Better schools?


As the dust settles after the departure of Michael Gove from education it is time to consider what a future government should do to continue the reforms and improve the opportunities young people have from attending our state schools.

Mr Gove drove through a substantial increase in the number of Academies, a programme started by the previous Labour government. He introduced a number of Free schools. He sought to make exams more demanding and raise the esteem of qualifications. He  strove to increase the use of phonics to teach literacy. He presided over the remodelling of some exam syllabuses.

Although he  is a keen advocate of the Swedish model of freer schools and academies, he did not adopt the Swedish model of allowing for profit companies to lease and run state financed schools.  Although he allowed some schools as his predecessors did  to select on abilities in music or sport he did not allow any expansion of selection by academic ability through re-opening the lists of grammar schools. Though he is a keen advocate of parental and student choice, he did not go far in allowing people to spend the sum the state allocates for their child where they wish. Greater choice rests on similar application and selection methods to those of past governments, allied to more places at a greater range of schools in some locations.

So do you wish to see an end to the Gove reforms? Do you want them to continue? Or would you like to see more radical reforms to beef up choice and extend the range of types of school and styles of provider on offer?

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  1. stred
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    The fact that Cameron sacked Gove should point any person who is aware of the disaster of education policy to avoid voting for any party headed by the aforementioned.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Simple, vouchers for parents to top up should they wish, get rid of all local authority interference, sell off the schools to private providers, get religious indoctrination (including the quack “green” science scares, creationism and similar) out of them. Allow schools to experiment and have real variety do not prescribe from the top down. Let parents vote with their vouchers and their cash for the schools they want. More schools teaching vocational subjects.

    If children can see that what they are learning may get them a job/money they might be rather more interested.

    Also do not ram Welsh down children’s throats, unless they really want it.

    Oh and have the exams in say March so you can revise in the wet/cold and dark winter rather than in lovely light, warm May, June when they should be outside.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      I see GDP per capita is 4% below 7 years ago. Perhaps about 25% behind where it could reasonably have been without this bloated and incompetent government and the anti business, green crap coalition.

      Engineers, businesses and scientists have increase efficiencies hugely over this period only for bureaucrats to waste it all on big incompetent government, pointless grand projects, wars, lawyers, tax experts, HR experts, bureaucrats and daft regulations delivering virtually nothing of value and destroying all the gains.

      What has the Coalition got to crow about, it is a truly dreadful record?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        Rationalising spelling notation would save millions of hours of student and teachers time too in reading & writing, allowing them to teach far more important things than dwelling on irrational notation. Let spelling evolve as languages should and did, do not fix them is aspic. Start with “ghost” and “write”, “right” perhaps which twits put the H, W and GH in?

        Notation should be quick and convenient or “fit for purpose” to use a politicians weasel phrase.

        This especially as so many have English only as a second or third language.

        • zorro
          Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          People need to learn how to spell words properly and construct grammatically correct sentences to aid understanding and avoid misunderstanding. I am sick to death of people misusing apostrophes e.g…..’I spoke with the cleaner’s (sic) and they said that they had forgotten to clean the room’.


          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink

            There is no need to have silly spelling and many ways of writing say to, too, two and wright, write, right in order to avoid confusion. The do not exist in the spoken language, nor do apostrophes which are a bore to type on tablets.

          • zorro
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            A quotation from the USA…… “Grammar is the difference between helping your uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse

        • MikeP
          Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          So you’d have British school kids learning spelling in such a way as to completely alienate them from the rest of the world’s (better) command of English as ourselves. We live in a mobile, highly communications-driven global world where how you read, write and speak matters if you want to get on. How can you think that reading and writing properly aren’t important, don’t be daft.

          • Margaret Brandreth-J
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

            Quite right Mike.We already have text speak which is like a different language and the children adapt.Thnx 4 yur comment!!

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            I am not saying it is not important, indeed quite the opposite. It is important for communication and should thus be allowed to evolve & improve itself as it always used to, rather than being stuck with spellings like Ghost, Yacht, Wright and the likes for evermore. It is mere notation after all. There are far more useful things to teach to children than irrational spellings, arbitrarily fixed in aspic, many years ago by printers & dictionary compilers.

        • Anonymous
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic – Some countries are successful in teaching their children to become fluent in three or four languages.

          Are you seriously saying that not only are our kids so incapable of learning more than one language, they are unable to learn their own ? So our own language should be reduced in order that they can cope ?

          Why stop there ? Why not text speak or patois ?

          In this country we dumb down the whole syllabus in order not to hurt the feelings of the few who can’t cope. The GCSEs that my boy has just completed were no where near as demanding as the GCEs that I took 30 years ago. He was not stretched enough and did little work at home – grade As are expected throughout and he is a second setter.

          As well as the problems with bad parenting the exams themselves have been diminished.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            I agree on exams in maths the current a levels are more like the o level we did worse in many ways.

            Notation should evolve and improve, spelling is to the written word what accent is to the spoken. Are you saying there is only one “right” accent too?

          • Iain gill
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

            Languages need to be taught to children while they are infants. Trying to start language education when they are teenagers, like we do in this country, is never going to be successful.

      • acorn
        Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Here’s one I baked earlier.

        The Impact of the “slash and burn the public sector” rhetoric of the new Chancellor had on the economy in the second half of 2010. Mr Darling was running an 11% deficit in the first quarter of 2010 and the economy was responding to that fiscal stimulus as per the MMT text book. The Osborne zero deficit by 2015 strategy flat-lined the economy for three years, as he took train loads of spending power out of the demand side of the economy with QE taking out Gilt interest payments and fiscal tightening.

        We now see in the IFS charts that Osborne has not only abandoned the 2015 zero deficit target, he appears to be dumping the 2018/19 one as well .

        Looking back at the data the last two significant recessions are associated with similar “slash and burn the public sector” Conservative administrations, during their respective first three years of office. This last Conservative imposed recession, was superimposed on top of a bailout of Wall Street and the Spiv City of London mortgage fraudsters. If ever there was a time NOT to elect a Conservative government, it was May 2010.

        Would someone please explain to the Conservative Party that we are not on the Gold Standard anymore and haven’t been for decades. Also, tell them the UK has its own, sovereign, floating fiat currency. That means, the budget deficit, is your governments net spending in a fiscal year, you will eventually get it all back through taxes. Likewise, the national debt – the sum of the deficits – is safe in the hands of the private sector who are saving every last pound of it – which is why you haven’t got it back yet – in their pockets as cash notes and coins and 30 year Gilts in their pension and insurance funds and similar.

        Oh, remember that our children and our children’s children, won’t give a toss about us not paying all this so called “debt” back, because they won’t be paying theirs back either.

        Reply. Conservative governments had to recover the economy from high borrowing slumps brought on by Labour in the mid 1970s and again in coalition in 2010. The slump occurred in 2008 not 2011.

        • acorn
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          The ONS Charts in tell the story as written in the real world. Additionally you can see how we got the slowest recovery ever!

          Fortunately Mr Osborne is coming to realise his very big mistake of cutting public spending when the private sector was cutting its spending and wanting to save. The “deficit” has to finance the propensity for Households to save and Firms to stash profits. Only the government can spend new “financial assets” into the economy to save. .

          Pure animal spirits will get them spending again, in the absence of government fiscal stimulus. But it would have been much quicker if Mr Osborne had stuck to a job at Dad’s wallpaper factory and found something else to play with rather than the UK economy.

          Reply. Nonsense. Labour ran a record deficit which did not prevent and reflected their record fall in out put. Mr Osborne raised real public spending in his first two years but this did not create growth. Broken banks u nder Labour held back recovery which lasted until last yesr

          • Anonymous
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Reply to reply – Have the Conservatives ended boom and bust ? (A trick question. I’m sorry.)

            Sir Digby Jones lauds the economic recovery and yes – it appears to be good news. But the next bust will come and the problems which are not being addressed now (uncontrolled immigration) will bite us then.

            Booms and busts come and go. A country – once it is gone – is gone forever.

        • Hefner
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

          And the slump began /was caused because of irresponsible bankers and neo-liberal like-minded laissez-faire politicians. As far as I know the Labour mid1970 and 2010 borrowing were not so much improved by the consecutive Conservative governments. The present recovery is only of benefit to a small fraction of the population, and one has to be blind or particularly biased not to see that. As for the improved employment figures, their presentation is also biased when about 25 to 30 % of people only have part-time jobs, not by choice, but because more work hours are not available.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink


            Might agree with your first paragraph but your second is plain wrong

            There are 30 million people in employment in UK and less than 7% are part time and most of those by choice and the EU/UK govt has just extended the right of employees to ask for more flexible employment and part time work.

            Just so you know there isn’t a shortage of full time decent paying jobs in the UK, there is a shortage of skilled people.

            The continuing growth in employment has nothing to do with any policy that this government has introduced, it is entirely due to the growth of small business . The number of jobs available has been rising every year for the last 5 years and this despite 400,000 overseas workers taking jobs here

    • Bazman
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Pointy hat for you…Quack green science scares, creationism? The science point to your ‘quack green science scares’ to be like creationism. The science is on the side of global warming. You have no science other than trying to find pseudo science to back up you quack beliefs like creationist do. A prime example is to try to tell us push bikes are in general powered by expensive foods and not cheap sugars and fats.
      Without any control how do you prevent extremist views and quack teaching being put forward by many schools or massive sink schools being formed by a lack of extra cash from parents in poor areas.?
      Do you ever learn? Go to the back of the class.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 26, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        Not with any sensible scientists not in on the scam. What fool would suggest you can control the temp of the earth in 100 years by just controlling co2. Also that you can predict it without even knowing most of the variables, indeed many are clearly unknowable.

        • Bazman
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          Name your ‘sensible’ scientists’? Anthony Watts of ‘Watts up with that fame’ is not a scientist. and you are saying that meteorologists have no information to predict future weather as there are to many variables is just plain wrong While there are uncertainties with climate models, they successfully reproduce the past and have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations You are trying to fudge science to back up your do nothing beliefs which you will notice extend to many other ideas. What you are saying is you only belive science when it fits your prejudices as you own the facts. All to complicated for you though isn’t it?

          • libertarian
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink


            You ask name sensible scientists who do NOT agree with co2 theory of global warming

            Prof Richard Lindzen Prof Freeman Dyson Prof William Gray etc etc and more than 50 more listed here.

            Science is NEVER settled.

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:50 am | Permalink

            Freeman Dyson, Richard Lindzen for example.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Freeman Dyson, Richard Lindzen for example? Very dubious and if you looked into you would find out why, but of course you will not as they support your views like the priests you so tell us should not put forward their non scientific views and you will notice Libtard that non of your 5o deny global warming only the extent of its effects and projections. Which of course should be argued. Simplistic nonsense from do nothing conservative bigots.

          • libertarian
            Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            Oh dear Bazman hoist by your own petard eh.

            Lindzen & Dyson are only “dubious” because your church of climatology tried to demonise them for daring to speak out. Anyway you didn’t mention the 48 others on that list. By the way to save you trouble I have a list of even more mainstream scientists who disagree with you.

            Typical stuff from you Bazman. No one said climate doesn’t change, no one said it doesn’t warm up or cool down. What a lot of scientists and others say is that man made co2 isn’t the cause. Thats my position too having read a lot of the evidence put forward by both sides. . Oh and as Ive told you many times before I’m not a Conservative. Ha ha do nothing? really ? I do more in a week than you’ve done in a lifetime.

            Bazman have you ever wondered why the big oil companies are the biggest financial backers of the Green movement and the AGW protagonists ?

        • Hefner
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic, Are you knowing anything of real physics, not global warming, but quantum mechanics, how they relate to spectroscopy, how this relate to solar and terrestrial atmospheric radiation transfer?
          If you knew, you might stop talking the type of rubbish you keep pouring almost everyday on this website.
          Thanks to John Redwood who allows the use of this website for venting all kinds of comments without much filtering, but your type of anti-science ignorant dribble is just plain prejudice, and no real contribution to any debate.

          • lifelogic
            Posted July 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            My qualifications as it happens were in maths, physics and later electronics Cambridge and Manchester Universities. I am happy to be on the side of the rational scientist listed in the link above. My point is that co2 is one of countless influences on the climate. Predicting the climate in 100 years is cleary harder than the climate for next month and they clearly cannot even do that.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Did you believe you owned the fact in these subjects too? This is not how climate science works. Your grasp of basic science and its methodology is retarded at best.

          • Ted Monbiot
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            They are not facts as any scientist will tell you. They are just predictions and an attempt at proving a correlation.

            Problem is, some predictions have already not come true and with every year where there is no increased temperature whilst CO2 rises, even the correlation looks wrong.
            Soon alarmists will look like those who predict the end of the world by some specific date and then see that date pass.
            Comparing actual data to past predictions is sensible science and is not deluded nor retarded nor confusing.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Education rarely make children cleverer it merely teaches them some useful skills, painting, the violin, singing, reading and often alas much green and other indoctrination and rather useless skills too. Hopefully some are still able to question what they are taught.

      Nearly all is genetic I suspect, the spider never meets its mother. Yet some still survive find a mate and lay new eggs that hatch, can weave webs in the right places, eat the flies & survive to do the same again. Similarly the cuckoo is born knowing how to kick out the other eggs and lay its eggs in the right nest on the right day and to migrate thousands of miles too.

      They seem to fairly well without schools. Not that I am against schools just against the nonsense that is quite often taught in them.

      • Bazman
        Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Never taught you anything and does that mean that Etonions are genetically born to rule along with a the financial aristocracy?

  3. Old Albion
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    I wish to see MP’s making it clear that education (among others) is a devolved matter, and all that you say is relevant to English education, only.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      It should largely be devolved right down to the schools and the parents.

      • Bazman
        Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Even if the parents and schools are deluded like yourself?

        • APL
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          Bazman: “Even if the parents and schools are deluded like yourself?”

          That’s called diversity. Lefties claim to worship at that shrine.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Believing that the sun will rise tomorrow is only an opinion is not diversity it is delusional and thick. All facts and evidence point to this occurring.

          • Ted Mombiot
            Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

            Do tell us Mr Bazman if your are in favour of a single central control (the standard socialist offering) or devolved local democracy (the other standard socialist offering).

            I think we should be told, because Lifelogic, the person you want to silence, originally said that local devolved control of education would be a good thing.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 27, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

          The people will make far better decisions than governments they after all know their circumstances and have their person interest at heart. History show this clearly. We would have had no Iraq no Afghanistan no ERM …….

  4. Iain Gill
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    For me the massive inertia, introspection, bureaucracy, and quack science used to justify fashionable theories are all out of hand in the UK teaching profession. There is much to be learned from the rest of the world. Our system is very inefficient, and run as if a mystical priesthood, far too much spent on poor quality teacher training and education authorities etc. which would be better spent on the front line. It is getting that oil tanker of teachers to change direction which is always going to be a problem for any government, but in many ways that’s the politicians fault for not empowering the parents to make individual decisions which force change bottom up rather than top down. Gove did start to take on some of the teachers sacred beliefs, which was good, but really its only by handing over real buying power to parents that long term continual optimisation will become engrained.
    Re “Or would you like to see more radical reforms” yes yes yes. As a parent I want the buying power. The current system (is not good ed). I was asked to express a preference between 3 schools, of which 2 demand religious alignment that doesn’t exist, so only 1 of the 3 in practise can be selected, so no real choice at all, this is not good enough. In addition there are a lot more than 3 schools I could get my child to, and I see no reason why I am excluded by postcode.
    I would ban schools from selecting on religion, it(can be manipulated ed) with signatures from priests being a requirement for admission being used to keep intake to those “in the know” and part of the right “social circle”. Lots of parents gaming the system too faking religious adherence to get their children into the better schools. In the absence of being allowed to select on ability, or parental attitude, many schools use the religious criteria to manipulate their intake along these lines by another mechanism. I also believe we should be integrating our children, and mixing all and no religions together in schools, the current ghettoisation segregated along religious lines, and encouraged by schools, is not good for a peaceful tolerant society.
    We do need some immediate action too to fix the worst schools. A big frustration with Gove and others is lack of urgency about the worst sink schools. I know rubbish schools that have been rubbish for decades, I am sorry we don’t have time to mess around I would take them over completely within the week of being in power if I was made Sec of State. I would do radical things like recruit new teaching staff from excellent schools abroad. Kids in these schools have suffered at the hand of the teaching profession and politicians for far too long. Indeed the big sink estates, the housing in them, the schools, the whole environment in them, is imposed by the state and is completely and utterly failing, we need some obvious policy changes to fix the sink estates, do it by giving the individuals freedom to make their own choices.
    To improve things medium to longer term re “beef up choice” I wouldn’t just beef it up, I would hand decision making hook, line, and sinker over to parents. Minimal state regulation, and school inspections, but real financial power in the parents hands to take to any provider they like. Allow schools that do not attract parents to fail. Transform the relationship between parents and schools, so yes the school can kick the child out but also parents can take their children to another school easily. Make the head really accountable to parents like any other business is to their customers.
    Re “extend the range of types of school and styles of provider on offer?” yes but not under state direction. Let anyone setup schools. Level the playing field between different types of school. Let parents take their education budget anywhere they like. And let schools innovate, and compete to attract parents. Let the dynamics of empowered heads and parents change things, rather than expecting fashions in the profession and politicians to change things. I would have few rules for the types of schools that could be innovated, except no religious or racial segregation which I would ban.
    I think the Conservatives make a mistake thinking they cannot take on Labour on the education battlefield. I could take on Tristram Hunt and the nonsense he spouts in a TV debate easily, and I would wipe the floor with him, the labour heartlands want choice and empowerment and if explained in the ways I would explain it my policies would be a political winner. It’s a shame there are so few people like me in politics.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Every human being needs food to live. So food must be a human right? Well, what about poor people with food banks? What about the problem of obesity deliberately encouraged by our food outlets?
    If the government took control of all food outlets, then we could deal democratically with the whole thing. We could have catchment areas for each superstore and abolish all the smaller ones. We could have the government deciding exactly what is on sale. We could have government inspectors and targets. We could have a checking system called Ofthinggy. And every Tom, Dick and Harriet could put forward their own ideas on what should be on the shelves.
    You know it makes sense.
    Meanwhile, Fortnum and Masons and Harvey Nics would be open for business for those that could afford it.

    That, Mr Redwood, is how I see our education system and, believe me, the current incumbent is not the person to change any of it.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes. There is a superstore per religion, and you are only allowed into the superstore if you are of the matching religion and can get a priest/rabbi/imam to sign some paper to say you are a good follower of that religion. And lots of parents falsely claim a religion, or claim to believe, simply to allow their family access to the food from the corresponding superstore.

  6. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    My approach to education would be much freer.Education should be an enjoyable experience and not one always forced on children. J J Rousseau gives an account of a child learner who self determines his education. Perhaps it is not a practical method of learning for the state sector, yet it does offer alternatives for a child who is affected adversely by communal learning. I remember as a child I could soak up anything I wanted with interest and skill when I was at home but in the classroom setting any information I had internalised would be wiped out to be replaced by sound bites of information which did not collect into a whole experience of learning.It was confusion at school and a return to structure and self learning to the things I wanted to make sense of at home. My perceptual apparatus were not equipped for the collective perceptual machinery of the other children.

    On the television at present there is a programme where children compete to demonstrate their alacrity in the use of numbers and recall of patterns of communication e.g. maps of train routes and stations. Although I find it upsetting that a child is put to these tests , highlighted is an example of parents who self tutor their child , allowing the girl to lead the learning for the day.They then however put her to the test of competing against other learners who drive their children from an early age using more conventional methods . The two different experiences should not be compared as the original aim was to make learning enjoyable using different methods.The then experience of testing the child’s knowledge on a platform competitively, in front of spectators was unpleasant to watch and I found mildly abusive. The focus of the programme in general also seemed to be on the parents of the many children glorifying in their personal teaching acumen and achievements and something which I found distasteful.

    Exams do not adequately test a child’s ability to enter the real world and should be not used as indicators to map out a life through adulthood. I still hear some say He/She did not even pass GCSE at this or that referring to a 50 year old .Life long learning should be commended and reflect the mutability of the changing world and circumstances around every individual.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Re “I could soak up anything I wanted with interest” exactly the best way to teach is with reference to that childs interests. Which is hard with large class sizes. But is especially hard with so few male teachers in many schools. If there was this sex inequality the other way around it would be front page news. I hate my son being taught by a school of all bar one females, it doesn’t work. Boys need to have things related to the stuff they are interested in, you can really teach a lot of maths etc if you relate it to a group of boys interested in trains by doing maths related to trains for instance. I see many young teenagers who are already accomplished amateur motorcycle mechanics outside of school, for instance, that are not having that enthusiasm tapped by the middle class female teachers they have who mostly have no idea of these out of school talents. And so on.

    • John E
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      I agree that children need more space to grow without this constant obsession with testing. Children in Nordic countries are allowed much more time to play and develop before formal learning starts and their schools produce better results in academic terms and in my opinion more mature and better balanced young adults. Children and young people need some time to think and become themselves.

      I also think Academies were a disaster waiting to happen given our religious divides. We need religion completely removed from education.

      Then I would look to Germany for their approach to craft and apprentice training as well as their academic engineering rigour as Prince Albert tried to persuade us 170 years ago.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      This is certainly true, Cameron with his Oxford degree in PPE is just as hopeless and misguided as Major was with his 2 (was it?) O levels, and Blair & Brown. What is needed is a working compass, common sense, some honesty, some reason & logic.

  7. Doreen Dickinson
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    The only education system that did have a major effect on the working class was Grammar schools. Giving children from poor back grounds a far better chance in life than any of the new systems. Trafford Council in the. North West is the only Council to retain them and even the comprehensive schools in Trafford are excellent because retaining Grammar schools has made them push up their standards. Trafford have the best all round education results and if this does not prove the point, I do not know what does. Not all children are academic , let the ones that are go to grammar schools and those that are not teach them a trade or skills that actually mean something in their future life.

    • M Davis
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      … Not all children are academic , let the ones that are go to grammar schools and those that are not teach them a trade or skills that actually mean something in their future life. …

      A very sensible opinion but I won’t hold my breath waiting for this or any other Government taking note, they are more interested in themselves!

  8. ITF Tory
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I think Michael Gove’s reforms should be continued. Notice how, despite many teachers opposing them, all schools that had the opportunity to apply for academy status did so?

  9. nigel
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The ability to select on abilities in music or sport but not on academic ability. Surely that amounts to discrimination.

    Similarly politicians seem happy to select gifted sports people, send them to special academies and centres of excellence, and allow some to develop multi million pound careers, whereas young people who are academically gifted, but not strong in sport are made to fund their own way in life and considered “privileged”.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      And then, when successful, they end up training abroad because … they can reduce their tax bill!

      Sensible, but should they still be able to represent Britain?

  10. Iand
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    At least continue the Gove reforms – the unions hate being challenged, hence the nasty and vindictive language employed, but need dragging from their complacent attitudes and ways, which only served to protect vested interests and promulgate mediocrity for the majority.

    I would look again at Grammar schools as, done right, they really did (and still do) improve life chances for bright pupils whose parents couldn’t stretch to independent schools. The problems needing addressing with Grammar schools include looking at access, so that they are are a genuine option for highly able pupils from all backgrounds. The left / unions have been very successful at contaminating the name “Grammar school”, which is a massive shame as Grammar schools are a kind of special school for the most able. In my experience ( having taught in state and independent sectors – including a Grammar), there is often quite an overlap between abilities at Grammar, High schools (where still going) and Comprehensives and some sort of de-stigmatised free movement so that pupils would get the best kind of teaching for their needs at the time would be desirable.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      “there is often quite an overlap between abilities at Grammar, High schools (where still going) and Comprehensives”

      I think in the German Gymnasia, about thirty percent are selected; by only taking twenty percent or even less, children with academic potential might be excluded;
      it might be possible to create one set of exams at least at the sixteen level that adequately measured progress for all of these pupils whereas pretending that all children can take the same exams inevitiably means dumbing down. It is doubtful whether children below that level would benefit from more than a vocationally based course.

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Accepting that in any cohort some are more able than others and then grading on the curve would be a start. Just because everyone gets an A* does not mean they are educated to a high standard. Then employers and higher education can identify talent more easily. Apprenticeships and other opportunities need to be put in place for those lower down the curve so that they too have areas in which to shine and climb.

    Free schools should only ever receive funding where there is a shortage of places not be driven by parental desire. Parents who wish their local school to be better can become governors and drive standards (or indeed religious doctrine) from within.

    Primary and secondary funding should be more equitable per pupil so that primary delivers more rounded, able pupils to the secondary sector.

  12. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I thought Gove was on the right track…hence the protests from the Blob. Get the basic needs as a priority right….produce an agile brain. Promote common sense.

    I miss the OU courses on the BBC at night. I could both brush up and learn at my speed/leisure. Very good, and dropped. All the digital channels you could possibly want and just about zero on them that supports education.

    What and whoever is causing the posting to fast message is rather silly. I have never seen that before (as a website developer) even with Godaddy as a host…and thats saying something!

  13. alan jutson,
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I am getting too old.

    Quite honestly I did not see much wrong with the system we had back in the 50’s and 60’s. with secondary moderns and grammar schools.

    People were taught relevant knowledge to prepare them for a life of work or further study.
    If you were a so called late developer, then you had the polytechnics or technical colleges available to help or specialise.

    Perhaps the only tweak needed was the ability with those at the higher level in secondary moderns, to be able to transfer to a grammar, but other than that, I saw no problem.

    For the last 40 years we have had successive governments simply messing up kids brains with all sorts of progressive and selective educational rubbish.
    In short we have had a disaster in educational standards, were no one is deemed to fail, because standards have been reduced to minimal levels.

    The result we have had a couple of generations of kids where many are simply unfit for work, earning their own living, or even being able to look after themselves.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with a basic State curriculum, where all take exactly the same examinations, which are then given marks as a percentage out of 100.
    So simple to understand and compare. but then that is the problem no one wants to be able to compare one with another, so the farce will continue..

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Alan–I 100% (!) agree that percentages are all that is needed. Burying and obfuscating precise percentages in grades achieves nothing except artificially blurring what started off as accurate information–or at least as accurate as available. Grades add absolutely nothing and just destroy information. Why should a 99% result not be given (much) more credit than a 91% (assuming 10% bands)? Changing gear, what is the big difference between deciding at 11 in favour of a more academic education and deciding at 16 or whatever who is to go to University? Socialists may say it is unfair but is everybody to get a Degree and if so why stop there, why not give everybody a Doctorate or a Professorship, which is in fact the way we are moving albeit to cut down on salaries?

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

      If so then I am getting old too. I went to a Secondary Modern school where the teachers were diligent,strict, and fair. I dont recall that anyone there left school unable to read and write properly and much attention was paid to using the correct grammar. As I was an orphan, my Foster Parents did not allow me to sit the 11 plus, and I am not at all sure I would have passed it anyway. My point is that I didn’t feel in any way disadvantaged in not attending a Grammar School. After I left my school I took evening classes at the Polytechnic College to learn shorthand and typing. Many children could do quite well if they had the education I had. Some of the problems today stem from a lack of discipline. So many sanctions have been taken away from the teachers, and all parents do not back them up when they should. Having said all that I do believe that Grammar Schools should be brough back for the most able pupils from all sections of society.

      • alan jutson,
        Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Cheshire Girl

        Yes went to a secondary myself, then an engineering apprenticeship with day release to tech for 5 years, ending up with an HNC in Production engineering.

        Like you, I know of no one who left school without the basics and certainly all worked, as the dole was not an option.

        Changed career a number of times, but eventually ran my own small design and build business for 30 years.

        Like you, never felt disadvantaged, indeed compared to todays students, I feel I had a good basic but excellent education upon which I expanded and enhanced after leaving school..

        As you correctly say, discipline was accepted and was par for the course.

  14. libertarian
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Why do we always talk about structure? Its not about structure. Its not relevant whether schools are run by the public or private sector. its the CONTENT. We are obsessed with outdated irrelevant 1950’s subjects learned by rote and tested by exam. Thats the problem with education its NOT FIT for 21st century. Howard Gardener Prof Educ at Havard wrote about this way back in 1980’s. No more than 30% of the student population suit a traditional academic based education the other 70% of us have a range of alternative skills, talents and abilities none of which are recognised, developed or catered for adequately at school. The kids are totally disengaged, school has nothing relevant to their daily lives. We don’t even teach IT programming skills in our schools 50 years after the establishment of the IT industry.

    Solution? Different types of schools that suit different types of skills/interests different curriculum and qualifications . STOP with the one size fits all nonsense.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      I would hope that reading, writing and arithmetic were taught, and learnt, before moving onto anything else. If 20% leave school unable to communicate properly, what is the point of learning anything else. In fact, how can they learn anything else? Learning, whether it’s Geography, History or a Science, it’s mostly done by reading and writing and being at ease with arithmetic.

      I don’t think teaching IT programming skills to everyone is a feasible task. It’s a bit like singing, playing a musical instrument or a sport, drawing or writing novels: only some can do it well enough to be successful.
      You can get children to sing, but that doesn’t make them singers and if they cannot read music, they are being given false information as to their skill set. It won’t even make them musical or even like music! That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t sing, but don’t think that singing will make everyone good enough to be a singer and teaching programming skill will make everyone a programmer!

      The whole point about IT is that much of it is continual problem solving, which is not the same as being at ease using user-friendly technology. It is called Information System Engineering because it is Engineering.
      Would you expect children to be designing bridges? They would need to understand a lot of Physics and how businesses work before they could even start. Get them to learn the basics first: the three R’s!

      • libertarian
        Posted July 28, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        Robert Christopher

        I agree re the basics of 3 R’s but thats primary school stuff.

        On IT skills etc thats entirely the point. Its teaching subjects that suit the student NOT a one size fits all which is the current. Its not called Information Systems Engineering that is an entirely different discipline .

        I think you will find lots of the current subjects don’t suit everyone. That again was my point. Stop imposing 1950’s one size fits all O levels on everyone.

      • Iain gill
        Posted July 29, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Re “they cannot read music” plenty of our richest most successful musicians cannot read music.

        Re “The whole point about IT” I am a Computer Scientist I am not an Engineer thankyou!

  15. North Briton
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Vouchers would be nice. A return to the tripartite model would be better.

    At the very least, surely we could have some Conservative heavy-hitters agitating for the ridiculous legal ban on the establishment of any new grammar schools?

    Mr Gove did not acquit himself well when he used this law to block the creation of the Sevenoaks grammar annexe in Kent.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Michael Gove made a good start . He was hampered throughout by teacher unions who acted to defend their poor quality members . Over the years I have witnessed the steady decline in standards and qualifications of teachers and witnessed the inevitable results on our child and adolescent populations . The gap that now exists will take years to overcome and will take many more determined Michael Goves to achieve it ; I speak as someone who spent 15 years in education -7 of them as a Headmaster . Something like a 15 year plan is now required to be put in place to a ) restore the quality and training of teachers , b) ensure that a range of schools exists to attract academic , technical , and broader non-academic skills , c) neutralise political interference d) broaden the scope of financing to encourage and support providers e) rationalise the way in which the independent school sector works in tandem with the broader school system , and , f) ensure that the checks and balances in the inspectorate and evaluation procedures provide an accurate assessment method of chronological age and achievement ( the Key Stage method does not do this ) . The existing social barriers produced from the education system must be overcome and replaced by that of merit , talent and achievement only . Society is a mixture of all sorts and skills and must applaud and contain all of its types with respect and recognition ; the underlying education system is the bedrock of this and must be kick-started again .

  17. Richard1
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Michael Gove made a real attempt to get education standards in the UK back to the world class level they should be. Key to his reforms have been a return to an emphasis on rigour and the beginnings of an introduction of choice and competition, without which there is no hope of real improvement.

    People in Sweden tell you that prior to the education liberalization of the 1990s the system there was terrible, mainly because there was no choice at all – you went to whichever local school was dictated. Bad teachers could not be sacked due to union power and bad schools had no pressure to improve. Now parents can choose any school in the country and the money follows. It doesn’t mean there arnt any bad schools, but it does mean there is a market mechanism to improve them.

    We need to do the same, and of course profit making companies should be able to supply the public sector with primary and secondary education just as they supply many other parts of the education sector. Only by having real choice for parents and competition between suppliers, as there is in the independent sector, will there be any hope of real improvement.

    For those who lament class inequalities due to the divide in education between private and state schools,nothing would do more to eliminate it than the introduction of private sector style choice and competition in the state sector.

    The Blob will fight it tooth and nail, but the government on behalf of parents and children must face them down.

  18. William Long
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The Gove education reforms are undoubtedly one of the great achievements of this Government and I should like to think they are only the beginning of the process; I wish I could be confident that this is the case.
    I have chaired the governors of a private sector girls’ school and if I had been in any doubt of the level of failure of the state sector, it was removed by seeing the lengths of sacrifice that parents would go to avoid having to make use of it, and this applied equally over a great range of backgrounds: it was not a social, but an aspirational thing. I am quite sure that the power of competition between schools will be a huge factor in raising standards and therefore that genuine choice in where you send your child must be the next goal. One result of the reforms so far, has been the real beginning of a blurring of the edges between the State and Private sectors and a voucher system, with vouchers spendable in either sector seems a good way to go.
    I do think though, that there should be a real debate about the charitable status of private schools. Is it justifiable that fee payers should benefit from this? Conversely, if I was paying for my children’s education now, (I did so in the past) would I be happy to know that my fees, which I could barely afford anyway, were more than they need be to subsidise others. I think this will be an increasing dilemma for the private sector, and it is interesting to see the huge transfer of effort in, for instance, the Woodard Corporation, form the traditional private sector, into the sponsoring of academies for the state, arguably a better use of its charitable resources.

    • Richard1
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      Charitable status is an interesting one. It exists because the provision of education is a charitable activity. It should also be remembered that the independent schools sector saves the taxpayer the cost of educating those children.

      The supposed loss of tax is in fact negligible as most independent schools operate around breakeven.

      The future must be for profit making private companies to come in and run many more schools. Eventually the sharp dividing line which now exists between the state and private sectors would disappear – but only when state funded schools offer real choice and competition and the possibility of removing bad staff.

  19. dumpling
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Bring back grammar schools. It enabled children, born to parents of modest means to have an education which stretched their abilities. For those consigned to the Secondary Moderns there was an A stream for the “just failed” and some even managed to get into grammars after the first year. I notice now on “University Challenge” a lack of regional accents amongst the team members which suggests to me that the teams are dominated by the public schools. This is an indictment of the comprehensives.

    The other issue is the lack of respect and disruptive behaviour of many pupils. Now corporal punishment is banned there must be some meaningful sanction which should be applied. I would like to hear from the hard-pressed teachers for their views. By the way is all this paperwork they have to complete really necessary? They used to manage quite well before the Baker reforms.

    • Bazman
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Failed at 11? Its a good point though that their ‘education’ should involve a punch in the face.

      • Ted Gove
        Posted July 27, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Now you have to wait until 16 to find that out.

  20. The Prangwizard
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Are we to take it for granted that you are referring to England only, or that you are taking England and the English for granted again? Do you not think you should make it clear in all your pieces either in the text or in the headings on matters which are devolved that you are referring only to England? Or maybe you are ‘interfering’ in the rest of the UK’s affairs. But why do the English have to fight the Unionist establishment for everything, when it is more or less handed to the others on a plate?

    The fact that your leader has sacked Mr Gove and that his replacement seems keen to make concessions to the unions gives us an answer to which way things are going to go.

    I have teacher friends. I have many times said that the low level of knowledge in many of our children is down to poor teaching. Our children are just as intelligent as they ever were and don’t deserve to be demoralized. This is greeted with horror and disgust. A couple are closet Marxists. If an engineer designed a bridge with faults and it subsequently fell down, it would be his fault. They cannot see any comparison. It is always someone else’s fault, never theirs. They have even blamed the children.

    It requires years of determined effort to get rid of poor and politicised teachers, and the demand that they all should be ‘qualified’ must be resisted, and to give up just when progress is being made is the act of a weak leader given to sliding out from under trouble. A teacher needs only to know and like his subject, some training on how to manage children could help but it is not essential. I favour the return of grammar schools even though I failed my own 11-plus and didn’t get into one until I was 15/16 years old, can’t remember exactly.

  21. Jonathan
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Get rid of catchment areas and let parents apply for schools and let schools expand and close where needed. Also give parents vouchers so schools need to improve to get the students.

  22. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I’ve just discovered that on January 26th 2011 Jeremy Wright, the Tory MP who has now replaced Dominic Grieve as Attorney General, was teller for the “Noes” when the government blocked an amendment which would have made it necessary to hold a referendum before the Home Secretary could opt us back into the EU Arrest Warrant. “Ayes 26, Noes 313”, 15 Tory MPs in favour with 255 against.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t the question to this topic be …

    Better parents ?

    What people are really desperate to do is get their children away from schools with bad parents. Grammar school selection is not a test of the child but of the parental back up.

    Until you sort out the bad/absent parents (and stop subsidising them and letting them rule the roost over staff and headmasters) you will always have ‘bad’ schools.

    As ever our system rewards the wrong people for doing the wrong things.

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear!

      Unless parents value education, preferably for its own sake, no child has much chance of success.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Harsh but fair

  24. Rods
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Like so many things that governments like to operate, they have made it as near a monopoly as possible, but it must be considered in the context of our international competitors, where in league tables it has fallen behind, since 2000, so must be considered a failure. More and more resources have been allocated for extra staff like classroom assistants to achieve less and less compared to our international competition. Competition is considered a cardinal sin that children are meant to be shielded from, until they hit the real world and can’t find a job when they are all too often these days competing for jobs against better educated Europeans with more realistic attitudes.

    Academic selection should be reinstated with the caveat that the more academic, that slip through the net, which can be through late development or other problems can still get good GCSEs at more vocational orientated schools. A successful society need academics, but also many other unique developing or developed talents and skills.

    The current poor performance by schools that have let down far too many pupils is partly due to lack of selection and streaming. This means that all too often the ethos is set by Bully Bloggins where it is cool to be lazy and disruptive and also through no streaming the bright get bored and disruptive and the most academically challenged struggle to keep up. A successful education system can never be build on the lowest common denominator only on the highest common factor to develop a diverse range of children’s talents.

    Education should be operated on a voucher system with schools able to set any standards of academic, sporting, musical or other talents as part of their criterion for selection, with parents and their children selecting which is most appropriate for them. Will it ever happen, of course not, it is not only the EU that never lets go of their tax payer funded empires once they have taken over that particular activity on society’s behalf.

    Since the early 1980’s with the launch of the IBM PC society has been changing in what is best described as a ‘cognitive’ industrial revolution. Looking at wages in real terms in the US and Western Europe in terms of qualifications, the winners and losers can be clearly seen. They are going down for the unskilled, semi-skilled with those educated to A-level standard just about holding their own. The real winners have been those educated to HNC/HND and degree standard, particularly in the ‘in demand’ creative industries. These creative industries are something we are very good at with high percentage of earnings coming from exports, but it is perpetually held back by a lack of sufficiently developed talent.

    I was very fortunate is taking a book out of our school library on computers when I was 12 and deciding that was what I wanted to be involved with. In those days computers were a rarity, my next break came in my early teens where a local technical collage provided a service for schools to be able to program using punched cards. So I learnt to program in ALGOL in what was a very rare opportunity at that time. I then orientated my training, qualifications and jobs towards electronics and computing and have never looked back. What can be more wonderful than a very enjoyable pastime that is also career that I love and in which I earn good money.

  25. Terry
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Never mind the academies, where are the Grammar Schools? These were the backbone of a decent education for ordinary kids from ordinary families? Or are our modern day professional politicians afraid of an educated electorate?

  26. ian
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Education does not breed intelligence. First of all you have to have the right climate to free up peoples minds and you can start with taxation by bring on the operating levy for taxation. Then you need to reform democracy so people understand what”s going on or to be more in touch with their surroundings.
    I can give you quick lesson on democracy.

    First of all you have to do away with parties then you have to increase the pay of members of parliament to around 1/2 million pounds a year tax free and no pecks or pensions so the best people come forward for the job then they can be vetted for the job by the police and the local councils before putting their name forward and then the people vote for the person they want to be their pm. You need zac goldsmith bill for recall.
    Then the PMs vote for a cabinet and the cabinet vote for a leader,more local accountability to your constituencies and more referendums and that”s democracy. Mr gove is a good man look what happen to him. The party picked him and now they dump him. The people should do the picking and dumping not a party, we do not even no who does the picking of MPs because they are not elective by the people and they pick the leader as well.
    It all out of are control.

  27. They Work for Us?
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Simple for a start – introduce a new law as a simple reform

    “You are required to send your children to school (or be fined or jailed etc).

    No school is obliged to take your child and full cooperation with the school is expected or your child will be expelled. It will then be YOUR responsibility to find and persuade another school to take on your child or be fined/ jailed etc until you do.

  28. forthurst
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    “[Gove] strove to increase the use of phonics to teach literacy.”

    This is all total nonsense; I recall as a child of six teaching groups of five year olds the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds with the aid of a wall chart with pictures of objects to illustrate each sound; once the children had learnt those basics, the teacher would then proceed to give each one individual coaching in reading, whereby the basic letters were used firstly to form simple words and then, with additional coaching in the use of combinations of letters, to form words with more complex vowel and consonantal sounds. Even the stupidest child could learn that way.

    The destruction of our education system has been achieved partly by the fact that the subject ‘Education’ is not a real academic disciple and simply attracts people who are in fact too stupid to do that which is and partly because Education is a magnet for Cultural Marxist wreckers some of whom may be employed from time to time as Government Ministers, starting with Anthony Crosland. The solution is to defund the whole Educational apparatus apart from those that are in customer facing roles and remove any central government role in prescribing the content of exams or methods by which pupils should be prepared for them. It is utterly absurd that Gove or anyone else has to wade through treacle to move the public sector to where the private sector has always operated without government meddling.

  29. JoeSoap
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Just a little off topic, but since when has delivery driver been a graduate occupation? I guess geography might help?

  30. Will
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I used to think a good education mattered. The self discipline, well roundedness and responsibility that it taught used to enable someone to go far. Sadly nowadays all that matters is how reckless you are – borrow as much as you like, take as many risks as you want, the government will always bail you out. Save on school fees and just buy the kids a property instead they’ll have their friends paying off the mortgage in rent until they’re nearly forty.

  31. Mark
    Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Where the state provides education it should be obvious that it should not be promoting the standards of foreign countries and standards that are antithetical to British life. We need vigilance to prevent any recurrence of the Trojan Schools scandal, or the earlier scandal over the Maybury primary school in Woking. Those who wish to educate their children in the manner of a different society should do so privately, in the same way as the parents of students at the French Lycée in Kensington, or the German School in Ham, or the American Community School in Cobham.

    British education needs to restore standards of exams to what they were 30-40 years ago. This would mean that around two years education time could be saved at each level of ability, with a great saving on the education budget. Further savings can be made by streaming education so that teacher time is used most productively pitching to children at the same level (including those with behavioural problems being segregated). Methods need to concentrate on those that are effective for the children, rather than those that appeal to the left wing teacher training establishment, and therefore should include such things as learning basics by rote. By streaming education properly, each child can be taught to give the best of their ability, rather than teaching to the C/D boundary, and ignoring both the brighter and the less academic children. The objective should be to maximise value added across all children. Turning the least able into people who can hold down a job is a very valuable achievement, saving a fortune in lifetime welfare and policing cost. Ensuring that our brightest children are given a good grounding for degree level education will mean that they can compete against the best from other nations, and will reduce our need to import skilled graduates from elsewhere.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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