The week

20th March 2009 at 00:00

The omens for this year's school admissions were dire. The Times had warned of record competition for places, because of an "unexpected rise in the birthrate" in some areas, while the Daily Telegraph said competition would be "exacerbated by families opting out of private education because of the recession". So how did this affect the proportion of families getting their first choice? Oh. It went up by 1 per cent.

Many parents were still left upset. Tracey Richen, for example, whose son Robbie was given a place at the 37th closest school to their home. Ms Richen told the Oxford Mail it was "ridiculous" that her son had not won a place at her first choice, the popular, oversubscribed Larkrise Primary, and that she now faced an eight-mile drive. Oxfordshire Council's decision appeared curious. But Ms Richen did leave her second and third preference blank when she could have put down, say, one of the six primary schools that are even closer to the family home than Larkrise.

Cambridge University announced it would expect most of its students to get at least one A* at A-level. But this surprise announcement won't make much difference to some of the university's admissions tutors. They have already been demanding that students score at least 90 per cent on the uniform mark scale - which, funnily enough, is what you'll need in 2010 for ... an A*.

The Conservatives claimed to have uncovered shocking new figures showing that the proportion of primary pupils who speak English as a second language had risen. These would be the not-so-secret figures that the Government published in April 2008. The revelation still led furious right-wingers to fill web forums with rants about foreign pupils "who carnt (sic) write English".

A school in north London was accused of running a "Sandwich box Stasi" by the Daily Mail, which reported that staff at Danegrove Primary had been inspecting children's lunchboxes for junk food then confiscating chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks. One parent who was furious at the "mealtime Gestapo" said: "This is a primary school, not Guantanamo Bay." So why would a school ban junk food? Perhaps staff had read previous Daily Mail stories, including: "Lock pupils in to keep them off junk food", "The killer lunchbox" and "Children eating their way to cancer".

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