The Week

10th June 2011 at 01:00

After all the hype about the sexualisation of children this week, some might imagine that "Porn Star In Training" T-shirts are now standard-issue uniform in infant schools. The Government-commissioned report on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood actually painted a more nuanced picture, noting that the press had exaggerated the panic about thongs and padded bras for children, "fanning a prurient interest in cases where a sexual dimension can be put into a headline".

The report recommended that adverts with sexualised imagery should not be placed near schools. It also had some strong proposals for reducing the commercialisation of childhood, including that under-16s should not be employed by companies as "brand ambassadors" to flog their wares to classmates. But fewer people paid attention to that bit as it wasn't, well, sexy.

It was non-uniform footwear rather than smutty T-shirts that caused trouble at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Coventry. A group of teenagers were banned from a GCSE exam unless they removed their shoes - four chose to miss the test rather than sit it in socks. Parents deemed the action "draconian", but they should have thanked the school. Maverick educationalist Professor Stephen Heppell believes learners do better with their shoes off, so their children could have had an advantage.

From unusual advice we move to statements of the obvious. The Government's long-awaited Prevent strategy for tackling home-grown terrorism was finally published, warning that those who are supportive of terrorist ideologies have "sought and sometimes gained positions in schools or in groups which work closely with young people". Well, yes, given that the ringleader of the 2005 London bombings was famously a learning mentor at a Leeds primary (where he was interviewed by The TES), we had gathered that, thanks.

Finally, the discovery of two new elements for the Periodic Table may create difficulty for science teachers. The teams which discovered the elements, with the atomic numbers 114 and 116, have yet to name them. Schools do not have much spare cash right now, so we would like to request the scientists pick nice, short names that teachers can easily Biro on to the Periodic Tables in their classrooms.

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