The Week

31st July 2009 at 01:00

Don't panic! Some schools may have been alarmed by the Daily Telegraph's front page headline "Education spending to be cut by Pounds 100m". The paper's economics editor wrote that the drop from Pounds 85.1 billion to a plain Pounds 85bn was the "most controversial" cut planned by the Prime Minister as it was the first reduction in education spending since the 1980s. Except - bear with us here - there's no cut. The Pounds 100m is money for building projects that was just shifted forward by a year to 2009-10 so the recession-hit builders could start a bit earlier. And that's no big secret as it was publicly announced in last October's pre-Budget report. Phew. Though that doesn't mean everything will be financially rosy for schools in the future.

On the subject of alarming headlines, further updates emerged on how the education system may cope with swine flu next term. These included that the Government has been in talks with broadcasters about screening educational TV programmes if the schools are shut (keen readers may recall that The TES reported this last November when officials were worrying about avian flu). Several newspapers also reported government advice suggesting pupils should not share crayons and soft toys. This guidance, available on the Teachernet website, was actually published by the then DfES in 2007, so is not a fresh, specific response to swine flu - but it's still valid.

Vernon Coaker, schools minister, announced a scheme to give talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds Pounds 250 annual scholarships to develop their artistic, sporting or academic talents. The Guardian dubbed it the "Billy Elliot cash bonus". Pupils need not worry if their interests stretch beyond ballet - they will also be able to spend it on theatre tickets, magazine subscriptions and anything else of use. But if they are not in Years 6-9 now, tough luck. The money will go to about 2,000 pupils from each Year 10 cohort for four years, starting next year.

The most upbeat news of the week? Johnny Depp is planning to send his children to a school in Britain, according to The Sun. The Hollywood star has apparently been considering a private school near Bath for his 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. Visits by Mr Depp and his partner, the French pop singer Vanessa Paradis, might liven up interminable parents' evenings, at least.

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