Recent Education Articles

Tory Conference: Cameron’s “aspiration nation”

by Shantel Burns     October 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Prime Minister David Cameron, has offered himself as the leader of an ‘aspiration nation’ during his closing speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

Mr Cameron claimed that aspiration was the “engine of progress” and that it was his government’s mission to “unleash and unlock” the promise in “all our people.”

Throughout his speech, Cameron aimed to rid the party of its rich and fortunate image. Cameron said:  “They call us the party of the better off…no: we are the party of the want to be better off.”

He continued this by saying that the Conservatives were just not good for the successful and strong but also, he said that Tory methods were: “the best way to help the poor and the weak and the vulnerable.”  This a phrase that will no doubt cause many people who have been affected by “Conservative methods” to highly question the validity of the Prime Ministers speech. With cuts to disability payments and benefits it’s hard to see how exactly the Conservatives are helping the poor and vulnerable.

The Prime Minister also reinforced his policy at looking to end automatic housing benefit for people under 25. He said:

“If hard-working young people have to live at home while they work and save, why should it be any different for those who don’t?”

Cameron said the reason why his party want to reform schools, cut welfare dependency and to reduce government spending is because “we’re the Tories whose ideas help everyone – the poorest the most.”

Mr Cameron said to those who complain about his own “posh school education” that he wants every child to have the same kind of Etonian (although he never once mentioned Eton) education that he received.

He continued by saying that he was not here to “defend privilege; I’m here to spread it”. He accused Labour and the left of creating a ‘toxic’ culture which creates a lack of ambition for every child.

In a further attack on Labour, Cameron accused the party of having “one notion – borrowing”, a play on Ed Milliband’s “One Nation” concept.  Cameron repetitively used the word ‘borrowing’ to highlight Labour perceived weakness. He stated that he honestly thought “Labour hasn’t learnt a single thing”.


Is Cameron’s Britain really a nation of aspiration? Or do the copious cuts to benefits, EMA and increased tuition fees make the idea of an “aspiration nation” redundant?

Even in his apology, Nick Clegg lied about student loans

by Richard Murphy     September 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

In Nick Clegg’s apology to the public, he says he should not have made a commitment to block tuition fee increases because “there was just no money around”.

That’s not true for all sorts of reasons.

First, there was been money to pay for cuts in the 50p tax rate. That costs more than £100 million a year according to the government – I suggest it is massively more.

There were cuts to corporation tax rates costing £4.5 billion a year to date (taking into account decisions from 2010 to 2012). And changes in controlled foreign company rules costing about £1 billion a year.

In other words: there was money available. Student loans amount to about £3 billion a year.

The second problem is that the claim that student loans save the government money is just bogus. The loans students take out to pay their educational establishment are lent to them by the government. That’s because the loans are provided by the Student Loan Company.

The government lends the student loan company money it has borrowed from the markets so that the SLC can lend money to students, so that students can pay it to government owned universities for their education, to reduce the supposed cost of the government supplying those students with their education.

Basically, the government is paying for that education by borrowing. It’s just, potentially, making the students responsible for one day repaying that loan. Nothing avoids the fact that right now student’s aren’t paying for the education: the government is.

Therefore Clegg lied. Or is so daft he doesn’t realise the truth.

A longer version of this blog post is here.

‘Gove pushed schools to become Academies in my constituency despite objections’

by Guest     August 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

contribution by Ben Bradshaw MP

During last week’s furore over the drop in GCSE English scores it was suggested the downgrading might be a deliberate ploy by the Government to make it easier for them to force schools to become sponsored Academies.

Deliberate or not my experience as a constituency MP is that schools are under constant and growing pressure to convert, even if they don’t wish to and their performance does not require them to.
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The GCSE grading scandal: the legal challenge begins

by Paul Cotterill     August 26, 2012 at 9:45 am

It’s encouraging that several bodies, including the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), are considering legal action over the GCSE grading scandal.

The ASCL has already set out what aspect of the scandal such action may target

We’re examining whether this is hitting any particular groups of young people that are covered by the equal opportunities legislation.

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By downgrading GCSE results today, Michael Gove plans to sell 100s of schools

by Guest     August 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

contribution by James Hargrave

Last night it appeared that the 2012 GCSE English results have been deliberately manipulated by changing the grade boundaries at the last minute so that more children fail or get lower grades.

The story began to emerge on the TES forums earlier yesterday.

It gradually became clear over Twitter that this was national situation and speculation began that deliberate political interference from the DfE was behind this.
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Why is the media ignoring Michael Gove’s school privatisation bonanza?

by Guest     August 22, 2012 at 10:01 am

contribution by Thomas G. Clark

Michael Gove received a lot of negative media attention last week on three issues: he signed off on plans to concrete over thirty school playing fields and then lied about it; cancelled the two hours a week minimum sports requirements at the behest of Cameron; that just days before the Olympic games began he cancelled minimum outdoor playing space requirements for schools.

Despite all of this negative publicity it should be noted that the mainstream media are missing a much bigger story; the fact that Gove has privatised more than half of the secondary schools in England, playing fields and all.
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Left guide to Olympics hand-wringing: ‘Is their private education a problem?’

by Guest     August 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

contribution by Tim Wigmore

Sport is meant to level in a way other fields do not. Compared to talent and hard work, upbringing matters little.

Well, that was the idea anyway. In reality, 25% of British Olympians come from the 7% of the population that attend private schools. Unsurprisingly, sport is not immune from the innate advantages that those attending private schools receive.
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Are English children less able to read than years ago? No

by Paul Cotterill     July 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

In Saturday’s Guardian (Letters, 28th Jan), Schools Minister Nick Gibb defends the government’s view that phonics are the only way to reach children to read.

His central justification is that something must be done because, “International studies rank England 25th for reading – down from seventh nine years ago.”

In the very literal sense Gibb is correct. In 2000, the OECD placed England in 7th position in its table (p.53). In 2009, it was in the 25th row of a similar table (p. 56). In any other sense you care to mention, Gibb is entirely wrong.
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How the ‘best and brightest’ migrants are forced out of the UK

by Guest     July 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

contribution by Calynn Dowler

Lately, immigration minister Damian Green has been touting the UK’s efforts to attract ‘the best and brightest‘ migrants to UK shores. Ambitious young migrants must not have heard, though, because they’re packing their bags for home.

Tighter regulations for international students and the elimination of the post-study work visa have many students feeling unjustly targeted under the Government’s immigration clampdown.

In particular, the elimination of the post-study work visa will keep students from gaining work experience in the UK after their studies.
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Why Oxford University’s grant to reduce fees won’t help poorer students

by Guest     July 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

contribution by Chris Attrill

Oxford University recently announced a £300m scholarship fund, which offers students whose family income is less than £16,000 a year, to reduce their fees from £9,000 a year to just £3,500 a year.

The reason is obvious – to reduce the main obstacle for students from low-income families. We know that Oxford and Cambridge have too many students from wealthy backgrounds and not enough from poor ones.

The only problem with this bursary is that students from low-income families don’t have a problem with paying £9,000 a year to go to university – especially if they are applying to Oxford.
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