A Week in Education

20th April 2007 at 01:00
FAITH SCHOOLS, "amateur" school governors and a 1970s detective all came in for criticism as the conference of the second largest teachers' union drew to a close in Bournemouth.

Gene Hunt, the celebrated politically incorrect DCI from retro TV drama Life on Mars was criticised for using the term "fairy boy".

It was language that could encourage homophobic bullying in schools, warned Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary.

It is a tactic she has used previously, citing such celebrities as Gordon Ramsay and Sir Alan Sugar and referring to the damaging effect of Celebrity Big Brother. But who can blame her? It works every time.

Ms Keates also had harsh words for governing bodies "filled with well-meaning amateurs who struggle with the complexities of what takes place in schools".

Meanwhile, her members turned their fire on faith schools, voting against setting up new ones because they led to social conflict.

Elsewhere, David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, set out his remedy for an education system that he termed a "national disgrace" - the return of grammar schools.

He said pupils in comprehensive schools are "being bullied or picked on because they are bright", the Daily Mail reported.

The Department for Education and Skills added to concerns over behaviour with the release of statistics revealing a 29 per cent rise in the number of pupils temporarily excluded for racial abuse.

But the Government pledged to tackle persistent truants by allowing 400 schools to send them automated texts asking why they had not turned up, within a few minutes of the school bell.

Once again, Education Secretary Alan Johnson's appearance in the papers had more to do with the Labour party leadership and deputy leadership contests than anything his department was up to. But this time it was a warning that former schools minister David Miliband should not stand that attracted the interest.

Teachers from state and private schools were due to attend a conference today at Wellington College to discuss ways to prevent drug use among pupils.

Anthony Seldon, master of the college,Jplans toJcriticise the Government's decision to downgrade cannabis to a class-C drug.

In a newspaper article earlier this week, he wrote that he loathed the drug, not just because it had destroyed some of his friends lives, but because it "makes people so boring".

THEY SAID...

'British schools drop the Holocaust to appease Muslims'

Fox News, US WE SAY...

No they haven't. A chain email, read by thousands around the world and repeated on US websites, has claimed that "school boards" in the UK have removed the Holocaust from the curriculum because it offended Muslims.

This story appears to be a wild distortion of a recent report commissioned from the Historical Association by the Department for Education and Skills.

This report gave the example of a history department at a single school in an unnamed northern city that "recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils".

While concerning, there was no suggestion that even this school had dropped the Holocaust completely. It remains a compulsory part of the curriculum for all 11 to 14-year-olds.

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