Daily roundup: Smoking, teaching schools, and sexualised imagery

Neil Puffett
Friday, March 22, 2013

Steep rise in number of children starting to smoke, funding boost for teaching schools, and Labour calls for action on sexualised adverts, all in the news today.

One in 10 women are smokers at the time of giving birth, NHS figures show. Picture: Lucie Carlier
One in 10 women are smokers at the time of giving birth, NHS figures show. Picture: Lucie Carlier

The number of children taking up smoking has soared by nearly a third in a single year. Research by Cancer Research UK found that 207,000 children aged 11 to 15 started to smoke in 2011, compared to 157,000 in 2010 – a 31.8 per cent rise. Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: “With such a large number of youngsters starting to smoke every year, urgent action is needed to tackle the devastation caused by tobacco.”

Teaching schools have been given a £10m funding boost to drive up the number of high-calibre teachers entering the profession. The schools will receive an additional grant of £30,000 for 2013/14 as a result of the extra funding. Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “Teaching schools are leading the teaching profession. They are at the forefront of driving and delivering change. The best people to teach teachers are teachers. School-led systems put schools, school leaders and teachers firmly in the driving seat.”

Shadow health minister Diane Abbott has called for a crackdown on sexualised imagery in UK high streets. The BBC reports that the Labour MP said children need to be protected from “unrestrained markets” including “music videos blaring out” and sexualised images of women on billboards. "For me the key is putting parents back in control, and also putting open-minded family values back in our public spaces," she said. Abbott said she wants to make Britain “family-friendly”.

White British children are doing worse at school than a wide range of ethnic minority groups, The Guardian reports. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Institute for Public Policy Research show that the proportion of white British children gaining five A* to C grades at GCSE is below the national average and the results of Chinese, Sri Lankan, Nigerian, Bangladeshi, Ghanaian, Indian, Sierra Leonean and Vietnamese young people.

A register for playworkers has been launched to provide a single reference point for employers and members of the public to check qualifications. The pilot of the Register of Playwork Professionals will also provide playworkers with structured to training and continued professional development. Ian Taylor, chief executive of SkillsActive, which is operating the register, said: “This is an innovative development in the playwork sector and gives individuals, employers and the public assurance about the relevant professional qualifications held by those working with children in a play setting.”

And finally, billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson wants schools to start small businesses to encourage enterprise in children. The BBC reports that the tycoon has suggested a change to the curriculum to inspire a business culture in schools. "I think the best way of learning to run a business is actually to run a business," he said. "As part of the school curriculum, if everybody just set up a little business within their school - it could maybe even be a fictional business, with fictional money and so on."

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