The week

15th May 2009 at 01:00

Year six children in primaries across England took a deep breath, then opened their key stage 2 test papers. Would the English writing questions be more inspiring than normal? Not necessarily - pupils had to spend 45 minutes composing a report for a local sports shop about trainers. Expectations may have been higher for the last-ever externally marked KS2 science paper. But, again, the most fascinating questions included: "Why is plastic a good material for a washing up bowl?"

David Blunkett, a former education secretary, defended Sats and league tables in a Sunday Times article headlined "Only poor teachers dislike tests". He concluded that teachers who opposed them "have something to hide", though he grudgingly admitted that some "first-class teachers" disliked league tables, too. That category presumably includes Martin Stephen, head of the public school St Paul's, who has described league tables as "a cancer on the face of education".

Pressure grew on the Government over the shortage of primary places. The Daily Telegraph pointed out that more than 1,000 state primaries have closed in the past decade - figures that put the panic over private school closures in perspective. Meanwhile the Conservatives promoted figures that showed the number of unlawfully large infants classes had doubled in the past two years.

Amid the outrage over MPs' expense claims, it would take an unusual case for a politician to lecture schools that they should be "completely transparent and accountable" about bonuses. Yet that was what Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said after the head and two staff were suspended from Copland Community School in London. Sir Alan Davies, the head, had previously been accused of receiving Pounds 130,000 in bonuses. Brent Council said the suspensions were a "neutral act" pending an investigation.

Swine flu caused a further two schools to shut temporarily, taking the number of affected British schools up to eight. But journalists with children at Alleyn's School in south London expressed frustration that their healthy sons had been sent home with doses of Tamiflu during the revision season. Janice Turner of The Times added that a staff member at Alleyn's had been left in a quandary about her quarantine. "Did this mean she couldn't go to Sainsbury's? Anxious to be public spirited, she did the proper middle-class thing and ordered an Ocado home shop instead."

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