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A Week in Education

THE GOVERNMENT was lambasted this week for hijacking the school curriculum to promote fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism.

Civitas, a right-wing think-tank, said teachers are being used to achieve social goals instead of giving pupils a solid grounding in academic subjects.

The report received extensive coverage in the Daily Telegraph . "Learning ruined by political meddling in schools," it read. Civitas said that the most popular history syllabus invites pupils to write about September 11 from the terrorists' point of view and study speeches by Osama Bin Laden without material from the United States to balance it.

a fresh debate on school tests was sparked when the General Teaching Council called for them to be scrapped for the under-16s.

A story in the Observer quoted a GTC report which said a fundamental and urgent review of the testing regime was needed.

As we reported in March, the GTC believes the tests for 7, 11 and 14-year-olds distort the curriculum and add to pupil stress.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, dismissed the calls, insisting the tests improve attainment and provide accountability for parents.

When a sample proves ample, page 20 children as young as five should be taught about drug abuse, accor-ding to Gordon Brown. The prime minister in waiting admitted that the standard of drugs education in schools was "pretty poor", when addressing the TUC in London. He said the number of young people experimenting with drugs was a major challenge and that it was too late to wait until secondary school to tackle the problem.

teachers are taking an average of two weeks in sick days a year, new figures released this week show.

More than 300,000 teachers took a total of 2.88 million days off, Jim Knight, the schools minister, said. The NUT said teachers were stressed: many were working in excess of 60 hours a week. The union also said teachers are prone to contagious illnesses from children.

children from disadvantaged families can be a year behind middle-class children in their educational development by the time they are three years old, research reveals. The Institute of Education study found children of graduate parents were 12 months ahead in their understanding of letters, numbers and colours compared to children from families with few educational qualifications.


Labour's plan to train 2,000 music teachers hits false note Sunday Telegraph


Going into pun overdrive, the Sunday Telegraph claims that a pound;2 million government scheme to train 2,000 primary music teachers has "failed to strike a chord with potential applicants". It claims that "only 760 people" have so far applied for the scheme, which was launched last autumn.

In fact, this lament in a minor key is slightly premature. All 760 applications had been received within a month of the course opening. It seems likely that the target of 2,000 trainees will be reached by November, when registration closes. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

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