On the fringe

28th September 2007 at 01:00
Big Brother-style diary rooms will be set up in schools so pupils have the chance to contribute to the Government's children's plan.

Jim Knight told a fringe meeting that officials were currently working on the idea of mobile diary rooms to draw children into the consultation process.

He had seen the diary room idea working in a Wolverhampton school and had found it "very, very engaging".

"Feral" children are slipping out of the school system and disappearing onto the streets, according to a senior Labour MP.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, called for research into the phenomenon at a fringe meeting. "These children are slipping out of school very early on and no one knows where they are," he said. "If you go into city centres you can see them late at night."

Ministers are unsure who they will punish if 16-18 year-olds break their planned new law and fail to stay on in education.

The age of compulsory participation in education or training is due to rise to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015.

Jim Knight, schools minister, told a fringe meeting he was in talks with the Ministry of Justice about using civil court orders, but they had not decided if the young people or their parents would be charged.

He added that it would be innappropriate for either to be jailed.

The relationship between the Government and teaching unions seemed strong this week, but did the party apparatchiks know who they were dealing with?

A close inspection of conference security passes showed that John Dunford was apparently in charge of the NASUWT and Steve Sinnott was leader of the National Association of Head Teachers. Mr Dunford and Mr Sinnott are, of course, respective general secretaries of the Association of School and College Leaders and the NUT.

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