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A Week in Education

By Jonathan Milne

children should be out climbing trees, playing conkers in autumn and having snowball fights in winter, not "wrapped in cotton wool" by their schools and parents.

This pastoral idyll from Ed Balls, the new Children, Schools and Families Secretary, coincided unfortunately with the discovery of millions of pounds in compensation that education authorities have paid out to children injured on school premises. Risking injury climbing trees is one thing, but Mr Balls cannot have envisaged the pound;5,700 payout for a teenage trespasser who injured himself breaking into a primary school at night.

News, page 9

a teenage girl has lost her court battle to be allowed to wear a "purity ring" to school to express her commitment to sexual abstinence before marriage.

Her father, the Reverend Phil Playfoot, said: "This country is tolerant of any views except those of Christians."

This year, a Muslim schoolgirl lost a similar legal fight to wear the niqab, a full-face veil. The High Court's decision this week against Lydia Playfoot, 16, upheld schools' authority to set their uniform codes as long as they consulted with their communities.

the benefits of academies remain unproven, said a report this week, commissioned by the Trades Union Congress. Martin Rogers, the report's author, called on ministers to set up an independent review of the structure of academies.

Well, here's one we prepared a little earlier, said the Government only three days later, publishing a report commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

That report welcomed academies as a good addition to the education system, finding that pupil attainment in academies was improving at a faster rate than at comparable schools.

News, page 6

teachers who get good results from children from disadvantaged backgrounds should be paid up to 15 per cent extra, said a report from CentreForum, a think tank.

The pound;500 million performance-related pay top-up would attract the best teachers to work at the worst-performing schools and tackle underachievement, it claimed.

The proposal went further than the Government, which asked officials to investigate pound;5,000 "golden hello" payments to woo teachers to struggling inner-city schools.

it was at the gates of such a tough, urban school on the edge of Bristol that Bridie Starr, 14, was stabbed in the stomach with a kitchen knife this week. Friends said she and another girl, who was taken into custody, had argued about a boy on an internet social networking site.

Drugs and knife violence are not solely the domain of inner-city schools, according to a teacher at one of England's most exclusive private schools whose daughter was stabbed to death last year. Jason Braham, a master at Harrow school in north London, blamed the school for allowing a drugs culture, after the sentencing of a former pupil for the drug-fuelled murder of 25-year old Lucy Braham.

they said...

Gordon Brown "writes Churchill out of our history and orders schools to teach Urdu"

Daily Express

we say...

this headline is based on changes to the key stage 3 curriculum, announced last week, which will give schools more freedom to choose what they teach.

Winston Churchill is not mentioned in the new history programme of study. However, he is one of eight people suggested to schools to teach. Others include Hitler and Roosevelt, who are also not mentioned explicitly in the new curriculum.

But the new programme does say schools should teach Second World War. Teachers will argue, with some justification, that they cannot teach this subject without mentioning these three world leaders.

As for the "order" to teach Urdu, this is simply untrue. Urdu will be one of nine languages on offer to schools to teach if they choose.

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