Review of the Papers, Friday 28 September


  • Thousands of five- to seven-year-olds are still being taught illegally in classes of more than 30, according to Government figures released yesterday. An annual census of state schools published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families revealed 4,280 key stage 1 pupils were being taught in 130 oversized classes, contrary to legal requirements. A further 18,930 schoolchildren aged between five and seven were also taught in classes of more than 30, although the schools involved had been granted exemptions to do so, often because they had to admit an emergency pupil in the middle of term. The figures were an improvement on 2006, when more than 7,000 five- to seven-year-olds were taught illegally. But teachers' leaders said last night the failure to eradicate oversized classes completely placed a question mark over the priority ministers were giving to the reduction of class sizes, particularly after Gordon Brown made personalised learning the key education policy theme of his first leader's speech to the Labour party conference in Bournemouth.
  • The plug will be pulled on nearly all conventional lightbulbs after supermarkets and energy suppliers agreed to gradually phase out incandescent bulbs from next year, the government said yesterday. The initiative, announced by environment secretary Hilary Benn in Bournemouth, is expected to save 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and be completed by 2012. The old lightbulbs are being rapidly replaced by low-energy bulbs, which cost more to buy but last up to 12 times as long and use nearly 80% less electricity. But the government's voluntary initiative was criticised by environmental groups and other political parties, who argued that it was weak compared with initiatives in other countries. Australia has banned conventional bulbs beyond 2009. Yesterday many stores said they were in favour. Currys has agreed to stop selling the bulbs by the end of this year, Habitat by 2009, Woolworths, the Co-op, Asda, Morrison's, and Sainsbury's by 2010, and Tesco by 2011. Only Somerfield has declined to give a date for a complete phase-out.
  • A boy who suffers from a severe nut allergy has been excluded from school because he is considered to be a health and safety hazard. Four days into his first term at his new school, George Hall-Lambert was sent home after teachers at Howden School near Goole in North Humberside discovered his allergy. He is being taught at home in the nearby village of Eastrington until the matter is resolved. His mother Judith Hall-Lambert, 37, said: "I am absolutely appalled. It is a shambles. The school should be able to deal with children like George. He is being discriminated against because he has a nut allergy. He is a bright kid and this could really set back his education." George's nut allergy was diagnosed when he was 18 months old. He carries an Epipen, with which he has been taught to use to inject adrenalin into his thigh should he suffer an allergic reaction, although if he suffered a bad anaphylactic attack it could render him unconscious and he would need assistance. Mrs Hall-Lambert said: "Howden School is saying they have no teachers in place to deal with George and nobody could take charge of his Epipen because staff don't know how to use it."


  • David Cameron is preparing to move to core Tory policies on tax, marriage and crime and style himself as an heir to Margaret Thatcher - not Tony Blair. In a shift that will see him distance himself from green tax proposals, the Tory leader will use next week's crucial conference to try to reinvigorate his leadership before a possible snap election. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, discloses that proposals that proved unpopular with ordinary Tory voters will be scrapped. They include taxing people for parking at supermarkets and for taking more than one short flight a year. He also makes clear his intention to reform inheritance tax. Mr Osborne says Gordon Brown is a "fake" and taunts the Labour leader by saying if he does not call an election now he will have "bottled it". And after weeks of poor polls - the latest put Labour 11 points ahead - and watching the Prime Minister make direct appeals to Tory voters, Mr Osborne has been forced to fight back and stake Mr Cameron's claim for traditional backing.;jsessionid=K4324WUMWZEGRQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/09/28/ncam128.xml


Of course if schools were smart with resources, free from targets, they might conclude that teaching larger classes for some subjects, like History perhaps, and having smaller classes for other subjects like maths might be more appropraite. I am sure maths ability is more graduated thn in History and a clever use of resources would target maths teaching to smaller groups of similar ability.
A voucher system, in which schools were free and independent, would help move towards this.