The week

29th October 2010 at 01:00

As most of Fleet Street attempted this week to interrogate the Government's fiscal strategy, something staggering went unremarked - the spirit of Kenneth Williams taking over The Guardian's education supplement, complete with Carry On editorial principles. The result? A front-page pic of the former Ofsted chair Zenna Atkins with plunging top, illustrating a profile by a flustered Peter Wilby. She had, the normally sober journo opined, a "distinctly raunchy air about her" and reminded him of "barmaids featured in film and TV comedies". The icing on the cake was the headline. "A whole lot of front," it screamed. Oooh, matron!

While Sid James' ghost cackled away, most normal hacks were becoming obsessed with Michael Gove and his Lib Dem appendage, the pupil premium. Was it new money, newspapers asked, or was it raided from elsewhere in the education budget? While the details of the Government's accountancy were temporarily distracting, the long-term consequences for schools are of huge import. There will, of course, be big winners and big losers. Not least of all in the true-blue North Yorkshire constituencies of William Hague and education select committee chair Graham Stuart. You can expect the flamboyant Mr Stuart to lob a few hand grenades Mr Gove's way next time he's up in front of committee. Could be fun.

So most journos were assessing Government spending plans this week. But not all. There was, of course, a little spare capacity in our right-wing mid-market tabloids to roll out the trustiest of old stories. Like an ageing labrador came this headline: "Pupils at top all-girls school ordered to wear trousers after complaints about 'indecent' short skirts." The pic? Under-age girls in short skirts, of course.

Also rather lost in the post CSR wash-up was yet another nail in the Diploma coffin. Once hailed as the future of English education, its near terminal decline has been slow and painful. Following news earlier this year that the Coalition would pull its funding, it now emerges that only a third of those who started the engineering version completed it. Fare-thee-well, then, what remains of the Tomlinson report. It's been emotional.

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