News Dr Andrew Davis claims rival camps in the debate over how to teach children to read are acting like 'religious fundamentalists'

Children who are fluent readers are being damaged by the Government’s insistence on using synthetic phonics in the classroom, a leading academic warns today.

Man charged over £2m Durham University museum theft

A 35-year-old man has been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary by police investigating the theft of Chinese artefacts worth more than £2 million in a raid on a university museum.

Still no sign of eight-year-old boy after river plunge, hopes 'fading'

Police scouring a swollen river for a missing eight-year-old boy said hopes of finding him alive were "fading" as the operation stretched into a fourth day.

Police name River Wear fall boy

An eight-year-old boy believed to have fallen into a rain-swollen river while playing with friends has been named by police.

Call for 600m fracking limit

Controversial "fracking" for shale gas should only take place at least 600 metres down from aquifers used for water supplies, scientists said today.

GRAHAM ONIONS: The Durham paceman took 10 wickets for the first time in his career

Rain comes to the rescue for Middlesex as Durham settle for the draw

Middlesex 188 & 179 Durham 238 & 82-6 (Match drawn)

Lean times: Andrew Strauss was dismissed cheaply for a second time at Lord's

Strauss is still to show he knows his Onions

Middlesex 188 & 21-1 Durham 238 (Durham lead by 29 runs)

Imprisonment 'sees drug use begin'

One in eight prisoners developed a drug problem after being locked up in jail, inspectors said today.

£9m keeps oldest book in Europe

A seventh-century book that lay buried in a saint's coffin for hundreds of years has been saved for the nation.

Rikki Clarke helps Warwickshire to a handy first-innings lead over Somerset

Round-up: Second failure means Patel may be frozen out

It is all very well being sent to the shires to make some runs, but when the month you have been given to rebuild your claim to an England place is April you might argue that the playing field is not exactly level.

£2m stolen from museum in daring 60-second raid

Police were last night hunting two men wanted in connection with a daring museum raid in which Chinese treasures worth £2m were stolen in less than a minute.

£2m raid took just 2 minutes

Thieves who broke into a museum to steal Chinese treasures worth £2m were in and out in less than two minutes, according to police.

Two men named over £2m museum raid

Police released photographs tonight of two men wanted in connection with a well-planned raid on a museum in which treasures worth more than £2 million were stolen.

Rory Hamilton-Brown in front of a painting showing previous Surrey captains at The Oval

London calling to reclaim the County title

Northern sides have ruled the roost for a decade but Surrey and Middlesex are well placed to challenge in the County Championship, which starts today

Johnson joins Durham for t20

Durham yesterday confirmed that the Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson will be their second overseas player for the Friends Life t20, which takes place in June and July. The 30-year-old said: "I've heard brilliant things about Durham from Paul Collingwood when he played over in Perth."

Scott, described by the judge as 'a fantasist', outside court in 2010

Raymond Scott: Shakespeare thief

Raymond Scott, who died on 14 March, was a flamboyant antiques dealer who was jailed for handling a stolen first edition of Shakespeare's plays. Scott, who passed himself off as a wealthy playboy before his conviction, was pronounced dead after being found unconscious in his cell at Northumnberland Prison, where he was serving an eight-year sentence.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there