Category: Education and training

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Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig and the war on empathy

Tom Scott

The government’s trashing of arts education will do great harm to the UK’s ‘soft power’. But as Tom Scott explains, the damage will go deeper than that. A few days ago, I was at a meeting of University and College Union (UCU) delegates from around the country. Hearing from other delegates about the swathe of […]

Miss Snuffy is right about social mobility!

Mick Fletcher

To my surprise, I find myself agreeing with Katharine Birbalsingh, who tweets under the slightly eccentric name of “Miss Snuffy”. Birbalsingh is regularly referred to in the less serious type of newspaper as “Britain’s strictest headmistress” and her views go down well with the Conservative rank and file. I suspect that it is her strong […]

Thanks a million, Eton

Mick Fletcher
Eton by Canaletto

If further proof were needed that ‘levelling up’ is a soundbite rather than a strategy, the proposal for a new cadre of elite sixth forms provides it. Mick Fletcher explains. Trailed as one of the key measures in a programme to address 55 ‘education cold spots’, the aim is apparently “to ensure talented children from […]

Power to the people! Citizen science: what it is and how to get involved

Colin White
SETI screensaver

The power and impact of citizen journalism is something I’m sure you are familiar with and, given that you are, right now, reading from this esteemed site, I’m also sure you fully support the concept. It’s all about concerned citizens playing an active role in democratically reporting, analysing and disseminating news. What is less well-known, […]

Hey! Teachers! Leave the truth alone! Government interference coming to a classroom near you.

Richard Murphy
The teacher puppet from Pink Floyd's The Wall

Requiring teachers to present a view in classes that our government is the benign deliverer of optimal outcomes for society is anything but neutral, but that is what the government is demanding that teachers do. Richard Murphy explores the latest dark initiative from this authoritarian government. The government issued this statement yesterday: New guidance to support teachers […]

Brexit, meritocracy and the retreat from reason

Mick Fletcher
Private Eye cover Leave special

Chris Grey, who blogs about Brexit and related matters, is someone well worth following. A recent post explored the fascinating links between the ‘partygate’ scandals currently engulfing the Johnson administration and the ideas and individuals that drove Vote Leave. It raised again a central paradox of current politics – that while Brexit and populism as […]

Au revoir to au pairs from Europe?

Tamsin Beadman
white black and brown hands on EU flag

“Carrero Blanco was blown up two streets away,” Isabel, my señora, mentioned casually on a chilly Madrid afternoon in December 1983 as we sat in her luxurious flat on Calle Hermosilla. “Have you heard of him? Ten years ago today, ETA blew up his car in Claudio Coello and it flew right over a church. […]

Elite sixth forms: a class idea?

Mick Fletcher
sixth formers in parliament

In a desperate attempt to divert attention from the mess in Downing Street, the government recently announced a flurry of ill-considered ’new’ policies. One was a proposal to develop a cadre of “elite sixth forms” which would “ensure talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to the highest standard of education this country offers.” I […]

Why I’m not returning to teach in Covid-stricken schools

Jane Stevenson
Teacher masked in classroom

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has asked former teachers to return to schools hit by the Omicron wave. Cornwall-based Jane Stevenson explains why she’s not answering this call from a government that has shown no concern for the health and wellbeing of school staff or the children they teach. I am a qualified science teacher who […]

Sidmouth Science Festival 8-17 October

Colin White

Fancy a bit of post-lockdown educational fun? Why not give a Science Festival a try? Think of Sidmouth and what springs to mind? The Regency architecture, perhaps? The wonderful rock formations and colourations of the Jurassic Coast? Or maybe the gorgeous, flamboyant, mad turmoil that is its famous annual folk festival? How about the Sidmouth […]

Closing doors: Brexit and TEFL teaching in Spain

Helen Johnston

West Country Voices has recently highlighted how Brexit is affecting the language teaching sector in the UK, with dire impacts on school trips abroad and on the TEFL sector in the UK. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has also, for many years, provided many British people with an opportunity to move abroad, selling […]

Employers are in the driving seat, but they don’t train drivers

Mick Fletcher

In an attempt to pose as doing something to help tackle the shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers the government has announced that the Department for Education (DfE) will be spending £10 million to train an estimated 3,000 drivers.  Set aside for the moment that this is a drop in the ocean compared with […]

School trips abroad: the “Grand Tour”, blighted by Brexit

Mike Zollo

Cultural osmosis For many decades, visits, homestays and courses abroad in the country of the ‘target language’ have been considered essential to the study of a foreign language, both for UK young people going abroad and for young EU nationals coming to the UK. Indeed, this is nothing new: human beings have always travelled, mixed […]

A fair start? Poor children locked out of vital early years services

Valerie Huggins

I awake this morning to news of yet another example of the deceit underpinning this government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, in one of the most neglected areas of public policy: the support for our youngest children. According to the latest research by the Sutton Trust and the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust, England’s poorest children are being ‘locked-out’ […]

Lack of learning from Somerset’s failure

Mick Fletcher

Somerset residents face the prospect of a serious cut in the adult education provision available in the county next year, and substantial staffing reductions in their major adult education provider. Somerset Skills and Learning (SSL) is having to turn hundreds of students away and make teaching staff redundant this summer after failing to win a […]

Williamson’s Latin in schools wheeze…just another feles mortuus?

Valerie Huggins

I wake up to yet another ‘dead cat’ announcement from the hapless Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson: “Let them learn Latin” he declares in a £4m Latin Excellence pilot scheme to teach the language in 40 schools. It is not unreasonable for all those concerned in the difficult task of creating and maintaining an education system […]

Vocational exams and educational vandalism

Mick Fletcher
trainee plumbers

Government policy, even when wrong, can usually be understood.  Recent proposals for ‘chain gangs’ of offenders in high vis jackets for example might make no sense in terms of reducing crime but are explicable as an appeal to authoritarian voters.   Expert advice was clear that the privatisation of the probation service was doomed to failure, […]

Early years forgotten again

Valerie Huggins
child playing with wooden toys in early years class

I listened to Johnson’s levelling-up speech with hope in my heart that he would at last focus on the sector that has the potential to make the most difference to children’s life outcomes – early years care and education. In the speech, Johnson acknowledged that after ten years of Conservative government: “If you are a […]

National Meadows Day: a tale of two meadows

Miles King
meadow with orchids

Wildflower meadows have their day in the sun today, Saturday 3 July: National Meadows Day. National Meadows Day is a new thing, just a few years old, but it seems to have captured the public’s imagination, and rightly so. Because wildflower meadows encapsulate a beautiful coming-together of people and nature, creating something sublime which everyone […]

Discord not development: Robert Halfon’s recipe for the ‘left behind’

Mick Fletcher
young pupil completing exam paper

If further proof was needed that this administration is more concerned to play politics than to govern the country well, the recent report of the Education Select Committee provides it. The committee chose to tackle an important and urgent issue – the failure of our education system adequately to prepare large numbers of young people […]

Rocket fuel or rocketing debt? The new offer for adult education

Mick Fletcher

The government’s legislative programme announced in the Queen’s speech on 11 May gave particular prominence to the idea of ‘levelling up’, promising “bold new interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunities throughout the UK”.  Central to this vision is the reform of vocational education, described as offering new lifelong learning opportunities for adults. The prime minister […]

Adieu Erasmus, bonjour Turing? A French perspective

Geneviève Talon

The celebrated Erasmus Plus programme started as a large-scale exchange programme for university students across the EU. It also provides grants for a wide range of activities, including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses. In 2018, the European Commission adopted an ambitious […]

Abandon hope all youth who grow up here

Sadie Parker

“Am I gonna sit here and say that Brexit is perfect, and your generation is gonna reap the benefits? No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute, and I can see that. We’ve got work to do…” So said Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, addressing an audience of under-30-year-old […]

The Hypatia Trust – celebrating and enabling women’s achievements in Penzance

Tillie Holmes

The Hypatia Trust is a charity based in Penzance, Cornwall, which strives to support women’s education and achievements. Named after the remarkable hellenistic neoplatonist mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, the trust was founded 25 years ago by Melissa Hardie . She initially set up the charity with the primary aim to protect, maintain, and develop the […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

School funding crisis in Somerset will mean closures and redundancies

Editor-in-chief

Somerset County Council shows no signs of changing course on school closures and staff redundancies in Somerset  Plans for wholesale changes to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area came to Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this week (Wednesday 3 March), prior to the Council’s Cabinet making a final decision on […]

On feast and famine

Anthea Bareham

Throughout my childhood we had a feast almost every day – not just on special occasions – every day. I expect you did too. We ate meat. Almost every day. Last week I attended a Guardian online webinar, one of Fairtrade Fortnight’s events. The topic was ‘The impact of the climate crisis on global food […]