Arts and Entertainment
It's flat and watery, ... unlike the books that it inspires

Ministers in storm over 'easiest ever' A-levels

Record numbers to get top grade. Call for exam to be scrapped

A charter for pupils' conduct is a sad necessity

When Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, said recently that there should be "zero tolerance" of pupils' indiscipline, she was greeted with scepticism. These were fine words, but would anything happen in practice? Now, the National Union of Teachers - a group not always known for toeing the Department of Education's line - has taken the first tentative steps towards giving substance to these sentiments, and it deserves credit for doing so.

'Patronising' Kelly jeered by headteachers

Ruth Kelly was jeered by head teachers yesterday and accused of patronising them during angry exchanges as she outlined the Government's plans for education at her first speech to a teaching union's annual conference as Secretary of State for Education.

Why not leave school at 16?

Leaving school at this age did Julie Burchill, Richard Branson and Alan Sugar no harm at all. So why force a whole generation of eager young things to stay in class until 18?

Kelly may look like a schoolgirl. But she's passed her first big test

Ruth Kelly's appointment to the Cabinet two months ago was one of the more extraordinary of the Blair era. One of the features of Tony Blair's management style has been his willingness to give responsibility to people who are shockingly young. Many of the people who worked in his private office in opposition were in their 20s and yet his judgement was sound: they did not make mistakes. He has been more cautious in Government, but, as a young prime minister, he now has six ministers in his Cabinet who are younger than him.

A-levels to stay with new vocational diplomas

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly today pledged to keep A-levels and GCSEs, but said she would make exams harder.

The Sholto Byrnes Interview: Mo Mowlam: `People like me. I've no idea why'

From Labour darling to outcast, and now lads' mag sexpert with her own stage show, the fearlessly outspoken Mo Mowlam has retained her legion of fans. Except Tony Blair

Bright pupils to start degrees in 6th form

Bright sixth-formers should start studying for university degrees while still at school, ministers will say in a White Paper later this month.

Leading Article: The best way to stop children skipping school

ALL THE Government's efforts to cut truancy rates in England's state schools have been to no avail, according to the National Audit Office. Despite an outlay of pounds 885m and threats to jail the parents of persistent truants, truancy levels are unchanged.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran