Education Diary

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Good news for climate change education. Last October, a High Court judge ruled that Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, with its apocalyptic vision of the effects of global warming, was politically biased. He ordered that the film could only be shown in schools on the condition that teachers did a good job of telling students about the film's inaccuracies. But teachers were so frightened of falling foul of the law that they stopped showing the film altogether. Sensing injustice, Steve Sinnott (right), the NUT's general secretary, wrote a letter to Ed Balls saying that Gore's film was a vital resource for teaching children about climate change. Thanks to him, the Government will now issue guidelines to help teachers screen the film and stay within the law.

Vicky Tuck, the principal of Cheltenham Ladies' College, will this month take over as president of the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) from Pat Langham of Wakefield Girls' High. The GSA represents the top independent girls' schools which excel in the league tables, such as Withington Girls' in Manchester and Wycombe Abbey. "It's important that each president has a particular focus and I want to take the focus back to why we're here – what are we educating these girls for?" says Tuck, who will take a special look at leadership skills. Tuck's priority is to get a lot of media print for the association. She's made a good start.

This week we welcome the new TES editor, Karen Dempsey, formerly of Personnel Today, The Recruiter and The Grocer, to the wacky world of education. It is thought to be the first time the respected journal – which is just three years from its centenary – has appointed an editor with such an unorthodox CV. Apparently the owners want to develop the title as a business-to-business publication. Will that mean teachers will still want to buy it every Friday?

The British public believes that independent schools should do more to demonstrate their public benefit to retain their charitable status, according to an online survey of more than 2,500 people. Carried out by Zurich, which provides insurance to a number of schools in Britain, and YouGov, the research showed that nine out of 10 adults agreed with moves to make independent schools demonstrate more explicitly their benefit to society to justify their tax breaks. Fewer than half believed that collaboration between the maintained and independent sectors would improve state schools. Less surprisingly, only 46 per cent of private school parents thought their children's schools should share teachers with state schools. Even fewer, 31 per cent, thought that their fees should go towards assisted places for the less well-off.

Paul Mackney, retired boss of Natfhe, the old lecturers' union, has been drafted into the Beard Liberation Front Hall of Fame. The now-retired Mackney will find himself in exalted company: Spike Milligan, John Peel, and MP Frank Dobson have all won the lifetime achievement award. A press release called Mackney "a great role model for the hirsute in public life, particularly in the Labour movement where clean shaven traditions have been hard to overcome." This year's Beard of the Year title went to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, also a member of the Hall of Fame, who pipped Sir Richard Branson, Monty Panesar and Michael Rosen to the award.

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