The week

30th October 2009 at 00:00

Last week, The Sunday Times columnist Minette Marrin argued that "teachers cannot as a group be trusted". So what happens when you scrap an externally marked national test and leave teachers to assess the pupils? Surely those untrustworthy teachers will just inflate the results to make themselves look good? As it happens ... no. The first batch of teacher-assessed KS3 results to be published since the tests for 14-year-olds were abandoned showed no change from last year in maths, and just a one percentage point improvement in English.

The increasingly beleaguered 14 to 19 Diploma appeared to be slipping between two stools. Research from the Association of Colleges found the qualification was proving too tricky for "learners with average, or below average prior attainment". Ah well, at least it'll help the high-flyers get into their preferred university, right? Not so, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled the Diplomas ads were misleading when they claimed it "can get you into any university". Some universities did not accept the whole range, while Cambridge only recognised the engineering Diploma if accompanied by A-level physics.

On the subject of over-hyped initiatives, we turn to careers advice. Ed Balls, Schools Secretary, announced he wanted pupils as young as seven to get guidance on jobs, as "radical change" was needed to break middle-class dominance of universities and professions. So why are lots of pupils missing out on the advice they need? Surely not the Connexions service, which has been criticised for focusing too much of its attention on potential Neets? As the Financial Times noted, Mr Balls is planning to keep the service going - against the recommendation of Alan Milburn's Fair Access to the Professions review, which called for Connexions to be disbanded as they had "barely heard a good word about it".

This week's nominee for the Parent from Hell prize is Tim Walton, 40, from Cheshire. Not just because he supported his 15-year-old son Daniel after he refused to stand when his headteacher entered the classroom. It's for this fantastic quote in the Daily Mail. "The school sent a letter saying that I told Dan, 'Kick the headteacher in the nuts if he kept you against your will,'" Mr Walton said. "I think it's diabolical. My boy shouldn't be excluded for something I have said. I don't regret it."

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