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Why is it only the right that get angry about how state schools fail the poor?

23 June 2013

12:38 PM

23 June 2013

12:38 PM

Does it matter if the poor are given a bad eduction? Christine Blower, head of the National Union of Teachers, has just been on BBC1 Sunday Politics. She’s very influential (as her £155,000 pay package suggests) especially at a time when Labour policy is aligning behind NUT policy. When confronted with figures showing how the poor achieve far worse exams results than the rich, she had this to say:-

So”that is not the failure of comprehensive education. That is because we have a monstrously unequal society.” In other words: blame the parents. Some of these pupils, she says, are in the hands of slob parents who don’t give them breakfast. “They may not have a bed in which they can sleep,” she said. We should do “everything we possibly can,” she said – by which she meant things like offer free school breakfast as well as lunch. She had nothing to say about teaching quality.

To be sure, Britain has plenty of poverty. But does that really explain the scandalous correlation between wealth and GCSE results? The below is the Graph of Doom, compiled by Chris Cook for the Financial Times. It shows everything that’s wrong with the comprehensive school system.

GraphofDoom

[Alt-Text]


Why do we think the poorer kids get worse results? I’d like to bring in Neil Kinnock, who one spoke very eloquently on this point.

Kinnock was right. The poor lacked a platform for a basic education – then. And too many of them lack a platform for an excellent education now. This is the new outrage. Once, it was the goal of government to give child a basic education. But the Labour movement seems content to let things rest there. The Conservatives think differently: that the goal of our time now is that every child has the right to an excellent education. That the very notion of a ‘bog standard comprehensive’ is abhorrent, especially as parents who can afford to move into the catchment area for a better school usually do so.

I often think of the Kinnock speech when I hear someone like Blower saying that poor kids can’t be expected to do so well. These (stunning, sickening) examples of how the poor are systematically failed by our education system really does call for the kind of anger that Kinnock envinced in 1987. It was a conservative, George W Bush, who updated Kinnock’s point for the 21st century. “Some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards,” he said in 13 years ago. ” I say it is discrimination to require anything less–-the soft bigotry of low expectations”.

This is what separates British left and right now. The left, in its post-Blair phase, no longer very worked up about the poor doing badly at school. (“It may matter or it may not,” Blower said about poor children going to top universities). The standard left response is to talk philosophically about inequality in society, as if this has the slightest bearing on whether the sink schools ought to be tolerated in this day and age.

By contrast, the right are hopping mad about educational inequality. When the subject is raised in front of Michael Gove, it’s like flicking a switch. He blows his top. When I last interviewed him and raised the subject about whether it poor kids should be expected to do as well as rich, he replied in a crescendo of anger. Here’s the end of it:-

It is snobbery to say that working class people cannot achieve in the same way as others and I’ve had it up to here with people saying oh don’t expect too much of them, these are high-falutin’ expectations. In 1940 the average number of books that a working class boy would read is six every month, 72 a year, working class boys. When I said we should have 50 books being read a year people said: that’s outrageous. The truth is that we’ve lost the level of expectation that we used to have about what people were capable of achieving. They don’t have attitudes like that in East Asia or South Korea. No one is going to say in South Korea, ‘what dreadful snobbery that you go to university’. The last person who said it was dreadful snobbery to go to university was Rick Santorum in America and we regarded that as a view of the Rampithecan right, like the Scopes Trial all over again. The truth is that more people should go to elite universities and if you look at these schools where the expectations that it’s snobbish, don’t get above yourself – no!’

Gove makes precisely the same point as Kinnock. Those people “who could sing and play and recite and write poetry” also read books – then. Why should we not expect them to now?

The difference between left and right, now, is that you will seldom hear a left-winger getting Kinnock-style (or Gove-style) angry about educational inequality. The right are so angry about educational inequality that they want to tear up the whole system. Now that Labour takes 80pc of its funds from the union, it seems to be on the side of the system, no longer on the side of those failed by the system. As I argued in the Telegraph on Friday, the Conservatives can now claim to become the party of the working class.


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Show comments
  • Teacher

    I was from poor but bright working class parents, was reasonably bright myself and read voraciously so was able to supply deficiencies ( in some subjects) in the schools I attended. Aided by a kindly and inspirational teacher I attended college, gained an upper second degree and taught for 34 years. My aim was to teach poor pupils to the highest standards, and, by using good discipline and subject knowledge, push them as far as they could go. My results were always near the top in the school, on several occasions actually top. One of my pupils came in the top five in the country for ‘A’ level and three in the top five for GCSE. I had latterly, however, to fight left wing policies which watered down expectations for poorer students, undermined discipline and degraded their cultural experiences. I well remember after the retirement of the old head with his determination that everyone should enjoy equal opportunities to shine; the first assembly was accompanied by music from U2 when before it had been Mozart. This was a telling symbol of a rapid descent in discipline, expectations and standards. The poorer children were allowed to rot with learning assistants instead of being disciplined and pushed. The reason why Gove will have a hard time succeeding is because he is working with managers drenched in Socialist theory who are more interested in money, their own careers and in power and status.

  • Christopher Mooney

    Vast majority of free schools are religious, and in middle class, Conservative voting areas.

    It’s just a policy that diverts public money to people who probably vote for Michael Gove.

    As for “no coursework” policy, that’s just as regressive. Poor/working class children often only do poorly in exams, as they don’t have the home environment/support in which to study/revise.

  • Christopher Mooney

    All his “rigorous” exam only policy does, is hand a greater advantage to those with a stable, comfortable family life, who have time/space/support to revise.

  • Christopher Mooney

    All Free School policy does is divert public money from a central pot, to middle class, wealthy areas of the country.

  • Christopher Mooney

    haha – so that’s why 90% of free schools open up in the Conservative voting, middle class areas

  • Robert Taggart

    Without all those thicko future voters – Liebore would never stand a chance of winning any election ever again – the Right would rule !

  • The Elderking

    Its all very well to say its an unequal society but what will/can be done.

    At the root of it is parenting, sad to say.

    A poor kid, esp. a white one, with useless parents has no chance.

    His/her home life sets the horizons and expectations and the schools are only too happy to shuffle them out asap.

    We now hear that, following a detailed investigation, that it is white kids – indigenous Britons from suburbs, country and seaside- who are at the bottom of the pecking order. Why?

    Family breakdown, single parenthood, destruction of industry and welfare dependency play a massive part in this – Labour policy being at the core. But then again if the white working class got a fair deal they may get on – as they did in the 60’s/70’s – but then again they probably won’t vote Labour as they get educated, aspire and become self reliant.

    But then also look at the per pupil spending across the UK and you will see vast disparity – for example Tower Hamlets spends £6000 per pupil whilst Gloucester spends £3000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12175480

    There seems to be a system whereby if you are wealthy or from an inner city ethnic area you have the money spent. If not you fall through the cracks.

  • http://twitter.com/MisGrace Julieann Carter

    Well, I think the simple truth is, if everyone benefited equally from a quality education – how many would then be left to vote Labour?

    Increasingly, it’s appearing to be powerful and influential women within our state and public sector who are getting it ‘so wrong’ when it comes to the welfare of our young and/or vulnerable.

    The meaning of ‘equality’ continues to be subverted by militant feminists and the left.

    Only recently, Labour MP Tom Watson was again advocating ‘women-only’ short lists.

    Ms Blower is admitting to the existence of ‘slob parents’ (thought we weren’t allowed to be judgemental?).

    Could these ‘slob parents’ be a result of their own bog-standard (and ideologically driven) comprehensive education, state sponsored family breakdown, and indulgent welfare state?

    If Ms Blower is proscribing ‘more of the same’, then yes, Mr Gove is representative of the working class.

  • Keith D

    Because the right doesn’t hate the poor.We recognise and appreciate aspiration.Its the Left that hates the poor.
    So much so they imported another underclass to replace them.

  • drjohngalan

    When did the man who made this undoubtedly passionate speech lose that passion? When does someone originally driven to help the underdog end up helping only himself and his nearest and dearest at the expense of the underdog?

    To quote from Europe on 387 million Euros a Day, “When Neil Kinnock arrived in Brussels he bought the house where Boris Johnson, then the Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, had been living (76 Rue van Campenhout). For a long time, the Kinnocks claimed a housing allowance on top of their respective incomes (he as a commissar, she as an MEP), even though they both lived in number 76. Over a decade, according to Open Europe figures, this entirely legitimate claim would have netted them around £600,000.” Another: “Whistleblowers were ritually victimised during Kinnock’s reign, despite his initial assurances that they would be protected. Van Buitenen said, ‘The whistleblowing facilitation procedures put in place by Commissioner Kinnock … were fundamentally wrong and deliberately did not work.’”

    I find it incredibly sad, having seen that video of someone who gave all the appearance of caring deeply, to find out that we have simply ended up paying for corruption and waste. And, of course, this is to the detriment of the very people whose kids still, many years later, do not get a decent education.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Christne Blower is paid by the NUT. Her duty is therefore towards the NUT. She has NO responsibility to children at all. In fact, if improving the quality of their education in any way impinges on the rights and standing of the NUT’s members, it is her duty to try to stop these improvements. And she does. Why anyone should ask her opinion about Mr Gove’s policies I cannot imagine. She has no opinion. She can hve no opinion. An opinion is, as it were, beyond her pay grade.

  • Maidmarrion

    “Does it matter if the poor are given a bad eduction?” I’d correct that for starters – some of us might think you had a bad “eduction”

  • David B

    The NUT and labour appear to have a policy to eliminate all choice. The elimination of choice appears more important than the quality of education delivered. Naturally parents who want the best for their children work the system.

    We need a system focused on standards. What the NUT dislike is that means no jobs for life. If a teacher does not shaped up they go. This is against all NUT principles where the teacher is more important than the pupils

    • Fred Scuttle

      Those in large urban areas are the only ones with any kind of choice, and children are faced with a kind of weird lottery as almost all secondary schools select either on variety of imaginary friend or ability.Those that don’t select at all invariably end up with all the less able pupils and therefore score badly in the results tables regardless of teaching standards.

      Rural areas tend to select on location only and tend to have far less emphasis on superstition in their ethos. The result? Hardly any rural schools fail.

  • ohforheavensake

    Aside from one graph (where the causality is unclear) this article is pretty much a fact free zone.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Much like the Labour party and its advocates then. Fact free and lie heavy.

  • Fred Scuttle

    The right want to tear everything up and/ or privatise it rather than make any coherent attempt to improve it or attempt to run it properly. That’s the problem.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Wheras the left want the poor to remain poor and uneducated so that they keep voting Labour. Spare us the fatuous cliches. It is eveident that our state education system is failing as we tumble down World league tables in terms of literacy, mathematical ability etc and thousands of semi-literate children emerge from its maw each and every year. This abject failing needs to be addressed. We do not need the likes of Christine Blower,whose job it is to protect the working conditions of her members, to dictate or even opine on education policy because it is none of her business. We elect a Parliament, for good or ill, to determine the best way to educate our children not a paid official with no mandate from the public at large. Also, what is wrong with privatisisation. Our public schools offer the best education in the World and we should be trying to replicate those standards in the state sector not condemning privatisation.

      • Fred Scuttle

        Teachers need the unions fighting their corner more than ever with numpties like Gove running education like a tinpot ruler issuing dictats..

        If you want private schools then fine, use the ones you have, but don’t wreck state education in the process.

        • Colonel Mustard

          State education was wrecked by Labour’s Crosland in 1965 and has been degraded by every Labour government and every bit of socialist ideological meddling in the education of children ever since. You are no doubt a product of it.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Grade A tripe.

      • Fred Scuttle

        Foaming at the mouth and falling over backwards are we?

        • Colonel Mustard

          No. Try another silly cliché. Your comments speak for themselves.

    • Abhay

      Given that you have chosen the name ‘Scuttle’ you should be more thoughtful when talking about ‘run it properly’.

  • Abhay

    A lot of phony outrage in this write-up. I also found it utterly boring so rushed through it.

    Is the author implying that the ‘right’ can run the grand ‘Equality’ project better than the ‘left’? Is this what it has come to?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes and yes.

      • Abhay

        Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao must be turning in their graves to find that high priests of contemporary left are on £155K p.a. salaries nowadays. I bet they now want to be reborn and have sent for some Brahmin priests to teach them about the cycles of death and re-birth.

        155k – fantastic! Very working class hero.

  • Makroon

    Blower would fester in well-deserved oblivion, if show-off journos like Neil and Nelson would stop using her as a means to prove how smart/well-intentioned they are. She is a silly union apparatchik – end of.

    BTW, judging from the responses here, the UKIP point-of-view, is similar to that of Labour – the poor are the underclass, born to be so, and to be exploited.

  • Daniel Maris

    This article is really false indignation of the worst kind.

    Children in the poorest sections of society suffer from the worst sorts of multiple pressures – domestic violence, drink and drugs abuse in the home, parental, sibling and peer pressure not to be concerned about education, poor diet, lack of sport and exercise opportunities, lack of cultural stimulation, absence of books in the home etc etc.

    To write an article about educational attainment without mentioning these factors is just absurd, and possibly mendacious, since I can’t believe the author isn’t aware of these factors and thus about how little schools can do to redress them on their own.

    Many schools in poor areas spend a lot of their time just fire fighting on a pastoral level, trying to ensure the children in their care don’t get sucked into crime and drugs, don’t get forced into marriage, aren’t subject to female genital mutilation, don’t self-harm, don’t becomes parents at 15, and do make some minimal progress towards attaining (very) basic qualifications. Teachers are doing that in environments where there may be a 100 home languages, where they are subjected to huge bureaucratic demands and where they have no legal portection from assault charges if they try to discipline their charges in any way.

    The Frasers of this world wouldn’t last ten seconds in the classroom of a school in a really poor urban area.

    The idea that with a few Free Schools would have more than a few of these kids competing for places at Oxbridge is beyond ridicule.

    And finally what possible relevance is it if a free trade union decides to reward its head with a relatively modest salary package (for London) of £122,000 – as salary which might mean you can just about afford a 3 bed semi in a nice part of London.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      And what busines is it of the head of a Union to dictate or even opine on education policy? Her job is to protect the employment interests of her members full stop and not to determine what, where, why, who, when and how they teach. We elect members of Parliament, for good or ill, to formulate education policy etc, not a paid official unelected by the general public. Finally, the implication that a leftist education policy has worked is almost as obscene and absurd as the suggestion that the NHS works..

      • Daniel Maris

        Well ultimately I would agree with you. I don’t think teachers’ unions have a veto on education policy. Although it would be a stupid government that didn’t listen to their views on education policy.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          The whole point is that we do need an education secretary who is prepared to ride roughshod over the vested interests of the teachers and their unions. It is high time these people were put back in their box and the interests of the parents and their children became paramount instead of the suppliers of education. Probably not a bad attitude to apply to the NHS as well.

          • Daniel Maris

            I think you need to reflect upon what are the interests of the “parent” and what are the interests of the “child” since you reference them.

            Many parents have absolutely no interest in their children doing well in education. A Muslim father’s worst nightmare is his daughter going off to University and becoming an independent woman who might bring shame on the family.

            Many people in the welfare-dependent parts of our community don’t want to see their daughters pursue education because it means they can’t pay for the accommodation they live in. They want their daughters to become pregnant as single mothers and so continue the inflow of welfare income into the household.

    • DrCoxon

      How much does a well qualified teacher get paid in London?
      Having done some voluntary teacher-union work years ago, I think that there is a case for a union leader to be paid at the same rate.
      Yes, I know the counter-arguments.
      Just my opinion.
      Just as I think that there is a case for MPs to be paid the median wage.

  • Daniel Maris

    Could it be because nearly all the things that have improved the educational performance of our poorest children have been “leftist” solutions e.g. state education, comprehensive education, child-centred education, improved welfare, free school meals and educational attendance allowances. Where is the evidence that “right wing” solutions – such as 11 plus, fee-paying education, or minimal welfare – have helped the poorest?

    • Colonel Mustard

      As usual your grasp of history leaves something to be desired. The 11+ was introduced from 1944 as part of the Education Act 1944. Although the sponsor of the Act was a Conservative MP – Richard Austen Butler – the government at the time was still a wartime coalition with Labour ministers serving in it. The Act has been hailed as a “triumph for progressive reform” and introduced free meals and milk in schools to all children under the age of 18. In 1968 it was a Labour government that withdrew free milk from secondary schools.

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        His grasp of basic reality is what is lacking. The thought that leftist education policies have delivered success as we tumble down World league tables and turn out thousands of illiterate children each year is positively absurd.

        • Daniel Maris

          Your grasp of global development is very lacking. There is no way as other countries develop economically that we will be able to maintain our position in league tables across the board, especially not when we are at the same time encouraging mass immigration which retards educaitonal attainment.

          As for your grasp of reality, if you really think things like universal state education – commonly thought of as “leftist” policies did not raise the educational attainment of the poor then you are deluded.

        • Fred Scuttle

          Leftist leftist leftist drool drool drool

      • DrCoxon

        Good afternoon Sir!
        I’m back from my wanderings.
        We had an interesting exchange some while ago.
        I note again your defence of Mrs Thatcher.
        You are of course quite correct in attributing blame to Crosland’s circular. Friends of mine who knew him said that he had a visceral hatred of grammar schools.
        However, I cannot help but feel sad that Mrs Thatcher allowed the policy to continue. Qui tacet, consentit. Sadly there were too many Tory MPs who believed in the comprehensive system. In Cameron -fashion they felt that they understood the zeitgeist, it was ‘the right thing’ to support comprehensives.
        Educational standards have declined dreadfully in the last fifty years. There is an urgent necessity for root-and-branch reform.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I am not defending Mrs Thatcher per se. She actually reversed the Labour policy of compulsory conversion but by the time she did so most LEAs were too advanced in their plans to back peddle without serious consequences. I do agree, however, that the Conservatives, then as now, succumbed too easily to what might be described as an appeasement of the socialist clamour. The last twenty odd years has seen a similarly unassailable socialist “narrative” in Britain by those who shout loudest and complain most against which the Conservatives have no cogent or clear counter beyond the weak and self-defeating “de-toxification”.

          There were exceptions of course but in my humble opinion the main impact of Crosland’s malevolent policy was to create comprehensive schools that were effectively secondary modern in character and to thereby make 11+ failure “automatic”! The consequences were not just the decline you describe but also the polarisation of society with a decline in the aspirational middle-class and less opportunity for real social mobility.

          The troll telemachus calls this ‘egalitarianism’. It is not. It is the suppression of aspiration and the triumph of despair and mediocrity.

          • DrCoxon

            I am happy to agree with all of that.
            You articulate important ideas more cogently than I and so I wish you every success.
            I shall confine my future activities to voting for your posts, rather than dancing on my medieval needle.

  • swatnan

    Christine is absolutely right, and Frazer hasn’t a clue about what he is taliking about. Families from deprived homes and living in poverty, simply haven’t the time or money to spend on education as those more comfortably of, they have things like eating heating and sleeping and making ends, travelling costs and other incidental expenses to think about. Such a familiy has so many distractions going on around it, its no wonder children are thinking about thjeir empty bellies rather than the 5 times table.
    Such families need that extra support. Unfortunaly the resoureces going into giving them a better chance, are being spent on time wasting Free Schools. Such families can’t focus on schooling; they can’t afford the extra tuition that middleclass parents lash out on.

    • Fergus Pickering

      But we’re not just talking about terribly poor people. What percentage of the child population suffer in this way. 15%? What about the other 85%? Or are you saying the half the children in Britain are suffering in thei way?

    • andagain

      Families from deprived homes and living in poverty, simply haven’t the
      time or money to spend on education as those more comfortably of

      You have noticed that the state schools are free?

  • dalai guevara

    Will poor pupils in Gove schools ever learn about what William Ewart Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli or Codename Tempora stood for?

    • Fergus Pickering

      And when did they ever know?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Well I suppose it depends on whether or not the History curriculum covers 19th century British poitics and the achievements and failings of its numerous protagonists etc. Also, I suspect that the “poor children in “Gove’s schools” will be taught the same material as the middle class children (as will any children from whatever background) who attend these schools. I cannot imagine the curriculum will be adjusted to reflect hosehold income as you imply. Whether or not these children, poor or otherwise, learn about Gladstone and his vividly cloured waistcoats is something we shall have to wait and see.

  • Colonel Mustard

    You’ll never be able to counter the left’s “equality” narrative and the mythical objective of “equality” will never be achieved but there will be much more misery to come in the attempt to establish it. It is too useful a cause and a catalyst, occupying the bogus moral high ground, to push through all the other revolutionary changes they want. Unfortunately each new change opens up a can of worms and a plethora of unintended consequences which stretch back to Crosland’s destruction of our grammar schools.

    One might have thought that the history littered with failed attempts, from the Soviet Union to Mao’s China might have dropped the penny for the fools. There is China, a supposedly communist state built on the notion of equality. Are its people equal? The left will say, as they always do, that those failed “experiments” were not true socialism and they can build Utopia here with “real” socialism – Wilson, Callaghan, Foot, Kinnock, Blair, Brown, blah, blah, blah. But all the steps being taken or proposed follow the usual socialist pattern. Dogma. Demonising dissent and political opposition. Coercion. Emotional blackmail. Imposition. Conformity. And ultimately failure. All wrapped up in an incredible demonstration of triumphalism, hubris and hypocrisy. The pattern is set. Here we go again.

    Just surprising that anyone still takes these deluded pariahs seriously and gives them house room anywhere.

    • dalai guevara

      Perhaps it is just about whether children had breakfast before arriving at school? Mao Flakes or Putin Porridge does not come into it, I am pleased to confirm.

      • telemachus

        The one thing it is possible to say is that the excellent equal and increasing educational standards progressively declined from 1991

        • Fergus Pickering

          Perhaps I shouldn’t ask, but what happened in 1991, oh master?

          • telemachus

            The Soviet Union finally fell apart

            • telemachus

              Not only was education first class and equal but for eveyone, yes everyone it achieved Goves exacting standards for the elite
              “The education law of 1935 allowed teachers to use strict methods of discipline, this is from rule one of the twenty rules of behavior that was to be memorized by each student, “It is the duty of each school child to acquire knowledge persistently so as to become an educated and cultured citizen and to be on the greatest possible service to his country” This is one example of the move to a stricter education that put emphasis on sports and testing. Stalin’s education policies worked to educate the country on a mass-scale. The Illiteracy rate after the implementation of the large shift in education around the country had decreased to just 4% of the male population in 1939 and 18% of the female population. This statistic shows in great detail the strategies used by Stalin to educate a large portion of the public in a communist way.

              • The Laughing Cavalier

                I do believe I’ve cracked Mr Telemachus’ secret; he doesn’t believe a word of what he writes. It is all irony.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Anyone who has any doubt about what lies behind the ridiculous rhetoric of the socialist Borg blighting this country need only read the Tom Watson troll’s comments here. They would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the sheer scale of the human misery perpetrated by the monstrous Stalin that he tries to glorify, excuse or justify.

                  There lies the truth of what people like him want. Don’t believe the “reasonable” guff. They are just secret police loving fascists.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Agreed and they hate this country and it’s traditions with a consuming passion.

                • telemachus

                  It is because we believe passionately in our country and its future that the dangerous views of some right wing revanchists a makhnovists must be destroyed

                • The Laughing Cavalier

                  DrCoxon is correct. Children with a “bad” class background or whose parents fell from favour suffered. contrarily, the children of the nomenklatura were given every advantage. Freedom of speech and intellectual freedom were punished. Anyone who has spent time in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe will have first hand accounts of the gross inequalities perpetrated by the regimes there.

                • telemachus

                  When it comes to education, I believe strongly that Gove is a dangerous wrecker and whatever metaphors or analogies are necessary to show this must be used
                  Whatever we think about the Eastern European Societies there was equal access to a first class education
                  If we could emulate that we would have a better less fractured society

                • Andy

                  Rock on Gove ! To improve education we need to destroy the Fascist Labour Party and the teaching unions.

                • telemachus

                  Anyone who honestly believes education is safe with the Tories is deluded

                • Andy

                  Like I said to improve education we need to destroy the Fascist Labour Party and the teaching unions who support it. You have destroyed educational standards in this country. So Rock on Gove. You are doing a great job.

                • Fred Scuttle

                  And all the teachers too, because every single one of them is a damned commie!

                • Simon Gothard

                  How can anybody ‘wreck’ the already broken system?

                • Icebow

                  I fear he’s sincere. Full stops are obviously right-wing!

              • DrCoxon

                Briefly
                [1] According to a Russian education specialist I met in the early 1960s, the Soviet system was based ultimately on the Scottish system [as operated in the early 20th century].
                [2] More recent conversations with others suggests that there was corruption in the Soviet system. Some children were given advantages, others were deprived. All a question of whether you had relatives in the nomenklatura on the one hand, or relatives who were Jewish, dissident etc etc, on the other.
                [3] There was a lack of intellectual freedom. The system suited technology, not philosophy.

        • dalai guevara

          Hmmm…grants existed, education was free.
          I wonder who these people are that would pay £9,000 per annum to do a media degree in Salford?

          • telemachus

            I was referring to the superb egalitarian education systems of Eastern Europe

            • BuBBleBus

              Could say the same about Eton: strict discipline and educated to become cultured.

              • telemachus

                Egalitarian?

            • dalai guevara

              O_o ?

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Just for once, could you communicate your views in a simple straightforward manner without employing elliptical and unfunny references designed to make you look clever rather than add to the debate. Just a few simple, purposeful sentences would suffice. You never know, you might be listened to instead of ridiculed.

        • dalai guevara

          Lord almighty, I have made it quite clear that on a very basic level, this is not about political ideology, but diet.
          That is ‘adding to the debate’.
          What have you added to the debate?

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Just try simple straightforward sentences instead of self-indulgent tosh.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Nah, it’s about political ideology alright. It has been since 1997. Prior to the arrival of New Labour and the cloaked “communitarian” (anything to avoid the word “communist”) conspiracy, plenty of intelligent men grew up with abject poverty, social adversity and a poor diet but rose up the ladder of social mobility nonetheless.

            Both Churchill and Thatcher had it sussed when they spoke of socialist “equality” as a bringing down rather than a rising up. And so it was and is.

            • dalai guevara

              I will again have to put my international hat on.

              There simply is no evidence (from a cosmopolitan POV) for your assertions. From a pool of 100 youffs, any number fit for uni in Norway, Germany or Japan will end up…in uni.

              Now that Britain has decided to artificially reduce this number due to financial constraints and not merit, someone has yet to explain how this could be a good thing.
              You will note I am not opposing the curtailment of an ever-expanding higher education sector with its many apocryphal degrees and unfit-for-work alumni.

              • Colonel Mustard

                The proportion of state school pupils entering Oxbridge in the 1970s was 43% and that had increased to 52% by 1981. In 2011 it was 63% at Oxford and 57% at Cambridge. So, more than half since the 1980s. Source is Paul Bolton’s ‘Oxbridge Elitism’ for HoC Library, 2 June 2013.

                Since the broader university franchise in UK has expanded far beyond the criteria of academic excellence to become a rite of passage expectation rather than an intellectual aspiration some contraction of that market is probably a good thing. The main issue is the lack of vocational training to take up the slack and a lack of societal respect for vocational training as an essential component of national success.

  • telemachus

    “The left, in their post-Blair phase, no longer very worked up about the poor doing badly at school”
    No no no
    It is the analysis of the solution that differs
    We must not let the right make education for the poor worse by competition and further sinking of sink schools
    We must not let them use children as weapons

    • Bluesman_1

      “We must not let them [the Right I suppose] use children as weapons”

      Absolutely, after all, that would remove the point of the NUT.

      • telemachus

        If only Gove could have the anger of Kinnock but use it to harness the teachers in his quest for excellence
        Rather than constantly chiding them and alienating the very people needed for excellence

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          The point of the article is that he is as angry as Kinnock but unlike that tub of lard, is actually doing something about it.

          • telemachus

            But he is not
            He is creating a new elite
            Do you imagine putting so much effort into his new Free Schools and Academies will do anything other than take resources away from children already disadvantaged and without parents who are able to act as advocates

            • The Laughing Cavalier

              Or, as the chump Prescott once put it, the danger of Academies and the like is that they will be so good that everyone will want to go to them.

  • CraigStrachan

    George W. Bush (who wanted to be the education president before becoming the torture president) also said”Is our children learning?”

    To which the answer, in Texas when he was governor and nationwide under No Child Left Behind, is – they is learning how to take standardized tests.

    • Daniel Maris

      …and what about Dan Quayle who corrected the spelling of the child in the classroom…”No – potato is spelt with e.” Even in America it isn’t.

  • NBeale

    It is high time to prohibit any individual or organisation lending or donating more than £50k to any political party. This would stop the obscene captivity of Labour by the Unions.

  • Austin Barry

    Dim, unambitious parents tend to be poor and have dim, unambitious children who breed with dim, unambitious partners who give birth to dim, unambitious children who, being dim, tend to have low paying or no jobs and so on.

    That’s just the way it is.

    • telemachus

      No
      That is not the way it has to be
      You desire to create no go ghettos
      We need to create and nurture the sparks that will break that cycle

      • Andy

        You love creating ghettos. After all that’s how you can harvest votes for the Fascist Party you represent. Keep the poor poor is your motto.

        • telemachus

          You have an odd take on politics
          The fact is no-one trusts the Tories on Health or Education
          Many of my friends who can afford private schools and shudder at what is happening under Gove for if they fell on hard times and were thrown back on Gove’s crazy free for all

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        He has expressed no such desire. He is simply expressing what to many of us is a fundamental truth. Clever people (like me) would rarely, if ever, strike up a meaningful or lasting association with thick people (like you). Consequently, clever people tend to marry or cohabit with other clever people. Lo and behold, they are more likely to have clever children and can afford to send them to better schools, coach them properly and effectively and then send them to good universities followed by better jobs. The opposite is also true. This does not preclude poor, stupid people from having clever children and vice versa it simply renders it less likely. The suggestion that any education system can somehow obviate this situation is assinine. At least Michael Gove is trying to devise a system that helps as many people as possible from disadvantaged backgrounds, in the face of violent opposition from odious people like Blower, and he deserves to be applauded.

        • telemachus

          Blower is a clever lady who speaks truth and deserves attention
          “This Government’s ideological attack on state education has to be opposed. Legislation to create many more academies and the new so called “free schools” is an attack on the very existence of free, state comprehensive education which is democratically accountable. It is privatisation on a grand scale and is unacceptable.

          The combination of this privatisation and the cuts to come will leave schools with larger classes and teachers with deep concerns about how they can provide a high quality of educational experience to all the children they teach. ”
          *
          It is happening
          She was correct

          • Abhay

            Mate, a lefty such as you should be angry with Blower. She is a Union person and earning 155K per year. That is what some senior guys in good companies earn. You should be upset. You are defending her. What is the matter with you?

            • telemachus

              You have to buy the best

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                But of course that argument does not apply to Bankers, accountants, lawyers etc. Hypocritical nonsense from the Labour Troll.

                • telemachus

                  There has to be a difference between top dog in an organisation dedicated to public service and a bank doling out a hundred million pound bonuses to all time servers

          • dalai guevara

            ‘privatisation on a grand scale’
            yet to come: schools for profit, on a grand scale
            Gove will be the hero of those striving for $UCC€$$ and £IT€RAC¥. Boring.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Education policy is absolutely none of her business. Her job is to protect the employment interests of her members and nothing else.

            • telemachus

              And to look to the professional environment and job satisfaction
              The fact that the overwhelming majority of teachers decry pandering to the elite means that her views also reflect her members hopes and aspirations

      • Simon Gothard

        Well take your left wing chums out of the way and we can break that cycle.

    • Daniel Maris

      Yes, I left that out of the list of factors but it is of course true. It is certainly is one factor. Also parents with serious health conditions tend to be poor and their children have that added worry and preoccupation in their lives.

      Fraser’s article is so simplistic as to make one wonder whether he needs some remedial teaching himself.

    • rubyduck

      What happens to the dim but ambitious, and the clever but unambitious ? There really are all sorts of people.

  • Smithersjones2013

    …….She’s very influential (as her £155,000 pay package suggests) especially at a time when Labour policy is aligning behind NUT policy……

    ….So”that is not the failure of comprehensive education. That is because we have a monstrously unequal society……….”

    Hmmmm and in what world do we all get £155,000 pay packages?

    It certainly brings new insight into the concepts explored in that Ealing Comedy Classic ‘I’m Alright Jack’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_All_Right_Jack

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a9OAvqyjn0

  • Kernow Castellan

    Just like tax credits, this is a system designed to keep the poor people poor, and thus voting Labour. Gordon wasn’t stupid.

  • Arthur O’Connor

    You’re labouring the erroneous point made by ANeal on his boring Sunday Politics Show. Christine Blower was equal to Neal’s bullying ignorance of childrens’ backgrounds. The differing results stem from the nature of the households whence children come. My grandchildren attend the local comp and aspire to Oxbridge. Their parents are graduate professionals. Their children share a multiracial class of students many from illiterate non English speaking deprived homes. Naturally they struggle in class for different reasons – mal nourishment – lack of assistance with homework – grappling with a curriculum in a foreign language. Their results are not going to be brilliant. It’s not the fault of the teachers but of the unequal society in which we live. Christine Blower showed a professional mastery of her subject and is obviously worth the salary she is paid. Neal’s hectoring tone came over as unattractive thuggish underclass behaviour reminding us that in his ascent in the ranks he acquired none of the polish expected of a BBC presenter.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Surely this is a parody?

      Blower defends a system of schooling which treats all students as equal when clearly they are not (for example why should wealthy kids get free school meals [other than to fulfil centralist control freakery aspirations]?). By supporting such a system the Teacher’s unions are covering up rather than exposing such inequalities. By treating all students the same they are ignoring those disadvantages they claim are the problem.

      Of course one can understand why when Teacher’s leaders do so well out of it. A well filled trough is always a great motivator for maintaining the status quo.

      It is little wonder there is so much inequality when those who claim to fight against inequality are those who defend it and obstruct those who are actually fighting it.

      • Icebow

        I don’t know whether Neil was ‘thuggish’ towards Blower, but after his disgraceful behaviour towards Tommy Robinson he deserved to be left alone with a velociraptor. Chew, chew!

    • steakfrites

      “Christine Blower showed a professional mastery of her subject and is obviously worth the salary she is paid”

      Surely that’s the punchline?

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh, like whom? Dimblebum?

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Congratulations, this is satire of the highest quality and with your permission, I will be forwarding a copy to the Pulitzer Prize Committee in the hope that they will afford it due consideration. Just in case you are actually serious, thank you for reaffirming my view that the left are capable of levels of delusion that I did not believe to be humanly possible.

      • Icebow

        It is very remarkable. I wonder whether you’ve seen this little classic:

        http://youtu.be/biNMNzhD8MI

      • Makroon

        Well, Art O’Connor seems to share your faith in inherited intelligence.
        Could it be that his grand-children and their parents and grandparents, are not quite as intelligent as Art thinks ?

  • Bluesman_1

    Because the Left love poor people so much that they love making more of them.

    • telemachus

      Reasonable folk neither love nor hate the rich or poor
      They wish to see a level playing field
      Such that every Kinnock for the next thousand generations will go to Universities
      Universities that the enter on merit

      • Nicholas chuzzlewit

        Define level playing field in concise and detailled terms. I don’t think many of us will be holding our collective breath and expect a few inarticlate phrases of propagandist nonsense.

        • telemachus

          A level playing field is a concept about fairness, not that each player has an equal chance to succeed, but that they all play by the same set of rules. A metaphorical playing field is said to be level if no external interference affects the ability of the players to compete fairly.
          Such as a crazy Secretary of state plonking a brand new school next door pinching all the best teachers
          It would be better if he had the courage to shut the next door school
          But no he will enjoy seeing it wither to satisfy some in built Darwinian instinct

          • Abhay

            ”level playing field”
            ”metaphorical playing field” (that’s a new one)
            ”darwinian instinct”

            What are you on about?

            • telemachus

              Gove intends to improve education by social darwinian competition experimentation

          • Andy

            We could always bury you in the left hand corner of playing field to help the levelling.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              No that would be pollution.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            As expected, vacuous nonsense which adds nothing to the debate.

          • stickytape

            So in a level playing field, you will accept there are winners and losers, yes? No?

            • telemachus

              It is equality of opportunity we seek

          • kyalami

            Let’s see. It’s*bad* to create new, high quality schools?

      • David Lindsay

        Universities are not going to matter so much before long. They will admit only people whose parents happened to have 27 or 36 grand lying about, with no other call on it. Gove thinks that that will restrict the best jobs to his own children and their mates. That is the plan, But, far more probably, it will mean that the best jobs will no longer insist on a degree, as all that one will prove will be that the holder had stinking rich parents.

        • telemachus

          Frightening is it not
          I come from the golden era of egalitarian northern education, maintenance grants to Oxbridge and bankable degrees for folks from impoverished backgrounds
          One problem with the current direction of travel is the progressive genesis of alienation

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            The implication that you attended either Oxford or Cambridge is laughable. You do not possess the necessary intellectual credentials or powers of reason. For those of us who did attend one of these institutions the suggestion is emetic.

            • David Lindsay

              You would not feel the need to say that if you were telling the truth.

              • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                Oh look, the sage of Narnia has emerged and as ever is casting unfounded aspersions. Labour gain, why not?

                • telemachus

                  You are becoming a dying breed round here, Nico
                  Like the other Nico

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  At least I can spell and construct a sentence.

                • telemachus

                  Well done
                  Politics is slogans
                  Describe and repeat
                  Repeat and emphasise
                  That is how you play the political game

                • David Lindsay

                  Keep proving my point.

                  “You can’t have been to Oxbridge, you’re too common” places you somewhere in the post-1979 generations of entrants. But they were state school universities once.

                  I never applied to either of them, and I have never been told anything that I missed as a result. Eton sends between 90 and 100 boys to one or the other each year. How good can the ninety-first best Etonian in his year possibly be?

                  I suspect that your comments are answering that one.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  I attended a much better school than Eton old boy and was educated before the era you suggest. Wrong again I am afraid. I suspect you did not apply for Oxbridge because you were not good enough and in any event, a dreadful little oik like you would not have been missed. Labour gain – why not?

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Delusional. I employ high caliber people who need to be properly qualified, articulate, energetic, determined and intellectually curious. The thought that any prospective candidate for employment would simply be asked: “is your Dad rich?” is risible. I accept that you have no idea of how a commercial organisation works or how profitability is sustained (mainly by employing top quality people from diverse backgrounds with a range of life experiences) but your self-pitying nonsense is just pitiful. Labour gain – why not?

          • David Lindsay

            Are they of a sufficiently high calibre to be able to spell “calibre” correctly?

            As for only getting a job because you had a rich dad, well, it has worked for you, in the unlikely event that you have ever needed to work. But that was not my point, which you were too stupid to understand.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Oh I really do not need to worry about pointless, angry little people like you but it is amusing to observe the sanctimony and indignation. I do not need to work but that is a result of my own efforts. Labour gain – why not?

            • Colonel Mustard

              If your argument had merit you would not need to resort to the ad hominem that those who fail to understand it are stupid.

              Do you actually understand the difference between ‘understanding’ and ‘disagreeing’?

            • Icebow

              Caliber is acceptable as British English, though Fowler, to whom I usually defer, notes that the OED prefers calibre.

        • Colonel Mustard

          More Grade A tripe. Gove thinks nothing of the sort as anybody who had paid any attention to what he has actually said rather than being immersed in the world of Geordie Labour nostalgia circa 1957 would understand. And to think you people actually believe the nonsense you spout.

          Like the resident troll waxing lyrical about the wonderful Soviet Union and the great leader Stalin whilst bemoaning the creation of an “elite” here.

          The Soviet Union had the most pernicious, unfair and unjust elite in the shape of its communist party apparatchikery. And the closest we have got to that here is New Labour’s creation of a new lefto-fascist elite, the great bloated, taxpayer funded and subsidised, champagne socialist bureaucracy and quangocracy, unelected, unaccountable mouthpieces of the left like Blower throwing their weight around on £155k a year.

  • andagain

    By contrast, the right are hopping mad about educational inequality. When the subject is raised in front of Michael Gove, it’s like flicking a switch.

    Michael Gove may be hopping mad about educational inequality. I’m not sure I’d say that most of “the right” is. Most of them seem to be hopping mad about the EU and gay marriage, which is not quite the same thing.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Don’t confuse the poor lad. He’s fixated on sparking some old style conflict between the Millipedes and the Cameroons, who make his heart flutter so. I find it amusing that this wet fancies himself a “conservative”, and even dares to speak for conservatives. That’s rich.

  • HookesLaw

    How can Britain have ‘plenty’ of poverty given the size of its welfare bill?

    Britain may well have a plenty of brain dead numpties happy to be wastrels with no ambition except possibly an ambition to something for nothing, but ‘plenty’ of poverty?

    • rubyduck

      Would recommend your main point but “plenty of brain dead numpties happy to be wastrels with no ambition except possibly an ambition to something for nothing” is offensive.

      If such people exist, they are of our making.

  • taytelbaum

    It takes 2 to tango

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