The Week

22nd May 2009 at 01:00

"Teachers 'fail'" read The Sun's brief headline. So what had teachers failed at this time? The story came from a survey by the vocational charity Edge. It suggested more than a quarter of parents felt their children were being let down by the school system (system, not teachers). The question posed by the charity was also a tad leading: "Do you agree with the statement, 'The current school system doesn't work for my child'?" Only 7 per cent of parents strongly agreed; 22 per cent just felt it didn't work "slightly". Edge claimed a previous survey proved teenagers felt school was "often dull, uninspiring and irrelevant" when more pupils had ticked the boxes saying the precise opposite.

More MPs with ties to education were caught up in the expenses scandal. Labour suspended David Chaytor, chair of the anti-selection group Comprehensive Future, after it emerged he had claimed nearly Pounds 13,000 in expenses for a mortgage he had paid off. The MP for Bury North had also been an active member of the education select committee. Other MPs in the spotlight included Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, and his shadow Michael Gove, both accused of "flipping" the designation of their second homes, a practice that has now been banned.

Education departments in universities ranked near the top of a league table. Sadly, it was for the courses most complained about by students. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education said complaints from university students had soared by nearly a quarter last year. This follows growing concerns that school-leavers face unprecedented competition for university places this summer. It's not cheerful news for sixth-formers currently revising for A-levels.

Speeches by two heads defending traditional subjects were spotted by The Telegraph, which said they contradicted plans announced last month to introduce more cross-curricular teaching in primaries. A good spot, as the speeches to the Prince's Teaching Institute contained strong quotes. Bernice McCabe, head of North London Collegiate, said pupils increasingly left school without subject knowledge, while Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Mossbourne Community Academy, warned of "educational apartheid". The speeches were actually made at Kensington Palace nearly six months ago, before Sir Jim Rose had even published his interim report on the primary curriculum. But the institute only published them this week - at a time when they are even more relevant.

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