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A week in education

THE PUBLICATION OF GCSE results yesterday gave media commentators new fuel for their argument that standards have fallen.

Before the results had even been announced, many newspapers were predicting a record increase in the number of A and A* grades. "One fifth of all GCSE results to be A grades," the London Evening Standard reported.

However, "One third of schools fail the GCSE test", the Daily Mail cried, claiming the majority of pupils at more than a third of comprehensives nationwide had not achieved the government benchmark of five A* to C grades.

The Government, meanwhile, accused the press of sounding "like a broken record".

NEWSPAPERS SPENT much of the previous week criticising falling A-level standards. "Degraded," the Daily Mirror screamed, as one in four papers received an A grade. Other papers focused on the apparent gulf in A grades between state and private schools' results.

Princess Beatrice was dubbed the brightest royal after receiving an A and two Bs, while Mel Slade, girlfriend of Arsenal footballer Theo Walcot, scored two Bs and a C. The fact that Hammasa Kohistani, the current Miss England, kept her results to herself did not stop the Mirror printing a picture of her, too.

A-levels analysis, pages 8 and 9

TELEVISION TALENT shows appear to have led to a dramatic increase in acting and singing lessons. GCSE entries for both music and drama have increased significantly since 2000, up by 24 per cent for music and 13 per cent for drama.

Popstars, the precursor to Pop Idol and The X Factor, was launched in 2001. Since then, shows have produced chart-toppers such as Leona Lewis, Will Young and Girls Aloud.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "Music and drama are huge earners for this country and the growth in talent shows on TV has clearly spurred young people."

the murderer of London headteacher Philip Lawrence won a court order to avoid deportation and remain in Britain.

Frances Lawrence, the head's widow, said she was devastated at the decision not to deport Learco Chindamo to Italy, where he was born. The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled that deportation would breach his human rights.

Chindamo, 26, who becomes eligible for parole next year, is serving a life sentence for stabbing Lawrence outside his Maida Vale school in 1995.

SCHOOL UNIFORMS could be fitted with satellite navigation technology so that parents and schools can keep a watch on pupils' whereabouts.

Trutex, a specialist uniform supplier, is considering stitching tracking devices into pockets and waistbands. The company surveyed more than 800 parents and found that almost half feared that their children were at risk of abduction.

Pupils were less keen on the idea, believing adults could use the technology to spy on them. Or perhaps they fear being caught truanting.

Adi Bloom

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