A Week in Education

3rd October 2008 at 01:00

The debacle over national test marking forced the Government to announce it was delaying publication of individual schools' results. The rankings, due in December, will now appear in March. The Daily Telegraph reported that the "tests fiasco left parents in the dark" because the results will come too late to help families choose schools. The Department for Children, Schools and Families played this down, emphasising that parents use a range of information - which begs the question: what is the point of the league tables? Pages 20 and 21

The Conservatives made a few teacher-friendly comments at their annual conference in Birmingham, including that teachers were "frazzled" and that they would become the party's "allies in driving up standards". But then David Cameron struck an aggressive note by pledging that a Tory government would bring "a declaration of war against those parts of the educational establishment who still cling to the cruelty of the 'all must win prizes' philosophy". This war declaration was "almost literal" he said, suggesting that some teacher trainers may need flak jackets.

The Conservatives' actual policies did even less to impress teachers' associations. Plans to introduce Swedish-style state-funded independent schools were branded "mad, bad and dangerous" by Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT. But a proposal to encourage ex-military staff into schools was welcomed by right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn, who wrote in the Daily Mail that "a tour of duty in downtown Baghdad was the perfect preparation for a stint in one of our bog-standard inner-city comprehensives". "Let's hope they remember to fix bayonets and wear their body armour," he added. Pages 4 and 5

The new chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference urged his colleagues to offer pupils alternatives to "to the passing fads of an X Factor culture". Tim Hastie-Smith, the head of Dean Close School in Cheltenham, who has also worked as a vicar, said the decline of religion in education had created a moral and spiritual vacuum. Meanwhile, a private university published a report at the HMC private schools' conference that concludes private schools do better because they are private. Pages 10 and 11

As the global financial crisis deepened, there was some cheerful news. The Guardian invented case studies of the two people likely to be the biggest winner and loser. Mr Cred C Runch, a merchant banker, appeared doomed, while the winner was Mrs Saffy As Houses, 55, a maths teacher at a state school. "Her recent pay rise was below inflation but her job is as secure as it can be," it said. Pages 28 and 29

Spin award of the week went to the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which announced that "male primary school teachers have acted as fundamental role models to one in two men". The agency had surveyed more than 1,000 men, and 47 per cent answered "Yes" to a question about role models. But what they were asked was whether they felt that male teachers "can act as role models where adult male figures are absent". Only 3 per cent of the men surveyed had grown up in a house without one, rendering most of the answers hypothetical.

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