And another great British institution bites the dust;Newsreel;The Week in View

16th January 1998 at 00:00
As the Government slashes theprimary curriculum and wires up the nation's schools to the Internet, thus substituting information for education, another institution bites the dust. The door-stepping days of the Encyclopaedia Britannica salesman have gone forever. The CD-Rom has made him redundant.

And a good old-fashioned schooluniform row breaks out. The head of a Lincolnshire school bans a 14-year-old girl for wearing a nose stud bought by her father for Christmas. "Our rules don't allow nose studs in school; they are not common in this area. Perhaps if Tara had been in London things would have been different," the head explained.

And London, along with the South-east, has the greatest concentration of brainpower, while the North and Wales have the lowest. However, the Economic and Social Research Council found that the reason was not because southerners are cleverer, but that most jobs requiring higher educational qualifications are to be found in the region.

It was a good week for girls again as an ObserverBBC survey revealed what we all know: boys are not only achieving less than girls, they are also scruffier. Girls spend twice as much time in the bathroom as boys in the morning, bath or shower more, clean their teeth more and change their socks more often. New Lad culture is to blame - again.

Women are even infiltrating the male-dominated world of engineering. Claire Drew, 30, was named Young Woman Engineer of the Year for her work in developing a helmet for RAF pilots as a systems engineer manager with GEC Marconi Avionics.

Perhaps her parents let her play with a Meccano set or Lego when she was little, as recommended by the Engineering Council, which has long campaigned to get more girls into the profession.

Even a top boys' school, Harrow, is taking a lesson from Wimbledon high, a leading girls' school, in organising leadership training courses for its sixth-formers instead of relying on the disciplines of the rugby pitch and the rifle corps.

But veteran sailor Robin Knox-Johnston recommends the sea life for instilling discipline and leadership qualities into teenage tearaways and spoilt brats alike in this Boat Show week. "The slack and lazy are quickly exposed in the hothouse environment of the half-deck. I have sailed with many who start the voyage surly and suspicious, but almost all of them end it having learnt both confidence and humility. They have fought their own fear and discovered teamwork."

Juggling is another confidence-raiser, according to Chris Lindup, head of Merrywood comprehensive, Bristol, which has some of the country's worst exam results. The circus skill increases self-belief and esteem, he believes.

Students at Robertsbridge Community College in Sussex are running a Website to monitor the progress of two Royal Marine commandos who are walking to the North Pole on an 80-day expedition beginning in March. The pair will answer questions from children around the country in a weekly telephone call to the base camp at Resolute Bay in Canada. The children's plan to walk to the Pole on the Internet was dreamt up by Kevin Hayter, their music teacher.

Such lateral thinking is reflected in a new entry to Who's Who by a senior Cambridge academic who lists his recreations as driving sports cars, cooking, good wine, comedy and "daily avoidance of assorted professional beggars, alcoholics and deranged individuals" in the city's streets. The entry does not make it clear if Professor George Salmond is referring solely to Cambridge's homeless or to fellow academics returning from High Table, remarked one scribe.

Peterhouse, the oldest college in that famous seat of learning, now boasts a ghost which some want exorcised, but as it needs all 45 fellows to get together for the ceremony, this seems doubtful. Good thing, too, said one old boy: "All right-thinking persons must protest against any suggestion of exorcism. A ghost is a priceless cultural, academic and environmental asset."

No doubt the Reverend Jim Rettie believes in ghoulies. He has been banned from Tongue primary school in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands by Anne Scott, the head, for frightening the children with his "hell-fire and brimstone" teaching. Some parents said children had been afraid of going to sleep after he had told them they would go to hell if they died and had not been to church.

Medmerry school in Selsey could be forgiven for thinking that God had it in for them as their building suffered the most serious damage in the tornado that ripped through the resort, home of Patrick Moore, the nation's favourite astronomer.

And if the weather is keeping you tucked under the duvet, help is at hand. North Yorkshire Training and Enterprise Council is running courses in how to stuff a continental quilt in its cover without those exhausting wrestling matches that leave you needing a lie-down.

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