last "for a generation".

The war on rudeness was of greater concern to Peter Johnson, headmaster at Millfield school in Somerset, who gave his sixth-formers lessons in manners. Saffron Hutchinson, 17, agreed lessons in letter-writing, hosting dinner parties and the art of conversation had been "very helpful", music to the ears of children's minister Beverley Hughes.

She wants schools to offer a "finishing school" style programme of theatre trips and voluntary work to boost the boardroom potential of working class pupils.

It all comes too late for one former plucky cockney schoolboy. This week "party sources" announced Alan Johnson would no longer run for the Labour leadership - presumably the same "party sources" who announced he wouldn't say no to becoming deputy.

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