The Week

5th February 2010 at 00:00

Unlikely though it is, if you find yourself with a spare half hour this week, think long and hard before you tune in to The Guardian's new Family Podcast. This is, of course, if the 10 minutes devoted to discussing with Ed Balls his family's morning routine is anything to go by. The tone is best exemplified by presenter Miranda Sawyer's unforgivable reference to the Brownite bruiser as "the nation's Dad-in-Chief". Pass the sick bucket.

Even the Lib Dems themselves must have been astonished on Sunday and Monday by the level of media coverage won by the re-announcement of their class size and pupil premium policies. Less than 20 kids per primary class and an extra #163;2,500 to follow poor kids wherever they go were the cornerstones of this age-old policy, one that, in fact, dates back to the 2005 general election. However, many of the newspaper reports failed to question properly where all these extra teachers would come from. Would Nick Clegg sanction the lowering of the entry bar for the profession as a way to guarantee this flood of new primary school teachers? It's a safe bet that this is a subject Clegg and his education spokesman David Laws won't be keen to broach this side of May.

And then, just when the week couldn't get any more enthralling, Benedict XVI swung his Bavarian size eights right into the middle of British politics. Germany's most influential export since strong continental lager left Harriet Harman's Equalities Bill in tatters with just one missive from his Vatican pulpit defending his right to ban gay men from the priesthood. While only tangentially related to schools, The Guardian's Simon Jenkins brought this debate right into the education arena with this cutting observation: "Many people regard the consequence of faith schools as more widespread and communally divisive than the hiring practices of the Catholic church. Why is Harman doing nothing to end them?"

Talking of global-scale egos, over to the Toby Young and Fiona Miller roadshow. Like all great double acts - Laurel and Hardy, Eric and Ernie, Rigsby and Miss Jones - this duo can never be seen apart these days. Following their debut last week in these pages and on Teachers TV debating the idea of parents setting up schools there has barely been a media outlet that has not wanted a piece of them. They had better watch out if they are to avoid becoming education's original odd couple.

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