...and this is what you've already missed

8th September 2006 at 01:00
Forget the annual cheers and boos over exam results. The biggest education story of the summer holidays - at least for reality TV viewers - was a vow by a young Welshman to train as a teacher.

The decision by Big Brother runner-up Glyn Wise was welcomed by the Welsh teachers' union UCAC, even though the 18-year-old had been filmed streaking and vomiting drunkenly.

"Getting drunk and being sick and a bit silly is normal behaviour for most young people," said Eryl Owain, UCAC field officer. "Unfortunately for Glyn, it's all been shown on live TV."

Appearing naked on television certainly does not appear to be a bar to the profession.

Emma Wright, a teacher at Streatham and Clapham high school, in south London, was embarrassed after agreeing to strip off for the Channel 4 series How to Look Good Naked, particularly when nude pictures of her were projected on to the side of Waterloo station.

But she was defended by the Girls' Day School Trust and several parents, one of whom said it was "nothing to distract her from being a good teacher".

However, teachers were warned to be cautious about posting pictures of themselves - naked or otherwise - on MySpace and other popular social networking websites.

Teacher unions and Becta, the educational technology agency, said teachers should take care when writing messages on these sites. "Once you post something online, it is there forever," said Ruth Hammond of Becta.

The care teachers must take with words was also discussed at the annual conference of the Professional Association of Teachers.

Union members backed a motion saying they regretted "that it does not appear to be cool to be clever". Simon Smith, a teacher from Sweyne Park school in Essex, suggested teachers could get round pupils' aversion to the word "clever" by calling them "successful" instead.

This idea was misinterpreted by some sections of the media as a sign that teachers did not want pupils to be intelligent. The same newspapers then reported, in horrified tones, that schools were being banned from teaching children the difference between right and wrong.

Politicians mostly remained quiet about schools over the summer, with a refreshing absence of initiatives. The only notable intervention was by Alan Johnson, Education Secretary, who demanded that Trollope, Dickens, Austen and a series of other pre-1914 authors should be kept on the national curriculum.

Predictably, he also defended exam results, which broke records yet again, with 62 per cent of children gaining C grades or above at GCSE; while 24 per cent got As at A-level.

Two private schools announced they would be capping the number of GCSEs they allowed their pupils to sit because of concerns that education was becoming dominated by preparation for the exams.

Shortly after, Brighton College undermined its stance by sending out a press release boasting that a pupil had gained three As at AS-level on top of 10 A*s at GCSE.

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