Education Diary: Global Campaign for Education

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The Independent Online

A group of schoolchildren visited 10 Downing Street on Tuesday to kick-start this year's Global Campaign for Education, and to ask Gordon Brown for his personal promise to help get every child worldwide into school.

There are just seven years to go until the deadline for every primary child to be in primary school. At present, 72 million children are still missing out on primary education, with millions more forced to drop out of school before they can complete even a basic education. The Prime Minister told the UN last year that, on current trends, not only will we have missed the target by 2015, we will fall short of it in 2050.

The young campaigners took along a giant "missing out" card symbolising children across the globe who are still being denied an education, and asked the Prime Minister to sign a pledge of what he promises to do this year to help meet the education goal.

* The news that the University and College Union voted no to the new bargaining machinery proposed by the employers has led to exasperation among other university staff, including the porters, gardeners and cleaners, who feel that academics look down their noses at them. They had thought the UCU was in earnest when its negotiators did a deal last year on a new timetable for pay negotiations and single-table bargaining. But, it seems that it wasn't.

In a press release on the ballot result last week, the union did not reveal the voting figures, presumably because they showed such a low turn-out. Only 16,643 members voted out of 60,000, meaning that the turnout was a miserable 28 per cent, with 10,000 voting against the new machinery and 6000 for.

Hardly an overwhelming vote by UCU members. Sally Hunt (above), the union's general secretary, said, however: "UCU members have made their feelings quite clear, and we all now need to move forward to resolve the situation." UCU has called on the employers to come back to talk, but the employers say that they have still to be contacted by the union.

* University College London has had its application to sponsor an Academy in Swiss Cottage, in the north-London borough of Camden, approved by the department for curtains and soft furnishings (also known as the Department for Children, Schools and Families). This means that UCL will be given a nice sum of money to develop its proposals and design for the new school. "UCL is keen to make a real and lasting contribution to education in Camden," said Professor Malcolm Grant.

It does not mean, however, that the Academy has got the green light legally. The case currently being brought by two parents for judicial review of Camden Council's decision to opt for an Academy has still to receive an oral hearing.

This is not expected to happen before May, and those who are opposing the development are convinced that there is everything still to play for.

* When the US deputy secretary of education, Raymond Simon, was speaking at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts last week, he brought along his trusty slide-rule as a visual aid to illustrate the extinction of such instruments, thanks to computers.

Apparently, as a teacher, he used to carry his slide-rule in a leather pouch, and he said that he felt quite the cowboy carrying around his mathematical holster.

UK airport security nearly fell for the act, too: Simon admitted that he had a tough time getting the slide-rule past them on arrival.