Sara Tomlinson

God Bless the Child

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Molly Davies’ play has a disconcerting set for those of us who work in a primary school. The studio has been turned into the perfect replica of a Year 4 classroom, with ceiling tiles, displays and even a stock cupboard.

The school is piloting a scheme, “Badger Do Best”, devised by author Sali Rayner, centred on a badger and other woodland creatures. All the stories end with Badger helping the creatures to work together as a team to overcome difficulties.

Academies fail the grade

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Issue: 

The government's plans to privatise education are mired in financial scandal and under pressure from campaigns by teaching staff, parents and local authorities.

Michael Gove has put the Academies and free schools at the heart of his education strategy. A programme started under the last Labour government, and opposed by all trade unions and by many parents and communities, has expanded so that now half of all secondary schools are Academies and primaries are converting at a worrying pace.

But Gove has met much more resistance to the project than he expected from parents and increasingly from local authorities, heads, teachers, support staff and school governors.

This Little Kiddy Went to Market

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Sharon Beder, Pluto; £15.99

Young people living in affluent nations are "less content, more stressed and less healthy than any previous generation". How, in the 21st century, can our young people be made to feel so inadequate and unhappy? Sharon Beder goes on to examine this paradox in great detail, backed up by a wealth of research and statistics.

Education by Numbers

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Warwick Mansell, Politico's, £19.99

Warwick Mansell's book, subtitled The Tyranny of Testing, coincides with the General Teaching Council report recommending a reduction in the number of tests in schools. He has painstakingly researched many aspects of the testing regime over several years and has gathered evidence and opinions from people working in education, from class teachers to university professors. He concludes that the government drive to raise exam results has led to a decrease in the understanding and capabilities of our children. How can this be the case?

Beating Back Academies

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Jane Coles is right to say that Blair's scandalous plans for education are vulnerable ('Choice For the Few', November SR).

In July 2004 we were shocked to hear that our community primary school in Glenbrook, south London, was being considered as a candidate to become a city academy for three to 19 year olds. It was announced at our governors' AGM, and the director of education received her first taste of what the opposition to the plan might mean. Parents were very hostile. One parent asked, 'Why do they always want to experiment on poor, black kids?'

Shrinking our Pensions to Maximise Their Profits

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Public sector pensions are also under attack

The Walrus's article on the pensions scandal and the 19 June demo (June SR) did not mention the planned attack on public sector pensions. Twenty unions, led by the NUT, are organising action against proposals to make us work five extra years to qualify for our pensions. This would mean retiring at 65 instead of 60 for a full pension and 60 instead of 55 for early retirement on a reduced pension.

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