The sorry state of British education, part 1, GCSEs

The first in a three-part series on the sorry state of British education. Hope you enjoy these multi-part blogs.  I started secondary school in 2008. Then, British secondary education was in a terrible mess; the Labour Education Secretary Ed Balls was presiding over a period of serious grade inflation. GCSEs, the qualification achieved by British …

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Ephemera

Colombia has been struggling with a particularly large and unlikely interloper: the hippopotamus. The African animals are multiplying in the area around Doradal, in the northwest of the country. It’s all the fault of the cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar. During his heyday as leader of the Medellín Cartel, he imported four hippos for his personal …

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What went wrong for the Left?

All across the developed world, mainstream centre-left parties are in decline. In France, the Netherlands and Greece, they have ceased to be even remotely relevant. In countries like Ireland and Italy, they have been replaced by left-wing populist movements- Sinn Fein and M5S respectively. In France and to a lesser extent Spain, they have been …

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Thought for the day

Unnatural vigilance is really required of the citizen because of the horrible rapidity with which human institutions grow old.”. (G.K. Chesterton, quoted in The Sunday Times) Was he thinking of the Constitution, liberal democracy, the rule of law, international treaties and cooperation, universities as promoters of critical thinking (not just job training), and financial services …

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The US: 50 years on and it seems the best intentions have come to nought

In 1968 the Kerner Commission recommended “massive and sustained investment in jobs and education to reduce black poverty , inequality and racial injustice”. Now, 50 years later, public schools have been re-segregated, the gap between the teaching quality for rich and poor is among the highest in the world. Schools in the Northeast are the …

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Old establishment, new establishment – both have failed

“The “British establishment” today is somewhat removed from its origins in the class system and privilege. In government, explains researcher Aeron Davis, the change started in the 1980s when Oxbridge types began to be displaced from the upper rungs of Whitehall, as an emphasis on “meritocracy” and expertise represented by grammar school education, the professions …

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Should 16 year olds be given the vote?

Should the British voting age be reduced to 16? Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru all believe so, and recently sought unsuccessfully to vote through a private members’ bill in Parliament to that effect. The arguments made for this idea are specious. Letting 16-year-olds vote, it is claimed, would invigorate our …

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The Wreck, a poem about day-dreaming

I sit gazing over the warm waters of Islamorada – The seabirds, the distant lighthouse, the wind-surfers, Kayakers, and jet-skiers skudding to and fro. Islamorada is about relaxation, slowness Extended time, warmth, sun and beauty. What intrigues me is what seems to be a wreck, Marooned on the outer edges of the reef. From the …

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“Famous men can do whatever they want to women.” Donald Trump

When Trump made this boast in the now infamous video he was just revealing a sad truth. Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, escaped prosecution, and went on to win an Academy Award “to a standing ovation”. Basketball star Kobe Bryant suffered only a brief hit to his reputation after he paid off …

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