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A Week in Education

"NEW BOYS shine on speech day," said The Times, reporting on "star pupil" Ed Balls as he revealed his new plans as Secretary for Children, Schools and Families.

Many papers welcomed the traditionalism of Mr Balls' "standards and structures" theme. The Daily Mail praised "a return to traditional teaching", while The Times said it was hard to believe that the announcements were the result of less than two weeks' work.

But there was also considerable focus on Mr Balls' performance in parliament. Writing in the Mail, Quentin Letts asked: "How did blinky-eyed Ed do? Disastrously! He stuttered, stalled, lost his place, muffed his words." The Daily Express, meanwhile, was more succinct: "New Schools Secretary must try much harder."

Ed Balls' proposals, page 8

only a fifth of trainee teachers know who Christopher Columbus was, according to a Cambridge don. Kate Pretty, pro vice-chancellor of Homerton college, revealed that only one in 20 students on her history and education course knew anything about the 15th-century explorer who discovered America.

She took this as evidence of a decline in history at primary and secondary schools.

Dr Pretty added that children were not able to understand references to historic and cultural events, such as King Alfred burning the cakes or the Israelites destroying the walls of Jericho.

jamie oliver has achieved his goal: schoolchildren across the country are no longer eating turkey twizzlers at lunchtime. But, they are no longer eating school dinners either. The number of secondary pupils eating school meals has dropped by 20 per cent since Jamie's School Dinners was screened two years ago. Following the series, the Government limited the amount of fried and unhealthy food on offer in schools.

Now, only about 40 per cent of pupils choose to eat school dinners, according to the Local Authorities Catering Association. This is believed to be the lowest level since the meals were introduced nationally in 1944.

they may have estuary vowels, but posh pupils are being identified by their uniforms, according to a survey. The study, carried out by Oxford Brookes university, reveals that children fear uniforms for "posh schools" may mark them out as targets for bullies and muggers on their way home.

They admitted that they were less likely to misbehave in the streets when wearing uniform, in case they were reported to their school by community minded passers-by.

"schools give morning-after pill to girls as young as 11," reported the Daily Telegraph, revealing that more than 200 schools nationwide have given emergency contraception to pupils without consulting their parents.

Sexual health clinics are being set up in secondaries as part of a government drive to reduce pregnancies.

Many schools now offer a range of confidential services, including free condoms, pregnancy kits and emergency contraception.

One school admitted that it had dispensed 345 morning-after pills in the past four years.

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