The week

6th November 2009 at 00:00

Parents may now be baffled about how much trouble they face if they lie to secure a school place. At the weekend, it was suggested that the chief school adjudicator's report would recommend criminalising parents caught cheating. Which it did. But launching the report on Monday, the chief adjudicator said he had meant to delete that line, as any such decision was up to Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary. Mr Balls then had to tell the adjudicator to go back and do a new report looking at sanctions. So it's no clearer yet.

This didn't stop columnists banging on about parents who lie to beat the system - not presenting them as cheats, but as middle-class martyrs. "We are looking at the educational equivalent of the 18th-century bread riots, fuelled by despair, not dishonesty," The Daily Telegraph's Judith Woods wrote. "But instead of recognising the root cause - a shortage of acceptable state schools - and doing something about it, Labour is effectively shooting the rioters in the street." Allison Pearson agreed in the Daily Mail, suggesting it was fine for parents to lie as "we are genetically programmed to seek out the best for our young".

One clear recommendation on admissions which the adjudicator did make was that twins should not be separated. This was driven by press concern - basically a series of stories in The Guardian - as the adjudicator admitted such separations were "relatively uncommon". Ironically, The Guardian ran a comment piece this week by the actress Rebecca Front (of The Thick of It). She complained that her son had been cheated out of attending the primary on their doorstep by families who drove in from elsewhere. The local authority explained this was "due to an unaccountably large number of twins in the immediate area".

Peter Mandelson, business secretary, unveiled a 10-year blueprint for universities (a timescale which might be a tad optimistic). It recommended that school-leavers be judged on more than A-level results, a move attacked by traditionalists but welcomed by The Independent, which highlighted research from Harvard University on the benefits of affirmative action.

Belated congratulations to Leon Yates, a 12-year-old from Bolton who helped snare a serial burglar by obtaining a DNA sample from a discarded lemonade can. "I watch CSI: Miami... so I knew what to do," Leon said.

Follow The TES at www.twitter.comtimesed.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today