Educational divides

One of the tragedies of the lock down is the growing educational divides it is creating.

The minority of pupils whose parents pay fees for their schooling may well  be at a school that is teaching a full timetable of lessons today. Parents who pay directly for their children’s education expect it be delivered. Many public schoolteachers are delivering their normal lessons on line. They give their lesson or lecture on video, supervise the class who log in and are required to participate, take in electronic work for marking and set homework electronically. Some state schools too are providing an excellent on line education.

The teachers doing this find it exacting as everything they say is recorded and can be reviewed by a parent or colleague, but they accept it is what they and the school are paid to do. Some are flourishing, learning to use the special features of internet programmes to encourage more participation and to share more material more easily.  Universities too are often teaching a full timetable of on line lectures, seminars and classes. I will be giving an on line lecture soon in Oxford in a digital lecture series on central banking. It was possible to say Yes  because I do  not have to find four hours for travel there and back.

Some state schools are not offering this on line full timetable teaching option, so the divide between schools is in danger of widening. I have asked the government to look at bridging  the computer divide where low income families in receipt of benefits do not have a hpme computer that can receive internet lessons. It would be good to offer a laptop or other suitable device  programmed  to receive intranet lessons and free educational information over the web to those who need one. Many families do have a number of digital  and internet devices at home which could allow children in the family to pick up the lessons by borrowing that. The wider family might also help in equipping the pupils for digital lessons where necessary.

There is also  a further divide within the state pupil community. The gap is not one between rich and poor. It is  between homes with a parent or parents who believe in education and who encourage their children to listen, read , watch and download material which adds to their knowledge, and those who do not. Some high income  families do not take time to encourage learning or to share books, articles and internet sites with children.They do not  see it as their job to supervise learning.  Some low income  parents take much time and trouble to pass on knowledge. The gap is between the educationally rich and the educationally poor households. The privileged may of course include the children of teachers and of professional workers who have had to learn to earn and want their children to do the same.

It is time to review the role of technology in education. If we use on line lectures and classes more, we could give more students access to the best minds and the most accomplished work. It gives an opportunity to share materials between schools, from one expert to another and out to the wider student body. One of the benefits I found from an Oxford undergraduate education was an open lecture list. You could go to lectures in subjects you were  not officially studying as part of your general education as they were often pitched at the right for such an interest. You could hear the best known or highest regarded academics in person .

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  1. Ian Wragg
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Not possible whilst the whole of the public sector is dominated by left wing unions.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      To true… the ideology of the left is control

      • Hope
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        JR, stop blaming inanimate objects like the lock down.

        It was a govt decision made by people, ultimately Johnson signed off on that decision! It was a choice, a choice he made.

        He has collapsed the economy, not an inanimate Chinese virus, Boris Johnson chose to do this.

        Stop shifting blame, it impacts on your credibility. Be open, honest and transparent. Cameron said it was the best disinfectant, then ignored his own advice!

        • Hope
          Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          What has the BBC done to help provide education lessons across the nation as a state broadcaster? Why is education on line. When at infant/junior school we used to watch lessons/education programmes on TV. Why has this not occurred at a specific time for year groups on a specific channel or channels?

      • Hope
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        JR, good articles in Con Woman by Will Jones on this issue and concerns on Brexit in another article by Timothy Bradshaw.

        Why is the UK still wanting to be under EU control for defence under PESCO, Minister Prentice saying at end of transition all EU standards on farming will be made into law here, UK independent satellite project not preferred to staying in EU project and Whitehall still lobbying for an extension. The UK is,meant to be leaving the EU not remaining in chunks! Your views or blog themes welcomed.

        • Hope
          Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

          JR, you have not mentioned the chaos caused by your Tory Govt. devolution, who is in charge of the dogs breakfast?

          Who is in charge Govt. or mayors over public transport? The public rejected mayors overwhelmingly and were ignored by your govt. Tory govt forced through Mayors, same for police commissioners etc. Same question for devolved administrations. Except England the largest taxpayer country in the nation having no voice, devolved administrations? What a mess.

          Layers of expensive bureaucracy to add to expensive community charge bills for what? Confusion in times like this?

          Labour Sadiq Khan chose to freeze cost of public transport undoubtedly to enhance his chances of re-election this year. He was running TFL at a heavy loss before Chinese virus. Tory Govt. has just given, yes given him, £1.1 billion for his TFL! Tory govt helping Labour getting elected!

          In stark contrast Tory rural heartland areas covered by Tory councils stopped bus services, stopped clearing roads from snow, stopped gritting roads, stopped self help grit bins! Unbelievable! Get rid of Mayors, get rid of police commissioners all expthe naive unnecessary that we taxpayers cannot afford.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      And while local authorities are largely in control cut then out fully. Give parents vouchers to use (and top up as they wish to) at largely privately run schools. Nearly all schools should be independent and private and should compete for pupils. Children learning practical skills like gardening, building, joinery, electrics, car repairs, diy. Also having Saturday/Sunday/evening jobs and the likes is as important as schooling for many youngsters.

      The last thing the country needs is more law, PPE, media, gender studies, liberal arts and similar graduates. Indeed well over half the degrees we are subsidising with soft 50k loans (half of whom have less than 3 Ds at A level anyway) are largely worthless.

      Nicky Morgan (a lawyer) on radio 4 yesterday at lunch time got it completely wrong as usual. She seems to think is is all social equality and even more going to university and even staying on for even more further degrees largely in nonsense. What is needed is more people who can read and write, do basic sums and have skills to hold a real and productive job down.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      John writes of “tragedies of the lockdown”.

      Yes, there are many.

      However, had the Government not wasted priceless weeks at the start of this, and had the country been on a different footing from the shambles of the Anglo-American socio-economic model that – thanks to Tory ideology – it is, then the country could have moved to far less onerous measures by now, as more wisely-governed countries across the globe have done.

      There would then be no hand-wringing about “tragedies”.

      There will be further epidemics. The country cannot continue in this tin-pot, bean-counter ruled manner.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

        Yet the government followed advice from Public Health England and the lockdown happened in the UK at a similar time to other EU nations like Germany.
        Whilst Sweden and Belarus decided on alternative strategies.

        You use hindsight to make party political points.

        • bill brown
          Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          Edward 2

          thank you for your contribution Constable

      • a-tracy
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        On 27th Feb 2020 there were 7132 tests, 13 positive including 4 who came of the Diamond Princess? Do you know does that compares with Italy, France and Spain at the end of February Martin?

        We locked down schools and group businesses from Midnight on 20th March 5 days behind France and Germany because we were initially following the same herd immunity strategy of the Netherlands and Sweden. If I remember correctly there was a hospital in London that got overwhelmed and this decision was overturned.

    • Richard1
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Agreed. We need all schools to become academies and preferably free schools. Parents need to have the right to send their children wherever they want and the funding should follow. Only choice and competition guarantees high standards just as in every other sector. Schools need to move to non-unionised contracts with staff, or at least no strike agreements. The Leftists controlling the teaching unions are a baleful influence and a threat to the life chances of children.

      • Richard1
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Militant leftists I should say.there is no reason in principle why a leftist should be militant and a threat to children’s’ education.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        Academies are just ways of increasing profits to the private sector. If schools want to operate independently they can charge fees not receive government grants.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      This is a positive way of bypassing NUT and it’s like without having to waste time and money taking them on. Just like Trump bypassed the media and went directly to the people. One of the biggest potential benefits is to spread the best teachers and teaching methods to people who would otherwise not have access.
      One of the problems to address is that I find many of my tenants have the equipment – smartphones etc., but can’t us them, they can’t set up an email for instance, it’s frustrating because I am able to communicate quickly and easily with those who do have basic skills. In this lockdown it has proven invaluable, as I have been able to help them get the Govt. support to which they are entitled. I have had to do snail mail to the rest. It may not be equipment that is needed but technical help.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Ian they’ve now said it’s too dangerous to mark workpages or workbooks? Why if they are left for more than 3 days to mark?

      If this was dangerous then 1000s would have got this cv19 from the multiple deliveries of food, takeaways and newspapers they’ve had delivered?

      Why can’t they wear gloves and a face visor? All these teaching unions want to do is get out of work. Fine take your holiday now and close for a month.

    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    An article composed with the express intent of not offending the socialist teaching unions. Packed with lots of interesting ideas and the like but not one single reference to the obstructive and indeed destructive actions of political activists like the NUT and their brothers and sisters spread far and wide across the public sector.

    This isn’t technology and the use of. It is about politics and rising trades union power that your party simply doesn’t have the conviction or the will to confront.

    We all pay a price for Tory government complicity with the left and the party’s refusal to confront it

    Reply. If my views are so unattractive to you why do you bother to post here? Sometime being positive is the way to make progress. Expressing anger with everyone does not build a constituency for change.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply – True Sir John but without acknowledging there is a potential problem with the unions it can not be addressed. The public sector has continued to receive full pay and job security during (and as we come out of) lock down partly down to unions and partly down to complacency that they jobs were “key”. TfL has found paying staff to not drive trains and run stations while there was little or no income is a bad business model.

    • Hope
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      JR, you put out an open public blog inviting by implication, and directly requesting, comment irrespective whether your view is liked or agreed with. It is a choice you make. It provides an excellent forum for a range of views.

      You tell us you pay for it so you are the regulator of the rules which is accepted. You must however stop being petulant because of criticism. If you are not going to like the answer do not ask the question!

      This s is the problem with Hancock. He likes praise but gets shitty with criticism when it is, on most occasions, overwhelming deserved!

      The current criticisms of govt are of its own making: bad planning, bad preparation, bad advice, bad implementation, bad at adapting to change in circumstance. It all leads to bad leadership, judgement, ethics, integrity and unable and incapable of leading the country in this situation.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply – He does make a valid point.

      Furlough any teachers who refuse to work.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink


        I think there are many teachers who do want toreturn to schools but they are members of unions as they feel the need to be protected from their employers, Govt and legislation. Furloughing teachers who refuse to work could put them in a situation of fearing both sides. Many of the most capable who have entered teaching leave, and many capable don’t join because of the situation. The best thing Govt could do is to have legislation and culture that protects teachers, removing the culture of fear in which teachers try to function and then many fewer would not feel they needed the protection of the unions.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Is Dominic the only one who is angry?
      Everyone is scared, locked up and very afraid. Fear makes for anger as does constraint.

      NUT doesn’t exist any more.
      In 2017 NUT merged with The Association of Teachers and Lecturers to form a new union called The National Education Union.
      This is run by the hard, far Left.
      They demand a return to the “closed shop”.
      They want teachers who refuse to join a union sacked!
      They have apparently vowed “to stop” Boris. Not good.
      Straight back to the 70s.

    • APL
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      JR: “Expressing anger with everyone does not build a constituency for change.”

      Being always on the back foot and preparing to take another half step backward to accommodate your opponent, does not build a constituency for anything.

      It just makes opponents think you weak, because … you are weak.

      Tory party write large.

    • Otto
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply. ‘If my views are so unattractive to you why do you bother to post here?’

      Because it is good for others to disagree with you so as to give us another perspective.

      Do you want those posters here to always agree with you? We may see from the disagreement that we agree with you.

    • bill brown
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Sir JR

      the remarks for Dominic maybe justified but were they really necessary?

    • Edward2
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Well if you accept that people have different opinions and have the right to express opinions you disagree with, then bill, Dominic’s remarks are as valid and important as anyone elses.
      Including yours.

      • bill brown
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        Edward 2

        I was asking Sir JR no Dominic.

        You really have to stop playing Constable , whn you cannot even get it right

        • Edward2
          Posted May 19, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          You are descending into the site troll bill.
          Very sad.

          I realise you were talking about Sir John’s reply.
          I was trying to say that everyone has the right to their own opinions and to post them.
          Especially Sir John.
          A point you obviously were unable to grasp.

  3. bill brown
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    A mail with a lot of good suggestions and ideas

    thank you

    • John C.
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Hear hear.

  4. M Brandreth- Jones
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    Education is taking a turn. My grandchildren are benefiting from on line programmes and one is taking to it particularly well as she can work at her own rapid speed. Concentration can be a problem though. Youngsters follow their peers and when in a classroom where all other children learn to behave in a certain way in response to the teacher, it is easier to train them in the art of concentration. At home they can be distracted more easily and when parents work from home they have to work and ensuring the kids are doing their work too is difficult. I am reminded of a televised interview where a toddler came into the room mid session.

    Teaching methods have also changed and I am not convinced that all failure is due to bad teaching . People and children by the example of those who are vociferous tend to down on others often by being silly themselves and the attraction to join in and have a laugh outweighs concentration. Children want to fit in.

    I am using a programme at the moment to learn the Spanish language . I am enlightened by its ability to impart information in a steady , precise way . It is excellent and I can study at the speed I want to .

    Yesterday a teacher on twitter was upset as the throngs of insulters were belittling teachers calling them lazy and more . I am concerned that on line free texting undermines many. Why do people think that they can write nasty comments when they are not seen face to face ? Others simply appear to get pleasure from being rude!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      If people want to learn they can easily do so with all sorts of excellent resources on line, many totally free. The trick is to inspire children to want to learn and find out where their interests, talents and abilities are.

      • Ed M
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        Great comment (I wish I’d come across you when I was younger in my 20’s ..).

        A guy told me today you can make £400 as a roofer on residential property in London. If they work 6 days a week, they could take two months off and still be on a salary of over £100 a year …

  5. BeebTax
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    We used to have a virtually free Open University, that used T V and summer schools to deliver its degrees. The cost of studying was negligible, one did not need to take time off work to attend (except for those summer schools) and one did not have to move to a university town for months on end.

    It’s high time that type of almost free to use remote degree was reinstated, using modern technology and focusing on vocational subjects. Break the monopoly of the current higher educational establishment, where government and universities collude to encourage students to take on a vast amount of debt to enrich the educational establishment in return for getting what is often a mediocre education that does not lead to highly skilled employment and a better tax take for the government.

    I doubt much of this debt will ever be repaid too, so better to provide the education at an affordable cost in the first place.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      I doubt much of this debt will ever be repaid either. Even medical graduates often will not repay it especially female ones who tend to take more career breaks. The figures suggest less than 50% of it will be repaid even before this virus downturn. Over 50% of the degrees are clearly of little or no value anyway. plus 6% interest on £50k puts the bill up by £3k each year too. Even more for people with four, five or six year courses.

      • Ed M
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        Great comment

      • John C.
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Tertiary education needs a complete overhaul. It’s a farce.

    • jerry
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      @BeebTax; “We used to have a virtually free Open University, that used T V and summer schools to deliver its degrees.”

      Broadcast by the BBC, indeed the OU (originally) used BBC resources to make many of the programmes…

      Not only that but the BBC (and ITV/Ch4) were duty bound to broadcast a full curriculum of Educational programmes for Schools and Colleges each academic year, whilst intended for formal education such programming were useful to parents who wished/needed to Home School, even (young) adults who might have missed out or fell short in their school years.

      This is exactly what I meant when I’ve often suggested the BBC should be made to return to its core PSB ideals and remit, a model we should return to, and expanded to include the needs of apprentices if formal college day-release has become problematic due to the need for social distancing.

      The internet and computers are not a pre-requisite for (distance) learning, it just makes life easier, even if every ‘poor’ family had free high speed internet and computers (there would need to be one for each child), it will make no difference to the wiliness to learn or a parents skills or desire to enforce a educational regime.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Last time I looked, OU was £5k a year. Universities are a racket. One of my sons did a part time degree at a former technical college miraculously transformed into a university. Ostensibly lectures were one day a week and one evening. Over the course of the three years the course took to complete I believe he did not attend more than a dozen times. With almost literally no effort he now has BSc Hons on his CV and membership of a professional institute and earns a 6 figure salary. What little he did was almost all on-line. The system is a farce and a racket to give ‘academics’ a very easy life.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink


  6. Bloke in Wales
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I have asked the government to look at bridging the computer divide where low income families in receipt of benefits do not have a hpme computer that can receive internet lessons. It would be good to offer a laptop or other suitable device programmed to receive intranet lessons and free educational information over the web to those who need one.

    You’ve basically just described the Chromebook, a very cheap laptop-style device designed around the web browser. It would be ideal for issuing to schoolchildren.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Computers are absurdly cheap now. About £100 more than sufficient for something perfectly good enough for on line learning. Even less second hand or for refurbished old office ones.

    • Al
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      I would be very wary of issuing Chromebooks, as they are Google-based and you risk creating a monopoly, as well as providing issues with children’s data security, and the requirement for many of the devices to be online all the time. Android is also of limited use for disabled accessibility – I’ve just had to print out the forms for someone who only has a Chromebook to do their tax return on paper for that exact reason.

      A simpler solution would be to provide a voucher to get an appropriate laptop, be it Chrome, Windows, Linux, Android variant, or even Fire OS.

    • Adam
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Pupils expand their knowledge greatly even just watching TV. It is an often-present aspect of their environment.

      Every image, sound or circumstance new to them contributes to better understanding, with adults nearby to assist. Its faults as an educational tool are the channels of low value content distracting them. Early TV and cinema used to contain higher proportions of educational content and moral guidance.

      Fun and competition also spur capability, and even ‘shoot em up’ computer games improve reaction times. The overall lack of education on screen is the surfeit of poor quality throughout the immense range of options available, being overused.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Kindly calculate the cost.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      They still wouldn’t use them.

      If the parents don’t instil the discipline for learning at home it is highly unlikely that the child will do it for themselves.

      I expect most homes have a high powered gaming computer connected to the internet in them anyway.

      The private sector will not get paid if it fails to make a good effort to provide lessons at home, that’s the difference here.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      cheap generic android tablet could easily be done

    • ukretired123
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I have recommended the UK spiritual successor to the BBC Micro project the UK Raspberry Pi with free Linux software which is the most successful small form factor because of its volunteer support network of folks keen to foster STEM and other vocational learning. Why reinvent the wheel and why not back our own businesses for a change instead of the Public Sector throwing money at big business?

    • Caterpillar
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Issuing chromebooks or similar will not solve the digital divide experienced by low income families. These families do not have fixed line let alone fast broad band, pupils in supportive backgrounds rely on sharing a mobile with data bought when it can be afforded. Free wifi sources they could have previously sought are currently locked down.

  7. agricola
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Just as Covid 19 has changed the way many work so it could change the way people learn. Covid or not, the educational pool, irrespective of wealth or social status could benefit from a series of lectures from the most informed in the land. For instance the lead up, actual and aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo from English history dons, followed by French history dons could be very enlightening. I imagine that this is how the Open University does it but I do not know. All we need is an education TV channel divided into subject headings and educational computer web sites. You can safely bet that many of those households that cannot afford a computer do possess a TV. All government needs to do is make the money available.

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      The BBC has many informative channels . Some of them however are during the night hours , but I find learning from a screen that doesn’t judge, doesn’t belittle,and doesn’t have interruptions from peers more satisfying, It is just about content purely .

  8. Mike Wroe
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    In Sweden almost 75% of deaths are amongst people in care homes or elderly at home receiving care. If we shield the vulnerable elderly and the vulnerable take protecting themselves seriously we can ignore the R number and focus instead on hospital admissions which will continue to fall as we relax lockdown and go back to work and our children go back to school. As the R number rises herd immunity increases.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      It is basically the same in the UK, but the authorities dance around the subject

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      You are writing of age-discriminatory house arrest, and disruption to normal family and general life.

      That is against the human rights of the old – and of those younger but with other health issues.

      The correct solution is to stamp out the epidemic, as most civilised countries are now in the process of doing.

      France and Italy are both now down to a few tens of deaths per day, for instance.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        So, asking all of us to lockdown is OK, but asking only the ld and vulnerable to lockdown is unacceptable to you.
        Very odd logic.

  9. Mark B
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Children need to go to school and not learn on a computer at home. They need routine and social interaction, not isolation via remote learning. Trying to create a new norm and dress it up as help is unacceptable. Who is going to pay for the internet connection ? Why should I be expected to subsidise or pay for someone else to have internet ? The poor, the real poor, do not need such patronise. What they need is opportunity and access to good jobs. Yes education will give them that, but so too will aspiration and the desire for work. Handing things to them on a plate and telling them that they are victims creates the wrong attitude.

      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Hit the nail on the head. I ignore politicians today. Most spout nonsense and they know they spout nonsense. It’s an easy stance to adopt rather than confront what we, real people in the real world outside of politics, know to be true. That the unionised public sector is now a political force beyond elected government and are now so powerful they can dictate the actions of politicians who refuse to adhere to their once firmly held principles.

      I honestly believe this nation is lost to the left and their poison. That started in 1997 and it’s cut a swathe through our public life and our private life.

      Both parties are culpable and guilty of the most appalling politicisation designed to control and indoctrinate

    • jerry
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; “Children need to go to school and not learn on a computer at home. They need routine and social interaction, not isolation via remote learning. “

      What utter nonsense, do you realise just how many Home Schooled children there are in the UK, never mind in the world, many turn out to be better educated and better adjusted adults than the herd educated majority – the problem is with the attitude of the parents not the system, nor the method of education.

    • Adam
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Inspire any child with a quest that excites them as rewarding, and few obstacles in life might ever be able to hold them back.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      ” Handing things to them on a plate and telling them that they are victims creates the wrong attitude.” – – agreed – yet it is exactly the same as what the govt do to those they ferry from Calais – “Here is a house, money, Healthcare, schooling, Translators etc” – All for getting here illegally after fleeing the wars across many EU countries – then once here, doing nothing except laugh at us who have to pay for it all.

  10. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    One thing that puzzles me is – when did a public school (as in fee paying) become a private school. And when did a State School become a public school?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      A public school in England and Wales traditionally refers to one of seven private schools given independence from direct jurisdiction by the Public Schools Act 1868:

      Eton College,
      Harrow School,
      Rugby School,
      Shrewsbury School,
      Westminster School, and
      Winchester College.

      As many as possible should be independent in my opinion. I went to an average northern Grammar school before Thatcher and others largely destroyed them.

      • Ed M
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink


        Public (and don’t forget prep) schools are so expensive plus all the extras – school skiing holidays etc … Could be looking at, i don’t know £350K per year at least.

        How about buy flat for children instead. And encourage them to get a job as a roofer or something (£100K) or get them to do a really intense but good course after school directly related to a job: coding / digital marketing / accountancy / finance etc .. (and you’d still have money left over to help them pay for a gap year or whatever before really getting down to work ..).

        • Ed M
          Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          About 350k total for each child I meant for their entire private education.

          Not worth it unless you’re rolling in it.

      • rose
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

        She did not destroy them. The councils did. Some councils didn’t and their Grammar Schools exist today. She was powerless to stop them as education was a council matter and was paid for by the rates.

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        Margaret Thatcher had nothing to do with the demise of the Grammar School – she was the product of the system.

        It was the misplaced ideology of the left that caused there demise. Some weird idea that to have everyone equal you have to dumb down to the lowest common denominator.

        People in abilities are not equal, but the are all great at different ways. Education should be to stretch the greatness in everyone, you don’t do that by dumbing down.

        As Sir John will know, Kent for the most part retained the Grammar School system as the Councils didn’t lurch to the left.

    • Adam
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      Ian @Barkham

      Public schools are those belonging to the Headmasters Conference. Most are funded privately. Public contributions fund State schools. The USA uses the adjectives private and public in meanings opposite to ours for schools.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        All the Dominions do too.

    • rose
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      State Schools used to be called Council Schools because they were run by the Council. As the share of taxpayers’ money over ratepayers’ money supporting local government increased, they came to be called State Schools. Another reason was that they became politicised by the Left, a subject of national argument and dispute. This started in the late sixties, progressed through the seventies, and was a fait accompli by the eighties.

      Public Schools were called public as opposed to private because they were open to the public to send their sons to, as opposed to keeping them at home with a private tutor. Open to the public in the same sense as a public house. One definition of a public school is membership of HMC. Now, the former Grammar and Cathedral schools who didn’t succumb to comprehensivisation have joined the Public Schools in resistance to state interference and they are all known as Independent Schools.

    • M Brandreth- Jones
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      The terminology has never corresponded in a literal way. State schools are for the public in general and are paid for the state as are public career positions, Private schools are paid from other sources , so why the wrong signification originally?

      • M Brandreth- Jones
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        typo .Paid for .. by the state..

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    In my direct experience a local academy school (one set up under the Blair reforms actually) has managed distance learning excellently with a full programme of lessons, some interactive, and checks that pupils are “attending” – I think they have given tablet computers to some children too. Another local state school seems to have done the bare minimum, just set work and left the children to get on with it. Maybe the extra flexibility and responsibility that comes with being an academy or free school has helped the former.

    Many teachers have worked throughout the lockdown as almost all schools have remained open for keyworker and at-risk children and I expect many will ignore their unions and return to work. Those that don’t should be furloughed on the same basis as private sector workers. . One issue is that teachers can’t deliver both lessons in person and lessons over the internet – if parents still keep their children away when schools reopen they will get no support at all.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      @Roy my experience with my children who attend an academy suggests that it is not the flexibility offered by academy status that provides the impetus.

      Individual schools seem to take their own approach regardless of status.

    • Bloke in Wales
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      I expect many will ignore their unions and return to work. Those that don’t should be furloughed on the same basis as private sector workers.

      No, those that refuse to work should be fired.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Some schools have a system where the pupils can only get their homework by logging onto the internet when they get home. This forces the family to have costly internet access, even when the situation might be a single parent, unable to work and money is very tight. With the country as it is, where lots of people are going to lose their jobs, incomes, businesses and houses, this situation is going to multiply. The only thing that will happen is the schools will be sending letters out to the parents with threats of fines in them.

  12. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    When my son went to his first state primary school in Wokingham we received a letter from the head outline the schools ethos. It was expected the parents would have taught their children writing and math’s. The purpose of the school was to teach and encourage interaction with others. At sports days it was expected that all activities would be carried out in standard school uniform – it explicitly stated that the staff would not be engaged in ensuring the appropriate sports attire was worn correctly so would be discouraged.

  13. formula57
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    And if by operating on-line “we could give more students access to the best minds and the most accomplished work” what will we do with the less than best minds?

  14. Pat
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    Knowledge is not the property of educators although some act as though it is and charge accordingly. We have a duty to pass on knowledge to children and others by the best means possible and many of the world’s finest educators are doing just that by making their lectures available to all on the Internet.

    We face unemployment on a scale unseen since the great depression.

    While education is available online, qualification is not and this is the gateway to employment. For example is a nationally recognised coding qualification available online?

  15. Stred
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    The best thing about teaching on zoom is that disruptive pupils can be turned off instead of having them continuing to argue and shout in the classroom.

  16. Bryan Harris
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    It’s not an educational divide – It’s a divide between the rational and the irrational

    How often do unions work against the best interests of those they were supposed to serve? – Far too frequently.

    The only real purpose that union barons have in life is to make use of their powers, to strike, or withhold services, to cause disruption – I can’t say they have ever done anything positive, so we shouldn’t expect them to be anything but disruptive whenever they feel like it

  17. Jess
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I know absoutely nobody that cannot afford some kind of computer that can access the internet. You can buy a new Raspberry Pi for £50 and plug it into the tv and use it as a desktop computer or buy a secondhand notebook for £25 and use that. However the real concern is that kids are missing government indoctrination for months. Too much of that and they might start thinking for themselves and that would be bad for the state.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Jess, it is the internet connection that costs too much money.

  18. Sea Warrior
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    What is OFSTED doing today? Perhaps they should have been kicked into gear – by the unimaginative Education Department – and told to audit what the state schools were offering to their pupils. Some schools just haven’t tried. The audit task is immense but OFSTED knows which schools are already failing their pupils and could start with those. And, Sir John, you’ll know which schools in your constituency might need a check.
    P.S. And this tax-payer is appalled that laptops are being dished-out to the ‘vulnerable’, many of whom will have expensive smart-phones in their houses. The BBC should be providing a full educational service for each and every year group, over its great many TV channels.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Every year group could be given one tv channel and the workbook printed out for them, they could scan them into their or their parents phones and sent in for marking (they all have them) there are 900 channels to go at and give them lessons all day in line with the curriculum for their year group.

  19. Sea Warrior
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Will all these laptops and tablets be re-called once the crisis is over – or lazily ‘gifted’ so that the recipients can then fall victim to the evil on the Internet?

  20. Chris Dark
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    The potential for online learning has been available for years, but it has to be balanced with actual child-to-child interactions. My son, who is now a working adult, always said that he found it far easier to absorb visual information, rather than reams of writing and reckons that education should make far more of this fact. The Net can easily be part of a standard education, but you cannot replace real-time human interaction with technology. Children should still attend a place of learning, they need each other for games, sport, fun, and understanding how other people tick. In addition, it should be remembered that scientific subjects such as laboratory work can’t be done online….you need real hands-on.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 1:12 am | Permalink

      Chris Dark


      Agree on all points…..”A picture is worth a thousand words”

  21. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    There are very few homes now that do not have a smart phone in the house. Online lessons can be given through a smart phone if there is no computer.

    The real digital divide is coming from the schools who do provide lessons and those who don’t.

    My daughters’ school set project work which is not marked and has a once a week assembly. They have abdicated all responsibility and yet continue to be paid in full with no risk of losing their jobs.

    Gavin Williamson and his team should carry out an audit of which teachers are working full tie and which aren’t. Those that are not should be furloughed on 80% pay like the private sector.

    Even at my daughters’ school some of the teachers are providing baby sitting for vulnerable and key workers’ children. These people are working, many aren’t.

    This lockdown has created a divide as you write Sir John, one between public sector and private sector with full pay and job security.

  22. Newmania
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Oh rich rich ….hilarity shall pour forth. John Redwood has sudden discovered that he is concerned about Ed Millibands pre equality agenda and social deprivation…Magnificent.
    If anyone really cared about education the secondary schools would be back and the idea that 2 months of main stream Primary education will set right multi-generational social problems is again ..magnificent ….
    Might I remind everyone that it was the Conservative Party that cancelled Sure Start and the Conservative Parry who squeezed educational budgets losing facilities, programmes and staff to deal with vulnerable children. The Conservative Party who dumped the whole problems into main stream education in the first place .. (.They don`t care their kids go to private school natch )
    Finally while he has been sitting in his cubby hole my wife has been to work looking after key worker children and socially vulnerable children and was delighted to do so .
    She is less sure about herding an entire Primary school into limited space safely and the assurances of Michale Gove, vicious attacks on thoroughly decent people, and transparent cant, do not help anyone’s temper .

    You are losing confidence and you need to stop assuming people are stupid . We are not .

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Did you go to a secondary school? I did! I hope they NEVER come back.

      • Newmania
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I think you may mean a secondary modern( if you mean anything )

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      The IFS wrote “The early years has been one of the fastest-growing areas of education spending in England. Our recent report on education spending found that spending on early years education and childcare has grown from almost nothing in the early 1990s to stand at £5.4 billion in England last year”. Dec 2019

      Did your wife’s school not get the Pupil premium?

      Finally the government NEVER suggested “herding an entire Primary school into limited space safely” that is a lie!

      • Newmania
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        Yes the Blair government put education at the top of the ;pile but under the coalition and since spending has either fallen or been stagnant .The consequence of this has be#en that programmes and auxiliary staff have been lost
        Ask anyone in the system and they will tell you , I agree with you on Pupil Premium which was , of course forced on the Conservation Party by its Liberal coalition Partners
        All primary school pupils will spend up to a month back in the classroom before the summer holidays under plans already announced by the government without any consultation or agreement form those required to take these risks . So that is about 3 weeks after the the schools open

        Sorry about your poor education.

        • a-tracy
          Posted May 20, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          IFS report “Figure 1 summarises how spending on these different programmes has changed over time. Since 1997, successive governments have significantly increased spending on free childcare hours; total spending in this area is now about £3.7 billion. Even more notably, spending has risen by more than 130% over the last decade, a time when many other areas of education and public spending more broadly were being squeezed.
          Spending on free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds has more than doubled since 2009–10, equivalent to a rise of almost £1,900 in annual spending per child after inflation.” Dec 2019

          I’d like John’s government to tell us more about the other areas of spending in the State education sector since 2010, what specific education spending has fallen and why has it fallen? Were auxillary staff cut how much was spent on auxillary staff wages and benefits in school in 1997 and how much in 2020? Which programs were cut and why? Perhaps they were cut because they were ineffective.

          Were there consultations with police officers, fire officers, nhs workers, were there absolutely no conversations “without any consultations” between the Health Department and Educationalists in the last month?

  23. Newmania
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I daresay that, once again, that comment will fall foul of the truth filter , sums it up

  24. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    We have those in healthcare and other essential work continuing all through the emergency, some of whom have lost their lives through infection control not being 100%.
    Then we have the teaching unions saying teachers should not return to work until safety is guaranteed. They paint the teaching profession with a cowardice the teachers don’t deserve.

  25. Alan Jutson
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    On line learning is good for those with the right facilities, and a certain type of attitude, it is not for everyone, just as working from home is not for everyone.

    I have said for years that the correct and fairest way to learn is in a classroom with no homework being set, where the whole curriculum should be set around school learning from 9.00am -5.00pm and where a teacher is present at all times, as are all of the reference facilities.

    If pupils want to supplement additional non curriculum learning at home, which suits their interests, then great.

    Those who live in large families in cramped accommodation with no free space, cannot ever have the correct environment in which to learn, when they are often competing with the television, other siblings (of many ages) and possibly the dog as well, let alone having the right equipment, and a desk or table.

    If schools want to offer breakfast or supper clubs as well, then again that makes it easier for both parents to attend full time work. The before and after clubs do not need to be staffed by teachers, just responsible people.

  26. Everhopeful
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I really would not worry. Children are very resilient and there will always be inequality whatever the Left tries to preach. Trying to redress the balance only creates more inequality.

    The object of formal education was always to prepare children for usefulness to the state ( and by the by reducing parental powers) be it to join the army,church,civil service (for India) and later on to run banks, insurance etc etc. (Waterloo won on playing fields of Elton).

    Not certain what the educational objectives of the future will be when all is done by AI. Will there even be jobs to prepare for?

    If schools are not opened properly soon, control over education will be lost. It can’t be all that important can it…if schools can just be shut…parents and children will think.

    Not that I believe that matters. Only 300 years ago the vast majority of children stayed at home and helped in whatever was the family business. Crow scaring, stone picking, carding etc etc.

    Child Labour was/is still a very precious resource for poor families. And there is going to be a lot of poverty.
    When the state took people’s children away many parents believed it was for the best, looking to the future.

    What if they had foreseen all this? Whatever would they have thought?

  27. Alan Jutson
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I certainly agree some schools are working better than others from what I hear.

    Not really a surprise as the schools performance is all about the quality of the headmaster or mistress.

    Put a good head in a struggling School and it improves, put a poor head in a successful School and it starts to fail.

    Lessons should be learn’t to coin a phrase, its History dear boy its History !

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      A friend of mine had a letter from their Year 6 child’s headteacher, along the lines of we can’t socially distance at our school, the risk is increased it will be your choice if your child returns.

  28. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Completely off topic but there are tales of people with savings who are not entitled to Universal credit when their income drops.

    So government tanks the economy, by shutting down to save the NHS which our taxes pay for, but those who have prudently saved money (possibly for a deposit on an overpriced house due to government money creation and lax immigration controls) have to use their savings first, whereas the feckless and those who have not saved are bailed out immediately.

    There is definitely a divide in the treatment of people from the deliberately tanked economy.

  29. ukretired123
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    “Educational Divides”
    There is no greater example of this than the basic difference in the program code, written by Professor Neil Ferguson and his team at Imperial College London and the Private Sector as an article in the DT states.

    As a retired systems developer this illustrates why SMEs are used to bailing out big organisations of which I like many others had to do in my career. SMEs with proven achievements and qualifications should be one of the goals of education esp STEM subjects as they are crucial now in advanced technological based societies.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:13 pm | Permalink


  30. Christine
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve been very disappointed with the response from the Department for Education during this lockdown. Expecting parents to home school was never going to be successful in the majority of cases. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to ask the UK’s best teachers to video their lessons and broadcast them to the country. The whole of the curriculum could have been covered and would have been available for any time in the future. This might even be a better learning medium than employing poor teachers.

    I suggested this option at the start of the lockdown. I also suggested putting out an appeal for old laptops to be donated to those children from poorer backgrounds. Many companies refresh their IT equipment every few years. Mine certainly did.

    I despair sometimes at the lack of problem solving demonstrated by our top civil servants. I’m not blaming the teachers as this needed to be organised from the top rather than a piecemeal approach by each school.

  31. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I have, as a retired teacher, thought this for ages. My (outstanding in my opinion) lessons are, let’s be honest, dwarfed by a lot of stuff on the internet. I was looking at lessons on ancient Rome on Pinterest this very morning… I myself got 500,000 hits on TES lesson plan website, so I know what I am talking about.

    I know a teenage boy who was sent to a boarding school in southern England. He spent his spare time, slipping away and sharing rum with a school friend in a shed until the father arrived, confiscated the bottle and put a stop to it. So the boy turned to pot.
    One day, after a drag or two, he was walking into the boarding house and his housemaster happened to be in the doorway. Just happened.
    “Have you been smoking?” he asked?
    One week’s suspension.
    After that the boy became a model pupil.
    Try being that housemaster online!

  32. Iain Gill
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    and some have parents in the public sector, able to spend time at home with them unworried about where the money for the next meal will come from. some of them are perm staff for the big consultancies furloughed on near full pay able to relax and help the kids learn.

    others parents are freelancers, let down by the government, unable to pay the bills, and struggling to figure out how to hustle enough to get through the next month. putting food on the table has to take priority over helping the kids read.

  33. Lifelogic
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    You say:- It is time to review the role of technology in education. If we use on line lectures and classes more, we could give more students access to the best minds and the most accomplished work.

    Indeed there is massive scope for more efficiency in education one lecture video can be watched by millions rather than say 50. Interactive programmes can help people endlessly by keeping the right level for each student. Language training can all be done on line. (except for people like me who are totally hopeless at foreign languages – I think I could only have learned one if brought up in say Switzerland where you endlessly hear them when my brain was still young). Indeed perhaps we should do all the spoken language training at primary school?

    Given this why are University courses so absurdly expensive? Why have universities failed to become far, far more efficient using this technology? Why indeed are at least half of UK degrees almost worthless despite costing £50K of debt + interest at 6%PA and three years loss of earnings?

    • Ed M
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      ‘Why indeed are at least half of UK degrees almost worthless despite costing £50K of debt + interest at 6%PA and three years loss of earnings?’

      – So true and sad.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 1:04 am | Permalink


      I know of one University (Winchester) that is now addressing the old style technology teaching gap….Degree apprenticeships; Practical, relevant and certainly more useful for employers.

      Perhaps we should encourage Government to revert back to the old Technical Colleges/Polytechnics/Design Universities that would be more useful for students seeking to gain employment, in particular if one year industrial experience (in whichever chosen field) is thrown into the mix?….ah, the good old days!

  34. oldwulf
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It seems that a company in the USA is seeking to change the way education is delivered.

    “We live in an age of disruption. We hold powerful computers in the palms of our hands, communication is instantaneous, and artificial intelligence is changing everything from the workplace to the way we order pizza. But education remains the same as it was in the Nineteenth Century and is due for its own disruption. Workspace Education is at the leading edge of that disruptive movement.”

    I doubt that it will catch on in the UK.

  35. MeSET
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I agree.
    One or two headaches will feature in days to come. Society will change.Yet perhaps not to this government’s liking one little tiny tiny bit

  36. Jolly hockey hick
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Tory MPs in particular,, whether their actions on lockdown are perceived by individual voters as good or bad, should be advised to seek another job outside politics right now with the prospect of utter defeat at the next General Election. They will not understand what they have done wrong.
    Explanation:”Voters vote with their hearts” ( Mrs May ) She is Loser too.

    • Fred H
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      We witnessed that effect in the last GE. Far more Labour MPs and prospectives lost due to the Party sticking with Corbyn against all realistic advice.

      Next time it could be the ‘new’ Tory MPs who suffer the reaction to what has gone on since the Party ran its leader election, and actions in Government.

  37. Lynn Atkinson
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I used to work for Control Data Corp. they developed a computer based learning system in the 70’s called Plato. It included an adult literacy course. Those who took the computer-based course, working at their own pace achieved an 80% pass rate. This was a reversal from an 80% failure rate on traditional teaching. They then installed Plato into schools in deprived areas, they found the schools were being broken into, and those breaking in were the students who previously were classed as delinquent and refused to attend school.
    It’s horses for courses, but computer based learning in a might asset to deploy and will help women who want to remain at home rather than put their children into ‘warehousing’ while they go to work for money, to chose the lifestyle that suits them and their families.

  38. Dennis Zoff
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Good morning John

    As an aside….

    Telegraph today: “Detailed Brexit trade negotiations planned for this week were cancelled on Monday, with Government sources indicating that the UK is preparing the ground to seek a mutually agreed extension to the talks in the coming weeks.”

    Is this your understanding?

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      The usual suspects stirring up trouble and briefing the media.

      “Multiple sources told City A.M. there was concern among civil servants in the negotiating team about Downing Street’s hardline refusal to contemplate granting an extension to the trade deal’s 31 December deadline.”

      All based on the fantasy that the real problem in the negotiations is there isn’t enough time and if they could only spin it out for a year or so everything would be agreed.

    • rose
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Was it Peter Foster?

    • Fred H
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      If it is not possible to reach a sensible level of agreement to date, than carry on even longer serves no purpose.
      Oh! but I think we are still paying the £1bn per month?

    • acorn
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      DZ, the odds have changed from 12/5, a 29% chance to 9/5, a 36% chance of Boris going for an extension to the transition. Continental number crunchers reckon it is nearer 1/5, 83% chance, in Brussels.

      • glen cullen
        Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink


    • mancunius
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Dennis, that is a two-month old article that was not even true when it was published (on 17 March) – for that round of talks was not ‘cancelled’ but postponed because of coronavirus, and later conducted by video link.
      Mr Frost has made it as abundantly clear as the UK government that we shall not budge on the vital points – one of them being the UK’s unwavering refusal of the EU’s pitiful and deliberately time-wasting demand for an extension they know very well we shall not be requesting.
      And the Telegraph continues to put this fake ‘news item’ on its website, in the hope that innocent readers such as yourself will not notice its misleading presence there.

  39. rose
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I am glad you set the record straight on rich and poor families and their attitudes to education. This also applies to divorce which can strike the rich and poor alike and seriously affect the children. I thought tablets had already been given out to children who didn’t have them?

  40. Lifelogic
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Some good news. I too suspect we have more immunity than estimated given the decline in London especially.

    From the Telegraph today:-

    Professor Karol Sikora, an oncologist and chief medical officer at Rutherford Health, said it is likely the British public has more immunity than previously thought and Covid-19 could end up “petering out by itself”. “There is a real chance that the virus will burn out naturally before any vaccine is developed,” he wrote on his social media profile yesterday. “We are seeing a roughly similar pattern everywhere – I suspect we have more immunity than estimated. We need to keep slowing the virus, but it could be petering out by itself.”

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Surely this is the explanation for the decline in new infections in London. The whole country is in lock down so what other explanation is there for this regional differential?

  41. davies
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I have floated the idea with teachers to hold a once weekly zoom catch up with their pupils on each subject to assess where they are with their pre set work and go over anything as they would do in the normal classroom.

    All I got was “we have been advised not to do this etc” with no further explanation.

  42. Caterpillar
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes there are 3 clear leavers to pull on for improved learning at the school level, though some goes across to adult learning and H.E:-
    (1) Culture
    (2) Access to resource
    (3) Choice and interest

    (1) The home culture effect (i.e. encouragement, support and valuing learning) has even been suggested by Flynn as a potential reason for the 15 IQ point gap between some USA groups, the effect remains large even when controlling for economic condition, though there is possibly some explanation via single working parent family. It is very difficult to act on in the home (though this doesn’t mean one should not try – in some countries combined lessons for parents and children have been an option) as it can look like victim blaming. The culture effect is usually better aided in the school environment as it gives the possibility of more supportive feedback (whilst seeing what the pupil is doing in real time), however this usually requires smaller class sizes (to allow teacher feedback and avoid critical mass of negative pupil feedback), with perhaps fewer lessons to allow time for ‘hub’ type interactions between these pupils and teachers – in effect the school and teachers have to replace what exists in some families on top of the usual lessons.

    (2) Resources are obviously key but there is a real danger of thinking that a wifi tablet is the answer to everything, just because a flat screen has natural affordances to showing a graph, or similar such reactions, does not mean it is a panacea. Often a well-designed workbook which includes relevant explanation and space for pupil work is an excellent scaffold for those who need it – it models organisation (in contrast to random screen gestures and tagging), offers an automatic filing system and gives guided access to those pupils from less resource rich backgrounds. It is robust. Sadly many schools do not direct budget to such resources as they do not appear as trendy/sexy as media rich options (which are usually unstructured and distracting). The workbook also offers a bridge to the greatest technology offering access to the best minds i.e. the book (by which I do not mean jazzed up text books looking to be as distracting as web resources).

    An aside here is the big failing with LEAs and schools in not explicitly giving intellectual property rights to teachers. Some teachers can work all weekend on an effective resource or lesson plan for it to be widely shared often without credit or positive impact for their career. Those that produce are often not those that get career reward.

    (3) Choice and interest are supported by self-directed learning and exploration. Disadvantaged pupils often do not have the chance to do this in the home environment, and even a supportive but poor home environment no longer has access to evening and weekend libraries and library services that have been closed by many councils. Again this opportunity could be provided in schools by removing some of the mandated learning from the timetable and providing the right supportive technology in the schools. Once pupils have a basic level of arithmetic and reading the potential for self-learning can be high, particularly in first language reading and second language learning – these are an area where PC/tablet/mobile with online dictionaries do come into their own e.g. importing a text or video with transcript into the right app for storage, annotating, vocab tracking etc., is very powerful when the area of interest is chosen by the pupil. Anime and manga? learn Japanese and Korean. Football? then learn German and Spanish. Middle East politics podcasts? then Farsi and Arabic. Mexican food? etc.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      (2) yes, workbooks could be scanned in on phones now for marking. I agree about intellectual property rights too, this to me is the biggest problem with socialist systems no reward for the best, brightest and hardest working so eventually a levelling down.

      (3) I agree, my mother was actually concerned I was studious and not going outside and playing more. I met my husband when I was 16 and he opened up an avenue of study for me that I’d never have received if we hadn’t had a chance meeting. I like your ideas. Prescribed reading material from schools has always been challenging my English teacher selected My Family and Other Animals and Moonfleet for the O level study group I can’t even remember his other selection. Thank goodness for libraries when I was young but whether they are a necessity now I’m beginning to question after defending them for years.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted May 20, 2020 at 12:00 am | Permalink


        I think in some high income areas libraries may not be a necessity, but for the disadvantaged they not only offer resource (online access as well as printed matters), they can also offer guidance and support the cultural value of learning.

        For completeness, and since I mentioned IPR I shouldn’t plagiarise,

        (1) is influenced by reading cognitive psychology and IQ papers
        (2) is from talking with teachers who have experience in teaching internationally
        (3) is partially influenced by the work of the linguist Steve Krashen who pushed free voluntary reading back in the 90s, and is famous for the input hypothesis in second language acquisition.

        • a-tracy
          Posted May 21, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink


          Re Libraries, I used to agree with you but now I’m not sure. I don’t think poorer children and teenagers are using the library services. If the libraries have online access then considering how large my local library in a high socially deprived area is I don’t understand why during this covid19 situation they couldn’t space out their computers 2m provide a mask for poorer children to get children online to get access to lessons and print out workbooks, they could be cleaned after use?
          Or the local children could take out books and when they return the books they could have been put in a store for 3 days before handled and put back on the shelves wearing gloves. Three months with no service to all those poor people at home with nothing but tv!

          My children all used the local library near their school, they joined the reading schemes in the holidays to earn stars for every book review they wrote, listened to visiting authors read out their books, expanded their knowledge, it was a great library in a wealthier area. Now they all download books, many are free.

  43. Bowheat
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I broadly agree, there is a gap and it is widening. I think looking at this digital divide is important, but more important still is to get our kids back to school. The government has asked schools to accept Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils back on June 1st. But I see today that my child’s primary school in Wokingham, is only planning on accepting year 6 back on a rota basis. This is clearly against the Government guidance and will harm those children’s education when they have the opportunity to go back to school.

    Mr. Redwood, will you write to and engage with schools in your constituency and urge them to follow the Government guidance?

    Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    An excellent balanced article JR

  45. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    There are more and greater possibilities in online learning than I would guess most of us can yet imagine.

    The UK is in dire straights for good quality math’s teachers, as it is for people with the skills coming into the workplace, yet it is a logical and mind expanding subject that lends itself to online teaching.

    The next big step for us all is AI which in simple terms which when rationalized is a super powered version if IFTTT ( If This Then That). For UK production to be competitive it has to be more automated – that means more math’s. So on and so on.

    On this I am reminded of an article on ‘Wired’ with regard to what some might assume was just a ‘young beach bum’ Marcus Hutchins. He had a math’s mind, he learnt it online, not at school and at 17 saved the NHS, Renault, MOD, Lloyds and many more around the World millions of dollars.

    Online learning can open up opportunities to many more, than our traditional schooling. That’s not saying traditional schooling is dead. Its just a modern world is fast changing and traditional methods cant keep up.

    Online is also fraught with danger, no more so than the UK’s inability to protect its citizens in the regard. BT for one has the ability to empower yet it peruses the option Huawei because it helps its bottom line at the cost of the safety and security of its customers. GCHQ keeps on top of monitoring the World, not by being concerned about encryption but by collecting and collating what is called Meta Data. Agents of foreign powers nowadays also peruse this route – not to keep the UK safe but have the upper hand when dealing with the UK.

    So online schooling good, great and keeps the UK ahead. But our current direction for infra-structure is there to feed our competitors leaving us as always playing catch up.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I agree Ian, my son taught himself A level Maths mechanics as an extra unit to his Maths and Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry in preparation for University. He told me he didn’t feel the A level syllabus was quite right for moving on to the high level Maths degree that he did. The Universities should offer free catch up courses over the summer, even if they are online, (in return for all the income they’ve received for little work through March/April) for all those A level students that have missed out and are starting their Maths/Physics or Chemistry classes with a STEP paper examination at the end to ensure they are all as prepared as the private schooled teens will be when and if they start at the end of September.

  46. glen cullen
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    The Home Office said 79 men and 11 women had crossed the Channel on Saturday 16 May on six small boats and three boats with 35 migrants on board were intercepted by Border Force officers on Sunday

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Makes a complete farce of the lockdown.

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      glen this just makes a mockery of our coastguard. Some guard! They must know this is happening and turn a blind eye because otherwise they would be stopped and returned as they could be carrying drugs, weapons, biological weapons, covid19!

      If the coastguard can’t do the job and the navy can’t protect our fishing rights and stop the large trawlers we are reading of pillages our waters what is the point of them?

  47. a-tracy
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Lots of poorer families have satellite and smart TVs, you can access YouTube on these smart tv’s to transmit lessons to be watched on a closed view by code basis, they even have ‘chat’ allowed between the groups of children watching it that could be monitored by the teacher. If there is only a normal tv in the home you can buy an adaptor to turn it into a smart tv for less than £20 using a fire stick, people with internet on their phones can also attach the phone to the tv to provide a big-screen view. You would have to be able to access these lessons at times to suit the child, family at home.

    There are lots of functions on smart TVs my children could tell you more than I. I have a spare laptop at home, it is cleared down I’d be happy to donate it if I knew where to drop it off.

  48. Fred H
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    BBC Reality Check looks at Chinese activities re-Virus.

    President Xi Jinping said China had acted “with openness and transparency” and insisted that any investigation should happen after it was brought under control.

  49. a-tracy
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why Conservative Ministers don’t answer the accusations of ex-Headteachers and activist teachers tweeting negative anti-tory political comments all day today. Can we please start defending Tory spending on this area instead of giving people a free run of attacks with no rebuttal.

    Some examples:

    1. It’s rich for Conservative MPs to pretend they are worried about widening gaps of achievement between rich and poor pupils when they cut this budget and that budget and surestart have been CUT etc.

    1.a. I was under the impression that from 2010 the Lib/Con government under Cameron put a pupil premium in place for all vulnerable children is this the case or not? How much was spent on this per child primary and secondary? Wasn’t this what we were told the upper rate taxpayers reduction in child benefit was going to pay for and other taxes? Also, the extra taxes on English students in the form of an extra £6000 pa in fees to cross fertilise early education for socially deprived children? If this money didn’t go into this then can the students get their money back from 2012?

    1b. I thought the Conservative government put more money into teachers assistants and their training, didn’t you also provide one-half day per week away from class for marking and preparation that can be used as one full day off per fortnight? Did you or not?

    1.c. I thought that extra nursery hours were paid for by the Tory government – 15 hours free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds. All 3 to 4-year-olds in England can get 570 free hours per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, but you can choose to take fewer hours over more weeks. You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare (1,140 hours per year, which you can choose how you take) if your child is 3 to 4 years old. are these all lies or not?

    The IFS wrote “The early years has been one of the fastest-growing areas of education spending in England. Our recent report on education spending found that spending on early years education and childcare has grown from almost nothing in the early 1990s to stand at £5.4 billion in England last year.

    This money is channelled through three types of programme, including:

    free early education and childcare for all three- and four-year-olds (and disadvantaged two-year-olds;
    tax relief programmes for childcare, such as tax-free childcare and childcare vouchers;
    and support for the childcare expenses of low-income benefit recipients.
    Figure 1 summarises how spending on these different programmes has changed over time. Since 1997, successive governments have significantly increased spending on free childcare hours; total spending in this area is now about £3.7 billion. Even more notably, spending has risen by more than 130% over the last decade, a time when many other areas of education and public spending more broadly were being squeezed. Spending on free childcare for 3- and 4-year-olds has more than doubled since 2009–10, equivalent to a rise of almost £1,900 in annual spending per child after inflation.” Dec 2019

  50. The next Crazy
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    The weather. Not much mention of the catastrophe as was daily. Panic. The end of life on Earth. It hasn’t rained in my locality for about three weeks or more, more. How are the reservoirs?
    Usually at this time of year our glorious politicos would be 100,ooo strong on the streets, as waterhoses would most certainly be banned. Are they?
    The Media has a new mass hysteria event. Virus. Its Climate Change toy is back in the toy box.
    Aww, poor things.
    Unemployment is the next mass hysteria event of course.We should invest in protective clothing for it.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Imagine if we’d spent £100bn on reservoirs instead of HS2. There was plenty of rain over winter.

  51. a-tracy
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    “Some state schools too are providing an excellent on line education.” Brilliant, but there are too many that have offered very little unti this last week other than a once per week phonecall, you schools and Headteachers know who you are.

  52. Otto
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    @Dennis Z – Don’t expect JR to answer any questions, haven’t you noticed?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      He’s a bit busy – he’s an MP, not an MEP. He has a job!

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 12:38 am | Permalink


      It can be a little frustrating at times, however……

      For those of us that have been commenting on John’s blog for some years, have recognised John is a busy person and not always in a position to respond to each and every question immediately. Some questions are rhetorical, some ridiculous, some complex, while others are sometimes rather long winded, and once in a while, down right rude. John must have the patience of Job!

      I personally take the view John has kindly provided a platform for interested parties to express their political frustrations/anxieties with others in open, frank and hopefully polite discussion.

      Do we agree with John on all political topics/positioning/direction, of course not, but at least we are given the opportunity to vent our spleens, interject our personal experiences with like minded souls (or in some cases not) and for that I respect and thank John for his openness and tireless contribution to UK political discourse, as painful as that may be at times?

      • a-tracy
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        I second this Dennis.

      • glren cullen
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        well said +1

  53. Ian @Barkham
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Sir John

    As you infer, there is this divide between those that seek to give their offspring every advantage and those that see their children as being the responsibility of the taxpayer.

    It is this impediment that will hold the country back in being able to go the online route and help our children achieve and succeed in the route in life they choose.

    There is a caveat to that though, some of the high achievers academically in the end don’t turn out to be that bright. That is left to those that cruised through school by skiving. We should never pigeon hole anyone

  54. Stephen Reay
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    In my opinion Boris is doing a cracking job under dificult circumstance. Coronasvirus is a learning curve and he listens to the science and has to follow it or choose a different path, the buck stops with him and the cabinet.

    The government relies on us to follow the rules, if we don’t people will lose their live’s ,jobs and maybe their homes. Best course of action is to follow the rules and the sooner this may be over .
    Believe in Boris.

    I’m more fearful about how this is going to be paid for than the Coronvirus itself.

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      Lockdown = extending the pandemic for as long as possible


      “sooner this may be over”

      It will be several years at least before there is a vaccine. So that’s several years that the school teachers are going to be refusing to work… at least.

  55. David Brown
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Education is evolving with more on line studies, many years ago it was on Australia that used radio to teach children in the remote outback. Now the internet is changing that, although face to face teacher education is good, there could be a good mix of both.
    Generally teachers in fee paying schools actually teach and sadly in some state run schools they have to be almost security guards as well.
    Off the topic for today, I read here a lot about Covid 19 death figures and how they should/could be presented. I think its too late to change the current reporting on the total number of Covid related deaths.
    However I feel it may be helpful to list the total death figures against the total recovery figure. So we have 2 sets those that die and those who had the disease and recovered. Should not be too difficult to obtain and collate this?
    My point here is that by doing the above we clearly show the number who recover far exceed the number of deaths. In doing so this gives a better rounded picture of progress.

  56. glen cullen
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    And the covid-19 2nd 3rd wave might happen – best keep everyone in lockdown
    And Russia might bomb us – best keep nuclear weapons
    And business want to save 20mins travel – best keep HS2
    And we want the green lobby support – best ban combustion engine
    And we don’t want to appear racist – best just accept boats from France
    And we don’t want conflict with unions – best talk with teachers
    And we don’t really want change – best not to rock the boat and possibly extend Brexit

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      We are all bloody depressed and stressed, not without reason. But Frost is a beacon of hope. He’s given the EU 2 weeks to sort itself out and engage in talks. Else the plug is going to be pulled.
      When I became agitated about Brexit, 36 years ago, not 1 newspaper supported. Nothing. We have achieved a literal miracle. I’m thinking that Corona is the least worst thing that could happen to alert us all to the urgent need to revert to full scale capitalism, small govt etc. Reality has got the attention of the politicians in a way nothing else could. We will escape the green lunacy, Socialism, feminism, corporatism.
      I believe we will thank God for the WuFlu – it’s real effect is that of opening eyes.

      • glren cullen
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        Frost is indeed doing a good job however it will be up to the PM if we extend EU

      • David Brown
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t believe in God

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      They took away my right to vote Brexit Party.

      I am appalled with myself that I fell for it.

      • glren cullen
        Posted May 19, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Don’t worry…..we all fell for it

  57. acorn
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    “I will be giving an on line lecture soon in Oxford in a digital lecture series on central banking.”

    I look forward to critiquing that JR. Will you be explaining how the Funding for Lending scheme was kept off balance sheet as a “DMO stock lending” scam; along with “collateral swaps” that never appeared on any government balance sheet.

    Perhaps also, you could explain why the BoE doesn’t publish a consolidated balance sheet anymore, just a redacted weekly report that doesn’t advertise the profit opportunities a Conservative Party Treasury regularly makes available to the bailed-out Casino Banksters.

    And then came the ultimate opportunity to transfer public money into Banksters’ wallets; COVID-19.

  58. George Brooks.
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Dennis Zoff purveyor of fake news with your statement on the EU talks at 10.18 this morning

    I read the Telegraph and there two articles in today’s issue. Page 12 bottom left explaining lack of progress in the talks that ENDED last week and the hole the EU leaders have put Barnier in. No talks planned for this week.

    Page 2 of the Business section there is an excellent article by Roger Bootle explaining quite the opposite to your pronouncement.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      George Brooks

      Reply: Anything that is not closely aligned to a Remainer’s forlorn anti-Brexit narrative is considered fake news, regardless of its veracity.

      I made no statement, but simply asked a question for clarification. Perhaps the pro-Brexit stance expressed by others were not to your liking, hence your truculent and rather discourteous response.

  59. Iain Moore
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    “Today in Hong Kong, Monday, May 18th. Pro China security guards drag 9 law makers from the Hong Kong legislature before holding a vote where Starry Lee is unanimously elected as chairperson. Coup d’état is complete Hong Kong is back in China’s control. ”

    And China has confirmed it is putting an 80% tariff on OZ barely tomorrow.

    The failure of our Government, amongst others, to put a shot across China’s bow has given them the green light to try to stang arm OZ and rig the voting in the HL legislature.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    • Iain Moore
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      stang arm ? …sorry.. strong arm. and HK not HL

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted May 18, 2020 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Oz needs us as we need it. Better that it is weaned off China. As to Hong Kong, it’s a Chinese city. We have to face that, let’s see if we can look after Rotherham and make that safe?

  60. TLC
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Technology as ‘part of” and ‘driving’ education has been there for a while.
    Education is compulsory and it’s a parental/guardianship duty to do so in “school or otherwise”.
    Accordingly with the law parents should make the ultimate decision to either discharge their duties to school or retain their obligations by Electively Home Educating.
    The law sides with parents and not teachers as teachers are their employees (as tax payers).

  61. geobbals
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    The schools will never reopen, this is their plan

    • a-tracy
      Posted May 19, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Whose plan?

  62. Awaar the Larss!
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    “Coronavirus: Scotland aims to ease lockdown on 28 May” How did Sturgeon the sudden surgeon come up with that date 10 days hence? Throwing a squawking haggis in the air locked down in a bag pipe seeing how they land on the floor then read the bones?It’s not her birthday!. Has she planned it to coincide with her Coronation as Queen of Scotland? We wish some ugly frog Prince would give her a sloppy kiss and they elope to some lily pond on the other side of Europe. Eastern Ukraine.

  • 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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