Tag Archives: Education

The education of young minds

An article appeared in the Telegraph which suggests that millions of children are ‘being taught a distorted view of European history to push further EU integration’; with Prof David Abulafia, a Cambridge University don, warning that school textbooks are ‘papering over’ historical differences between European nations to promote further integration.

This aticle was brought to my attention on Twitter by Alan King (@Akabilky), in response to which Richard North (@RichardAENorth) asked why this was news.  – and , indeed, it is not news.

Four years ago – yes, back in 2012 – I wrote an article entitled: The ‘forming’ of young minds (do go and read it – and follow the links?). Just for once the Express had an article based on fact which relates to a Secretary of State for Education who was obviously not on top of his ‘brief’; added to which we had a Minister for Europe endorsing a HoC information paper promoting the intervention of the European Union into an area in which they have no competence.

Which begs the questions:

  • do we have joined-up government working in the best interests of those they are supposed to serve?
  • why do the constituents of Aylesbury continually re-elect someone  who helps a supranational body intrude into an area in which it has no business to be – to which the same question can be put to the constituents of Witney?

As the minds of the young appear to be being formed, so have the minds of their elders already been formed – had the latter not, the likes of Cameron and Lidington would have been  drawing their political pension for some years now.


Passing Thoughts

I note that Manchester has been chosen by the Electoral Commission to host the results of the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. While it is well known that there is rivalry twixt the United and City factions in Manchester there is also an element of that  twixt Manchester and Liverpool. The latter is probably more than glad they did not ‘kop it’, this time.

It is also noted that Chatham House, under their ‘Europe Programme’, have issued a paper entitled: Britain, the European Union and the Referendum: What Drives Euroscepticism? – the paper being authored by Matthew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo. Here we have two ‘professors’ who would have us believe they know all about eurosceticism, but who really know squat-diddley. From the Summary it appears they maintain that: Our analysis of around 30,000 Britons reveals that, broadly, those who would vote to leave the EU tend to have left school before their 17th birthday, to have few or no advanced academic qualifications, to be over 55 years old, and to work in less secure, lower-income jobs. In contrast, those who want Britain to remain a member of the EU tend to be younger, to be more highly educated, and to have more financially secure and professional jobs; and that: These two groups think fundamentally differently about the EU and about the issues that feed into the debate on Europe. Those who are currently planning to vote to leave the EU are motivated mainly by their dissatisfaction with how, in their view, democracy is working at the EU level, and also by their strong concerns over immigration and its perceived effects on Britain’s economy, culture and welfare state. When one considers the manner in which education presently brainwashes children (and has done for yonks), is it any wonder that this divide in voting intentions exists – and I leave to one side the ‘slight’ on we of advanced years who did have what may be termed a good ‘all-round’ education imparted by those free of political ideology.

No doubt Jeremy Hunt and our current apology for a government will soon be crowing about the plans for a new ‘super hospital’ in BIrmingham, the construction of which is due to start in 2016 and costing £350million. What they will probably not inform us is that £108million is coming from the European Union. So the European Union get to further embed their claws into our country; and also the opportunity of yet another blue plaque placed to honour their ‘grandeur’.

Eamonn Butler, he of the Adam Smith Institute, has an articleAn unelected check is better than no check on the House of Commons; in which he mantains that a ‘toothless’ House of Lords is necessary for democracy. Eamonn Butler points out that the Parliament Act exists, which means any view of the HoL can be ‘overridden’ by the HoC – in which case one might ask why does the Hol exist? It is worth considering that whether we elect – or don’t – ‘legislators’, we have no say over their election or appointments. As he doesn’t appear to understand that it is the people of this country who are sovereign, then bring on the pitchforks!

Another article which caught my eye is one by Bronwen Maddox (another graduate of PPE) who would have us believe she is yet another ‘expert’ on ‘matters EU’, who links to 12 reasons we need to know about Brexit. So yet another ‘education brainwashed’ person wishes to pass on all that she has ‘learned’ to the unenlightened.

Not that the United Nations is above a little brainwashing: witness their attempt to link transport, health and climate change. When this idea that windmills, the sea and the sun can provide sufficient energy to power trains, cars, generating stations, etc, goes ‘pear-shaped’, we will be left with another body of legislators that we cannot fire in retribution.

Considering all the above, it gives me great pleasure in being able to coin a phrase from the European Union: ‘User Pays’. If we, the user of democracy, have to pay for it (and for those who provide it) then it is about time we had the ability to decide not only which form of democracy we will accept, but also just for what and how much we will pay!

Just saying………………………




What goes round comes round

Those of us who are of a similar age as I will recall the Educational Priority Areas (EPA) – and are probably asking themselves, as do I, what happened to that.

An excellent article about EPAs can be found here; the author of this article having been a member of the West Riding Educational Priority Area project and a contributor to the HMSO Educational Priority series. The Plowden Report referred to in the linked article interestingly also called for more experienced and successful teachers, with salary incentives to attract them to work in EPAs.

In the late 1960s, the Labour government (Anthony Crossland: Sec of State for Education and Science) designated schools in deprived areas as “Educational Priority Areas” and promised to give them extra money for school-building projects as had been proposed by the Plowden Committee (1966), whose idea it also was that teachers should receive a special allowance for working in difficult schools. The education priority areas were gradually absorbed into more general aid programmes for deprived areas. They failed to make radical changes to the nature of schooling. Hence the introduction of EAZ’s (In May 1998, the Labour government planned to set up 25 Education Action Zones within 5 years. The zones would cover on average 20 schools, only 2-3 being secondary schools and the rest being primary schools and nurseries. They would be run by a combination of the school leaders, governors and parents, including the local education authority and also local and national businesses) which was all part of Tony Blair’s promise to concentrate government policy on “education, education, education”.

If one is looking for a history of how education has been pulled from pillar to post then one can do no better than Derek Gillard (2007) Axes to Grind: the first five years of Blair’s academies

City technology colleges (CTCs) were established by the 1988 Education ‘Reform’ Act. They were the invention of secretary of state Kenneth Baker, who presented them as a ‘half-way house’ between the state and independent sectors. A hundred of the colleges were to be set up across the country, each one funded – ‘sponsored’ – by a business, with spending per pupil far higher than in the schools of the local education authorities (LEAs), from whom they would be entirely independent. In the event, only a handful were ever established because few businesses were prepared to take part and, as usual, the taxpayer was left to pick up the bill.

Next we had Blair and ‘academies’; the brain child of Andrew Adonis, Blair’s principal education adviser during his ten years in office. They were therefore remarkably like the CTCs, as Francis Beckett pointed out in The Guardian (2004): the government’s big idea for education turns out to be the one the Conservatives invented 19 years ago, and abandoned as a failure shortly afterwards. It is even run by the same man: Cyril Taylor, the businessman appointed by the Conservatives in 1986 to create 30 city technology colleges.

The first three academies opened in September 2002. Nine followed a year later, and five more opened in September 2004, making a total of 17 during Blair’s second term in office. The DfES’s Five year strategy for children and learners, published in July 2004, indicated that the government intended to have 200 academies open by 2010, despite the fact that no evaluation had been made of their cost-effectiveness. Sponsors were required to contribute £2m to start-up costs, with the taxpayer finding the rest. It was originally estimated that this would amount to about £8m per academy (making a total start-up cost of £10m). In fact, they proved far more expensive than that. The City of London Academy in Southwark cost £33.7m and the average capital budget for the first 17 academies was £25m.

Two days ago we learn that NIcky Morgan is to create a National Teaching Service which will involve recruting a pool of 1,500 high-achieving teachers over five years who would be deployed to schools in areas with weak results; and which will include financial incentives for teachers to join this project, with staff expected to stay for up to three years.

So, we have a Tory education minister bringing back an idea 50 years old, the original idea subsiding into oblivion; the appointment of a man who thought of a new type of school, but which cost the country – and presumaby taxpayers – millions, being appointed as head of a ‘national infrastructure commission’.

What goes round sure does come round – in spades – and to the detriment of the poor saps who have allowed themselves to be ‘taken to the cleaners’ through their indifference to that which is happening around them.

No doubt those of indifference will be avidly glued to their television screens in a few days time watching events at the Cenotaph; and in the months/years ahead will troop to the ballot box and decide whether this country remains a member of the European Union.

To parahrase: as we sow, so shall we reap……………..