When someone recently told me a local secondary school used a dildo to demonstrate how to put on a condom during their PSHE (personal, social and health education) class, my jaw hit the floor with incredulity.
Having just been at the national opening ceremony of the Teach First Summer Institute 2012, I have been considering the fate of all 997 of those smiling, fresh-faced new teachers. They are about to embark on one of the hardest journeys a young professional can experience; they are about to start teaching in tough, inner-city schools.
One of the most detrimental periods in a child's life is the summer holiday. It is soon to be an issue that will impact many children in Britain, as schools will soon break up for summer; and learning will slip a dramatically. The summer learning loss is one that currently has negative consequences in later life, and must be dealt with immediately.
Britain is experiencing the Age of the Amateur. Qualified experts, specialists, practitioners operating within established, well-regulated trades; these professionals have had their day. True integrity and nous belong to the volunteer, the have-a-go hero. At least, this seems to be the accepted wisdom of the Cameroons. And the result is a crisis of professionalism that threatens to undermine Britain's public and private sectors.
This is not a good time to be a student in college or university. Stories about soaring youth unemployment and scarce opportunities for graduates pepper the news bulletins. Ours is a generation with less of an idea of how our lives will pan out than any before us. No wonder we feel cheated.
Let's be frank, most businesses aren't looking for new starters who have an A* GCSE in 'global citizenship'. They need work ready employees who can write a properly punctuated sentence, free from spelling mistakes, and one who's mentally able to work out a simple maths problem.
Deciding to block out the existence of mobile phones is like censoring all conversations about sex - the more we avoid something, the more appealing it becomes. We create the taboo and expect children to not be curious. It's a fairly Victorian concept.
There's an inherent danger in any sector of education: if the teachings fail to measure up to the truth, then we'll be paving the way for a deep distrust and a greater apathy. With this in mind, it is of tremendous enthusiasm that we welcome Professor Nutt's book: Drugs - Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs.
Because it wasn't so long ago that I bumped into a young man (let's call him Peter) - we'd worked with him when he was in Year 9 and on the very edge of permanent exclusion. Peter couldn't sit still for more than a few minutes, hated being told what to do and saw resources only as ammunition to throw at his classmates.
I object to my family facing discrimination and bias. I object to my child's privacy being invaded on a regular basis for no good reason. I object that unnecessary demands on my family take away resources from children who do need help. I object to being branded a criminal. Wouldn't you?
The crucial point is that simply learning about internet safety is not enough, children need to practise it. With the right nurturing, guidance and practice, children can then have the best possible preparation when the time comes to make the transition into more grown up social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
I'm dyslexic. That's right. Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Henry Winkler and Orlando Bloom and I can all officially high-five each other. Now dyslexia affects people in different ways. It can be a major block to getting through school and getting through work. However, dyslexia isn't all that bad. In fact I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE IT. Here's why...
The debate about standards in the UK examination system turns heads because the importance of education is more vivid now than it has ever been. If we're not getting it right, that's a big problem - nationally and for individuals.
I love making dens. But den making isn't something I do just for my own children. Every week I go into schools and help pupils and teachers transform classrooms into war-torn towns, cavernous Egyptian pyramids and enchanted forests.
With the years of endured bullying at secondary school long behind me, I'd almost forgotten that bullying wasn't buried at my school. Amongst the sport, the stage productions and field trips, bullying was and still is infectious across classrooms.
Given the numbers we shall have to recruit into STEM industries in the next few years, we need many more employers to engage on a sustained basis to develop the necessary momentum and direction. Embedding the costs in to their budget and planning processes will enable their involvement to make a significant contribution to the solution of the STEM skills shortage.