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School trips are unlucky victim of efficiency drives

The squeeze is on for anything that does not appear immediately important. For colleges, enrichment funding is being slashed. This is funding that has contributed to a wide range of important discretionary activity, from sport to family education.

Youth unemployment: the solutions exist

We have seen the headlines screaming at us that one in five young people are jobless, that youth unemployment has hit a "record high" and that the problem is now a "national crisis".

Never mind the inspectorate, recruit the right inspectors

On the face of it, the education select committee's call to split Ofsted into two separate inspectorates for education and children's care would represent a further step away from services centred on the needs of the whole child. It is a trend played out in several areas through the disappearance of children's trust arrangements and local authority children's services departments.

Parents know best -- but only some of the time

Since the 1978 Warnock Report on special educational needs (SEN), there has been a vast amount of legislation, regulation and guidance, with amendment piled on amendment to try to make the creaking system work better.

We must fight for young people's future

The political debate is dominated by the economy. But while the battle rages in Westminster about whether the financial cuts are necessary or proportionate, there is general agreement that they have had a severe impact on young people, women and children.

Flaws in plans for a reading test

The education white paper proposes a "light-touch, phonics-based check" to test the reading of all Year 1 pupils. The test will be based on words like "street" and "cat", and some non-words like "flape". Michael Gove says it will be "impossible" for schools to drill pupils to pass the test, which will be a "true gauge" of a child"s reading skills. Let's unpack all that and see what it means.

Progress in joint working must go on

The decision last week to strip the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) of government funding will inevitably raise concerns that any genuine "development" of the workforce will stall. A plan for how the Department for Education intends to take forward the quango's work is yet to be articulated.

Show some respect for state schools

The drama over education reform continued at last week's Labour Party conference. Shadow education secretary Ed Balls naturally joined in, describing the coalition government's plans for free schools as "the most socially divisive education experiment for 60 years".

An alternative approach to helping looked-after children gain good grades

When middle-class children fall behind at school, the parental response is often special tutoring. In London, tutoring for secondary school admission is a substantial industry, and in Birmingham almost all children being put in for grammar school tests are tutored. I'm not judging this, by the way, I was tutored (fruitlessly) for my French O-level; and we paid for extra music lessons whenever needed.

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