Brexit and the politics of irrationality

A few miles from where I am sitting, something altogether disturbing is about to happen.  There appears to be every sign that, in the South Wales valleys, thousands of people in one of the most deprived areas of the UK – one whose Less Developed Region status under EU rules means that it is a […]

Remembering 1914

Part of the point of commemorating the hundredth anniversary of a war is the certainty that nobody who served in it will still be alive.  It is the point at which, definitively, that war has passed from direct into reported experience; history that can be turned into mythology, without the inconvenience of spontaneous testimony from […]

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 […]

Gove, creationism and the war on reason

Sometimes in politics a line is crossed in a way that is particularly chilling.  The announcement that Education Secretary Michael Gove has allowed advocates of creationism to set up three free schools is one of those moments.  Not that it should come as any surprise – the seeds of this particular development were sown when […]

Gove’s Hard Times

The announcement that the Coalition is to axe the £13m funding for Bookstart, a charity providing free books to children who would not otherwise get them, is Dickensian in the most literal sense: The opening paragraph of Dickens’ Hard Times showing that Gove’s view of literacy has a long lineage. But it’s worse than that. […]