A Week in Education

25th May 2007 at 01:00
the tory party and its on-off relationship with grammar schools continued to dominate the headlines and comment pages.

David Willetts, the Westminster shadow education secretary, must have been surprised by the fallout from a speech he gave more than a week ago. All he had done was repeat the party's decision not to expand grammar schools - a plan that David Cameron, the party leader, had stated on several occasions over the past year-and-a-half.

Yet horrified Tories claimed they had been caught out by a "sudden U-turn"

and threatened to defect to the UK Independence Party.

Others had more pressing issues. For Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, it was maintaining his lead in the Labour deputy leadership race.

And for Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, it was getting to the bottom of the health dangers of wireless networks in schools.

He called for a review into the potential risks of wi-fi after the BBC's Panorama reported that emissions from the networks could be three times those from a mobile phone mast.

But scientists criticised the programme for being a "scare story" and "grossly unscientific", pointing out that measurements had been made at different distances.

At St George's secondary in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, head Norman Hoare revealed he had come up with a solution for dealing with high demand for places.

He hired a private detective to spy on parents whom he believed were lying about their addresses to obtain places at the school, which is three times oversubscribed.

He also authorised stake-outs at parents' homes to verify their address details.

But his scheme's success rate has not been high: so far, two families caught out in spot checks, but one successfully appealed.

Parents may want to check the length of their children's fingers to see what sort of specialist schools they should attend. Academics at Bath university claimed that children whose ring fingers were as long as their index were more likely to favour maths. Those with shorter ring fingers shone at reading and writing.

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