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A Week in Education

teenage girls are drinking boys under the table, according to a study by the Schools Health Education Unit. It found that nearly a quarter of 15-year-old girls get drunk at least once a week, making them heavier binge drinkers than their male peers.

Academics blamed easier access to the grape and copycat behaviour for the trend. And while the overall proportion of children drinking has fallen, a hardcore of heavy drinkers are knocking it back in increasing volumes.

The study of 68,000 children even found that one in ten primary pupils drank alcohol in their final year. More than a quarter of girls also admitted to skipping breakfast, while more than half believed they needed to lose weight.

eton is embarking on an historic effort to attract up to 40 per cent of its pupils from poorer backgrounds. It is seeking to raise a pound;50 million bursary to cover the cost of fees for gifted children who could not otherwise afford to attend the school.

The move comes as private schools fall under increasing pressure from the Charity Commission to justify their tax breaks.

So far pound;20 million has been raised from wealthy former Eton pupils. Fees at the college, founded in 1440, are pound;26,490 a year.

ed balls disappointed critics by indicating that school tests and league tables will not be dropped. Heavyweights including the curriculum chief, Ken Boston, have criticised the current system. But the new Secretary for Children, Schools and Families said: "It enables us to be able to see as policymakers what is working [and] who is not performing well." He also indicated that he is in favour of setting by ability in individual subjects, but sees streaming as "divisive".

"It has cost pound;15 million before a single brick has been laid and is on course to become the most costly state school ever built" This is how The Sunday Telegraph heralded the arrival of a new city academy in Darwen, near Blackburn. Its estimated cost has now reached pound;49 million. The school is now so over-budget, critics say, that it is on track to beat previous record holders such as the Business Academy in Bexley, Kent, designed by Lord Foster at a cost of pound;46 million.

a school in Sunderland has been attacked after opening an on-site call centre where pupils can practise selling mobile phone contracts and dealing with customers' complaints. Helen Elderkin, headteacher at Hylton Red House school, denied she was lowering pupils' expectations, insisting they were being taught valuable skills. The centre has been set up with the help of EDF Energy, which runs its own call centre nearby. Pupils can earn a qualification worth half a GCSE by answering queries from computer-generated customers.

they said...

"The evidence shows that children in this country are doing better than ever before." Beverley Hughes, minister for Children, Schools and Families

we say...

This is a response to Unicef UK's latest declaration on child well-being, which asks for adults to commit to making young people feel safe, supported and inspired.

It's an admirable aim. But contrary to Ms Hughes's suggestion, it has been made necessary by the UK's poor track record on the issue.

Earlier this year, Unicef itself placed the UK bottom of a league table of 21 industrialised nations when it comes to child well-being.

That is despite it being the fifth-richest country in the world.

Although the Government has indicated its intention of improving the situation, it is wrong at this stage

to suggest the battle has been won.

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