The Week

28th May 2010 at 01:00

The election result already feels like an age ago, but only this week did the Con-Lib love-in finally spell out what it actually plans to do. Yes, there was pomp and pageantry, but beyond its staid ceremony, the Queen's Speech held some unusually radical ideas for schools. Academy freedoms, anyone? Heads are usually drowning in mail and missives from central government - but the next thing to plop on the mat will be an invitation for them to go it alone. Not that our union friends were impressed ... Perhaps the idea of the leaders of competing organisations working so harmoniously together makes them feel queasy.

For more union blood-boiling, step forward the General Teaching Council. The profession's policeman is never far from provoking a bit of disorderly behaviour. But this week it excelled itself by deciding that describing immigrants as "savages" is no proof of racial intolerance, thus allowing BNP activist Adam Walker back in the classroom. If that kind of language doesn't bother the GTC, one wonders if being called "perverse" by the NUT will even register as a criticism.

Mr Walker wasn't the only teacher having his future decided this week. In a case that has shown huge public sympathy for the stresses teachers face, Peter Harvey was spared prison after admitting he attacked a pupil. The judge described him as "a thoroughly decent man". Not an opinion endorsed by his school or local authority - we hope they will - as they consider whether to fire Mr Harvey, rather than let him retire on ill-health grounds.

We also welcome the return of Ed Balls to the educational fray. The now shadow education secretary has been tied up of late with his designs on the Labour leadership. But he made an appearance on Newsnight to debate "free schools" with journalist and Conservative supporter Toby Young. Not only did Mr Balls, supposedly the bruiser's bruiser, say he quite fancied the idea of sending his own kids to Mr Young's proposed school, but also offered to pop down and open it for him. The new politics indeed ...

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