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A Week in Education

Record numbers of appeals were expected after the parents of 600,000 children across England discovered whether they had got their first choice school.

Politicians and the press focused on Brighton, which has introduced a lottery system for allocating places at oversubscribed schools.

The proportion of pupils failing to get their first choice in the city rose to 22 per cent from 16 per cent last year. But in London, more than one in three pupils lost out.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, used an interview with The Times to urge unhappy parents to appeal.

Children are being robbed of their innocence at an early age, according to Jacqueline Wilson, the former children's laureate.

The bestselling author said that society no longer allowed children to be children. Rather than going out to play, they were "receiving the adult world in a largely unfiltered form", she said, and are exposed to concepts that would have been kept from previous generations.

Dame Jacqueline has written children's books about such topics as foster care, abuse and alcoholism.

The parents of a 13-year-old girl launched a High Court case against the admissions policy of Britain's largest Jewish school.

JFS in north-west London is facing claims that it racially discriminated against the girl. She was refused admission because the school did not recognise her mother's conversion to the religion. Judaism passes through the mother, so the school claims that the girl is not legally Jewish.

JFS, which is heavily oversubscribed, insists that its admissions policy is based on religion, not race.

Faith schools are dominated by middle-class pupils, a new study has found. Researchers from the Institute of Education in London said that, even in deprived areas, faith schools were more likely to admit pupils from affluent backgrounds.

The research found that the proportion of poor pupils admitted to faith schools is 10 per cent lower than the proportion living in the area. Non-faith schools took almost a third more disadvantaged pupils.

Estelle Morris, the former education secretary, attacked the Government's tendency to "thrash around from one initiative to another". She criticised its school reforms, saying that ministers often failed to ask the right questions to determine whether initiatives had been successful. Speaking to the National Education Trust in London, Baroness Morris said: "The gap between the highest and lowest achievers has barely changed."

"To be or not to be" should follow ABC as a vital lesson for reception pupils, according to a study.

The Royal Shakespeare Company suggests that children should start learning Shakespeare at the age of four, when they are regularly picking up new words and unlikely to be intimidated by unfamiliar language. It said that many secondary pupils developed a deep aversion to the "boredom and incomprehension" they associate with the Bard.

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