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Professor Robert Coe, from Durham University:  “This seems to underline the view that improvements in GCSEs and some other examinations have had more to do with grade inflation than real sustained improvements over time.”

Alan Smithers: Why teachers are their own worst enemy

If I were a teacher I would be tearing my hair out at the Easter antics of the teacher unions. In their frantic pursuit of headlines they only succeed in alienating the general public. The National Union of Teachers takes the biscuit. On the first day of its conference it splashed research apparently showing that bad behaviour is increasing, all the fault of parents. Later, however, the story changed to pupils behaving better, except in a few unfortunate schools.

Meet the headteacher who is at war with Whitehall

It's been praised by Ofsted and the parents love it, but Newall Green in Manchester is facing a battle for survival – because it's failing to hit Government targets.

Professor Alan Smithers: Lessons of the Soviet Union should have been learnt

Far too many children have been leaving primary schools unable to handle words and numbers properly, and the Blair government was determined to do something about it. It believed it had found the way. Set clear targets for schools, devise strategies for teaching literacy and numeracy, and hold everyone to account.

Late baptisms soar as parents chase Catholic school places

Parents desperate for a place in oversubscribed Catholic schools are responsible for a surge in "late" baptisms into the faith.

Alan Smithers: A new year of non-stop government initiatives

Another year, another education bill: this one compelling young people to remain in education or training until they turn 18. To pave the way, 17 diplomas for 14- to 18-year-olds are being introduced, the first five from September. Changes to curricula, qualifications, inspections and buildings are also due come into effect. Waiting in the wings is a 10-year children's concoction – not a plan – aimed at turning schools into centres for social services.

Government loses faith in growth of religious schools

The Government has decided against backing more faith schools, the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Ed Balls, told MPs.

UK general admits to mistakes in Helmand

Nato forces are set to launch a spring "surge" in Afghanistan in an attempt to drive the Taliban out of Helmand and seal infiltration points along the Pakistani border.

Crouch: I'm in the mood for dancing

Giant striker plays himself into side with hat-trick as Sven laps up six-goal farewell

Ex-Kingfisher chief Mulcahy to chair retail lobbying group

Sir Geoff Mulcahy, the man who built Kingfisher into a major retail conglomerate, is to join the British Retail Consortium as its next chairman in July.

England players set price for glory

Manager faces fight he dare not lose

Keane's mutiny spells ultimate confrontation with the godfather of Old Trafford, says Sam Wallace

United pull plug on Keane's televised rant at team-mates

Welcome to the bizarre world of British football in 2005...

Slick Spurs the latest to suggest that United are now one-man team

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General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power