In imagined nostalgia, there was a time when a community was defined by its pub, church, post office and school and life in merry old England revolved from cradle to grave with reassuring certainty. In present reality, however, dark forces are at work hatching dastardly plots intended to subvert our culture by infiltrating communities with hard line, fundamentalist extremists hell-bent on imposing warped dogma and alien ideology.
The pub is now a Tesco Express and the church is falling down but remains a lucrative long-term real estate investment opportunity. The post office is long gone and has been replaced with a food bank next to a loan shark. The school is now an Academy named after an unfamiliar sponsor and the community is now defined by hedge funds rather than hedgerows. (more…)
There can be few things sadder than seeing formerly dignified and noble institutions descend into squalid decay or once respected and decent individuals fall from greatness into the gutter of ruined reputation.
First among equals in the downward spiral towards derelict oblivion seems to be parliamentary democracy. According to our government, doctors, nurses, support staff and ambulance crews wilfully neglect their duty and are deliberately harming every single NHS patient. By this bizarre logic, the NHS is evil and has to be dismantled. Teachers and their sinister assistants have blighted the lives of children and ruined state education. State education, therefore, is failing and needs to be put out of its misery. What passes for government thinking might also conclude that every police officer constantly tells lies about cabinet ministers, fire fighters start fires, badgers cause floods and fracking will cure cancer. The welfare state, constructed in the aftermath of war and a litmus test of just how compassionate and civilised a nation is, is dead. The illness was mercifully short. It has been less than (more…)
Michael Gove insists that classroom discipline and rigour are the essential foundations of a modern education so it is rather disappointing that the Secretary of State for Education is incapable of practicing what he preaches.
Even if we dismiss the fact that the justice system has judged certain of his actions as being unlawful and if we draw a discreet veil over the secretive and rather sinister goings-on within his department, Michael Gove is an excellent champion of children`s education. Forgetting the £1billion overspend on his bizarre obsession with Free Schools, the failure of the Academy programme and the transformation of Ofsted from a regulator to a crude instrument of political dogma, Michael Gove is clearly doing an brilliant job. Ignore the blatant cronyism, the suppressed reports, the tinkered statistics and loads of money going from the school budget into the pockets of Tory donors, supporters and yes men; Michael Gove is a genius. After all, standards and examination results have fallen through the floor since 2010. (more…)
Grace and danger
When a school or, more significantly, a chain of schools feels that it is necessary to appoint a Director of Corporate Development, you might be forgiven for wondering how such a post might improve teaching and learning.
Grace Academy Darlaston is a Specialist Business and Enterprise Academy and seems to have been specialising in diverting government funding into the pockets, wallets, purses and bank accounts of the enterprising business folk that recognise a money tree when they see one. Usually, newspapers tend to employ Freedom of Information requests as an alternative to actual journalism in order to fill columns with faux outrage, but the Guardian has managed to dig up some dirt that a lot of vested interests would prefer to remain buried. Academies, it seems, and especially Academy chains might not have the interests of pupils as the number one priority and instead might be more focussed on corporately developing the financial wellbeing of sponsors and trustees. The actual definition of the words “sponsor” and “trustee” at Grace Academy might be challenging for even the brightest A Star English student. (more…)
M C Escher (1898 – 1972)
Even after thousands and thousands of years during which lots and lots of very, very clever people tried to define reality, we are still no closer to a universal proof of anything; the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Since the days of Plato, successive governments have understood that everything is open to interpretation and have carefully exploited the benefits of chaos theory whist simultaneously denying that chaos actually exists. Our current bunch of self-appointed masters having ditched any notion of logic applied to economic policy are now systematically working their way through the sum of human knowledge discarding most of it as being irrelevant.
The rules of valid reasoning, logical argument and proof based analysis no longer seem to apply and we now enter a period of history when reverse logic takes the place of actual fact. So when an A and E department in Belfast declares a major incident because it cannot cope with the numbers of people who require treatment, it is described by some talking head in a suit from the Northern Ireland Assembly as a “one off” and nothing to worry about. A major incident usually involves some traumatic event such as an aircraft no longer being an aircraft, a train that has decided not to be a train anymore or, given that particular part of the world`s unhappy history, a bloody big bomb going off. (more…)