A Week in Education

9th February 2007 at 00:00
an enjoyable week for lovers of Labour spin, as journalists scrapping for details of the curriculum reforms found themselves on the receiving end of some not-so-subtle leaks. So, while the Daily Mail got its languages scoop ("Pupils can master Mandarin instead of learning French"), the Telegraph secured some worthy grumbling about the Bard ("Shakespeare's sonnets join the classroom 'untouchables'").

Politically correct Guardian readers were reassured to learn that global warming and slavery would be a compulsory part of the curriculum, while the Financial Times complained that practical lessons on personal finance would only be voluntary.

Many of the curriculum plans were, of course, covered in last week's TES.

Except, that is, the issue the Daily Star chose to highlight: "Fat schoolkids to be taught to skateboard".

A different kind of PR mess hit the National Association of Head Teachers'

decision to seek conference sponsorship - yet again - from McDonald's, a move questioned by the Mail on Sunday. Burger van owners were quick to brand as hypocrites those heads who ban fast-food sellers from the school gates. Presumably the Archbishop of Canterbury was unavailable for comment.

A teacher suing a west London Muslim school for unfair dismissal has claimed its pupils are being taught to hate Jews and Christians. He alleged he heard children express admiration for Osama bin Laden. Colin Cook said there had been "a move towards a pro-Saudi agenda" at the King Fahad academy in Acton when most British teachers left in 2005, and that when he complained about this he was told: "This is not England - it is Saudi Arabia." The school said it had removed offensive material from the textbooks.

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford has offered to contribute towards a Buckinghamshire school's legal battle against a pupil who wishes to wear an Islamic face-cover, or niqab.

The Oxford centre's chairman, Taj Hargey, said he wanted to oppose "this largely Saudi-driven campaign to make the niqab a compulsory requirement for Muslim women".

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