The week

13th February 2009 at 00:00

"I was forced out for trying to axe Muslim-only assemblies, claims headmistress." The headline seemed too much like tabloid Islam-bashing to be true, especially as the head mentioned had not spoken to the press.

Julia Robinson's resignation as head of Meersbrook Bank Primary in Sheffield seemed all the more curious when it emerged she had been off with stress since last spring. The city council insisted her resignation was for personal reasons, entirely unconnected to a "minor" row in 2007 over plans to end a separate weekly assembly for Muslim pupils, which elicited complaints from just four parents.

Yet sources close to the school confirm that Mrs Robinson had felt unable to continue after the complaints and unfair accusations that she was racist. And not one, but two governors appear to have resigned in protest.

The Conservatives announced dramatic plans for new "super" comprehensives. Which turned out be, erm, more academies. Michael Gove, shadow schools secretary, added, sinisterly, that "all the people who drive you wild when they're on the radio will be out of the education establishment".

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) alerted private schools to "worrying" new guidance which might affect their charitable status. The Daily Mail reported the council's fears that private schools could be "forced to give 16 per cent of their places to poor pupils".

The fuss was started by a 14-page fictional school report produced by the Charity Commission to show how schools could fill in its forms. The imaginary Lintott School, which had 1,270 students, wanted to offer bursaries to 36 new pupils - hence the 16 per cent figure.

Forget, for a moment, that this is below the average proportion of pupils which the ISC says its schools help financially (24.9 per cent). The important bit is that the report on Lintott stresses - repeatedly - not to read anything into its figures. "The primary purpose of this example is to demonstrate how to report on public benefit and it is not intended to set a minimum standard or template for schools to follow in terms of levels of bursaries or other activity," it says. It adds that it needed to stress this as there was "a risk this may be misinterpreted".

Incidentally, Oklahoma! was one of Lintott's student plays last year. No word yet if this musical will be forced on all private schools, too.

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