The week

3rd April 2009 at 01:00

Planning lessons and marking isn't real work. It's what teachers do for fun, right? The NUT announced it would be calling for planning, preparation and assessment time to be increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the week. The Express translated this as: "Union demands a four-day working week for teachers" - assuming, like a wide-eyed pupil, that teachers are only working when they are standing in front of a whiteboard. And is the idea of getting at least 20 per cent guaranteed non-contact time unimaginable? Erm, not if you're an NQT, or teach in Scotland, as you should get it already.

The publication of key stage 2 test results led to reports that more than "a quarter of 11-year-olds leave primary school without mastering the basics of English and maths". But that depends on how you define "mastering the basics". Pupils should be able to do simple sums and read a tabloid newspaper with a level 3 in English and maths - and only 6 per cent failed to get one of those.

On the subject of basic maths, here's a puzzler. The Girls' Schools Association polled a group of its member schools which teach over-11s. Their responses suggested that applications to 42 per cent of the schools had increased, stayed the same at 32 per cent and gone down at 26 per cent. What was the headline in London's Evening Standard? Of course: "Demand drops for places at a quarter of girls schools".

If you're Jacqui Smith (ex-education minister, former teacher and NUT member) and your husband is discovered claiming rental for two porn films on parliamentary expenses, you may be embarrassed but you do not have to quit your job. Similarly if you are Ed Balls (Schools Secretary), who claimed Pounds 24,438 with his wife on a "second home" allowance for the London house they live in with their family. Same again for MP Tony McNulty (husband of Ofsted's chief schools inspector Christine Gilbert), who claimed a second home allowance for his parents' house. But what happens when teachers are caught out over expense claims? A special school headteacher from Brighton was hauled in front of the General Teaching Council in 2005 for accidentally claiming extra travel expenses to meetings with educational bodies. The tribunal accepted that Jane Reed had admitted her mistake - but it still found her guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and banned her from being a head for two years. Them's the breaks.

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