Category: Policy

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The bigger picture beyond the exams fiasco

Mary Boothman
happy student throwing papers in air in park

Might the resignation of the chief regulator, Sally Collier – followed swiftly by the sacking of Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary to the Department for Education – draw a line under the exams debacle of recent weeks? I very much doubt it, nor do I believe they should have been the ones to take the hit. […]

The housing and planning bill we should have had

Andrew Cooper

The Conservative government’s proposals in the business and planning bill have been justly criticised for being far too developer-friendly, to the detriment of the local environment, climate change, housing standards and local democracy. The bill panders to the interests of big builders and not those of millions of people who need low cost, secure housing […]

Our future: towns and cities

Hugh Goulbourne

Some of you may have been watching the BBC’s programme on the regeneration of Manchester (Manctopia) with a mixture of horror and fascination. Here on this side of the Pennines I think we can do things better, in a way that includes local people and is fair to all. Our towns and city centres are […]

A tale of two cities: the state of Sheffield

Jane Thomas

This Friday sees the annual State of Sheffield event, an opportunity for Sheffield City Partnership to showcase its work of the last year, and for people across the city to identify and shape plans for the future. Unsurprisingly, the unprecedented challenges of coronavirus have meant this year’s report is focusing on what life has been […]

Our food standards are too important to be left to ministers

Lady Harris
brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime

One of the most important pieces of legislation we are considering presently in the House of Lords is the agriculture bill. During its passage through the House of Commons it was argued that this bill needed to include a ban on food products which were imported to the UK – but didn’t meet our strict […]

Might community learning hubs solve our schooling crisis?

Andrew Milson

Isn’t it amazing how simple many things appear until you really start to look into them? I remember my first time playing on a full-sized snooker table, confidently expecting to saunter round the baize dispatching the perky spheres into the hungry pockets. Maybe, just maybe, my opponent wouldn’t even get a chance to come to […]

Slaves to the algorithm: our four-year-olds are next in line

Dr Pam Jarvis
multicolored abacus photography

So, after three days of insistence that their algorithm was appropriate, and following its enthusiastic endorsement by Michael Gove, the Department for Education capitulated and agreed to let Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) stand as A-level and GCSE students’ final grades. However, many questions are left to ponder. The shadow attorney general maintains that in allocating […]

If not an algorithm, economic background will determine grades

Jacob Taylor

The A-level results fiasco is just the tip of the educational inequality iceberg, one which extends even beyond the issue of private and grammar schools, but is nevertheless exacerbated by it. Underlying the broad inequalities we find in our education system is one key ingredient: socioeconomic inequality. We must now quickly learn the lesson that […]

Isolating the imagination: the decline of languages

Dr M M Gilchrist

Amid the furore over the mangling of this year’s A-level results, one statistic stood out for me: only 7,557 students took French. While the numbers taking Spanish rose slightly, those taking German fell by 6 percent. This decline in European languages in state schools is worrying, accompanied also by a decline in the humanities, such […]

Government blunders: learning from the past

Dr Stella Perrott

In their book, published in 2013, The Blunders of Our Governments, Ivor Crew and Anthony King explore 12 examples of government blunders, all of which took place prior to the majority Conservative government of 2015. Their examples are from Conservative, coalition and Labour administrations. A summary of the findings can be found here. They define […]

From crisis to opportunity: is the pandemic the catalyst to reshaping health and care services in England?

Peter Ellis
surgeons performing surgery

Politicians are attempting to blame various Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) agencies, for England’s lacklustre performance in managing the pandemic. It is a paradox that such political ‘blame gaming’ highlights what I believe are some of the inherent and longstanding problems that have limited the NHS’s potential. This is exacerbated by misinformation leaked […]

Gavin Williamson has failed his test

Andy Brown
auditorium benches chairs class

Every reasonable person knows that government isn’t easy. Particularly in a pandemic. Making real time decisions when events are unfolding at speed inevitably produces mistakes. Yet the vast majority of the mistakes made in the exam fiasco don’t fall into that category. They were avoidable and there was plenty of time to look properly into […]

Futures decided by Numberwang? Exam results in the time of covid

Dr Pam Jarvis

On the day that an exams algorithm robbed a significant number of working-class children in Yorkshire and across the nation of the results they needed to access their university places, Jon Snow interviewed Nick Gibb on the Channel 4 news. Gibb began by telling Snow that the spread of grades across the whole cohort was […]

Refugees are neither migrants nor illegal

Jon Danzig

By making such a chancy crossing the only way to seek asylum here, the prime minister and home secretary are complicit in aiding and abetting odious gangsters who are making millions out of desolate people.

Social instability? It’s on the house! (part two)

Andrew Leach

Part one of ‘Social instability? It’s on the house!’ is available HERE Successive UK governments have had, at best, short-sighted housing policies for decades. Despite all the promises and white papers, programmes of house-building, bank lending, and false starts, headlines over recent years have talked of a housing crisis. The population’s getting older, house ownership […]

Planning for profit

Andy Brown
high angle shot of suburban neighborhood

Planning regulations are hugely complex and difficult to understand. It must be very tempting for a new minister to try and make their mark by simplifying and reforming the system. Particularly if they represent a political party that has received huge donations from building developers. So, it comes as no surprise that Robert Jenrick wants […]

Social instability? It’s on the house! (part one)

Andrew Leach

Home, they say, is where the heart is. Quickly followed by “I wonder what this place is worth?” For too long that most basic of provisions, a roof over one’s head, has been seen as “an investment” rather than a home, a sanctuary. And increasingly, it’s the politicians who are rubbing their hands at the […]

Walls come tumbling down

Jane Thomas

Last week I visited Keighley – my first foray into the non-Sheffield outside world since lockdown restrictions were lifted. The last time I visited was on the eve of polling day in the 2019 general election to help the sitting Labour MP John Grogan. Professional to a tee, John was maintaining an air of quiet […]

The fat of the land

Andrew Leach

“Eat Out to Help Out”, the government says. A phrase that comes oven-ready with a side order of “Ew”. In essence, it’s a scheme whereby Westminster will pay fifty per cent of the cost of your meal out up to a £10 contribution. So a £20 surf ‘n’ turf will come in at a measly […]

New UK Magnitsky-style human rights sanction regime

Marc Limon and Louis Mason

An important step forward for accountability On 6 July the UK became the latest country to join the growing ‘Magnitsky momentum’ by passing the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations, allowing the government to sanction alleged perpetrators of the gravest forms of human rights violations. Introducing the regulations in parliament, the UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, […]

The doctor will thin you now: government announces new obesity strategy

Annabelle Levins
food dinner lunch unhealthy

On 27 July, the government announced a new strategy to tackle obesity in Britain, the so-called “fat man of Europe”. Measures include the introduction of calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, a 9pm watershed on junk-food advertising and a ban on ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deals on foods high in fat and sugar. The new plan has […]

On the buses

Jane Thomas

The order creating Yorkshire’s first devolution deal was finally signed on Monday by Simon Clarke, minister of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, after five years of dispute between the four local authorities of Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. Originally signed in 2015 it collapsed in 2017 when Barnsley and Doncaster signalled […]

Undermining the rule of law: Buckland, Begum and my son

Liz Webster

I was relieved to hear the recent court of appeal ruling that Shamima Begum should be allowed to return home to appeal the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship. The fact that she has to fight to regain her citizenship is ludicrous and potentially dangerous. If she fails, the repercussions will be extensive […]

Polish government accused of risking “a serious breach” of the rule of law

Wiktor Moszczynski

In the October 2015 elections for the Polish parliament, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) won an outright majority with an ambitious Poland First programme of so-called “good renewal”, which included a generous social welfare programme and a desire to overturn their predecessors’ social and economic policies. PiS is ultra-nationalist and socially conservative, opposing (indeed reversing) […]

Government’s £400m purchase of bankrupt OneWeb looks doomed to fail

Anthony Robinson

There is growing curiosity and another potential scandal surrounding the government’s £400m purchase of the bankrupt satellite company OneWeb. Dominic Cummings believes that in the UK we need something like the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where the government pumps money into blue skies projects in the hope of getting a lead in […]

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