A Week in Education

4th May 2007 at 01:00
AS THE main political parties in Wales were busy trying to persuade floating voters to back them in the last few days of campaigning for the Assembly elections, and First Minister Rhodri Morgan had a lovely time on his campaign bus in Bangor, Jack Straw, leader of the Commons, called for the creation of a shared "British story" to educate children about our past.

His green and pleasant curriculum included the Magna Carta, the Civil War and the fight for votes. Historians branded the notion "too little, too late".

If only Mr Straw had known of the plans of the Welsh heritage group Herian to rewrite the history books and make Newport the historic heartland of the Chartist movement. Do we hear an act of heresy?

Meanwhile, the barrage of controversy over ethnic segregation continued with Nick Johnson, a director at the Commission for Racial Equality, calling for an end to "ghettoisation" in British schools, arguing that the UK could turn into a "mini-America".

One in eight British pupils now speaks another language at home, and one in five is from an ethnic minority, almost double the figure a decade ago, according to the latest annual school census. But while the number of ethnic-minority pupils grows, the number of ethnic-minority teachers in Wales does not. Figures from the General Teaching Council for Wales show racial groups are becoming increasingly unrepresented, with more than 95 per cent of teachers registered as white British.

The Westminster Government is introducing lessons in manners, according to the Sunday papers. And if kids don't respond to the subtle approach? There is always the internet Asbo. The novel measure has been proposed by the Serious Organised Crime Agency to deter cyber-bullies.

Alas, it comes too late for staff at Emmanuel College, Gateshead, who suffered the indignity of finding their heads pasted on to the bodies of monkeys and bears on a pupil-run website that has already clocked up 18,000 hits.

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