Thursday 17 January 2008
Who is the real boss at the Department for Children, Schools and Families? Asked about the timetable for all secondary schools becoming trust or specialist schools or academies, the schools secretary Ed Balls said: "I shall have to ask Andrew." He was referring, of course, to Lord Adonis, who is a mere schools minister, but was always thought to be the power behind Blair's throne. Maybe nothing has changed.
Last October, we reported on a group of slum schools in Nairobi that were embarking on a partnership with the Heathrow School, west London. Both parties were optimistic about the chance to work together. But recent events in Kenya have put a question mark over the immediate future of the arrangement. Word from Nairobi is that the schools of the Mukuru Promotion Centre, run by the Sisters of Mercy, are undamaged, even though rioters attacked a petrol station next to one of them.
Heads are now trying to coax pupils back to school, but half the teachers have not returned to the city after the elections, and many children are too scared to turn up to class. The good news is that Heathrow School has raised enough money to equip two classrooms with desks and chairs, and Mary Barry, the community relations manager of British Airways, which is backing the project, says that everyone remains strongly committed.
The fine line between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention seeking, which previously existed only in the thoughts of stressed-out teachers, has now been acknowledged. According to research by the independent educational psychologist Nigel Mellor, behaviour commonly associated with ADHD (over-activity, poor concentration, impulsiveness) can also be shown by children seeking attention. "It's possible that some ADHD is attention seeking in disguise," says Mellor. On the other hand, such behaviour as acting-up to adults, good language skills, and an ability to relate to older or younger people rather than people of the same age were characteristics of attention seeking, not ADHD, the research found. Full marks to any teacher who can spot the difference.
Here are three lectures to interest our readers. On Wednesday next week, Peter York, the expert on Sloane Rangers, will be giving a talk entitled "The Chavs and the Chav Nots: Understanding the glamour of non-achievement." PRs are being tight-lipped about what York will say, but chances are that he'll manage to offend somebody. York will be speaking at the Epsom campus of the University College for the Creative Arts.
Even more edgy is a lecture next month (13 February, Institute of Education, London) called "All I've Gotta Do is Wank on About Some Bollocky Poem: Cool and socially aware positions in the talk of London private school girls." One wonders what, in the parlance of the young ladies, these "positions" might be. Still, it beats "Every child matters", which readers can catch at the Institute on Tuesday week.
Is this the most unpopular education policy to date – the Government's decision to withdraw £100m of funding from students who want to study for a second undergraduate degree? The UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), which today gives evidence to a Commons select committee on the issue, says that the only supporter of the plan is Terence Kealey (above), the vice-chancellor of Buckingham University. And who is opposing the policy? The UCU, the Tories and the Confederation of British Industry. We invite readers to get in touch if they know of a policy that beats this for unpopularity. firstname.lastname@example.org
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