The Week

2nd July 2010 at 01:00

Bow your 'ead. Practise your curtsy. Tug nervously at your forelock. It is, of course, that time of year for the Prince's Summer School. Don't everyone cheer at once. Tis the season when Prince Charles's conduit for all things classroom, Bernice McCabe, pronounces from the rooftops about the state of our schools and damns those nasty progressive teachers for failing to commit to traditional subject teaching. To say it's Daily Mail fodder would be an enormous understatement. Altogether now: "George I, George II, George III, George IV, William IV etc". Will the Prince stop at nothing to keep that nice David Starkey on side?

Unsurprisingly, Michael Gove made an appearance at the Cambridge event on Tuesday. After all, there's nothing our new Secretary of State likes more than opining on the state of history teaching in our schools. Indeed, where others might relax with a bit of Morse on ITV4 and a glass of Pinot, the Education Secretary lets off steam by contemplating the failure of the nation's youth to understand the civilising impact of the British Empire.

Quite how this centralised approach to curriculum development squares with Mr Gove's flagship policy on academies is still anyone's guess. This conundrum came into even sharper focus this week when his department published the names of the thousands of schools that have "expressed an interest in becoming an academy". Let 1,000 flowers bloom doesn't quite do it justice. Surely not all of them will be determined to teach the Corn Laws.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for our old friend Ed Balls, who appears to be positioning himself as the saviour of children's nutrition. The former Brownite bruiser is nailing his Labour Party leadership hopes to his campaign to "save our school meals". He is raging at Mr Gove for abandoning Labour's proposals to provide free school meals to 500,000 more pupils. The campaign probably ain't going to swing it from Milibands D and E on its own - but an endorsement from Saint Jamie of School Dinners? That would make all the difference.

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