Primary schools will be expected to get 85 per cent of pupils to reach the required standard in English and maths

Government to set stricter new literacy and numeracy targets in primary schools

Plans to ratchet up the minimum targets in literacy and numeracy for primary schools are being considered by ministers.

Prime Minister David Cameron is to announce Government plans to scrap and amend rules affecting firms at the Federation of Small Business conference on Monday

'Crazy rules dreamt up by Whitehall bureaucrats' are to be scrapped, David Cameron to announce at FSB conference

The Prime Minister's speech comes after the FSB said the Government and big companies must to do more to help smaller firms

Quebec elderly home fire: Eight dead and 24 missing

Police in Quebec say a fire at a seniors' residence in Quebec has left eight dead and 24 missing.

Sir Alex Ferguson looks less than impressed during Manchester United's League Cup defeat to Sunderland

You're Mine Now, By Hans Koppel, translated by Kari Dickso, book review: Tension abounds in this grim instalment of Nordic noir

The novelist Ann Cleeves may be a keen aficionado of Nordic noir, but she recently expressed qualms over the endemic levels of sexual violence in the genre. Had she just read Hans Koppel? His last book, She's Never Coming Back, made the most excoriating work in the genre look as cosy as an episode of Call the Midwife.

Chalk Talk: Are champions ready for the challenge?

Off to the North of England education conference – the traditional curtain raiser of the year.

Thai anti-government protesters march as part of their ongoing rallies in downtown Bangkok

Thailand declares state of emergency in bid to quell Bangkok protests

Bangkok and its surrounding provinces will be subject to the decree for 60 days

A view of Davros

Davos: shadowy summit or ski holiday with suits?

Every winter, the World Economic Forum takes place in Switzerland. Its aim? Solving global problems. That and skiing, schmoozing and star-spotting, says Samuel Muston

Andrew Mitchell eventually received a begrudging apology following the 'Plebgate' affair

Damning report on Police Federation: Personal attacks on Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May condemned in review set up after 'plebgate' affair

'We heard of a growing disillusion with the lack of professionalism of some representatives' says report

Syrian opposition back out of peace talks after UN invites Iran to attend

‘Geneva II’ conference could be in jeopardy after UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon invites Iran to preliminary meeting

Syria: John Kerry urges opposition to attend peace talks

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has urged the Syrian opposition on to attend next week's peace conference in Switzerland and said any individual chosen to lead a political transition in the war-torn country must be acceptable to both the government and opposing forces.

Under a radical plan being proposed by Ed Miliband trade unions would lose their one-third share of the vote when Labour elects its leader

Miliband plans to cut off the hand that fed him with ambitious plan to rob trade unions of their one-third share of Labour leadership vote

Trade unions would lose their one-third share of the vote when Labour elects its leader under a radical plan being proposed by Ed Miliband.

David Laws said Labour plans for MOT-style tests on teachers would be a

Labour MOT-style test for teachers would be a 'bureaucratic nightmare' says Schools Minister David Laws

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary unveiled his plans on Wednesday

Syria crisis: Half of population in need of aid as Britain pledges another £100m

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says ‘fighting has set Syria back decades’

Tristram Hunt, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary

Labour pledge to stop state schools employing unqualified teachers

Labour will pledge to stop state schools employing unqualified teachers - and promise to bring an end to the current Government’s “ideological obsession” with school structures.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape