Wednesday, 14 November 2007

New-Labs promises on education look empty ten years on

If you had ordered something ten years ago and paid through the nose for it you might have expected to have, at lest, had sight of it by now.

Lancaster University has conducted research into New-Lab’s specialist schools programme and it’s Excellence in Cities initiative. They have concluded that, despite billions being spent on them the government’s policies have provided "meagre" benefits.

Cambridge University have published an interim report from a wide-ranging, independent, two-year review of primary education pointing out that despite some £500m spent so far on literacy standards of reading have been "more or less static since the 1950s".

New-Lab’s ‘National Literacy Strategy’ had "a barely noticeable effect" on reading ability and has apparently managed to significantly reduce any actual enjoyment children get from reading – bound to make them want to read then – not.

Further the literacy levels of the poorest children have dropped even further behind their peers than anywhere else in Europe.

It is a damning indictment on the Government and it didn’t need the universities to find that out, as virtually any parent with school aged children will attest, though perhaps it does to provide concrete evidence of it that the government can’t ignore.

We can only hope that the government pay more attention to what actually really works and less to educational and political theory, though one fears it is unlikely given that government interference is so often the kiss of death to anything they take an interest in with their regulations, policies and omnipresent measurements and targets.

“Schools ‘n’ Hospitals”, “14 Days to save the NHS” - but only if you are actually com-pet-ent. It all rings rather hollowly now but the spin goes on.
It seems that the official reaction to the reports were right in the river with the Egyptian crocodiles :-)

High Speed Rail Link

As many of us are aware the first of the Eurostar passenger services to Paris and Brussels are due to roll out of the magnificently refurbished St Pancras International at 11:01 this morning.

An undeniably magnificent achievement.

The new high-speed rail link now means that it is possible to go from the heart of London to the heart of Paris in 2 hrs and fifteen minutes. With, it has to be said, considerably less bother than the flying and in greater comfort, but at greater expense by comparison to flying. Even so it is no so great when one takes in the convenience and lack of the sort of problems with check in and security encountered at airports – more civilised.

So that’s the good part. It is fine for those who can get to StPancras/King’s Cross easily. The High Speed line known optimistically as High Speed 1 cost £5.8bn.

Unfortunately there seem to be no plans for a High Speed Link to the North. So what does someone who lives in Manchester or Edinburgh do? Or those in the west? Given the comparatively steep costs of rail travel within the UK, they do what they are already doing - They fly. So that means it is probably of little practical use to the majority of the country.

So how much real utility will the high-speed line actually be, apart from to Euro MPs and the like?

And would the money have been better used on first building a high speed lines from/to the North and West?

Quote of the day

“ Bad law is the worst sort of tyranny.”

Edmund Burke