State education?

 

Does anybody actually care about the millions of children who don’t attend private schools and will reach the age of 15 not being able to read and write properly? Obviously, not looking at the mess state schools are still in… Mind you, May and Gove are highly educated…

Increasing class sizes should be avoided at all costs

In 2009 The Guardian newspaper published an article based on a report which warned private schools would have to increase their class sizes in the future to cut costs.

The article noted that “since 1981 private schools have reduced the number of pupils per teacher from 12.6 to 8.3 by investing in more teachers”.

It went on to reveal that in some cases teachers’ salaries accounted for 70% of the private educational establishment’s total expenditure.

Gavin Humphries, one of the co-authors of the study conducted by education consultants MTM Consulting, believed this practice was not sustainable.

He also stated that “certain sacred cows” such as the policy of “having a pupil-teacher ratio of less than 10:1 needed to be challenged”.

So why have private schools traditionally favoured small class sizes?

The policy is based on the school of thought that smaller class sizes allow children to benefit from greater individual attention thereby improving their overall performance.

This is significant because it was research suggesting this premise to be a valid one that led the Labour government to introduce the regulation limiting the maximum class size for infants to 30 in 1998.

Last week, Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of Sutton County Council, urged the Education Secretary Michael Gove to increase that limit to 32 to save money.

He claimed such a move would not have a negative impact on a child’s education, the BBC News website reported.

Thankfully, the coalition government chose not to entertain his proposal.

Some would concur with Mr Bolger, who made the plea because of the high demand for school places in the borough and the cost of accommodating extra pupils.

There is also a school of thought that argues improving the quality of teachers trumps reduced class sizes.

Every child has the right to a good school education irrespective of the financial circumstances of their parents.

In theory, it should provide them with a platform from which they can spring forth confidently and capably into the world of work, further and higher education.

In short, its importance cannot be understated.

Increasing class sizes could be the slippery slope to allowing more changes to creep into an already flawed mainstream education system, at the moment.

The London Evening Standard’s front page lead about the poor levels of literacy and numeracy among many of the employees at the new Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford City last September, confirms this point.

The CBI – a body not known for pulling its punches – went straight for the jugular revealing the results of a survey it conducted among “566 employers showed 42% were not satisfied with the basic use of English by school and college leavers”.

It also said 44% of those businesses invested in remedial training to get the youngsters up to speed.

We are only in the second week of 2012 and the standard of schooling in Haringey is back in the spotlight.

The source of the latest controversy to hit the beleaguered East London borough is a leaked Whitehall document which describes its primary schools as the worst in inner London, according to the Evening Standard.

Meanwhile, the furore over the coalition government’s plans to take five of the failing ones out of the local authority’s control to turn them into academies rubbles on.

The alarm bells have been ringing out for quite some time now and I cannot help but wonder how many more young people have to slip through the mainstream education net before something seismic is done to stem the tide.

I realise it is much easier said than done but surely increasing class sizes cannot be the only solution to alleviating the cost of educating extra pupils?

After all, it is a child’s wellbeing and future prospects which are at stake.

Society goes up in smoke in England riots

As I sat down to write this post, two 30-something men walked past my window.

I caught the tail end of their animated conversation. “Look at the riots,” one of them exclaimed. “It just goes to show we have the power not the government.”

I disagree. An orgy of looting and violence is not just “sheer criminality” it is the action of the powerless.

Ingredients for a riot: take a huge dollop of frustration, add an unstable economy and high unemployment, along with an even bigger dollop of desperation. Then spoon in some rage and bake in the searing heat.

Many people not just in the UK but around the globe will easily separate themselves from the rioters/criminals.

And, of course, they can. They are law abiding citizens, they are educated, they are employed and take home an income which allows them to indulge in the finer things in life.

Yes, they are far removed from these so-called “animals” and “feral rats”.

But if we pause and really think about what one young woman in Birmingham told a news channel it becomes harder to dismiss these people as “just opportunist thugs”.

Asked how she perceived her local police force, she responded: “They don’t respect me so I don’t respect them.”

Respect is fundamental for a human being.

When a person is respected he or she possesses the power to influence people and shape his or her own destiny.

For some people in our society basic respect is automatic for others life is not so straightforward.

These people are invisible and become visible only when they act outside of the law.

The mindless violence and criminal damage which has swept across Britain is inexcusable.

It has already claimed a life – a 26-year-old man was shot in his car last night – and left many families homeless. Shop owners have witnessed their livelihoods going up in flames.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said every perpetrator will quite rightly feel the full force of the law.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove has blamed the riots on “tribal allegiances and gangs”.

Real change comes with addressing the cause not just the effect.

Columnist Mary Riddell wrote in the Telegraph (London riots: the underclass lashes out):

Today, Britain is less equal, in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since then. Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest people in Britain rose by 30 per cent to £333.5 billion.”

Tonight a police station in Nottingham was firebombed.

Can this country really afford to continue to have a huge section of society which is rudderless, disaffected and roaming the streets?