The Week

5th November 2010 at 00:00

As double acts go, this one's a bit special, though not exactly Eric and Ernie, Vic and Bob, or Rodney and Del Boy. More Little and Large, the Michael and Arnie show could yet do big business. Yes, you've guessed it, this week saw our esteemed Education Secretary (an estimated 5'10") enjoying a visit from his American counterpart, former basketball pro Arne Duncan (roughly 6'8"). What lucky little blighters they are at Mossbourne to have played host to the famous duo. To be fair, though, the material wasn't exactly comic. There aren't many laughs in comparative educational systems. Any jokes would be gratefully received ...

Not exactly funny ha-ha, but Mr Duncan did delight the Government by giving his backing to their plans for schools. Wahoo! Of course, it would have been a lot cheerier if the thumbs-up had come from a country that actually does better than the UK in international school tables. And some teachers might be a tad alarmed by Mr Duncan's hardline attitude, supporting the sacking of the entire staff at a Rhode Island school when they refused to work longer hours. But can we banish such negative thoughts, and just enjoy basking in the glow of the Obama administration? Yes we can.

Perhaps the Education Secretary could have learned a few tricks of comic timing on Sunday when he made an appearance at the Teaching Awards, where the warm-up man played the traditional role of host, ribbing him gently as the "very important man" who turned up late. It is still not clear whether the comedy legend was actually aware of who it was he was taking the mickey out of.

And finally, bell-ringing classes and church coffee mornings are giving middle-class families an unfair advantage when it comes to getting their children into faith schools, the schools adjudicator warned on Monday. Dr Ian Craig suggested in his annual report that working-class parents might be missing out on opportunities to help at their local church because they are, well, working. How to fix this? Perhaps vicars need to be more aware of the class of attending parents - we'd suggest watching the brands of coffee they bring closely and limiting the number of school place recommendations they make for those who require a cafetiere.

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