In brief

1st May 2009 at 01:00

Special request

Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, said on Wednesday that schools and other extended services must be more responsive, personalised and accountable to parents who have children with special educational needs. Speaking at a Barnardo's lecture, Mr Balls was responding to recommendations from SEN expert Brian Lamb, who called for the Government to "strengthen its approach to local authorities that are failing to comply with their duties to children with SEN". Mr Balls said: "We are progressively breaking the link between attainment and disadvantage, but there is more to do, and extra help for children with special needs is vital to make progress."

Secret exposed

A male teacher convicted of indecent exposure tried to cover up his criminal record when his colleagues asked him to complete a new Criminal Records Bureau certificate, a General Teaching Council hearing has found. Michael Robinson was asked to complete a new check when he was made head of special needs at Cardinal Hinsley High School in north London, but failed to do so for more than a year, despite requests. Mr Robinson also failed to turn up to meetings organised to discuss his CRB certificate. A GTC panel said his actions had the "potential to undermine public confidence in the profession" and gave him a reprimand.

Strategies fall short

The Policy Exchange think tank has attacked the national numeracy and literacy strategies, saying they have cost Pounds 2 billion but have not achieved great improvements. In 1999, after the literacy strategy was introduced, 71 per cent of pupils reached the expected level. When the numeracy strategy began in 2000, 72 per cent did so in maths. By 2008, the proportions had risen to 81 per cent in English and 79 per cent in maths. Policy Exchange says the degree of improvement was quicker before the strategies were introduced.

Poisoned teacher sues

A teacher who was poisoned when a schoolgirl poured blackboard cleaning fluid into her drinking water is suing her education authority, claiming that her career has been wrecked. The physical effects were relatively short-lived, but Shaaira Alexis, 52, claims the psychological impact ruined her chance of promotion. She lost her job at Brampton Manor School in east London in August 2006 because of her sickness record.

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