Category Archives: education

Limp Dump posturing

Anyone would think that there’s an election or two in the offing by the way Nick Clegg and his pathetic cohorts are ‘positioning’ themselves.

After several attempts to persuade voters that ‘we’re part of the government, but we’re not the Tory party’ they seem to have finally found themselves an issue that might have some legs in it in the person of Michael Gove.

Now let me say straight away that I don’t consider Mr Gove to be one of my favourite cabinet ministers. Somehow whenever I think of him, he conjures up some kind of caricatured cartoon image in my head. He just doesn’t look right. A bit like William Hague in that famous baseball cap picture. But Mr Gove seems to be the Clegg target of choice at the moment.

The Lib Dems and Tories have previously clashed over the employment of classroom staff without formal teaching qualifications and Mr Gove’s decision not to re-appoint Labour peer Sally Morgan to watchdog Ofsted.

Now Mr Gove has been accused by Clegg of diverting millions of pounds away from creating school places in state schools to his favourite ‘pet project’ of free schools. He claims this will mean the loss of 30,000 local authority places.

This, of course, brings us to the thing that Lib Dems seems to be rather good at: plucking figures out of the air. This worked well for them when they were in opposition because they never had any chance of being in government and could say what they liked. Trouble is, they found themselves in power. Oh dear!

Clegg said Mr Gove was “ideologically obsessed” about backing free schools. Tory education sources called the Lib Dems “pathetic”, saying more school places were being created overall. And that’s the nub of it. The places will still be created. They’ll just be in a different system.

Basically, all this has nothing to do with the Lib Dem integrity about education. After all, who could forget their pledge not to introduce tuition fees? What is has to with is distancing themselves from the Tory party in the run up to elections.

Let’s face it, they’re facing consignment to the dustbin of political history which, in my humble opinion, is long overdue…

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Should schools be secular?

There’s been a bit of a hoo-hah this week over reports that Islamic extremists are targetting between 15 and 25 schools (depending which paper you read) to teach children extreme Islamic views.

I do find it hard to believe that in the 21st century girls are being forced to sit at the back of the class because they’re less important than boys and that Christmas is being pushed to the back burner by muslim head teachers. Seems, however, that that is what has been happening.

There appears to have been what is described as a ‘leaked letter’ which alleges, amongst other things, the “takeover of governing bodies by fundamentalist Islamists, harassment of non-Muslim headteachers, female staff being bullied and gender segregation in lessons.” Michael Gove has now stepped into the affray.

Normally I don’t have a lot of time for Gove, but on this occasion he is right to say that emphasis on religion to this extreme is getting in the way of childrens’ education and development. I do wonder, however, why we’re not seeing the same sort of headlines in relation to, for example, Catholic Schools. Let’s face it, some convent schools can be pretty bloody religiously intense too!

I did also hear that there was a row going on over a school in Birmingham that spent £70,000 of it’s budget on loudspeakers to call all the little muslims to prayer. Have you ever been into a chapel at a Catholic faith school? Nobody seems to raise a fuss about the money spent on those.

The answer to this is, of course, very simple indeed. We follow the example of the French who seem to believe that religion has no place in schools and that if parents want their children to have a religious education then it is best done in the home. They have a point.

When I was at school, RE was a compulsory part of the curriculum. At least we got rid of that. My daughter, on the other hand, was taught comparative religion which was, at least, a step in the right direction and did give her an insight into different peoples’ belief systems.

But I’m with the French on this one. Get rid of it all. No discrimination. Dump the lot. It’s an outdated concept based on superstition that has no place in the 21st century.

Of course, if we did that then we’d have to find another reason to kill each other…

School’s out!

…or not as the case may be!

News this week that the number of parents taking their children out of school so they can benefit from cheaper holiday prices has risen by 75% in the last year or so, and the government has issued ‘tough new guidelines’.

If you take your kids out of school you’re going to be fined £60 per child per parent and dispensation will on be given in ‘exceptional’ circumstances. This has naturally led to the old beef about holiday companies jacking their prices up in the school holidays and ripping off poor, hard-done-by parents.

Well, actually that’s bollocks isn’t it? Simple economics says that when demand exceeds supply then prices rise. If supply exceeds demand, then prices fall. It’s know as ‘price equilibrium’ and it’s really quite simple to understand. At the simplest level, it’s the same reason that vegetables are simpler when they’re in season.

Fewer people go away when the kids are at school, so there are more more vacant holiday places to be sold. Accordingly the price goes down. Of course, it’s far more emotive to see it the other way around, but the fact is that when demand is slack the price drops.

On the BBC the other morning was an unapologetic mother of three. As she quite rightly pointed out, she saved £1,500 by taking her three kids out of school to go on holiday in term time, so even when you knock off the £360 fine, she’s still saving £1,140. Frankly who can blame her. It’s simple economics again.

Parents say that the holiday companies should charge the same all year round. Non-parents say why should they subsidise parents and pay more when they don’t have kids? Each side blames the other, but at the end of the day it’s all down to supply and demand.

And fining parents a paltry £60 isn’t going to change things…

Skools matter!

Nothing gets the good people of Smalltown more worked up than the educashun of their kids – unless, of course, it’s religion.

So this week, they are getting really worked up. Seems the County Council has decided to move to a two tier school system instead of the existing three tier. Of course, the Smalltown catholic community opposes this because they have an excellent Catholic school in town and they don’t want it changed. Seems they think it should be an exception because it’s a faith school.

Meanwhile, the Little Smalltown primary school is also going to be closed down. Basically this is because it has fewer than 30 pupils and it’s just not practical to keep it open. This is, of course, a direct affront to the locals who see it as diluting the amenities of their community.

Seems you really can’t please all of the people all of the time…especially when they live in Smalltown!

Greedy bloody teachers

I feel for our teachers. 

All they want is more money, less work and a better pension. Who amongst couldn’t sympathise with that?

Yesterday saw a partial teachers’ strike in an ongoing dispute with the government and – as the above picture shows – Michael Gove in particular. So what is it exactly that they’re getting all steamed up about?

Well, for a start, there’s their workload. They want smaller class sizes and shorter hours. And then there’s the stress of the job. They want fewer inspections by Ofsted in order to take some of the pressure off.

And they don’t like being told they’ll have to retire later before they get their index linked taxpayer funded pensions. And they don’t want to have to contribute more towards them either.

Then there’s pay. Performance related pay? No thank you. The ability to have their pay set by the head teacher? Absolutely not. They should all get the same regardless. On a national pay scale.

And while we’re at it, how about a big increase in regional allowances. Oh, and a pay rise.

But at least they’re happy about their three months annual holiday – so that’s something.

So, to summarise they want more money, better pensions, less work and less scrutiny. Or to put it another way, they want to opt out of everything the rest of us have to put up with. All for the sake of our children, of course.

As I said – I feel for our teachers. Highly educated but not highly intelligent they are being led like lambs to the slaughter by politically motivated left wing unions who want to bring the government down.

And these left wing unions couldn’t give a flying fuck about our children or their members…