A Week in Education
A crucial difference exists between teaching creationism and teaching about creationism. That was a key point in a speech by Professor Michael Reiss, an ordained Church of England clergyman, who argued that teachers should not be afraid to discuss the subject in science lessons, providing they explained that evolution was a sound scientific theory and creationism was not. Unfortunately, his speech was misinterpreted by some fellow scientists and colleagues at the Royal Society, who forced him out of his post as director of education. In a bitter irony, The Daily Telegraph summed up the pro-evolution scientist's departure as "Creationism biologist loses job". Page 3
The Observer suggested that up to 1,000 schools were without a headteacher, sparking panicky TV and radio reports. But the high figure was based on a ballpark estimate by a union leader who said the number was between 600 and 1,000. A report published later in the week suggested headteacher recruitment had actually improved in many areas and that only 180 schools had been advertising unsuccessfully for a head towards the end of the summer term. The truth is likely to be somewhere in between. Page 8
A commission published a report concluding that US-style yellow school buses were a good idea for Britain. This was no surprise as the commission was set up by First Group, a bus company that has been running trials with such buses in the UK for six years. But the report did contain details of how this type of scheme could become a reality, including that it would cost Pounds 10,000 per participating primary.
A group of academics were accused of proposing "that primary school classrooms should be turned into gay saunas". No saunas were mentioned at the seminar, held by researchers on the No Outsiders team, which has been investigating approaches to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in primary education. But their decision to call the event "Queering primary education", and to discuss the role of desire in the classroom, certainly wound up The Daily Mail - which may have been their intention.
The Daily Star also reported a "School sex shock". But its was the case of eight-year-old Curtis Gingell, who borrowed the book Amy's Honeymoon by Julia Llewellyn from the library at Park Primary in Bargoed, Caerphilly, south Wales. His mother was appalled by the book, which The Star described as an "adult novel about sex and drugs". Pupils now rushing to get their hands on a copy will be disappointed to discover that it is chick lit about a failed wedding.
In a sad milestone, the BBC broadcast the last episode of Grange Hill, a series which had been running for 30 years. The programme's finale featured a reappearance from one of the school's first pupils, mischief-maker Tucker Jenkins, played by Todd Carty. Glancing around the comprehensive's computer lab, he neatly summed up the changes that have occurred to both children's broadcasting and state education over the decades. "In my day this place used to be about people," he said. "Now it's all about numbers".