A Week in Education

23rd February 2007 at 00:00
They are scantily clad sexual provocateurs, hoisting themselves up from the sofa only long enough to buy junk food and score some drugs. And then they hit puberty.

This week, politicians and newspaper commentators have rushed to attack the depraved state of modern youth. The Telegraph led the charge. Under the headline "Don't corrupt our children's childhoods", they cited psychologists who claimed that six-year-olds are replacing frilly frocks with plunging necklines.

And a report, conducted by psychologist Aric Sigman, revealed that watching too much television can lead to childhood obesity.

Meanwhile, tabloids gleefully reported that pupils at North Newton primary, in Somerset, are traipsing down to the local pub for lunch every day, because their school has no kitchen.

Schools were also accused of profiting from their uniform policies. The Office of Fair Trading warned against exclusive deals with uniform shops for overcharging parents by pound;45 million a year.

But those harking back to the good old days when gang fights were resolved with conkers can take comfort in a far more traditional playground exchange.

Running to tell tales on the bigger kid, Alan Johnson, Education Secretary, spoke to BBC documentary makers about Tony Blair. "He is incredibly posh,"

Mr Johnson said. "I said I had three kids by the time I was 20. He said to me, 'Oh, so you really are working class'."

Tory leader David Cameron also made news with his decision to follow in Mr Blair's footsteps by sending Nancy, his three-year-old daughter, to a faith school.

He said that he and his wife were concerned she would get lost in some of the enormous non-faith primaries.

German parents, meanwhile, prefer to go private. More than 5,000 German pupils attend British public schools. Learning from Basil Fawlty's mistakes, The Mail on Sunday did not even attempt to avoid mentioning the war. "It's a German invasion," it announced. "Britain's public schools are nurturing soaring numbers of children from one of our oldest rivals."

But Mail readers need not fear a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain on the playing fields of Eton. The British pupils will all be down the pub.

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