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IN BRIEF ISSUE 5

1 in 5 classed ‘special needs’


One child in five is now classed as special needs, reports the Daily Mail. Official figures recently revealed that the numbers have doubled over the past 20 years to 1.65m as pupils are increasingly labelled as having behavioural or speech difficulties.

Whilst some apportion blame on the culture of entertaining kids with TV and computer games or a lack of boundaries at home, others believe the increase is “fuelled by a growing tendency to label anti-social traits as medical conditions,” or by parents wanting to diagnose conditions in order to “play the system” and get extra time in exams.

Database roll out


The controversial database holding details of every child in England has been rolled out to childcare professionals for the first time. ContactPoint had been delayed several times due to data security fears but the government believes it is vital to prevent children slipping through the net. Many headteachers, however, have grave concerns that data will be misused and continue to voice their opposition.

Scouting for Bear


Bear Grylls has been appointed Chief Scout, as waiting lists to join Scout groups reach an all time high. Talking on Radio 1, Bear said that, for kids, Scouts is more than just the oath, it is “a great chance to grab life, to go for a bit of adventure. The Scout values are great as they teach kids about teamwork and friendships.”

The basis for Bear’s spirit of adventure and survival techniques come from scouting, when, aged 8, he was given one sausage and one match and told to cook it: “When I was 8, I didn’t have much confidence. Scouts gave me the confidence to just go for things!”

Schools’ Flu Prep


Concern continues to rise over the global distribution of a possible vaccine against swine flu. Whilst wealthy countries like Britain and the US have pre-ordered large stocks of the vaccine, even before a single drop has been produced, pharmaceutical companies are being called on to increase capacity and to produce vaccines at a fair price so that poorer countries are not left stranded. Medical observers are also calling for vaccines to be allocated fairly to countries with the greatest need during an outbreak rather than to those with the biggest pockets. However, it will be months before a vaccine is even produced in the quantities necessary. In the meantime, schools are putting into place plans to deal with potential outbreaks.

The DCSF has produced detailed model guidance available to every school to enable them to put emergency plans for the day -to-day running of the school, school trips, exam contingencies and closures into place. www.teachernet.gov.uk/edu cationoverview/flupandemic/


Pick up a Picnic


The picnic is back, says the Daily Express. Supermarkets are already seeing a 33% rise in sales of scotch eggs and sausage rolls, as a hot summer is forecast and parents choose UK holidays for their kids this year. Analysts calculate that this could result in £250m being spent on picnic food and a 20% rise in sales of hampers, rugs and flasks . . . so the recession’s not all doom and gloom!

SCIENCE TESTS SCRAPPED


Compulsory Science SATS tests for 11 year olds are to be scrapped following a review of the exams. The government is now facing a showdown with teachers’ unions as teachers vote to boycott the Key Stage 2 tests in 2010 for all subjects. This will hopefully put an end to the ‘tyranny of testing’, says Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers.

Perhaps an end to the Science tests at least will see more children inspired by the subject rather than feeling pressurised by stressful drilling and testing. See our interview with James Cracknell on the Science of the Body