Levelling up needs the schools back

During the long lock downs some pupils have been able to benefit from a full timetable of on line lessons and lectures, and to have home work marked over the internet by engaged teachers. I praise all those teachers and schools that adapted and did a good job ensuring their students did not go without education.

Other schools provided childcare and maybe some education for the children of key workers but delivered little for the rest. Some managed work assignments for homeworking. It meant the gap started to get bigger again between those who had the advantage of a full timetable of lessons and those who did not.

Some schools in the private sector did decide they had to deliver a full timetable and challenging home coursework, as the parents expected something for the fees they were paying. The danger is the response to CV 19 has increased the gap between some in the private sector that got a good education during the lockdowns, and some in the state sector who got little by way of teaching. That is not going to help the government with its good aim of levelling up.

The government made clear it would assist in supplying digital devices so pupils in households where on line access was a problem would be helped. As schools prepare for the return in September they need to look at how they can best meet the need for every pupil to have the benefit of good lessons and marked homework for the older pupils.

Teachers rightly tell us they want to teach and believe the daily contact between pupil and teacher is an important part of growing up and gaining skills for life. The way in which each school meets the demands on it and looks after its pupils is mainly a matter for school and local determination. Teachers are valued professionals, and we look forward to seeing their solutions for this autumn as pupils go back to school. It is most important we level up, which does require us to deliver the best possible education to those from difficult backgrounds. We may also be able to use more of the digital technology in developing those crucial relationships.

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  1. Richard1
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Dead right. It’s essential schools get back to a full timetable in September. The failure of many state schools to provide any effective teaching or even home study and support for huge numbers of pupils in this period has been a national scandal and a disgrace. The No Education Union and similar leftist bodies must be held to account in the court of public opinion. Let’s indeed up the use of technology as the private sector and some parts of the state sector have shown is possible. It would be interesting to see an analysis, but I’d be prepared to bet free schools also did their best to provide effective support in this period.

    The university sector also needs a tremendous shake-up. On the back two years of on-off strikes, students have also had virtually none of the teaching for which they (and we) have been paying. We need many more private universities and colleges which aren’t infected by leftist unions and the politics of woke. I also suggest we follow the excellent example of the Australian govt and simply defund useless courses like gender studies.

    There would be widespread public support for such measures although of course shrill leftist outrage. Bring it on.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

      So what are these private establishments to teach?

      That heroic government forces at Peterloo managed to defeat the murderous, plotting terrorists?

      That Keir Hardy was a pampered son of the privileged elite?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        Private schools work best when they teach independent thought Martin.

        Dogma, soundbites and general noise can then be disregarded through proper research.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          If “independent” thought is taught, then by definition it is not independent.

          It only arises by the wilful breaking free of imposed misconceptions, and the private, diligent search for truth.

          The UK schools system in the 1950s and 1960s misled many, many people.

          Reply My state primary equipped me with basic English and maths which set me up for a good education.

          • Fred H
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            ‘diligent search for truth.’


          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            If “independent” thought is taught, then by definition it is not independent

            Rebut something – anything it doesn’t matter if it makes sense just say something.

            Has that described your thought process Martin?

            Sometimes silence is the best policy.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            One example, which I failed to question at the time concerned the Domesday book, as I mentioned previously.

            We were taught in the 1960s that it detailed the ownership of land in 1086, as if it were researching some settled position.

            In fact it recorded the *new* ownership of land, after William I had usurped the title to every square inch of England for himself, and then handed swathes of it out to his clan.

            That gives a totally different understanding of the history of the English nation and people.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            Agreed NS
            Independent thought and the skill to research and then come to your own conclusion can obviously be taught to students.
            However the left only believe one version is right.
            They want only that version taught.
            No disent allowed.

      • Nigl
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:23 am | Permalink

        We have a massive challenge in this sector and all you can offer is this obsessive rubbish. As usual wedded in the past, offering zero for the future.

        • Hope
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          JR, there was no evidence to close schools! Junior and infant pupils normally have parents under forty five, unless there were underlying health issues they should have carried on. The stats were available at the time. Another mess caused by Johnson and does not know how to get the. Back because unions are making it political to make the govt look foolish, not that is difficult to achieve.

          Eat out help out, go shopping, go to the beach, have a rave, it do not go to school! Your govt. is pathetic.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:25 am | Permalink

        There are two at the moment. Buckingham and the New College of the Humanities. I believe both do an excellent job. We need more.

      • Robert McDonald
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        Probably they would teach science and technology as in the real world. Better than creative writing etc.

      • Longus
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        STEM subjects only.

      • a-tracy
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Do you know what they teach now Martin?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        Hopefully mainly maths, physics, engineering, real science, construction, medicine and similar but essentially what the market and paying customers demand.

      • beresford
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        I did ‘O’ level history 50 years ago. We were taught that Palmerston blockaded the Piraeus in response to a spurious claim from a foreigner with a British passport, and sent gunboats to China to force them to buy British opium. So the notion that we were given a sugar-coated version of British history in those days is a fallacy.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          Boston tea-party.
          partition of India.

          All the gory details of British dubious involvement were taught.

        • John Hatfield
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Opium produced in Bengal exchanged for tea grown in China, a trade whch the Chinese naturally disapproved of.

        • formula57
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          Naughty Palmerston eh!

          And I had thought his recent resignation was further to Sir John’s alert to expect ousting of unhelpful Whitehall mandarins. It just goes to show truth will out.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

          So your claim is that because you were taught one truth, that means that no one else was taught a single falsehood.

          You’d never make a barrister, would you?

          Most of what I was taught was true too. But important key elements were not.

          • Fred H
            Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            sometimes you could pass for Kinnock.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        A new level of silliness from you Martin.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        It would be a start if they taught literacy and numeracy to a high level. Then throw in some geography, history, science, IT, music, art, nutrition, biology, politics and sociology with the aim of turning out knowledgable, capable, well-balanced people who will enjoy their lives and make a positive contribution to the society they live in and the world in general.

        Unfortunately this requires specially talented people to teach them and we end up with many useless teachers who regard it as a cushy job and a port in a storm that keeps them safe from jobs where poor performance would mean the sack.

        • dixie
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

          Good comment. How many at secondary level know what they want to do that they should be forced to specialise and who can see into the future well enough to dictate what they should be learning.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Martin, Why would free enterprise (private) schools and universities falsely laud “heroic government forces”? I thought that was your speciality.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:04 am | Permalink

      Just kill all the soft student loans (most of this ends up as grant anyway) for the many largely pointless subjects (most of them are) and let people pay for their own hobbies if they want to. Or make them do them at night school or on line while working.

      Anyone with less than say 3B s at A level should be resitting A levels or doing something more practical that leads directly to a job. Preferably learning while on the job or day release or similar. This would probably mean the university sector would be about 30% its current size releasing lots of people to get rather more productive jobs.

      The University sector was in a mess even before Covid. Much of it only kept alive by tax payer grants. Why should people who did not go to university pay taxes to pay for people with two Es at A level to go and study gender or media studies at the ex poly of Bognor or similar?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

        Even the science departments at Universities are full of people desperately trying to exaggerate “climate alarmism” and the “climate emergency” at every turn – rather than doing rather more productive science.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Your second sentence reminded me of David Craig’s discussion on productivity in his book, ‘The Great University Con’. He found no evidence that sending millions of badly-educated children to university had improved our economic performance. I do wish that politicians would pay more attention to the GDP/capita figure than just trumpeting immigration-fuelled GDP growth.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink


        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Indeed and a very good book it is.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic, The best way of reducing the absurd numbers who go to university is to provide a sound, permanent, apprenticeship route. And one of the main obstacles to this is demonstrated by Remains who are unable to control their snobbishness and so sneer at people without “degrees”.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          Indeed and to cull the soft loans for anyone with less than 3Bs or going to do a daft largely worthless, jobless subject. Let them fund their own hobbies.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          to provide a sound, permanent, apprenticeship route

          Why would one be a permanent apprentice? I know kids leaving school these days are poorly educated – due to very poor teaching – but, traditionally, firms running apprenticeships were able to overcome the deficiencies of the education system and turn out trained and qualified people.

          • dixie
            Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

            But we do need a technical college infrastructure and accessibility by people at all ages and stages in their working lives. Such colleges could also support start-ups since universities are far too snobbish.

      • Adam
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink


        A Pass or Fail should be level enough for examination.

        Why rank failure?

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink


      I agree with all you say. Agricola made the suggestion that the BBC could have put a curriculum on TV which may have helped anyone with no laptop etc.

      There are also curriculum based books that are better than no learning.

      Unfortunately, some parents lack the interest or the wherewithal to bother. And ultimately it’s the parents responsibility to seek the education for their children.

      • Al
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        The BBC used to provide this. For example, see BBC Jam 2006-2007.

        The Digital Curriculum was shut down because of a challenge under EU law (complaints made to the Comission) that the BBC was exceeding its remit in providing things that could be provided by the Private Sector. Ofcom endorsed the shutdown.

        For all its flaws, this is one service the BBC cannot be held responsible for not providing as they were actively prevented. I hope that sanity will kick in once we are out of the EU.

    • Andy
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      My daughter’s school – a state school – provides all its children with a laptop.

      My son’s school – a private school – does not.

      The idea that all state schools are naff and that all private schools are wonderful is really very silly.

      Look at Eton for example. That really churns out a bunch of dangerous misfits.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Read my post again – that isn’t what I said. Good for your daughters school, and some others. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the norm.

        Eton is one of the best schools in the world. If it wasn’t people wouldn’t pay as much as they do for it, and come from all over the world to go there.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        How much use, for schoolwork, does your daughter make of her laptop? Does the school have a plan to recover it?

        • Andy
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          She used the laptop in virtually every lesson. Every child in the school has one. And it is not funded by government. It is funded by parents.

          Parents are asked to make a monthly contribution of what they can afford. Some contribute a little. Some contribute a lot.

          The policy is that unless there are sufficient donations to provide every child with a laptop none of them will get one.

          We live in an affluent area – so are lucky. But we wouldn’t ever expect such a scheme from a Tory government. We’ll have to wait for PM Starmer to roll it out nationally.

          • Lynn Atkinson
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            So why don’t you send your son to the same state school then? No-brainer!

          • Edward2
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

            Go onto GOV.UK andy
            Home/education/ trying and skills.
            19th April 2020
            education secretary announces that vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across the country will receive free laptops.
            And 4g routers
            £85 million fund for 230,000 laptops with only 68,000 left to be distributed.

          • Edward2
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            typo…..training not trying.

          • Anonymous
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            Selective school in all but name. Qualified by upper size of mortgage.

      • Jiminyjim
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Why is it, Andy, that I’m not the least surprised that you send your son to a private school and your daughter to a state school?

        • Fedupsoutherner
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          Jiminyjim. Yes I noticed this. It is such an old fashioned idea and very gender biased. I thought Andy was in the modern world now? My friend is 64 and it was the same for her and her brother. He went to a private school and is a top notch lawyer in Hong Kong. She went to a state school and is a secretary. My son attended a very good private school and the difference in his work ethic and his general approach to life is very much better than some of his friends who attended state schools. Much depends on the parents attitudes too. My friends daughter attended a state school and achieved straight A’s and went to Oxford.

          • Fedupsoutherner
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            Alot depends on upbringing too and not just the school you attend.. If you are lucky enough to have parents that are actually interested in your schooling you are going to do a lot better.

        • Andy
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          My daughter went to a private primary – and is now in a state secondary. My son is in a private primary and our intention is to send him to a state secondary too when he’s old enough.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        Andy, So your daughter not only receives her education at taxpayer’s expense, but has a laptop provided as well?

        For consistency (never your strong point, I’ll admit) shouldn’t you be calling for the abolition of all taxpayer provision of education?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        Andy – -could it be that state schooling transfers teaching to ‘use google’ whilst private schools use ‘face-to-face’ to actually teach, not how to cheat and look up?

      • Fred H
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        what! – – no Feminism outraged replies?

        Where’s the equality Andy?

        How does your daughter feel about that?

        Ever thought to ask her?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        My daughter’s school – a state school – provides all its children with a laptop.

        My son’s school – a private school – does not.

        Err, tricky one. I know, send your son to a state school and stop the hateful misogyny.

      • Anonymous
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Both my twins went to state schools in poor areas.

        We learned today that the second is to be awarded a distinction in his Master’s degree (STEM – RG) too !

        We made sure both boys were literate and numerate before they started reception by teaching them at home and taking them on educational trips.

        Both their Mum and I passed on the learning techniques we picked up studying through night school and correspondence courses to help them with their exams.

        So, in early years, anyone can teach.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          nonsense – One of my twin daughters has done Early Years teaching…..far far removed from at home parental involvement pre- nursery etc. You need to get with the program! You wouldn’t believe what is expected currently.
          And from what she has said – it is for the better. The young ones advance wonderfully and the benefit shows into Foundation and Year 1.

  2. Bob Dixon
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    It’s a disgrace that the teaching unions have not led on this.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Did you expect teaching union to do so?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        sorry “unions”

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          or even onions – – ie smells all the way to the core?

    • Andy
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      The teaching unions have been saying for months ‘hey, we’re the experts on teaching – work with us’.

      And Mr Johnson, Mr Gove and Mr Cummings have known best and refused.

      It is this ‘we know best attitude’ from this Brexit government which has left us with the highest death toll in Europe, the biggest economic drop, lorry parks in Kent, a border down the Irish Sea and a sky rocketing problem with Channel migrants,

      It will take our country many decades from having these charlatans in charge – but then most of you voted for them. So it’s your fault.

      • Sea Warrior
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Lord, do you ever stop!

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          a lifelong mission?

      • agricola
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        God forbid we accept knowing best from you.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Andy, But the teaching unions are not the experts on epidemiology though, are they? Indeed, the teachers’ unions are not even the experts on teaching.

        You’re probably too young to remember, and too bigoted to learn, that the country was once effectively run at the whim of the unions (there was even an election based on “who governs?”) and it didn’t go too well for your theories.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        The teaching unions have been saying for months ‘hey, we’re the experts on teaching – work with us’.

        You seem to have a basic misunderstanding of the purpose of a teaching union. It has nothing to do with teaching – or education in general. It has everything to do with making sure poor teachers are NEVER sacked and constantly improving what is a very cushy job for life.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          ‘a basic misunderstanding of the purpose of any union. ?

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        a sky rocketing problem with Channel migrants

        What’s the problem? I thought you wanted anyone and everyone in the world who wants a ‘better life’ in this country to be allowed, encouraged even, to come here. Quite where they will all live is anyone’s guess. I guess.

  3. agricola
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    With hindsite the BBC could have been utilised to broadcast a national curriculum as even the poorest in the land have a large telly. Course work could have gone out by post to all those without computers and responses in the other direction. School teachers could have used their time by going into school and responding to answers from their pupils. As the curriculum is national only a comparatively small unit would be needed to set work and conduct lectures, but the teachers could have been in school marking work and responding to pupil queries.

    Your contribution suggests that the private sector has worked but the public sector has only been good in parts. A national audit should establish where the public sector has worked well and their actions should become part of a national response plan to similar disasters.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      “A national audit should establish where the public sector has worked well” well that would be interesting. Much of the public sector do little of any value (or even things of a net negative value) even normally.

      Start perhaps comparing the NHS and UK health care with Germany. 2% of those infected died in Germany where over 12% of those infected in the UK did. Ask why we had over 6 times the death rate per infection and what they did wrong.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Plus Germany managed far fewer cases, this even with a larger population as well as the far lower death rate per infection.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Ha ha – the BBC doing factual education for school age? More political promotion of lefty dogma is what you would get. It would take months for the movers-and-shakers (not the elderly-funded media) claptrap to consider every possible angle of minorities to be represented.

      • agricola
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Not the BBC doing it, just providing the facility. The Department of Education would provide the lecturers from among the best available.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          yes – – every possible angle of minorities to be represented.

  4. Stephen Priest
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Levelling up needs the lockdown to end with immediate effect.

    It’s obvious that the economic catastrophe the West has inflicted upon itself has all been for nothing.

    All these “spikes” as the media like to call them are down to increased testing. The “Spikes” are really small increases, but “small increase” doesn’t sound so dramatic.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I see that the National Socialist Party of Scotland is to outlaw free speech north of the border. The Bill introduces new offences related to “stirring up hatred” in respect of the characteristics of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity. It would also make it an offence if “it is likely that hatred would be stirred up”, even if it was not the person’s intention. Rather a catch all as many of these group are stirred up my almost any comment on anything.

    Woke J K Rowing types had better watch out. Or in indeed Boris with his post box comment – should he dare to cross the border.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Good. This gives the Scots Tories a nice, big stick with which to beat-up the Nasties – in a non-hateful way, of course.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        beat up ? – – oops.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink


        Incitement is already illegal.

        This just draws together a number of categories and simplifies.

        It’s called Consolidation, and is a regular feature of legislation.

  6. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    An analysis might be done of those teachers who provided online classes (as opposed to coursework) and those who did not.

    We might find there is a skills gap, the Heads should have addressed this.

    We might find there was a misperception that laying on coursework (which often did not get marked) was sufficient. The Heads should have addressed this.

    In private business (and one hopes even the public sector) the outputs during lockdown are being measured (even if just via financial performance) and managers will have addressed any reduction in productivity (although we are told that everyone is so much more productive from home). State schools’ reduction in productivity was not measured nor was it addressed. As a result, as organisations they must get back to delivering in the model where productivity is measured.

    Private schools, mostly, delivered full curricular because parents were paying for it and they could not have justified continuing to charge without outputs. Those outputs were measured, at least by paying parents, but most certainly by the Heads and Governors.

  7. Stephen Priest
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I look forward to schools teaching that a privileged Labour MP should not taunt a polite, hardworking and clearly non racist policeman (who earns a lot less than she does).

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    O/T. When are you going to revolt against the MoD tendering overseas for the Fleet Support vessels for the RFA. No other country does this and as we are heading for 5million unemployed the money should be spent at home.
    It’s no good them citing EU rules when in 140 days we are free.
    This is disgraceful.

    • Sea Warrior
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      I agree. There’s a broader point, too – and it relates to the utilisation of our shipyards. I think there’s a strong case for some shipbuilding INFRASTRUCTURE to be owned by the state, but for use by the private companies commissioned to build our ships. That way, government would be able to direct where most of the economic benefit from warship contracts would go, and wasteful non-use of fixed assets avoided. But I’m off topic, so won’t develop this idea further today.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        The governments own enquiry info sustainability of the ship building industries says that there should be a steady ordering of ships to give confidence.
        The MoD like the rest of the civil Serpents can’t get their heads around the fact we are leaving the EU.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I thought the EU excused Defence Materials from tendering?

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        The MoD say they are merchant ships which no other country does. They are so much up the EU s rectum they would sooner close a UK shipbuilders to show their EU credentials.

  9. agricola
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Then we come to the question of GCSE and A Level exams. These only involve about 20% of pupils but you have 100% of staff and physical space to conduct them. So why did it not happen. Who decided it was impossible. By the time Covid19 got going 99% of the course work had been covered. Revision would have been conducted at home. Teachers could have been on duty to field questions and give guidance by phone or computer. It does not seem to have been an insurmountable problem. An enquiry into why it did not happen would again resolve future responses to crisis.

  10. Adam
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    …. ‘parents expected something for the fees they were paying’

    A fault with state-financed systems is that many users behave as if it is not their cost, and waste.

    At one time careless spending was discouraged, and people with mounting unpaid debts faced prison.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      and people with mounting unpaid debts faced prison.

      Yes, that was a brilliant solution. A year in prison really helps get those pesky debts paid off.

      • steve
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        Mike Wilson

        Can get them written off under certain circumstances.

      • Adam
        Posted August 12, 2020 at 5:19 am | Permalink

        Mike Wilson:

        The original point was that parents who pay for private education expect and receive quality and value for what they consciously expend. Many others, although they pay for state-funded services such education and the NHS, regard it as free, and tolerate waste, low quality or inefficiency as if it were not at their expense, when, of course, they do pay in the following year’s tax bill.

        Nowadays, having unpaid bills resulting from carelessness is regarded as worthy of Govt benefits assistance: distinct from encouraging prudent financial responsibility with punishment as a control to prevent excess. Prevention is better than carelessness ending in prison.

  11. Nigl
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    We get the usual solution offered from people like yourself desperately trying to cover up your failure to get children back where they should be, in the classroom, by suggesting that a digital offering can be a replacement plus the bribe re supplying digital devices.

    I guess remote from young kids and their families and yes, it can help in a classroom setting but you totally fail to comprehend the value of the ‘Play’ interaction between the kids themselves and with their teachers in a live situation. Also giving them a different environment and some space for their parents. What about where both parents need to work? I know from experience that the kids are desperate for a change and want to get back and see all their mates. Add some emotion and empathy please.

    You need to do what you have promised (where have I heard that before?) get them back to school. Science is saying there is little/no danger. Tell us why teachers who have done nothing continue to be paid and into the future by the look of it.

    You look weak in the face of aggressive unions with much rhetoric and apparently little action. Offering a digital solution as an effective alternative is a cop out.

  12. Nigl
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Ps your technocratic approach is excellent on subjects like Brexit, the railways etc. Not so good on a topic like this when the people element is required.

  13. SM
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    What a deeply weird response, MiC!

    If private schools and colleges wish to survive, they will teach the subjects students (and their parents and advisors) want or need to study, or they will find themselves out of business. And ditto if they attempt to present gross lies – re your reference to Hardy – as historical fact.

  14. Nigl
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Great article in DT about how Sir Paul Nurse got 1200 scientists back working in the Crick.

    When you lose people’s trust all your entreaties fall on deaf ears. Too late now.

  15. Newmania
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I see you did not publish my easy answer to the question why does John Redwood wants to schools fully open . I shan’t waste any more time but just in case you thought this sudden enthusiasm for social disadvantage was fooling anyone
    No chance- we know

    • NickC
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Newmania, You have been wasting your, and our, time since 24 June 2016. How you managed to convince yourself that a country which rode roughshod over a binary national vote, was viable, is a measure of your Remain BDS.

  16. hefner
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The only schools I could comment on are the primary and secondary state schools my grand children attended this year in the West Country. These schools all provided three times a week via dedicated websites sets of lessons including science, maths, English, French and Spanish with work to be sent back to the teachers within three days. These pieces of work were marked within a week. If anything, one of my grand children, a rather introvert 14-year, loved this way of working, having had the opportunity to do ‘research’ on various topics, having more time to write it up, becoming very skilled with a number of software presentation tools, and getting better marks than usual as a result.

    It obviously is not a statistically significant sample but is an example quite contrary to some generalised statements already (05:28, 11/08) appearing on this site.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      With regard to yesterday’s “snowflake sheep” comment.
      “Nudging“ can come from the electorate too you know.
      The Conservatives can not be CERTAIN that they will get away with all this.
      That is why I mentioned Venezuela!

      You fully support what has happened to education then?

      • hefner
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        I fully support the way the way the school of my grandchildren and the way the teachers acted these last five months with respect to the lessons and homework they provided. Nothing more, nothing less.
        I simply find strange that people like you make the type of generalisations as ‘what has happened to education’ as I am quite convinced it did not grow on your own manure.

        • hefner
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Sorry’ too many ‘the way’

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

          Way, way too many.
          Obviously I meant that you support the recent closing down of schools ( as in “what has happened to education”).
          I am nobody’s mushroom.
          Whereas you seem very emotionally involved in left wing politics.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          It is very odd hefner how you and Andy both got superb education throughout the covid closedown for his children and your grandchildren. So many of my acquaintances have had totally different experiences.

          • hefner
            Posted August 20, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

            a-tracy, I did not say ‘superb education’, simply that in both a primary and a secondary school, whatever else the teachers were doing of their days, they produced three times a week texts, presentations and questionnaires related to the various parts of the curriculum, asked the children to do the work, to return it and they marked it. That’s for a grand total of two schools. I can easily accept that these schools might have exceptions, but I wanted to bear witness that such things actually happened.
            I find very odd that you do not seem to have been directly involved and relied only on what your acquaintances related to you.

            EH, if you take what I wrote as supporting the closing down of schools, I can only despair.
            I just hope you’ll never be called as juror in a jury trial.

  17. Newmania
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    By the way .can you just clear this up please. Does the evidence that children do not pass on this ( clearly unique ) virus to anyone they may meet come form before it existed or during lock down ?

    Those are the options

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      There is no answer because “the science” is selective. Like “post hoc“ and other highly superstitious, primitive “medical thought”.
      There is also a political agenda.
      Maybe it is just the same as great gran getting the ’flu and dying from pneumonia whereas her great grandson skips off to school ( well..not now!) with a tube of cough sweets and a box of tissues?
      ie the virus has been muchly over-egged!

    • NickC
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Newmania, For God’s sake go away and do some research on the human immune system, and stop wasting your, and our, time with your simpleton’s cod-Darwinian pub-bore questions.

      • margaret howard
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


        You really must believe that your opinions warrant swamping this blog today .

        I suggest you follow the advice you gave Newmania here and

        ” For God’s sake go away….”

        Have a lie down in the garden. It’s a pity to waste this lovely sunshine.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

          MH – lovely sunshine in the South will get you sunstroke ….but then perhaps its evident.

        • steve
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink


          He has a right to be here, his opinions are invited as are yours, mine and everyone else’s.

          • margaret howard
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink


            Unfortunately that’s not what he preaches.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      No conclusive evidence that they do is not the same as evidence that they do not.

      The Government’s words seem to imply a claim that it is, I think.

  18. Alan Jutson
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    State schools cost parents and every other taxpayer a large sum to operate, they are certainly not free.

    Private schools simply charge the pupils parents direct (thus in effect they pay twice)

    The main difference between the two seems to be attitude.

    Private schools seem to be driven by a can do must do attitude.
    State schools vary hugely, and depend upon a large degree to the attitude and ability of the head.

    Many Television interviews over the past few months have shown many headmaster/mistresses with a poor attitude, seemingly incapable of original thought, of thinking outside of the box, or thinking of a range of options and solutions, but are happy to just say, I am waiting to be guided by government.

    A similar comparison can be drawn with the attitude of private business, and Local Authorities and Government quangos.
    One group strive to find a solution to survive, the others just sit back and wait, and want to be provided with everything.

    There are exceptions to the above of course, and some heads of State schools have grasped the nettle and worked very positively to provide their students with some form of education.

  19. GilesB
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Some teachers do not want parents observing, and recording, their brainwashing propaganda (‘delicate task of destabilising racist and homophobic prejudices’). For far too long they have deceived parents about their objectives in school (‘what is said in school stays in school’).

    Online teaching takes the lid off. That’s why the left wing activists are against online teaching’

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Very true I imagine.
      Does anyone view teachers ( in general) as noble academics rather than agents of the far, extreme Left?

  20. The Prangwizard
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    A Government Minister is off to France today. As a supplicant of course and no doubt with wads of money. Our government is a weak and shivering blob.

    Why instead have we not demanded the French take firm action to stop these people and come over here to talk about it? Why have we not said there will be sanctions if they don’t and that all these invaders will be turned back and we will move jnto their waters to do it?

    Because Boris a coward, a weak appeaser and bluffer who has no intention of defending and protecting our interests. He’s a believer in the new world of no borders and mass migration where we are the perpetual receivers.

  21. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    It is important that the teaching unions are not permitted to thwart the return of schools. The Government and local authorities must make it clear to teachers that if they don’t work, they don’t get paid. Most teachers and their families are in no danger from COVID-19. I can think of one exception: a young teacher that I know has a BAME wife who is expecting their first child in September. Such instances are rare though.

    • turboterrier
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Lyndsey. Not permitted to return to work which they have signed up for and received good wages? Well in the real world you get one verbal, one written warning and then you are shown the door. LETS STOP PANDERING to these so called specialist professions.
      All the external problems being reported on are IMHO just a left wing ploy to destroy
      an elected government by every trick in the book ably assisted by the media, the BBC and SkyNews. Push has to go to shove as it seems parents are quite prepared to take them on holiday and to packed British beaches but wontl let them attend school?? Time for cabinet members to man up and get it sorted if they cant or wont resign and let some of the members on the backbenches with a wealth of experience step up and get things done.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Too many Tory MPs are vicars of Bray.

        • Lynn Atkinson
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          Nearly all. They are unemployable so have to hang on whatever it takes.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          or possibly downright dishonest in their portrayal of their political leanings.

  22. Nigl
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Traveling on a train during the rush hour many people not wearing masks. I know it’s a personal responsibility but why isn’t someone b****y doing something about it?

    The minimum should be regular announcements from the guard ‘shaming’ people into putting one on. Plenty of police available to snaremotorists/ ticket inspectors for fare dodgers.

    What’s more important. Obviously not Covid.

    • Longus
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Many are exempt and don’t have to divulge their confidential medical histories to anyone. If you want to exclude these people from using public transport then you are committing an offence under disability legislation. Why don’t you show us the evidence that these masks work, explain why they were not used from the start and try to define what a face covering is as it’s not defined in the law.

      • NickC
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Longus, Spot on.

  23. a-tracy
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The children of Liverpool and similar are stuffed then aren’t they. Their local government already accepts lower results, Mayor Anderson is always in the news supporting his Labour unions over children.

  24. glen cullen
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    We’ll definitely need more English teachers with the estimated extra 5-6 thousand more arrivals by small boats that don’t have English as there first language

    I also didn’t realise just how open our borders where to smuggles, gun runners, drug runners and people traffickers

    If the BBC and Sky can see and report upon 20 odd small boats daily – I wonder how many make it across the channel during the night and just a bit further up the coast unnoticed ?

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Certain English will remain the primary language?

  25. a-tracy
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    The local council should give us a report in our local area so we can judge for ourselves. How many pupils in each school received at least three hours lessons per day. At least one hours 30 minutes Maths, English, Science Lesson per day.

    You need an unprepared for examination for each age group John, no swatting up, no workbooks, just test their common knowledge across every school, public, private, homeschooled, adjust for month of birth. Concentrate on those that have fallen well behind, some may have to resit that year. But the Scottish children do one year less anyway so why do English schools take one year extra to teach the same subjects to highers assessed and we are told to the same level.

    • NickC
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      JR, A-tracy makes a good point. Perhaps MPs should ask their local education authority for a report on the remote teaching carried out in their areas? And don’t get fobbed off by a “it’s too difficult”, or a “we’re too busy”, attitude.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Well I could tell you about here by measuring the hours of shrieking from surrounding gardens.
        24 hours minus hours of shrieking = not many hours of home schooling.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        You could ask the LEAs but, due to academies and free schools, which are run out of Westminster, LEAs are responsible for a declining proportion of the education delivered in an area as more and more schools move to being under direct central government control.

        • a-tracy
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

          How many schools in Liverpool or Stoke on Trent are free schools, private or not run by the LEA?

  26. Pat
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John,

    During lockdown, I’ve been learning Spanish using Duolingo, a free app which is the world’s largest language school.

    Its available 24/7, marks my work continously via IT, and doesn’t want alternate weeks off.

    Could this be a glimpse into the future of education? Its already here.

  27. IanT
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “Leveling Up” – just another sound byte that doesn’t actually mean too much in practice.

    Let’s have something more practical (and punchy) like “Learn a Real Skill – Get a Real Job” – with an emphasis on giving young people an education that leads to useful skills and employment. The idea that 50% of our young need a “Degree” education is complete fantasy (unless of course you’ve completely degraded what a “Degree” actually used to be).

    Turn back the clock and bring back Technical Colleges – there is a limit to how many social workers even this country needs – but good builders, mechanics, plumbers, electricians, these are jobs we need done that cannot be ‘WFH’ (or exported) and pay better than pulling parts in an Amazon warehouse. And if we trained our own CAD Draughtsmen, CNC Operators, 3D Print specialists – then maybe we could even make more here too…

    We’ve too many so-called Universities surviving on foreign student fees and excellence seems to have gone completely out the window. Keep the good ones and convert the surplus ones to something that would actually be of benefit to more young people. Pareto rules – 20/80 seems much more likely (than 50/50) where degree targets are concerned – but that 80% could (and should) still be well trained and well paid.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    ‘The government made clear it would assist in supplying digital devices so pupils in households where on line access was a problem would be helped. ‘

    English Workbooks could have been provided John, taken in and marked, then collected with three day gaps.

    Reading could have been set with written reviews to gauge understanding at the end and questions about the book to expand thought. Were reading books given out at all and children assessed to check their understanding of the book, essays set and further questionnaires to expand reasoning – if not – why not?

    Maths lessons for each age group could have been recorded and put out on the BBC but its all too much trouble, if they’d have just got on with it, like the Christmas lectures, the children could have been kept on a learning track. Better than the nothing that too many children got.

    It is going to be a big problem to get motivation for learning back after five and a half months off, especially if we’re going back in full-mask mode. These same children will have been the ones walking around shopping centres, beaches, pavements unmasked all summer long.

    • glen cullen
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      The government spent millions on buying digital devices i.e laptop that will be ready for doistribution in September – when the children are due to return to school ….honestly you just couldn’t make it up

  29. Javelin
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    There has been 1 covid death registered so far in Sweden this month. Just one death. One.

    A very inconvenient truth for the authoritarian politicians who have thrown the science out the window and taken away more freedoms than during the war.

    Parliament needs to be called back to explain why Sweden has apparently come through the pandemic whilst the rest of the western world Governments are imposing authoritarian laws on their people.

    • SM
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Actually, there have been draconian laws imposed in South Africa too, including the banning of alcohol and cigarettes, plus curfews and rigid restrictions on internal travel, plus the close down of the tourist industry. And sometimes the laws are changed on a whim, and sometimes without adequate notice, and some of the laws are imposed on some of the people and not others, etc.

      Oh, and there has been an astronomic amount of fraud and general corruption in the awarding of PPE contracts by local and national politicians, as well as in the distribution of food parcels to the indigent.

      And the schools having been partially opened are now totally closed again, thanks to the teachers’ union.

  30. Nigl
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Parents paying privately wanted something for their money. Sums it up. It is our money that also pays the public sector but apparently we don’t want anything for it or more importantly because we cannot stop writing the cheques the Teaching Sector doesn’t care.

    • Longus
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Parents paying for private education will also be paying taxes to fund the state system. It’s called choice. The issue is why aren’t state schools good enough.

      • steve
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink


        “The issue is why aren’t state schools good enough.”

        Well look at the kind of crap they fill the kids heads with these days, that should tell you something.

  31. Na
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Home schooling is part of the Great Reset

    • Sharon Jagger
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink


      Looking at the website, this Great Reset reads as a positive thing, BUT I don’t trust it at all.

      Firstly, how many are even aware of it? When were we asked our opinions on a global wide reset of capitalism?

      What exactly does it entail? There seems praise for how the EU have put in the 750,00 euros but thinks it should be used to change things, how?

      I suspect that if this ‘reset’ is to make the world ‘fairer’ globally, with stakeholder capitalism (who are the stakeholders?) – it all sounds a bit communisty to me.

      And where does the UK fit in with our new found independence?

      It’s The World Economic Forum website for anyone who’s not heard of it. A bit like Common Purpose website, on the surface it sounds great – and look where that got us!

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It shouldn’t be too hard to collect figures on which teachers have risen to the challenge and which now have immaculate gardens and a sun tan. And SACK the latter.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      But Head of year teachers will now know just who worked for their pupils and what part of the syllabus was dealt with. Sacking is all very well – but you have to find replacements. Easier said than done, and of what quality.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        There are lots of us 55+ year olds who could teach-Maths, Science, with a few months training, I’m certain. Rocket science it isn’t but trying to motivate kids probably isn t easy with the present environment.

        • steve
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink


          Yeah but you’d have to be prepared to swear allegiance to the marxist cause, PC, woke etc and of course the LGBT stuff.

        • Fred H
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          so you are good with a class of 28ish 11-17 year olds, interrupting, picking fights, getting up and wandering around, turning up late, going missing, probably with illegal substances for sale, even a folding knife down their sock?
          Asking daft questions to avoid actually working, to the amusement of his mates?
          Good luck with that – I know who I back to win.

        • Everhopeful
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          There are also plenty of top rate graduates Durham, Oxbridge etc.40 somethings who were totally marginalised in the job market by affirmative action.
          Sack the teachers who refuse in September and recruit academics.
          Teacher training was a Marxist concept.
          Those who KNOW can teach.

          I see there are rumblings re older children being infectious or some such rot.

  33. Ed M
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Back-to-schoolers make a good point.

    BUT couldn’t we compromise on this (for the sake of the economy first) and have limited back-t0-school where the education is on just English and Maths at least for a few months (English and Maths and one hour of logic and how to think properly are the only properly useful things I ever really learned at school anyway) – until we have more and better treatment, we have more herd immunity etc.

    Children who are clever enough to go on to become engineers and doctors etc will be clever enough to catch up on any lost work on science.

    • Ed M
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      University was a waste of time (looking back, I’d only go to university now to study the Arts, as i did, if it was to a top university like Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Durham etc). I didn’t learn anything – just facts. I’d learned all I needed to know about thinking properly at A Level.

      • Ed M
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        (and GCSE Maths)

        Now would be a great opportunity to re-jig our Education Culture. Less left-wing / liberal education where ‘everyone is a winner’ and goes to university to:

        1. Only the best go to university – to the best universities
        2. Those who just miss out on a good university, should be encouraged to do shorter third-level-educated courses and based more closely on a proper job.
        3. Far more people should leave school at 16 but as long as they have really good English and Maths behind them. And focus on doing jobs that pay well like plumbing or whatever.

        So let’s just focus more and more on English + Maths + classes introducing kids to Logic and how to think properly (an hour did amazing things for me – never forget it – the best education I ever had).

        And get kids to read – read – read. I learned more about how to do English Comprehension by reading on my own than any teacher ever taught me (except for my English A Level teacher who was brilliant).

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          A good book by Simon Dolan – How To Make Millions Without A Degree: And How to Get by Even If you have one.

          Makes this point rather well I think.

          • Ed M
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            Great tip, thanks – both interesting and useful!

        • Ed M
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          And also get kids to code – code – code.

          If a kid can code, they can set up a software product for nothing – and within a few years that could be a multi-million pound brand (with relatively few costs / over-heads except paying staff essentially).

          And with that money they can then venture into hardware if they want – or just stick with software.

          • Ed M
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

            (even if a kid can sort of code, they would know enough about software to get the software built in somewhere in the Far East – for a fraction of the cost over here – but with the software created they can set up their head office in the UK – and once they’ve done that, they can do everything including their software development here in the UK – the tricky thing is getting going and you want to do that on a low budget).

          • steve
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

            Ed M

            Teach in the following order;

            1) mental arithmetic
            2) Slide Rule
            3) Calculator & Comp.

            Ask any youngster these days what a Slide Rule is and be amazed at the range of guesses.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        I read Maths & Physics Camb. and later some electronic at Manchester. It it was very useful for good contacts, finding a good wife, and to get your foot in the door sometimes plus I had a great time. But I probably had enough from Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Further Maths A levels for most things I have done in the nearly 35 years since.

        Judging risk/reward, compound interest, tax laws, contacts and especially contact with money (if you have none) are perhaps the most useful things.

        • Sir Joe Soap
          Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          Spotting opportunities. You either have it or you don’t. Knowing things helps.

          • Sir Joe Soap
            Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            I always classed it as the Wayne Rooney approach. Cover the pitch. Put yourself in the right place and know what to do with the ball when you get it.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Certainly only a rather small fraction of UK degrees are worth the £50k debt + 6% interest and three+ years loss of earning they cost.

  34. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Children in my area were set hardly any course work and we don’t live in a deprived area. Too many teachers aided by the unions are sitting in the sun on full pay while others had to continue working for far less. God knows why they got such a large pay increase.

  35. ian
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I think TV is the best way to reach pupils at home with 6 channels for secondary school one for each year which can be replayed on the BBC i player at any time, great for kids who miss a lot of schooling or for pupils not paying attention in the class or need to catch up for some reason, this way they never miss a class and the ones who do want to miss class’s they will need training for manual jobs.

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Someone said the EU wouldn’t allow the BBC to control and create school content, so we actually need the ‘education department tv lessons’ controlling seven channels one for each school year, if the teachers unions are forcing people to home school their children, then stop funding schools and furloughed teachers (like the rest of the population in normal jobs) and put the resources into online learning they can’t have both, get decent programming, as you say with school iPlayer to watch programs back at convenient times. Online tests to test learning, collect up peoples unused laptops and wipe them then distribute them to children without facilities quickly.

      If teachers are going to be terrified to go back into the class because a third of them are at risk then you can’t force them back, things will have to change, so make the change. Buy in pre-prepared lessons from the big home schooling English speaking nations like America and Australia to start the ball rolling, make them available on tv channels.

  36. John Hatfield
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    John. You don’t mention the NUT which seems to work against the needs of children. Despite how they feel, teachers will only do what the NUT permits, I fear.

    • steve
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      John Hatfield

      “John. You don’t mention the NUT which seems to work against the needs of children.”

      No, but we do have nut who works against the needs of pensioners.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      That may be because the NUT does not exist any more!
      It has been replaced by the National Education Union which is about as far left as you can go without falling off the edge of the earth.

      Union’s motto
      “together we’ll shape the future of education“

      I bet they will.

  37. na
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    How much can we save by getting rid of teachers now? This is a historic opportunity to do so. Teachers pass on values, but the State via the Media should do that. A good friend of mine who won the homeschooling contract for the entire nation of France told me they were given hints this was coming and after al this ends, if it ever does, they will be massive.

  38. Roger Phillips
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Shocking the way you have allowed all the hysteria to ruin the economy. This country will never fully recover, the media and all the daily announcements have scared half the public to death. I would have expected this from a Labour government but not from a Conservative administration.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      But this brexit government are only in office thanks to hysteria.

      Their media stirred it up for years over the European Union – with one myth-maker in chief, who, oddly, is now PM – and the rest is a matter of record.

      And the long-term hit from that will be far worse than that due to this accursed virus.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        It is perfectly sensible to have been hysterical about the prospect of a Corbyn/SNP trip to Venezuela (even for men lacking a uterus). Though the stats suggest that women tend to vote more to the left, more pro EU and more climate alarmist (perhaps as they tend to choose to study far less science preferring humanities and languages on average).

        Looks like the women’s vote in the US may evict the climate realist Trump and replace with the far worse identity politics lefty. Are these two really the best the US can come up with?

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          Well, Labour would have followed WHO guidance from the start, so perhaps the death toll and corresponding economic damage from covid19 would have been far less, rather than the worst in Europe?

          We’ll never know though, will we?

          • Edward2
            Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

            Would Labour have really closed the borders and locked down the whole economy weeks earlier when there was just a few cases in the whole of the UK?
            And caused even more economic misery for people.
            It maybe your fantasy but I don’t think it would ever have happened.

        • graham1946
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          ‘Are these two the best the US can come up with?’

          Of course not – there must be tens of thousands who could do a better job, but the USA, like the UK is no longer a proper democracy – it is globalist. You cannot even become a candidate in the US without access to hundreds of millions of dollars or in the UK where you must join one of two or maybe three parties parties, have access to large amounts of money and time, which in both cases precludes the general population.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        dictionary : hysteria.
        ‘exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement.’

        Are you really claiming the Brexit ref produced a winning vote due to the above?
        I’d have said given the almost self-harming nature of the Remainers, who are still not cured of the distress, the precise opposite is true!

    • steve
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink


      “I would have expected this from a Labour government but not from a Conservative administration.”

      …one and the same thing Sir.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:42 am | Permalink

        Not quite, but not much between them.

  39. Ed M
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Russia claim to be there with the vaccination – and calling it Sputnik 5.

    Be great for British Science if we could get there first – Spitfire 2.

  40. JayGee
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Are you being disingenuous with your use of the words ‘levelling up’ in the title, or is it all tongue-in-cheek?

    Levelling up needs far more than just opening schools again, important though it is for children to be back at school. True levelling up has little to do with children having been absent from school for a few months because of Covid-19, and you must know that. If it was that simple, and if you really did want to see it come about, levelling up would have happened long before CV appeared. Jump to it, get on with it. Level with us all about your plans to level up.

  41. agricola
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Ref New Planning system 8th August.

    On Sunday I had lunch with a friend in the building industry. We discussed house building. He said that since the advent of Covid 19 the price of building materials has skyrocketed. Platerboard and wood have tripled in price. This is almost certainly pure profiteering and should be stamped on because your dream of cheapsr housing will be unrealisable if it continues.

    He agreed that the price of land and the expensively corrupt way it finds its way to market for housing, plus the antiquated way we build houses explains the high prices and poor quality. Ergo it is not just a matter of tnkering with the planning system.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      As Sir John indicated a while back, most of these supply companies for the products you mention are in foreign hands. Some of them in their home countries have to submit to price controls. This leave the UK were there is no such restraint as ripe pickings.

      Just because a company’s brand originated in the UK doesn’t mean it is still part of the UK and contributing to its wealth. Think of any of the top building material supplier then think of your local distributor, they are no longer anything to do with the UK and they pay their taxes outside of the UK.

      These are the results of the stumbling and mumbling of successive UK Governments squandering our recourses and talent.

  42. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Reading the comments related to the subject. The UK is split between we can do it and who cares life is someone else’s problem, the system will fudge to make it work.

    2020 exam results on your CV. What ever they say the employer is going to question the validity and place 2019 students ahead. Not the patient way, but better to retake and be 100% valid.

    Given the Scots redirection is that now going to happen to their driving tests.

  43. David Brown
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me there has become an obsession with exams GCSE and A Levels.
    1. GCSE pass is 10 a penny and a fairly useless piece of paper in its own right.
    2. A Levels are rightly more challenging and you need GCSE to go on to A’s
    However overall its a relatively low number who opt for A levels ( I prefer I B ) and then go on to uni.
    The best way of leveling up education is bring back Technical Colleges with a combination of private and public sector funding and bring back Technical Qualifications. Some could even be added to existing schools in the same way as 6th Form College.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      well said David – something we agree on!

  44. steve
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I dont trust teachers.

    They are NOT guardians of a decent, moral society as they once were.

  45. Thomas E
    Posted August 11, 2020 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    I guess my viewpoint is going to be unpopular, but:

    1. We know, with an absolute certainty, that children can catch Covid-19. Just under 9% of American Covid cases (before schools reopen) have been children.

    2. We know that children tend to have milder cases of Covid, and that a much higher percentage of children are asymptomatic. We can have a reasonable belief that asymptomatic people transmit the infection reasonable readily.

    3. We know that children can transmit Covid 19, for example as a result of CDC investigations on outbreaks at summer camps.

    4. We know that even asymptomatic people display organ damage in scans. We have no peer reviewed research yet investigating what extent of permanent damage this results in either in adults or children.

    5. We do have troubling reports of people catching the disease more than once. It is too early to know how long immunity may last. We do not know if organ damage is cumulative if people get the disease more than once.

    6. We know that a significant percentage of people who have mild cases of Covid have significant health effects months later. Little research has been conducted in children to discover what permanent damage is present in mild or asymptomatic cases. We do need to do this research.

    Given these facts it’s pretty clear that reopening schools poses a credible threat especially since most child cases are very mild or asymptomatic and a third of teachers are in vulnerable categories.

    It is necessary to reopen schools but we should do it sensibly and I have little faith in the approach taken.

    In my opinion we should invest in the saliva tests that cost around $2 a head. These are not as highly accurate as current approaches but can give a test result in under half an hour. It can be administered at home and produced in quantity.

    We should be testing every child each day before school.

    If we can’t do that we should not reopen schools.

    • Rational
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Read this scientific paper https://mbio.asm.org/content/11/4/e01175-20 … It appears that there is little damage to organs for asymptomatic sufferers because the virus stays in the upper respiratory tract and it seems that the body’s immune system doesn’t overreact …

      Where is your proof that the virus damages organs in asymptomatic sufferers?

      Please quote your sources.

      Thank you

      • dixie
        Posted August 13, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        This March 2020 paper, for examples, describes CT scan analysis of Diamond Princess cases – of 104 cases 76 (73%) were asymptomatic of which 41 (54%) had subclinical lung abnormalities;

        So there is clear evidence but a lot more research needs to be done to establish the true impacts of this novel virus.

    • Fred H
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      you are correct – your views are not popular.

  46. dixie
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Agree and age appears to have a bearing.

    The other day, Dr John Campbell reviewed studies in the US on infection in children. He cites all sources of material and the US JAMA data shows that children up to 5 can have 10 to 100 times as much viral load as in older children and adults. So pre-schoolers appear to be a significantly higher infection risk than older children.

    In the US studies it appears around 5% of hospital admissions are children, but 1 in 3 of those are in ICU, so while fewer develop symptoms for those that do a significant proportion require intensive care. So covid is a serious issue with children, they are not magically immune nor non-infectious as some of the commenters appear to believe.

    Why have we not heard of similar studies or analysis done here? Why is the government talking about full return to schooling in September but nothing about risk and mitigation assessments such as done in the US.

    A strategy might be to keep the pre-schoolers at home and adopt a separation and testing regime for older school children – perhaps Paul Nurse should be consulted about the process used at the Crick Institute.

    Whatever approach is adopted it needs to be rational, communicated and justified, the schools provided direct help, resources and guidance because people will simply not believe the “we know best” bullshit from civil servants and politicians anymore – especially if they chop and change their minds

    • dixie
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      above was meant to be in reply to Thomas E’s Aug 11, 20:24 comment.

  • 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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