A Week in Education

3rd August 2007 at 01:00
SCHOOL PUPILS are bad and will get worse, judging by the concerns emanating from the Professional Association of Teachers conference.

Delegates opposed government plans to keep teenagers in school or training until 18, warning that the proposed law would create mass truancy and criminality.

They also condemned school children's use of internet sites for violent and sexual cyber-bullying. English access to sites such as YouTube and Rate My Teacher should be closed off by the Government, the association agreed.

THE CONSERVATIVES set the stage for a theatrical duel with Labour over who is toughest on bad behaviour, when David Cameron reaffirmed party policy, giving heads the final say over expelling unruly pupils.

Pupils should respect and even fear their teachers, he said, in a speech designed to appeal to traditional Tory values.

The Government lunged back, exploiting infighting with the Conservative Party. "Everybody knows that discipline starts at home," said Kevin Brennan, schools minister.

Full story, page 10

PRIMARY CHILDREN are using cannabis, say doctors at drug intervention clinics. One drugs charity, the Lifeline Project, said it was treating a six-year-old addict.

Last week, a government-commissioned report said smoking a single cannabis joint increased the risk of schizophrenia by 40 per cent.

The Government is again considering reclassifying cannabis to make possession of the drug a more serious crime, eliciting dope-smoking confessions from Cabinet ministers such as Jacqui Smith, the former schools minister who is now Home Secretary.

THE GOVERNMENT plans to stop teens loitering on street corners with a Pounds 184 million plan to build a youth club in every neighbourhood.

The policy, which could be good news for Britain's medal prospects in table tennis at the London Olympics, is intended to offer teenagers somewhere to "hang out" after school and engage in constructive activities.

Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, also proposed "coming of age ceremonies" like US high school graduation ceremonies.

SCHOOLS HAVE been criticised for forcing children to grow up too fast by disclosing that Santa Claus does not really exist. Now a Somerset school is accused of giving away the ending to the last Harry Potter book.

Carolyn Banfield, headteacher at St John's Church of England primary school in Midsomer Norton, defended her decision to read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, saying the extract read at the end-of-term assembly was chosen to reflect the theme of saying goodbye.

But the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations said the reading has broken the magic spell for children, who had previously been won over to reading by the JK Rowling series.

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