The week

20th November 2009 at 00:00

Wowza. Our friends in The Department must be run off their feet, the poor little darlings. Just as one Parliamentary Bill becomes law (the confusingly-named ASCL Act), the Queen jumps to her feet and reveals more details of the next wave of edu-legislation to be pumped through the Parliamentary pipes. The Children, Schools and Family Bill is - according to the Telegraph, Daily Mail etc - a "whingers' charter", for it allows parents to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman if one of 23 new guarantees is not being met by their school. There can be no doubt that if this ever comes to anything it might have unpleasant consequences for heads up and down the country. However, one cannot help but predict that it will get severely diluted or even killed off as Westminster reaches boiling point ahead of The Election.

Buried by this avalanche of schools policy news was an interesting report from Welsh think-tank the Bevan Foundation. Why not introduce an all-Wales uniform for every one of the principality's pupils, it asked? It would cheapen the financial burden for poorer parents due to competition between retailers and simplify the whole process. Why stop at the Severn, one cannot help but wonder? Why not roll it out throughout the UK? It would never happen of course - what would the latest crop of uniform-obsessed super-heads say?

A little light relief came in the form of news from North of the Border where the press excitedly reported that four pupils had been expelled from Fettes (the Scots' top boarding school; proper posh) for handling cannabis. Imagine, eh? Public schoolboys smoking dope? Whatever next? Just ask David Cameron. Afterall he definitely wasn't implicated in a pot-smoking ring while "hanging" at Eton. Incidentally, Fettes is Tony Blair's alma mater.

All this talk of public school-educated politicians brings us neatly back to Ed Balls, who had a staggeringly busy week, all things considered. What on earth is going on? He made the front page of the FT (bet he wishes it was as Chancellor) on Monday for apparently demanding an inflation-busting #163;2.6 billion extra cash for schools. Come again? Is this the same Ed Balls who made massive headlines only a couple of months back saying he was happy to shave #163;2 billion off the schools budget by sacking loads of heads?

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