Editorial - The week

27th February 2009 at 00:00

Ofsted revealed how a dozen schools in tough areas had become outstanding. Their secret? According to the Express, it was enforcing a "back to basics clamp-down on yobs in class". However, consistent discipline was just one of 21 things inspectors said the schools had in common. And their behaviour policies were not simply authoritarian - instead they placed an emphasis on rewarding pupils and "balancing discipline with what one head movingly calls the 'healing and invigorating power of praise and celebration'". Which is a bit less basic than giving yobs a thrashing.

Academy leaders complained in a letter to ministers that they were losing their freedoms and warned that the scheme's future was in jeopardy. The Independent Academies Association moaned that its members were being "increasingly hampered by requirements to bow to the whims of quangos and to abide by additional regulations". The Times agreed, accusing the Government of ruining its most successful policy. Restrictions that annoyed academy leaders include having to take their fair share of excluded pupils. Oh - and they will need to work with trusts set up to improve child protection.

"Nearly 7,000 convicted paedophiles, killers and kidnappers applied to be teachers last year", the Daily Star reported. The actual number who had committed those specific lurid crimes appeared to be no more than 25 (the total who applied to be teachers, who had a criminal conviction of any kind, was 6,750). And the fact their criminal records were all flagged up in checks suggests that the vetting system may actually be working. For a change.

How many primary school caretakers, exactly, are growing cannabis? Earlier this month, police found a small dope farm at the home of Eric Robinson, caretaker for Westbrook Old Hall Primary in Warrington. He escaped with a caution after police decided his 19 plants were for "personal use". But his crop pales next to the one discovered last week in the boiler room at Hitherfield Primary in Streatham, south London. Police found 31 cannabis plants after a tip-off from an electricity company that the school's bill was unusually high. Last Friday, caretaker Mike Griffin was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail. "What a wally" wrote another caretaker on The Caretakers Website. "You don't grow it in the boiler room - you grow it in the science block or the green house. We all know that."

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