The week

24th April 2009 at 01:00

The Sats fiasco hit the headlines again after the former head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said he had been stitched up over the marking problems last year and that parts of ministers' accounts were a "fiction". Sir Ken Boston told MPs on the education select committee that evidence ministers gave to an inquiry had been inaccurate and that they had not "pressed" him for answers, as had been claimed, over the mistakes made by marking firm ETS Europe.

The Sunday Times claimed schools would soon be sent guidance on how to guard themselves from suicide bombers. Lord West, the security minister, is drawing up plans to make public buildings safer from attacks. Follow-up stories highlighted the schools aspect. But headteachers should not panic just yet: the Home Office consultation states at the start that it is "only aimed at the higher and further education elements of the education sector - it does not apply to schools".

Glass half-full news: British pupils are no longer officially the unhappiest in Europe. A league table of pupil wellbeing by York University researchers for the Child Poverty Action Group ranked the UK 24th out of 29 European countries. Which may not be particularly cheerful, but somehow seems less depressing than the Unicef study in 2007 which placed the UK last out of 21 industrialised countries. This time it outshone new chart entrants including Romania and Bulgaria.

The Daily Mail reported on its front page a study that "blames bad schools, not class bias, for thousands missing university places". The report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute of Education does indeed make a strong case that pupils from deprived backgrounds are missing out because they are not sufficiently educated, rather than because of biased admissions tutors. And it states that "at least part of the large raw gap in higher education participation rates between advantaged and disadvantaged students is attributable to the quality of schools (or quality of peers) accessed by poorer children". But it notes there are other complex factors and that "in any case, this work cannot prove a causal link between the quality of secondary schooling accessed by a pupil and his or her academic achievement". (Incidentally, the report was first published last June when the Daily Mail reported it under the headline "State pupils 'miss out on university because of bad teaching, not bias'.")

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