The week

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

It may be a little early to open nominations for Yarn of the Year 2010, but already there's a favourite. In case you missed it, it's worth repeating here in all its absurd glory. It's the one about N-Dubz. "What the hell is that?" I hear you ask. N-Dubz is a hip-hop collective from London - popular, we're told, with The Youth. One of the group's rappers is a chap called Dappy, who this week was done for sending abusive text messages to a teenage girl who had remarked that N-Dubz weren't to her taste. It took our friends in the Fourth Estate just a few hours to notice that less than a year ago Ed Balls and Dappy shared a stage at the launch of the Government's latest anti-cyber-bullying initiative. Perhaps Mr Balls ought to spend a little quality time with Celebrity Big Brother - he would soon learn that not all stardust is good stardust.

At the other end of education's ever-entertaining social spectrum are the heads of Eton and Harrow, Tony Little and Barnaby Lenon, respectively. This week, both emerged from their grandiose offices to comment on the state of teaching. First, Mr Little slagged off the way boys are taught in co-ed schools and then Mr Lenon had a pop at "soft" qualifications that are mistakenly dished out to the deprived (see page 13). Could it be that with the Cameroon poll lead looking secure - and a Tory cabinet with a small army of public school boys seeming ever more likely - they have decided their time has cometh?

Talking of David Cameron, by far the biggest story this week was his announcement that he was going to be "brazenly elitist" in his bid to turn teaching into a top-destination profession. Only the best graduates will do for Britain's little darlings, he said. Sound familiar? As usual, none of it was new - last year was scattered with pretty much the same pronouncements from both Dave and his sidekick Michael Gove. The fact that the speech was largely a repeat of previous hits didn't stop it garnering all sorts of supportive comment in the press.

This policy also formed a perfect opportunity for right-wing columnists to dust down their cliches and give teachers their weekly kicking. Take Allison Pearson in the Daily Mail: kids need "teachers who know the difference between 'their' and 'there'", she wrote, not "graduates in Deckchair Management at the University of Billericay". This bitterness among the commentariat towards teaching and teachers is surely holding back the profession. But would Cameron ever have a go at them? Erm, no.

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