Tag Archives: education

LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Tories’ Royal Marine cut plays fast and loose with UK defence

It makes sense that Paddy should write for the Plymouth Herald on defence given the city’s strategic importance.

He took the Government to task for cutting the Marines – about which he knows more than most people:

For more than three centuries – from Gibraltar and Trafalgar to Normandy and Afghanistan – the Royal Marines have epitomised those qualities. They have fought in more theatres and won more battles than any other British unit. In our nation’s hours of danger, they have been, as Lord St Vincent predicted in 1802, “the country’s sheet anchor”.

So the news that the Government is cutting 200 Royal Marine posts – at such a volatile time in world affairs – should concern us all. They are committing this folly in response to a crisis of their own making.

The cost of Conservative foolishness doesn’t end with the Royal Marines. They’ve cut personnel numbers, breaking their manifesto promise not to reduce the Army below 82,000. Troops on the frontline are deprived of basic equipment and combat training has been slashed, putting soldiers’ lives in greater peril. Warships sit idle at quaysides. No wonder top generals have accused the Government of “deception” over defence.

The Tories are very practised at talking tough on defence in elections. But look at the history: it’s always Tories who cut most on defence in government. It’s now clear that Mrs May will get back in because of the hopelessness of the Labour Party. But it would be very dangerous to give her a big enough majority to ignore us again.

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Let’s make the Lib Dems the party of education, education, education

Education is going through a difficult time, with many schools declaring teachers redundant, increasing class sizes, cutting out subjects and asking parents for money. The Government claims education has never been better funded. It takes no account that this is mainly due to an increase in pupil numbers, or that additional costs are being placed on schools. Nor do they mention the unfunded increase in National Insurance. They are prepared to waste money on Grammar Schools. As Liberal Democrats we should take a different view, scrap the Grammar Schools and start funding education with a fully costed proposal, part funded by savings from staying in the Single Market.

When we have sorted out the finance and stopped wasting money on Grammar and Free Schools it is time to break down the National Education System (which Labour appear to support), and remove the Regional Schools Commissioners. The tasks currently carried nationally and regionally should be devolved locally, through revamped LEAs. That is not returning to the old LEA structure, but LEA school support was very valuable and in many cases achieved more than a ticking off from Ofstead. League tables should go, and be replaced by a report of strengths and weaknesses, with proposed improvement actions. 

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments

Why things need to change in education

At no other time during a 10 year teaching career has the horizon appeared so dark and bleak over the educational landscape.  Retention is low and recruitment equally as poor within the sector, begging the question “Why is it so hard to find teachers?”  Even now as I type, I find myself questioning if this is what I want for my future.

The truth is that the profession is built on people with a passion for their career, people who believe in the importance and the worth of educating and guiding future generations.  And it is the good will and convictions of their beliefs that has held it together thus far, but with ever increasing frequency more and more have had this good will stretched to breaking point.

Teachers have become the puppets of a system that helps the few at the expense of the many.  A child’s education should not be determined by how rich they are or their faith, but yet this is the system we find ourselves in.

With the Conservatives in government we have suffered through an educational leader, Michael Gove,  who openly decried experts, who had a complete lack of experience or expertise in an educational environment.  Though he has since moved on, each passing Education Secretary has had equally little experience or desire to listen to experts.  Even now Mrs May plans to force Grammar Schools into the system without and evidence that they work, at the expense of schools that are already operating.

Posted in News | 41 Comments

Lib Dems to deliver £7 billion schools funding boost

Tim Farron and Sarah Olney have announced that the Liberal Democrats will invest nearly £7bn more in schools and colleges over the next parliament.

The funding would reverse cuts to frontline school and college budgets, protect per pupil funding in real terms and ensure no school loses out from the National Funding Formula.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Sarah Olney said:

Children are being taught in overcrowded classes by overworked teachers – but Theresa May doesn’t care.

While funding per pupil is set to see the biggest cuts in a generation, billions of pounds are being spent on divisive plans to expand grammars and free schools.

This extra £7 billion of funding would ensure no school and no child loses out.

We will reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets and invest to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed.

Tim Farron added

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 19 Comments

LibLink: David Laws: It’s time for Theresa May to ditch grammar school plans

David Laws, our former Schools Minister now heading up the Education Policy Institute (which used to be the CentreForum think tank) has been writing for the Observer. He’s driven a coach and horses through the Government’s case for grammar schools, which he says even fails to convince Education Secretary Justine Greening.

It is one of the worst kept secrets in Westminster that education secretary Justine Greening is not the biggest supporter of the policy that is now the social mobility “flagship” of Theresa May’s government – expanding the number of grammar schools.

Greening must be aware of the clear UK and international evidence that selective education both fails to raise overall standards, and undermines the prospects of poor children. Education Policy Institute researchers last year analysed the government’s own schools data and drew two key conclusions. First, that almost no children on free school meals get into grammar schools – a risible 4,000 out of more than eight million pupils in the whole of England. Second, that although there is a small benefit for pupils who are admitted to selective schools, this is offset by the worse results for other pupils in areas with a significant number of grammar places.

He outlines how he poorest children will be the worst affected by the move to grammar schools:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

Brexit related divisiveness mars school exchange visit

Three Spanish Exchange students have descended on our home this week. Full of fun, responsive and impeccably mannered, it has been a pleasure to have them around. About parts of their experience in England, though, it is impossible to be so complimentary.

Their looks of bemusement have grown ever stronger during the week as the farcical events surrounding Gibraltar have unfolded.

Firstly, they watched in amazement as a former Tory leader – not a rogue backbencher, a former leader – envisaged a situation in which Britain would sent a Task Force, Union Jacks waving and bugles blowing, to defend the future of the island.

Walking round the supermarket, they stumbled across the front page of The Sun with its headline “Up Yours Senors”, although I suppose we should be mildly relieved that the paper fell short of calling for all-out war.

If they go back to the supermarket today, they can check out the Daily Mail with its tale of how a “Tiny Royal Navy patrol vessel chases giant Spanish gunboat out of British waters.”

Two newspapers which have done so much damage to the culture of the nation.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

Passing the buck: A right fine mess at the Department for Education

Well, there it is. According to the TES, in the brave new world of Justine Greening’s Department for Education, a GCSE pass is now a grade 4. Except when it is a 5, because a 5 is also a pass. And just to remind you, the top grade is a 9, and the bottom grade a 1. Except maybe it’s a zero. Nobody really knows anymore, so don’t feel too left out.

And don’t panic, if you’re a student, a parent or a teacher. Because all will be well. Don’t listen to anyone who complains about the government not knowing what a GCSE pass actually means a mere 6 weeks before the exams. If we all stay united, Britain is unstoppable, remember. It’s just the moaners who bring us all down.

Still sceptical? As well you might be. It’s worth recalling how we ended up here, with the government announcing that a GCSE pass is both a grade 4 and a grade 5 rather like Boris Johnson when he announced he wanted to have his euro cake and eat it.

That’s the problem with nonsense. Like misbehaviour in schools, when one minister gets away with it, the others all start to copy. First it was Boris, then David Davis and Liam Fox with their pirouettes on the Single Market and immigration, and now it’s Justine Greening in education.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments
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