The Week

1st May 2009 at 01:00

Back in the autumn, the headlines warned that the Government was introducing "sex lessons for five-year-olds". Ministers wanted to make personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education statutory for primaries, and had asked headteacher Sir Alasdair Macdonald to investigate. This week, he reported back. No, he explained, sex and relationships education (SRE) obviously didn't involve teaching five-year-olds the mechanics of sex - the focus at that age was on relationships. "Comments in some parts of the media and elsewhere that statutory SRE would mean 'sex lessons for five-year-olds' are inaccurate and miss the point of SRE in PSHE education," his report said.

So what was there to get upset about? Ah - that key stage 3 pupils will learn, among other things, that some people are in same-sex relationships and have civil partnerships. Thus, the headlines "Lessons about gays will be compulsory from age of 11" and "Pupils, 11, to learn about homosexuals". The existence of gay people will no doubt be a terrible shock to our 11 to 14-year-olds who have been brought up watching John Barrowman and Matt Lucas on TV.

The Tories announced that they would encourage primaries to become academies. It would be easier than for secondaries, the party suggested, because primaries would not need such huge rebuilds and generous sponsors (glossing over the fact that primaries, with smaller staff, might find it trickier without local authority support). The Daily Telegraph applauded the plan, gushing that "the academies have helped create standards of educational achievement all too frequently absent from the state sector". A shame that academies are proportionally more likely than other state schools to be included in the National Challenge scheme for "failing" schools.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed a letter from exam boards urging the Government to delay academic diplomas. Jim Knight, the schools minister, insisted they would still start in 2011. Schools might take Mr Knight more seriously on this if: a) he had not already delayed the science diploma to 2012; and b) the Conservatives were not expected to come to power in 2010 and scrap the things.

Unsettling moment of the week: Chris Woodhead rapping. The former chief inspector was asked about his views on rap-based poetry. In his Sunday Times column, he wrote: "Man, where is your sense of fun? This is how poetry should be done." Word.

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