The Week

22nd July 2011 at 01:00

The end-of-year reports are done, the pupils have left the building, and the timetable for August is looking decidedly uncluttered. Hooray! The collective sigh that greeted the end of the school year was audible even at TES Towers. Well, almost. So, with that nice long holiday stretched out in front of you, all is right in the teaching world, right?

Not quite. For scores of headteachers, exam season is doggedly refusing to fade to a distant memory. Thousands have added their voices to complaints about bungled Sats marking. More than a third of heads questioned by the NAHT union said the problems were "severe" or - in colourful language with which to grade someone's work - "outrageous". Probably best not to use that to critique Year 5's efforts next term.

A few years ago, "outrageous" Sats marking failures created a media storm. The system was in crisis. Protagonists were grilled by parliamentary select committees. Private companies apologised for mistakes. Senior officials were forced to fall on their swords. And politicians denied personal responsibility. Sound familiar to anyone?

It was, of course, the latest instalments in "hackgate" that really gripped the press this week. Let's face it, when even the Eurozone crisis is struggling to find its way into the papers, the latest pronouncements from Michael Gove are unlikely to create too many column inches. But the fallout has led to calls for more power for the education secretary. Despite Rebekah Brooks being arrested over allegations of phone hacking and bribery, Mr Gove couldn't get rid of her as an academy governor even if he wanted to. Only those convicted of crimes are barred from governorship, it turns out.

Away from Westminster, alarm was raised about the impact of excessive use of the internet on adolescents. Playing games online can literally make teenage brains waste away, apparently. Serious stuff. Except the shock findings were based on studies of 18 and 19-year-old university students who were spending up to - wait for it - 13 hours a day, six days a week, on their gaming habits. I fear these poor souls have more to worry about than a bit of brain seepage.

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