Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on Afghan polls, free speech and the poverty/parenting debate

1. Sarah Palin: news anchor

At Comment Central, Hattie Garlick offers us some vintage footage of Palin pursuing her vocation.

2. Kinnock warns of potential dangers of opposition infighting

Alex Smith at LabourList quotes advice from a man who knows.

3. No escape for Cameron on importance of poverty

At Left Foot Forward, Will Straw takes his lead from Polly Toynbee's column attacking David Cameron's comments on parenting/poverty, and looks in-depth at the Demos report Building Character.

4. Islam4UK ban: a sensible step or a defeat for pluralism?

Michael White explores the moral issues around the ban, saying that while he believes bans should be avoided, you have to draw the line sometimes, if only to make a point.

5. Listening to Afghanistan

The Bleeding Heart Show asks: how much weight should we give to opinion polls as a measure of the success or validity of a military campaign?


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Listen: Schools Minister Nick Gibb gets SATs question for 11-year-olds wrong

Exams put too much pressure on children. And on the politicians who insist they don't put too much pressure on children.

As we know from today's news of a primary school exams boycott, or "kids' strike", it's tough being a schoolchild in Britain today. But apparently it's also tough being a Schools Minister.

Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education, failed a SATs grammar question for 11-year-olds on the BBC's World at One today. Having spent all morning defending the primary school exams system - criticised by tens of thousands of parents for putting too much pressure on young children - he fell victim to the very test that has come under fire.

Listen here:

Martha Kearney: Let me give you this sentence, “I went to the cinema after I’d eaten my dinner”. Is the word "after" there being used as a subordinating conjunction or as a preposition?

Nick Gibb: Well, it’s a proposition. “After” - it's...

MK: [Laughing]: I don’t think it is...

NG: “After” is a preposition, it can be used in some contexts as a, as a, word that coordinates a subclause, but this isn’t about me, Martha...

MK: No, I think, in this sentence it’s being used a subordinating conjunction!

NG: Fine. This isn’t about me. This is about ensuring that future generations of children, unlike me, incidentally, who was not taught grammar at primary school...

MK: Perhaps not!

NG: ...we need to make sure that future generations are taught grammar properly.

I'm a mole, innit.