A Week in Education

9th January 2009 at 00:00

The first major education story of the year was the shock news that a primary school in Sheffield had banned the word "school". But the story - which appeared on the front page of The Sun and in all the daily newspapers - was utter tosh.

Watercliffe Meadow had decided to use the phrase "a place for learning" on its sign, rather than "school", to encourage parents to come and use it for family learning. This is not unusual: several UK schools consider it unnecessary to include the word in their title. Head Linda Kingdon told The TES she had been stunned when the primary had become the centre of international media attention and has written to parents to let them know the reports were untrue.

"It was unbelievable - of course we wouldn't have banned the word 'school'," she said. "As far as the children are concerned it's a school, I've talked about it as a school, and it says 'Watercliffe Meadow School' on our cheque book. We just didn't think it was necessary to say it on the sign."

Ofsted announced another crack-down on boring teachers. Christine Gilbert, the chief schools inspector, told The Guardian that there was a "link between boredom and acheivement that needed to be tackled" and that too many lessons were repetitive.

Ofsted has previously warned about boring teachers on several occasions, including in its annual report last year, as well as its separate inspection reports on science, geography and maths. But, apparently, it is fine for the watchdog to be repetitive - just not teachers. Pages 12-13.

Grim findings emerged from a Panorama investigation into sexualised bullying in schools. The BBC programme revealed that 3,500 children had been suspended for sexual misconduct from schools in 2006-07, 280 of whom were in primary schools. A survey of 11 to 19-year-olds by the charity Young Voice also found that one in 10 said they had been forced to take part in sex acts.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said teachers were also at risk. "We have dealt regularly with cases where women teachers have had pupils using mobile phones to photograph their cleavage, making sexual remarks to them, posting comments of a sexually explicit nature on the internet, and on rare occasions threatening them with sexual assault," she said. Page 8.

A psychologist urged teachers to allow playful teasing and nicknames in the playground. Dr Erin Heerey, of Bangor University's school of psychology, told the Western Mail that good-natured joshing was crucial for team-building. "If everybody's smiling, there's no reason to step in and stop it," she said. "They are learning about social norms and how to interact."

The national papers were keener to list insulting nicknames, with the Daily Mail reporting that it was good for children to be called "four-eyes", "lurch", "shorty", "carrot-top" and "pizza face".

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