The week

13th March 2009 at 00:00

Sacked bankers can't wait to become teachers. So raring are they to start explaining short-selling and quantitative easing to Year 9 maths classes that Gordon Brown has announced he will let them retrain in six months. The plan was launched without any consultation with teachers' organisations, which quickly labelled it a "gimmick" and said it contradicted the Government's grand drive to turn teaching into a super-trained, masters-level profession. Of course, allowing bankers to make rushed decisions has never caused the country any problems before.

The Conservatives highlighted troubling figures about the comparative numbers of pupils from different backgrounds getting three A grades at A-level. The total who did so at comprehensives last year was 7,484, while the number at independent schools was 10,156. But in the rush to condemn the state sector (The Times' headline was "State schools slip farther behind at A-level"), no one asked where the other 10,000 pupils who got three As had been educated. Oh, yes, sixth form and FE colleges, where around two-thirds of young people go at 16, often because their school doesn't teach A-levels.

The Dail Mail praised parents who had kept "more than 30" children out of school to stop them being perverted by lessons on Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Month. But George Tomlinson School in Leytonstone, north-east London, said it was baffled by the press reports as only three to six pupils had been absent each day, and not all because of the boycott. The pair of parents who were quoted claimed they had not been warned of the event, although the school points out it had held a meeting about it before it started. The school, like others in Waltham Forest, said it was right to hold events tackling homophobia - a point only proven by Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn's gripe that schools might as well hold "a Foot Fetishists, Spankers, Sadists and Masochists History Month".

Teachers may have had a feeling of deja vu at the news that a North Tyneside school was recommending teenagers start lessons at 11am because a lie-in helped them academically. It wasn't just the similar responses (Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, then Sue Carroll, Mirror columnist, both suggested "teenagers should simply go to bed earlier"). Readers may recall Monkseaton school's experiment in The TES more than two years ago. You'll have to get up pretty early to catch us out. Or pretty late, if you're a teenager.

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