The Week

5th June 2009 at 01:00

If a school went through seven headteachers in under a decade it would appear directionless and in chaos. But apparently it's fine to change education secretaries that often. With Parliament in meltdown, speculation grew that Ed Balls would be moved from the post. Meanwhile, Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, joined Jacqui Smith, former schools minister, and MP David Chaytor, former chair of campaign group Comprehensive Future, in announcing they would stand down at the next election. Bankers may soon notice MPs standing behind them in the queue to retrain as teachers.

"Swine flu does what the Nazis couldn't: close Eton," announced The Independent. The 569-year-old public school shut for a week - for the first time in living memory, it seems - after a pupil tested positive for the flu strain. The Mirror chose to riff off The Jam instead with its headline: "Eton sniffles".

Between the global pandemic and the collapse of faith in parliamentary democracy there was one glimmer of cheerfulness: the surprise triumph by dance troupe Diversity in the TV contest Britain's Got Talent. The 11-strong group included three secondary pupils: 13-year-olds Perri Kiely and Mitchell Craske, and 16-year-old Jordan Banjo - all due to return to school this week, with Jordan knuckling down to GCSE revision.

The Conservatives obtained "truly shocking" figures, which they said showed that fewer than half of comprehensives were letting pupils take separate science GCSEs in chemistry, biology or physics. Why weren't ministers taking action and making schools offer triple science to bright pupils? Perhaps because they did so, erm, two years ago. As the Association of School and College Leaders noted, the entitlement was only introduced last September - and the test data was for pupils who chose their GCSE courses in 2006.

The Daily Telegraph revealed the "First 'social media' GCSE lessons in schools", which will teach pupils about sites such as Facebook. The course, being trialled at Bishop Challoner Catholic College, has been devised by the former head of marketing for MySpace and will contribute to pupils' English GCSE coursework. Traditionalists need not self-combust. Application essays that the pupils will write explaining why they should attend the classes - potentially classic pieces of persuasive writing - are likely to count more towards their English GCSE than the lessons themselves.

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