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Best state schools add £77,000 to the value of nearby homes

A top-performing state school can add up to £77,000 to the value of a house within its catchment area, according to new research, with the cost of properties near the 50 best-performing state schools 35 per cent higher than in the rest of the UK.

Defiant Brown admits he is fighting for survival

Gordon Brown admitted yesterday that he is now fighting for political survival, as he made a frenzied tour of 10 Labour constituencies in London to shore up the party's core vote, motivate activists and convey a sense of activity to the electorate.

Observations: Rosie Oddie follows in her father's musical footsteps

Prepare yourselves for the latest daughter of a familiar face trying her luck in the music world. Rosie Oddie, daughter of TV twitcher Bill, comes with a husky singing voice. Her first appearance came rather tentatively a couple of years back as Rosie Oddie and the Odd Squad. Her band has forged a denser, more complex sound than their previous ska-pop shtick. It better suits this former schoolmate of Peaches Geldof's gritty, rock'n'roll vocal, that nods more to Skunk Anansie than Lily Allen.

By special arrangement: Florist Paul Hawkins reveals there's a fine

Penny at the trendy flower shop Scentevent thought spring flowers would be the thing – cut hyacinths at £10 a bunch, Soleil d'Or or the last of the Paperwhite narcissus from the Scilly Islands at £5 a bunch. The florist Paul Hawkins thought his mum would like freesias. "Not the white ones though. Something a bit mauvy, a bit pinky." We're talking Mother's Day here, the day (it's tomorrow) when florists shift even more flowers than they do on Valentine's Day. For my mother, the day still meant violets, because that was the traditional thing to give when Mother's Day was still called Mothering Sunday, a rare day off when girls in service walked home with flowers they had picked on the way.

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