Monday, April 9, 2012

Asia in numbers: China

Greg Hurst Education Editor

Last updated at 3:25PM, April 9 2012

A fresh wave of militancy in England?s schools was heralded by the biggest classroom union today, as it backed strikes to oppose the growth of academies and local pay bargaining for teachers. Strike ballots should be held in every school planning to become an academy and all those that are already academies where pay and conditions had been changed, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) decided. Its annual conference in Torquay also agreed that industrial action should be co-ordinated among schools within local authority areas or with neighbouring schools if possible. Separate industrial action, including a national strike, was also endorsed by the conference in protest at the Government?s moves towards dismantling national pay bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers. The votes for more strikes, and the confrontational tone of the debates that preceded them, mark a farther step towards militancy by the NUT and will raise questions as to how in touch its activists and officials are with mainstream teachers. Several speakers were prominent figures in hard-Left fringe political groups. The first of the NUT?s wider local strikes is planned for Birmingham on May 22, which will coincide with many pupils sitting GCSEs and A levels, although teachers involved in exam classes may be exempted. The NUT has already given its backing to strikes to stop schools from changing their term dates and length of working

One stamp shows a narrowboat puttering past a bucolic Regent?s Park. Another, the White Cliffs of Dover at dusk. A third depicts the Tyne Bridge on a moonlit night. The Royal Mail?s latest issue of stamps, titled UK Landmarks A-Z is, you would think, a harmless paean to Britain?s tourist attractions. But think again. Because the Royal Mail is ?making Britain a laughing stock of the philatelic world?, according to Alec MacGuire, a stamp collector from Surrey. John Baron, Chairman of the Association of British Philatelic Societies goes further. ?They?ve ruined it,? he said, darkly. ?They?ve killed the market.? The issue for Britain?s stamp collectors seems, initially, counterintuitive. The problem is, there are too many stamps. This year, a keen philatelist could have bought a set of stamps honouring Roald Dahl. He or she could have complemented them with t

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Families will have to pay hundreds or thousands of extra pounds to extend their homes, build conservatories or carry out loft conversions because of ?green? regulations to be introduced in October. Customers can expect a 10 per cent increase in bills as a result of rules being put forward by ministers, The Times can reveal. The proposals will extend to domestic property some requirements already in place for large buildings. As a result, people will be allowed to extend or refit their homes only if they also carry out costly improvements on existing parts of the building. The aim is to prevent carbon emissions from increasing overall. A typical extension could cost anything from ?10,000 to ?90,000. So families might be expected to spend ?1,000 to ?9,000 on loft and cavity wall insulation and a new central heating system, for example. Conservatories wil

Last updated at 3:43PM, April 9 2012

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