The University Walk and the abandonment of childhood

One of the things about living in contemporary Britain is that it takes a lot to make one’s jaw drop.  The culture of casual market-driven brutality runs so deep that surprise almost becomes a luxury.  But a story in the Camden New Journal about how one primary school – St George the Martyr Primary School […]

Alan Milburn’s social mobility report: a case for a basic income?

The  Government will publish today a report prepared by former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn into social mobility.  It’s widely trailed that it will make sobering reading for the coalition:   In particular, it is likely to highlight the fact that the biggest victims of austerity economics are the working poor – something we really […]

Liz Truss and the privatisation of childhood

Junior Education Minister Liz Truss has launched an attack on what she describes as the “purposeless activity” to be seen in many nurseries.  She claims that this is not about academic work, but about structured activity and learning to be polite through activities which the teacher is clearly leading. No doubt there will be much […]

The Curse of PPE

There has been quite a lot of debate recently about how the British political class is dominated by Oxbridge.  And I read quite often  – especially on Twitter – comments along the lines of “If Cameron has a first in PPE at Oxford, how come he’s so ignorant about …” or “If Cameron got a […]

So just which are those drifting schools?

David Cameron takes a pop at what he describes as failing middle class schools in a piece in today’s Daily Telegraph.  As ever with Cameron, it’s short on evidence, long on prejudice – has there ever been a Government which is less concerned about backing its assertions with hard facts? – and it’s always amusing […]

Bread, circuses and the smell of fear

David Cameron has today delivered a speech on education, at the opening of the Norwich Free School.  It offers an astonishingly reactionary and in many respects deeply ill-informed view of what schools are about.  But it’s just the latest in a line of utterances in which huggie-hooding Dave, a man whom the Telegraph Blogs regarded […]

From Red Ed to Ramsay Ed

Today’s strikes by public sector workers against changes to their pensions (which amount to a 3% pay cut) are important.  It’s not just that strikers turned out in large numbers, and were well-supported; or that opinion polls show sustained and substantial support for the strikers; or that the Government’s intellectual case for pensions changes is […]

Private schools, beagle packs and charitable status

A judicial review is currently under way into the Charity Commission’s guidelines on what private schools need to do to retain their charitable status, in response to a legal challenge from the Independent Schools Council. The BBC reports: The Independent Schools Council, representing more than 1,200 private schools, has argued that the Charity Commission is […]

Corrupting the academy

David Willetts – the man they mystifyingly call “two brains” – has come up with yet another of his wheezes. He suggests that teenagers from the wealthiest families should be able to secure places at elite universities if they can pay the full fees up front. These extra students would not be eligible for student […]

Two brains, neither working

Every so often, a Coalition Minister departs from the script in a way that reveals the reality behind the spin.  Thus with David Willetts, the Minister for Higher Education, known to Tories as “Two Brains”. Nottingham Students against Fees and Cuts takes up the story: A group of approximately 40 students from local universities and […]