A Week in Education

SOME PARENTS have become so worried about violent crime that they are sending their children to school wearing body armour, it was revealed this week.

VestGuard UK, a firm that usually supplies government agencies with stab and bullet-proof vests, has sold a reported 60 jackets to parents, at a cost of between pound;200 and pound;425 each, and received hundreds more enquiries from families.

Pupil victimisation was also on the agenda of the Commons education committee, which published a report into bullying.

The influential group of MPs said all schools should develop specific policies against homophobic, disability and race-related bullying.

Ministers also need to give guidance to parents on stopping cyber-bullying, where children are targeted on the internet and by email or text message.

David Cameron entered the debate by launching a Conserva-tive party inquiry into the quality of childhood in the UK. It will focus on improving discipline and the role of the family, while cutting red tape around childhood so pupils can enjoy more adventures.

But it was not only pupil behaviour under the spotlight this week. A watchdog condemned a leading girls' school for its unfair admissions scheme, which partly based its decisions on information about children's families.

Tony Redmond, the local government ombudsman, said Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green, west London, had some of the worst failings in admissions arrangements he had ever seen.

Officials at the Department for Education and Skills were also in trouble this week, but for punctuation and grammar mistakes. The Telegraph reported that civil servants are to be given pamphlets "to avoid schoolboy howlers"

and to remind them where the apostrophe lies in such phrases as "the ministers' diaries".

Department officials took a break from scratching their heads over the tootwoto conundrum to announce plans for more environmentally friendly transport. US-style school buses are to be introduced to ease snarl-ups and improve access to better schools for parents without cars.

The subsidised travel, from 2008, will cost pupils 50p. Cut-price cycling proficiency tests are also being extended to all pupils.

they said...

"It seems like a crazy idea."

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, on giving children from travelling families laptops we say...

There were outraged howls from conservative commentators over the plan to loan pound;300,000-worth of laptop computers to children from travelling families to help with their education. The Express on Sunday wrote that the scheme had been designed "so they can skip class".

But teachers who work with traveller children know how difficult it can be to ensure they receive a consistent education, keep up with their peers and do not abandon schooling altogether.

Innovative ideas like this - backed by the National Associ-ation of Teachers of Travellers - should be applauded, not derided.

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