Ed Balls revealed his latest whizzo plan for schools: make more of them join chains. The Schools Secretary said next week's education white paper would include measures to force underperforming schools into them, and that inspectors might penalise high-achieving schools which resisted joining federations. Mr Balls told The Times: "We want to see chains of schools run by a single overall leadership, probably with a shared brand." But his faith in chains may surprise teachers in, say, Southampton, where an academy was opened last year by Oasis, one of Britain's biggest state school brands. Within a term its head had resigned, more than 30 pupils had been excluded for rioting, and a government minister had questioned whether its managers had enough expertise. But hey, chain brands have done wonders for the fast-food industry.
Radio and television news seemed shocked by an Ofsted report that said "children as young as four" were being excluded. Indeed, that was why the report was titled The Exclusion From School of Children aged Four to Seven. The more alarmist bulletins seemed to overlook the report's opening sentences: "Newspaper headlines (have) focused on the number of children aged seven and under who had been excluded from school. The data shows that, in reality, the numbers are very small and comprise a tiny proportion of children of this age from a very small proportion of schools." Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph warned that the inspectors wanted children to receive "therapy". Or, as teachers call it, "circle time".
Be afraid. Gordon Brown may be joining a staffroom near you. The Prime Minister told The Guardian that he might move into teaching next, though he also admitted he was not a "great presenter of information or communicator", which could be a drawback. Even scarier, The Daily Telegraph reported that Damian McBride, Mr Brown's shamed former special adviser, was being considered for the job of business and community manager at his alma mater, Finchley Catholic High in north London.
Teenagers protested against an A-level history question because they were confused by its description of Hitler's regime as a "despotic tyranny". The Daily Express reported that "education chiefs" felt the complaints indicated how low school standards had fallen. This angered students even more. On their Facebook group ("Despotic Tyranny Ruined My Life") they noted the Daily Express's caption read "Hitler: Depot or tyrant". "At least we can spell," one wrote.