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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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness