The week

23rd April 2010 at 01:00

No one knew they needed it. But it came as a great relief when it arrived - a news story of global proportions to distract us from the election campaign. It was, of course, Volcanogate. Who knew that some unpronounceable blowhole on an island thousands of miles away could wield such power? It was so powerful that it managed to knock Saint Nick of Cleggmania off the front pages for a few days. And if one were to believe the headline hyperbole, it also exiled half the UK's teachers to various exotic climes. The start of term, or another week on a beach in Thailand? It must have been tough. One has to feel for the poor teachers left behind in Blighty who dealt with the fallout (quick, book next Easter's trip to Benidorm). This was such a special case - or, indeed, "rare" - that, according to Ed Balls, teachers should respect the rules of "rarely cover" and take over the classes of their cocktail-sipping colleagues. It didn't stop the supply-teacher agencies filling their boots, though.

While the volcano continued to rumble, so did the election. The start of the week saw the continuance of St Nick's unlikely elevation to a strange combo of National Hero and Everyman. (While we're at it, maybe Her Maj can be persuaded to step aside and let the Lib Dem leader succeed to the throne.) It did mean, though, that some of the more cynical hacks on Fleet Street actually retrieved their copy of the yellow manifesto from recyling and had a little read. So, your starter for 10 on Lib Dem education policy ... Just what is a sponsor-managed school? And how are they planning to fund their #163;2.5 billion pupil premium? Answers on a postcard please. Sadly, the recycling people have already been at TES Towers.

The great Sats boycott debate also erupted this week with news that primary headteachers throughout the land had voted in favour of taking industrial action next month over the dastardly tests. "No more tests!" they didn't chant as they spontaneously didn't march on Whitehall. While the results of the ballot may not have come complete with placards and flying pickets, the timing of the planned boycott is nonetheless extraordinary, taking place as it will just days after the election. As such, this promises to be the first crisis on the incoming Prime Minister's desk. Lucky, then, that St Nick chose this week to announce that he would replace Sats with teacher assessment. Who knew?

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