Productivity in education

Teachers want a pay rise. Schools lobby for larger  budgets. Ministers have now had a second go at producing their Fairer Funding formula. This combines a higher total with a different distribution, as under the current one some schools receive small amounts and some receive up to twice as much as the lowest funded schools on a per pupil basis. I have supported both the move to spend more, and the demands to have a fairer distribution. I want schools in Wokingham to have enough teachers to do a good job and for the teachers to be paid properly as professionals.

We need also to ask how can the budgets be spent better. The Conservative government has granted many schools more independence of action. Each school has a Governing body bringing together local people with suitable skills to lead and to debate and guide the school management’s use of the budget. Head teachers go on courses in school leadership, and most schools employ some combination of managers, executive secretaries, accountants and bursars depending on their size and the complexity of their tasks.

I am often told that productivity does not apply to schools. The argument runs that the main cost is that of teachers salaries, and the main aim of a better education requires increasing the number of teachers in relation to the number of pupils. Smaller class size is the holy grail of improvement programmes.

I of course agree that a school needs to have enough teachers so there can be sufficient one to one supervision of pupils as required, so that the marking work rate is  realistic and so class activities can be managed successfully. That leaves many other options for improving how things are done in a school without needing more staff or additional budget.

It is not true that all classes should be small. If a class takes the form of a lecture or explanation by the teacher, it is a good idea for more pupils to see and hear an inspiring performance. If the teacher is teaching sport then they will need a group of  22 to have one of our popular competitive games on the playing fields. Class size should be related to the methods of teaching and the needs of the pupils. As someone  who goes into local schools when invited to talk to pupils about the UK constitution or some other general topic I usually speak to a large group of pupils which makes sense as I can only do it once, as do other external lecturers.

More interesting is the question of what use if any should a school make of digital and recorded materials which allow star teachers or others with a good message  to appear in many classrooms at the same time. What is the role of electronic learning programmes, which  now figure so prominently in professional development and training when people leave school?

The main areas for raising productivity lie outside teaching. Like any other organisation there are smarter and less smart ways of organising building maintenance, cleaning, administration, procurement, use of supplies and the rest. Like every modern organisation schools assisted by their Governors need to work away at improvements in all these areas.

 

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58 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    I read somewhere that the average teacher now does only 14 hours of actual teaching each week. I also remember having as many 44 children in my County Primary school up North, back in the sixties. Also having the same teacher for nearly all the lessons each week from 9.00 – 3.30pm. The lunches were not too bad then either.

    There is huge scope for efficiency in education with videoed lectures and lessons and the clever use of (now absurdly cheap) IT for testing and teaching efficiently. The problem is that the state sector have a virtual monopoly in education (and health) – so what do they care about efficiency, it is not their money after all and they do not have to respond to customers as the government has their taxes already? The “customers” just get what they are given and like it or lump it such are state monopolies and T May likes them.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      LL there is something funny going on here I am of a similar vintage to yourself. However in my primary school there was never such a thing as a “teaching assistant”. Why have these paid posts suddenly become necessary? Why has it suddenly become harder now to teach a child to read or learn basic maths than it was in the 60s? Also keep in mind that the other half of the primary school day is spent mucking around with felt tip pens, paint and pots of glue. And can we please consign uniforms to the dustbin? No one in Europe wears them in a state school and what to do we have in return for our slavish of mimicking private schools, 22.5% of kids leave functionally illiterate (i.e. they cannot obtain a pass at GCSE English) and crap PISA rankings.

      • Hope
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        No discipline, no authority and lots of children have a syndrome of one kind or another to justify bad parenting and unruly behaviour. Children who misbehaved in my class were told off or sent to the head if persistent. He gave them the slipper on occasion. There is no fear, just empty threats and teachers who are in fear of the police being called. A complete 180 degree shift of power. Boys now wearing girls clothes to school!

        Dame Rita you ask about TAs, when 40 percent of the class does not speak English the TAs is there to help them learn the language. In one school by me there is a dedicated team to teach the children to speak English! We are paying for it, another hidden cost of mass immigration.

    • Excalibur
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed, Lifelogic. There were well over forty pupils in my ‘A’ stream Secondary Modern class. The teachers were predominantly male, as befitted an all boys school. We all left that school at the age of fourteen or fifteen, literate, numerate and versed in a wide range of subjects and extra- curricular activities.

      We had imbued in us too, the idea that ‘the world did not owe you a living’, and that one made one’s own way to the best of one’s ability. The teachers were dedicated and capable, and devoid of a political agenda.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        Excalibur:

        Well said! I went to a Secondary Modern too. There were around 40 pupils in my class, and only one teacher. Behaviour was pretty good among the pupils too, because we knew if any whisper of bad behaviour at school got to our parents, we would be in trouble, as they always sided with the Teacher. I left school at fifteen and went into employment.
        On the whole I enjoyed my schooldays. The Teachers were firm but fair, and made sure that we learned to the best of our ability.

        Many people today deride the Secondary Modern system and say it turned out ‘failures’, but in no way did anyone I went to school with feel a failure. Indeed, we were encouraged to feel a sense of pride in our achievements, and a sense of pride in our country and heritage too!

      • David Price
        Posted September 19, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        My school also, where have those attitudes gone and why?

    • Hope
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Education is in a complete mess. No matter how much of our taxes have been thrown at it. There is no consistency in standard. It is a glorified baby sitting service where children attend rather than are educated.

      Bring back Grmmars and the culture of Grammars to each and every school. Introduce schools where the wayward and special needs can truly be given help and support to help them in adult life. Not the dopey syndromes introduced to provide excuses for poor parenting and poor behaviour. This is not writing off children but educating them according to their needs. Germany has a three tiered system. Our children and people are being left behind the rest of the world.

    • Tom William
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      You can not compare hours spent in a primary school with hours spent in a senior school. Moreover hours spent “in the school” take no account of hours spent marking, writing assessments, running sporting or extra-mural activities. My son teaches in an academic and sporting school, with a CCF, and in term time probably works well over 50 hours a week for much less money than a train driver. He gets considerable job satisfaction but has a family to support and would not become a teacher again.

      • 37/6
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Most teachers I know are retired in their early fifties on a gold plated state pension – they get lots and lots of annual holiday, all weekends and bank holidays off and do not have to start (or finish) work at 2,3, 4am or have shifts moved by up to three hours at short notice.

        To drive a train he would need to pass lots of assessments and be qualified in isolating equipment and applying rules and regs to a broken down commuter train, stranded with up to 1200 passengers on it and blocking a main line into a major city in rush hour. This happens quite a lot as everyone knows.

        • 37/6
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          PS, Can you please ask him why staff training days are never in the summer or mid term holidays and always on a Friday ???

      • a-tracy
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

        Your son teaches in a primary school and works over 50 hours per week?
        At my children’s primary school they seem much more productive and organised, there are teacher’s assistants, and the teacher gets half a day out of the classroom per week to mark work that they haven’t had time for in class.

      • Richard Elsy
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        I readily sympathise with this view. My daughter recently packed in teaching after five years of 60 hour weeks and the Teach First programme she had really wanted to be part of. Her view is that the Secondary School system is functionally broken and that the Department of Education, the NUT and the plethora of academic educationalists which run this are culpable of prejudicing the prospects of the children they profess to care for.

        • a-tracy
          Posted September 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

          This is appalling Richard, Mr Redwood, couldn’t you personally investigate why this poor use of sound resources i.e. Keen, motivated employees, is being utilised by this Headmaster in such a bad way? 60 hours per week is from 0830 to 1900 with just an half-hour break Monday to Friday.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      You can improve efficiency in the class room too. If you have classrooms where people want to learn and stream them you can have far larger classes with pre-recorded lectures, testing on computers and all sorts of savings can be made.

      But of course many state schools do not have order in the class room and they often have no way (or incentive) to try to enforce order or to insist on well behaved students.

  2. Bryan Harris
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Educational productivity should be measured by how well a school does its job – that, after all is its VALUABLE FINAL PRODUCT – that measure should be used to get them working harder and smarter…
    But, we are not going to see smart schools while they are under the hammer of backward looking unions or teachers that indoctrinate pupils with dogma.

  3. Liam Hillman
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    It is all very well saying that teachers should be treated as professionals, but they are heavily unionised and as bolshie as they come, often resorting to strike action.

    While they continue to behave like dockyard workers, they do not deserve to be treated as professionals.

    • Dame Rita Webb
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Its the quality of teachers that needs to be improved too. Too many of them have crap degrees from crap universities. It does not seem to be unusual either for a head of department to be in their mid to late twenties either.

  4. Prigger
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    “The Conservative government has granted many schools more independence of action”
    I have not decided if this is a good idea.
    I have been on the Governing Body as it were of one or two schools in my time. It makes certain local loudmouths feel important and gets them out of the way time-wise of the political intrigues by more lazy but foxy groups. A travesty of local democracy. As Bodies they were time-wasting and frivolous with spending.
    Just because something is “local” does not make it good. There is a LOCAL outbreak of enteritis in my town. I guess we can expect Mr Virus getting a knighthood or at least an MBE for his “services to the community” pretty soon….recommended by the Labour Party Local Authority.

  5. Wabbit
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Introducing productivity measures into education has resulted in those of “academia “coagulating conspiratorially and lowering the standards so productivity is seemingly improved,.Now everyone under 30 years of age and his pet rabbit has got a University Degree. Start sacking badly performing teachers and they’ll buck up!

  6. Duncan
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    There will be many Tory MP’s who will be incandescent with rage at May-Hammond’s absolute capitulation to the unionised, public sector vested interest.

    Education, NHS, Civil Service, it matters not one jot. All produce zero revenues. All are completely reliant on the taxpayer or the private sector as I prefer to call it. All are masters in the art of propaganda tactics and threats to up their salaries and privileges and whose rewards are a reflection not of their value but of their political power

    And let’s drop this nonsense of trying to apply ideas of productivity to an area of state activity that as always been a bedrock of union dominance

    It is incumbent on the average private sector worker to protect his position against a political class who is determined to impose upon him liabilities to ‘buy off’ union unrest in the public sector

    That self same private sector worker is being used as a cash machine to finance May’s obsession in trying to detoxify and reconstruct the Tory brand to appeal to the left.

    It costs twice as much to employ a public sector worker as it does a private sector worker in the same job. Why? Union dominance

    The Tories have, quite simply and indeed cowardly, capitulated to the left. You have sold your soul to the left and the UK will pay a heavy price for it

  7. frankD
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    On another note-
    I don’t know why the Americans just don’t just wipe out the North Koreans. They could warn the world first including China that they are going to assume that the next launch from NK is an nuclear attack on the US itself and that they will have no choice but to retaliate directly.

    There are merchant seafarers as well as fishermen also working in the Pacific Ocean- they should also be considered in all of this- it’s time to spell it out to them the NK and to China

    • stred
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      The capital of South Korea is only 60 miles from the fallout. It would be better to persuade the Chinese to take over N.Korea as a ‘protectorate’ run it commercially, make the residents richer and put Billy Bunter in one of their funny farms.

  8. margaret
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Teaching of different ages requires different approaches. There has been much change , not least the addition of teaching assistants .I wanted to change my career to teaching so took an English/ Literature degree. I was a mature student. I had previously taught/ lectured in further education in a health capacity. The problem was I couldn’t get a job either in lecturing or teaching. I was short listed many times and in long interviews lasting weekends go into the final stage. I had panels of teachers giving me excellent feedback and they were actually excited about the material I was giving them., but still no jobs around.

    A great proportion of my daughters friends graduated as teachers and the feedback from them is that they are fairly satisfied , but find the extra curricular work cumbersome. Those who went into poorer areas were met with abuse, knives in classrooms and violence in general. ( Why are poorer areas violent?)

    Teaching hours are similar to Nursing in many respects where experienced staff can only get P/T hours or agency work. The new graduates come out into the frightening world and have to manage their F/T public- funded posts without much senior help. My daughter in law has a maths degree and is ‘learning on the job’ in her local area.

    As we look back at our times in schools ., colleges and universities we can all either positively or negatively criticise methods and types of teaching/ learning ( the emphasis being on learning) but all in all smaller classes would help generally in concentration levels,

    • stred
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Margaret. Did you not realize that they don’t employ any conservatives in education. To stand any chance of employment in state education you have to be young and thick enough to be indoctrinated at teaching college.

  9. HenryS
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Productivity in education is a non runner this morning..your diary of course

  10. Epikouros
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    If the tremendous advantages of private sector means of provision was accepted and progressive and socialist dogma that government and the public sector should provide was rejected. Then much of the improvements you wish to see in education and many other areas like healthcare and rail transport would already be taking place or be in place. Using social justice, equality and diversity as the reason why we use the state is a poor excuse brought on by envy and a twisted sense of logic. The result of doing so is poor quality, high cost and organisations and institutions not fit for purpose.

  11. Dave Andrews
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Rather than put more onus on teachers, don’t we want better parents? Teachers will have a much more productive task if the children come from stable homes and a background of discipline.
    Also I don’t think it is a good thing if as soon as they have smartphones, the children spend all their time viewing and sharing porn.

  12. Mark
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    There are several ways in which productivity in schools can be improved. Firstly, streaming to ensure that children of similar ability are taught together allows the teacher to devote all teaching minutes to all of the class, instead of a few minutes to each band of ability, often requiring additional teaching assistants. Secondly, segregation of disruptive children into separate schools so that their disruptions do not disturb the progress of other students, and so that specialist teachers can concentrate on resolving the reasons for their disruptiveness. Thirdly, by ensuring that the most effective teaching methods are used to inculcate basic skills at primary level – not those that are fashionable among educational theorists: learning by rote and drill works (and is the foundation e.g. of skilled musicians). Fourthly, by requiring a more demanding pace in the curriculum (having removed the obstacles to this by the other measures). Then we could restore the productivity of education to something like it was before we saw the progressive dumbing down of exam standards. It should be possible to reduce the time spent in the educational mill by two years across the whole spectrum of ability with no less (and arguably greater) final standards of attainment. Necessary to this is an ethos of expectation and an element of competition (which is easier to organise when children are of similar abilities).

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    There is no justifiable reason for Tower Hamlets to get 6.5K per pupil plus extra amounts for English as an Additional language pupils and those deemed deprived, and for Wokingham to get below 4K per pupil with lesser amount for EAL and deprivation.

    London schools, which outperform the rest of the country have been benefiting from funding largesse for too long. Now they complain that they can’t sustain their programmes with lower amounts. Of course they can’t but now other schools can benefit instead. If London teachers are so good, they will find a way.

    Maybe they could start by reducing their pensions, that would put three percent funding back.

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Academy leaders seem to require large salaries. Most schools are full and choice is limited for parents so these people are not generating income, they are merely administrators in the field of learning. Why do we allow them to command such high salaries and pensions.

  15. jack Snell
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Listening to Damian Green this morning I hear that we are expecting to get some kind of bespoke cherry picked agreement with the EU after we depart and that a security agreement is going to swing it for us. But in the words of Barnier- that is not going to happen- the EU countries have their own security so if Theresa May is going to Florence to make a speech along these lines they I’m afraid the EU side will be disappointed and she will be only wasting her time. Boris’s outburst has only furthermore muddied the waters and made our task of getting any sort of agreement all the more difficult. So the cliff edge beckons

    • formula57
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Amber Rudd is to publish her proposals for a security treaty of some sort but I have see it reported that Ms. Rudd said it is crucial to keep the benefits of the European Arrest Warrant! I for one would rather have Mr. Corbyn in office if that is what it takes to prevent this damaging nonsense.

  16. bigneil
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I would like to know how much of the school’s budgets are spent on “Teaching assistants”. We never had any when I was at school. But I forget, back then we weren’t paying for anyone from anywhere to arrive in the country for tax-payer funded lives, while doing and contributing nothing. Keep taking more out of an ever smaller %age of the population to pay for it all and even I, ( who never went to university- sharp intake of breath from other readers ) can work it out that massive problems are a very short time away.
    When a male pupil is shown ( on the latest program of the series from Greater Manchester ) ignoring the teacher while he ( the pupil ) puts his make-up on using his phone to check it is ok – then Education is completely forgotten about, As for standards??? – it appears that teachers are more concerned that today’s precious little snowflakes have all their “rights” than learning.

  17. agricola
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    By all means use all tools available to produce the best possible result for individual and country. It’s a no brainer as they say.

  18. Anonymous
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Productivity aside, let’s be clear, the teachers aren’t after a pay rise but a restoration of what they’ve lost due to inflation and pay freezes.

    Everyone has been remarkably patient. Though if you’ve ever voted Labour you are somewhat responsible for your own fate. Conservative voters less responsible as they have been decieved.

    • Beecee
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Teachers are on a pay grade system. Those not at the top of the grade average 7% or so per year salary increase until they reach the top of the grade. Bottom to top of a particular grade takes 5 years.

      Only those who do not then get ‘promoted’ onto the next grade have been restricted to the 1% rise.

      Many have not been so badly treated as you suggest

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

        In the private sector I know someone taken on as a City trainee gifted with a salary of £45k and a training bonus of £5k on top. Aged 21 !

        • Anonymous
          Posted September 17, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          The bailed out banking sector. It’s a hard one to throw off.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Conservative voters had little choice – lefty Tories, very lefty & pro EU Libdims or mad lefty Labour or zero chance (with the FPTP system) UKIP. The Tories were the least bad option at least they had about 100 sensible MPs.

    • Instructor
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      “…the teachers…” Please do not fall for the leftie-liberal nonsense that politically motivated spokespeople at the heads of trades unions are in effect “THE teachers”. They are nothing of the kind.

      • Anonymous
        Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        And I know some brat who’s just got himself a training position in the City on £45k with a £5k bonus (for what???) straight out of Oxford.

        Go for the top or the bottom in the UK. For God’s sakes do not get yourself stuck in the middle.

        (I am no the traditionalist Tory side here.)

  19. Tom Rogers
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t children have a strong grounding in the basics first, like the 3 Rs and basic geographic and historical knowledge, etc.? They can learn how to use a computer when they’re older. I also wonder what studies have been done on the pedagogical and developmental impact of indoctrinating children of any age, but especially young children, with computer learning as habit. I suspect it’s developmentally very damaging.

    Should the state or local authorities be involved in education at all beyond a remedial age? Beyond subsidising some of it as necessary, why isn’t all education private by now? It used to be common, I believe, for working class parents to pay school fees (which were relatively low). Give low income parents vouchers. Let people who can afford it send their children to the better private schools.

    And why do we still have a National Curriculum? Why is it the business of the state what happens in the classroom? Just stay out of it.

    And why was the dumbing-down of school examinations allowed to happen? Please, don’t deny it.
    This has undoubtedly happened. Our examinations are now a joke.

    These are the questions that Mr Redwood needs to answer, not waffle and bureaucratese about the goings-on with Jenny, Bill and Fred at some dreary local authority or parent governors’ evening.

    Bottom line- Children need to learn about failure. Making the academic side softer and easier does them no favours.

    The O-level (which still exists and is widely-used in Asia) should be restored as the scholastic qualification of choice at 16. There should be one single examining board for each subject, to ensure high standards. More should fail. Very few should go to university.

    Sorry, but I think we need to cut to the chase on this and other issues. No more waffle.

  20. Prigger
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    JR if our schools were functioning near properly, the Labour Party in its present form would not be a mainstream Party.
    It is not a question of Left and Right nor even exclusively Otto von Bismarck’s “politics is the art of the possible”. Plainly despite smirky lies from Labour MPs who do actually know differently, their socialistic rhetoric has a youthfully attractive veneer but is drossy, objectively.
    If a Professor or any teacher were to instruct pupils and students that aristocratic Lord and Lady landowners replacing our democracy was a legitimate alternative or one of the many options for a just society…well they would be out on their ear. Socialism too is more silly than that. No ideology has led to so many deaths.
    So when you get a school or teacher who thinks “balance” is somewhere in the centre, like Blair, who thinks both sides of his mental bizarre equation provide a legitimate virtual axle for the wheel of history to turn, then by all means support their right to free speech but ban their instructing it to minors. Now anything short of that is not productive.

  21. Leslie Singleton
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Dear John–O/T–Cable wants a second vote, this time “on the Facts”; but, given the facts as recently enunciated by Juncker, described as fantasy by Remainers at the time, I wonder how keen he would be on another vote had the country voted the other way.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Postscript–Now one reads that Cable, fancifully, fancies his chances of becoming PM–More chance of Mrs May’s being got rid of at the Conference and Boris’s being made leader and therefore PM by acclamation (To Hades with a Leadership Election, now and forever). Mrs May’s egregiously awful judgement, not about holding the General Election per se, which was a sound idea, but of the ability of the fools she allowed to write the Manifesto in secret and to present it so badly, combined with her conceit as to how popular she was, should have been enough to have broomed her ten times over by now. Why have we not heard from Tory MP EUphiles about Juncker’s speech? Is it that they will slavishly support absolutely anything the likes of him want?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Cable, like most Libdims is reliably wrong on virtually every issue, (the sole exception perhaps being on civil liberties).

    • Mark
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Has Mr Cable explained the (non-existent) terms which the EU is offering for the UK to stay, to which all member states are unanimously agreed? I think a deal to stay will be far worse than no deal being agreed prior to exit (with every prospect that deals will be agreed afterwards).

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted September 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        There’s a petition running which says that we should be offer two or three choices in a second referendum:

        (1) To revoke Article 50, thereby keeping Britain in the EU
        (2) To reject the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
        (3) To accept the UK-EU deal and leave the EU

        The problem is that the UK government cannot unilaterally offer (1), if we chose that then it would be up to the other EU member state governments whether they would allow our Article 50 notice to be rescinded and if so on what terms.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      They’re rather vague about what would follow on from a vote to reject whatever new treaty/treaties with the EU that were being proposed, and actually that’s true whether it was a referendum vote or just a vote in Parliament.

      It’s unprecedented insofar as:

      If Parliament had rejected the 1972 accession treaty we could have stayed outside the EEC with whatever arrangements we already had, and perhaps tried to initiate some fresh negotiations from outside.

      Or if Parliament had rejected one of the later EEC/EC/EU amending treaties then we could have stayed in the EEC/EC/EU on the existing terms, and perhaps tried to resume negotiations for new terms and arrangements.

      But what would happen if Parliament rejected whatever new deal with the EU the government had negotiated and signed under Article 50?

      Under that article we would leave anyway on March 29th 2019, in contrast to the previous cases the status quo could not continue; that is, not unless all of the EU member state governments agreed to extend the negotiating period, which they might or might not all agree to do.

      And even if they did agree to more negotiations what would be the prospects for the EU making concessions to secure the approval of the UK Parliament? Pretty slight, I would suggest; for the EU it would be a matter of “take it or leave it”.

      The argument being deployed is that the people should be allowed to vote again once all the facts are known, but the facts about what would ensue from a vote to reject the new deal could not be known at the time of the vote.

      Or are we to suppose that EU leaders would make legally binding promises that if we voted down the proposed deal – either in Parliament or in a referendum – then they would react by offering improved terms?

  22. Ian Wragg
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    As with all state monopolise the teaching profession is only interested in the teachers not the pupils.
    My son in law is head of the maths department in a large inner city academy. I am amazed how many inset days and free periods he has and the fact there is a classroom assistant every lesson.
    He tells me that the TA takes over the class while he marks and prepares lessons.
    He also is an arch Brexiteer but never airs his views in the staffroom.
    He is appalled at the left wing propaganda spouted to the kids. I told him to tell the kids an alternative theory and he said it would probably cost him his job.

  23. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, I see that Christopher Booker is still persisting with the misconception that a country can be outside of the EU but not be classed as “third country” by the EU.

    https://behindthepaywallblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/17/how-jean-claude-junckers-grand-plan-for-the-eu-was-first-laid-out-84-years-ago/

    “Ever more people are recognising the consequences of our choice to become what the EU calls a “third country”, facing much of our £230 billion a year export trade to the EU with crippling border controls.”

    Unfortunately for his argument the “choice to become what the EU calls a “third country”” is in reality identical to the choice to cease to be a member state of the EU which we made in the referendum last year, a choice which he and his colleague then claimed to support, and that supposedly terrible fate cannot be averted by any cunning means such as leaving the EU but remaining in the EEA.

    But even if that “third country”disaster could be averted by remaining in the EEA, like Norway – which in fact it couldn’t be, because Norway is itself classed as a “third country” by the EU – what would happen later when we wanted to move on from that initial stage, allegedly planned to be just a temporary staging post on our way out of the EU?

    Why, then we would be faced by those “crippling border controls” ….

    • BartD
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 5:20 am | Permalink

      Denis- We should hold our fire until we see how things go in the next few months.
      Very likely Mrs May is going to make a speech in Florence that will disappoint on a number of fronts as we are still messing about and havn’t quite made up our minds yet as to what we want, and if we don’t know what we want we can hardly expect the EU side to know. One thing for sure is that if we cannot find an agreement before this time next year then the cliff edge beckons, and what that means is that all trade with the EU will stop on the night of 29th March 2019, and will remain stopped probably for a few months or at least until a new system can be agreed- and that will in turn be your – crippling border controls – we’ll be handing control back again to the corrupt incompetent customs officials that were there in the 1960’s – so much about taking back control

  24. Eh?
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Since when does a Civil Servant get into a political public outside-pub-fight with a Cabinet Minister and not have to resign his post immediately? Whoever is right or wrong.

  25. Caterpillar
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Warning the following are not PC:

    1) The first outcome of primary school should be TRAINED behaviour both for pupils and some parents, without this, the (at best) low level disruption will carry forward with huge negative externalities.
    2) Post-primary if any level of disruption is shown by a pupil they should be excluded from all classes and ‘stored’ elsewhere, beginning again the following year. The privilege of education should be appreciated by pupils and parents alike, if not then pupils should be held back.
    3) Large classes can work in some subjects provided there is no disruptive behaviour, and the pupils are able (and have been exposed to academic behaviours). Even well intended pupils that struggle domthough require smaller classes to access the support.
    4) The demonisation of “chalk-and-talk” has caused problems (i) discovery is inefficient in comparison to well-structured exposition, (ii) student-centred does not help the lost pupil that will benefit from a clear instruction, (iii) eyes-forward to teacher allows lips and body language to be seen, key communication which is lost with round table seating arrangements, (iv) learning how to think does not require creativity – there seems to be a misunderstanding in many that one is only thinking when creative.
    5) Skills have been overvalued c.f. knowing stuff! (i) Knowing gives intrinsic reward and motivation – it can be interesting, (ii) access to vocabulary and basic mathematics reduces cognitive load when learning new material (being able to look it up or rewatch disrupts the learning), (iii) entering a discussion or writing “your opinion” without awareness of the context is futile.
    6) Mobiles and other connected devices need to be collected-in and a time scheduled for checking once or twice a day provided. Even for adults the evidence is that the out of sight mobile (e.g. In bag) is still distracting, it needs to be in another room with a pre-agreed time to check.
    7) Schools should limit the number of subjects on offer, the greater the subjects the more time tabling constraints.
    8) In the first instance, headmasters, police, education authorities must assume pupils are wrong and teachers are correct. Without this, teachers have no choice but to expect the worst and hence have to rely on union support, allowing the unions to politicise as much as they wish.

    Etc., there is clearly more to say

  26. 37/6
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Amber Rudd looking very stern about terrorism.

    Yeah. Blah blah. Yada yada. Whadevva.

    Most of us see it like this:

    Too late to bolt the stable door. We don’t rely on the unreliable police or security services. We rely on the sheer incompetence of ISIS and the fact that statistics still mean we are more likely to be killed by our own cars than by jihadists.

    Most people have a sensible perspective. We don’t need to be told by politicians to ‘carry on as normal’ – how very patronising. What the hell else do they think we’re going to do ???

    • Couldn't car less
      Posted September 19, 2017 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      I don’t have my own car

  27. Cupid
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    The public focus amidst Parsons Green bombing by the Home Secretary is Boris. We’ve all seen this kind of thing before. We should just step back and not interfere.

  28. Mike Wilson
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Others have said it, primary school classes of more than 40 children when I was a child in the late 1950s and 1960s. Grammar school forms of 40 too – which only reduced in what is now called Year 9 – when we dropped some subjects.

    The thing I would most like to see is poor teachers sacked. We all had some great teachers. And we had some teachers who could drive you insane with boredom. I had a history teacher once who, for a double period, would walk up and down the aisles between the desks talking in a nasal drone incessantly. I had a fag in his class once. He should never have been a teacher. He was useless at it. Yet he spent his whole career ‘teaching’.

    3 attempts to select all pictures with street signs. Does it, or does it not, include the posts? Does it include signs on the opposite carriageway you can only see the back of? We should be told.

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    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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