A Week in Education

11th May 2007 at 01:00
Headteachers were told that they are at the heart of the Government's latest plan to promote racial peace and harmony. Jim Knight, schools minister, said he wants all-white schools twinned with mainly black or Asian ones to promote community cohesion.

But the new draft guidance, to be enforced by Ofsted, is not just about skin colour: pupils in faith schools will be encouraged to become pen pals with those of other religions.

Perhaps the new proposals for a GCSE-type qualification for children who speak English as their second language will help the Department for Education and Skills to pull off this plan.

Meanwhile, delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference in Bournemouth warned that the system is heading towards "curriculum meltdown". They do not have the staff, resources or time to deliver the new work-related diplomas, a new curriculum at 11 to 14, and changes to GCSEs in English, maths and ICT, they said.

Mick Brookes, the general secretary, called for vocational training for 10-year-olds. He said Britain was in danger of producing an "army of the unemployable", as unskilled jobs become more scarce.

At the pound;46 million Thomas Deacon academy in Peterborough, pupils will have more time than ever to revise for exams after it was announced the school would have no playground and no break time. Dr Alan McMurdo, the head, justified the move by saying that children enjoying lessons should have "no need" to run off steam outside.

Manchester council came in for strong criticism for spending pound;25,000 on flying a group of teachers to Philadelphia for training in cognitive techniques to help pupils become more resilient. Right-wing commentators dismissed the trip as a junket with "happiness lessons".

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, called for schools to protect the anonymity of teachers subjected to allegations of assault or negligence.

But he stopped short of proposing any real changes to the General Teaching Council, Criminal Records Bureau or criminal processes.

More coverage was given, unsurprisingly, to the Prime Minister's plans to step down. But it will not be the last time that a Blair dabbles in education, education, education. It emerged that his second son Nicky is to teach history in an inner-city school.

The 21-year-old, who is in his final year at Oxford university, plans to do a two-year placement through the Teach First scheme.

THEY SAID...

Private schools are enrolling record numbers of pupils as guilt-ridden parents attempt to provide their children with the attention they cannot offer at home.

The Daily Mail WE SAY...

This is an interesting statement, given that the Independent Schools Council annual census figures on which it was based show that the number of pupils attending private primary, secondary and boarding schools has actually dropped slightly.

Numbers of pupils in independent nursery schools have indeed risen, but the only other sector to see a rise was sixth forms, where many teenagers are seen actively avoiding their guilt-ridden parents' attention.

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