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THOUGHTS ON SCHOOLS.

You and I we know something about schools, let me make it clear I mean state schools.  If you went to a fee-paying school you should probably stop reading here.  I went to a state primary school which as it happened was just across the road, I could  see it from my window.  In the second week I had my fifth birthday, I have only happy memories.  I learnt to read, write and count, how these things happened I really don’t remember.  Reform was afoot as I made my way through primary school, the Butler Education Act was passed in 1944, I think it did not come into operation until 1948.  The Act stated that free secondary education would be available to all children up to the age of 15.  The premise on which the Act was based was that there were three types of children, the academic, the technical and those suited to a more general education.  At the age of 11 these particular abilities could be discovered by means of a test, afterwards called the 11+.  Grammar schools which had previously been fee-paying would now be free to those boys and girls who passed the 11+.  Technical schools would prosper to prepare engineers, draughtsmen and those skilled in domestic science, general education was those going into factories and labouring jobs.  Sadly technical schools did not prosper, they either became grammar schools or lost their previous motivation and became secondary moderns.

     All these schools were supported by tax-payers money and all were controlled by their local educational authority and supported in various ways when specialist help was needed.  The elected representatives were accountable to their voters and the parents of the children in their care.  Now all this is to be swept aside, schools and their grounds and all their equipment are to be not sold but freely handed over to Corporate  Academies who will be responsible to no-one for their financial management ; the headmaster or headmistress will be totally in charge of the hiring and firing of teachers and with freedom to fix the level of salaries.  There will be no more teaching unions.  Now we are getting to the nub of the matter.  The head will be extremely well paid but no member of staff will have security of employment or salary.  Now that really is stripping away workers’ rights and making teachers part of the precariat.  Tests will reign supreme inspire of the fact that most adults know there are many questions in life which do not have a tick box answer.

 

 

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MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW.

Yes, George Osborne it’s you.  The Budget, full of mistakes and crazy decisions is now in the public domain.  Can we guess who the winners and losers will be, lets take the winners first.  Friends in high places, many of whom put large sums of money into the election of this particular government, will of course be winners.  They will be smiling all the way to their secret bank accounts and probably sending George a crate of their vintage wine.  Now lets turn from that  happy prospect to the losers, the disabled, the long term sick and the mentally ill.  They are wasting money on keeping their homes warm, paying for the care they need and trying to keep their families fed and clothed.  How extravagant!

HURRAY, SOMEONE’S HAD SECOND THOUGHTS.

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TELEVISION!

In some circles watching television is regarded as utterly trivial and a complete waste of time.  It is true there are endless repeats and countless channels running ceaselessly twenty-four hours a day.  I can remember when there were just two channels but actually I wouldn’t want to go back to those days.  Now although the Open University is no longer broadcast, I can briefly tune in to the most amazing broadcasts from the most skilled university professors using a dazzling array of film and experiments.

    The most exciting series I have been watching is ‘ The Brain ‘ by Professor David Eagleman made by PBS with the help of the BBC.  My education in science stopped many decades ago but my interest in human beings and the world we all live in still continues.  The Professor it has to be said is a brilliant teacher.  He made me think I understood the information about neurones and synaptic connections.

https://youtu.be/8Hb7w6-jcTU

Television brings the best of culture into my home.

 

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WORDS IN THE AIR.

Breakfast time this morning, the house is warm, take the milk out of the fridge, pull the curtains back.  The day has already started, time to switch on the radio.  A church service is still in progress, a reminder of the hymns I once used to sing and a blessing I feel very much in need of.  As I grow old the bones stiffen, the muscles grow slack and life narrows down.  One pleasure which I still enjoy the sound of the human voice, especially when that voice belongs to an extremely witty speaker with a dry humorous tone.  A Point of View, the speaker this morning Adam Gopnik speaking from the other side of the Atlantic, in his warm mellifluous voice he is speaking just to me.  The talk is about prizes, how they are awarded and the desire we all have for praise and to be recognised as someone special (me).  There was an undercurrent of satire, in his self deprecating way Gopnik mentioned a prize he was awarded by the French government, ( I forget the official title).

    Myself I have not won any prizes, ( I still have hopes)  if you exclude my handsome husband and a happy marriage that has lasted 49 years and seven months.  Gopnik’s talk made me smile and start the day with a happy feeling, my award I think!