A Week in Education

26th January 2007 at 00:00
With tony and Gordon firmly aboard the Jade bandwagon, it was only a matter of time until Alan jumped on too. The Education Secretary used Ms Goody's racist comments on Celebrity Big Brother to call on schools to teach "core British values".

Jade's continued fame over the past five years might suggest that the British value mindless celebrity, cheap perfume and stunningly poor general knowledge.

But Mr Johnson had far loftier ideals in mind. The bullying directed at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty prompted him to call for the teaching of those other values - tolerance and understanding.

Core British values are something Gordon Brown has also called for in the teaching of citizenship as he positions himself to be Prime Minister.

But Sir Keith Ajegbo, commissioned by the Government to write a report into how diversity and citizenship should be taught, has deviated from the script by calling for pupils to offer their own definitions of Britishness.

Race relations have also been on the radar of Sir Cyril Taylor this week. The chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust has called for schools with a majority of Muslim pupils to be replaced by multi-faith academies.

Meanwhile, parents of four-year-old twins were told "computer says no" when it came to getting their children into school.

The parents of Danielle and Holly Ford, born prematurely just five days after the cut-off date for the start of the school year, decided to wait an extra year before sending them to school. But now Kent council has said there may not be any places at their local schools and the twins might have to be educated separately.

In Blackburn, parents at a primary school have been reminded of life as a pupil. They have been told off in a school newsletter for chewing gum and spitting it out in the playground when collecting their children.

And education minister Parmjit Dhanda said that schools should install plasma TVs playing MTV in canteens to encourage children to eat healthy school meals rather than head for the chip shop. Just so long as they don't tune in to Celebrity Big Brother re-runs.

They said...

"The more that has been spent on British secondary education, the worse the outcomes have been."

Niall Ferguson,Sunday Telegraph

We say...

This is a curious statement given the trajectory of recent national test, GCSE and A-level results. Education spending has doubled in real terms since 1980.

Over the same period, the proportion of pupils achieving five or more C grades or better has increased from 24 per cent (at O-level) to 59 per cent at GCSE. The proportion of A-level A grades has nearly trebled since 1980, while key stage 3 results have also risen sharply since the mid-1990s.

International comparisons of English pupils' performance paint a less favourable picture. They do not point to a dramatic falling away in our schools. Perhaps the professor should do his homework properly.

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