Section: UK

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 […]

“Doomsday dossier” is Cummings’ last roll of the dice

Anthony Robinson

The Sun’s ‘exclusive’ yesterday on the “Doomsday Dossier” is suspiciously similar to the leaking of Operation Yellowhammer details last August by another Murdoch-owned newspaper, the Sunday Times, but with added coronavirus issues. I assume it was done for the same purpose: as a signal to try and convince the EU that the government is serious […]

Assault on our food and healthcare: double whammy from the USA

Martin Brooks

With a US trade deal, the UK faces the doubly damaging prospect of the arrival of both American food and American healthcare products and services. The combination threatens the nation’s health and the NHS’s wellbeing. This is a variation of the good old American win-win, but while America wins both ways, we lose twice. The […]

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 […]

Johnson claims the (oven ready) deal will be ready by September

Jane Thomas
Boris Johnson in Downing Street

Tuesday saw the start of round seven of talks on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union. The UK and the EU have now been in negotiations on their future relationship since 2 March 2020, which makes you wonder just what they have been talking about and why there’s been so little progress. Part of […]

Johnson is heading for the elephant trap he has dug himself

Anthony Robinson

Sir Ivan Rogers was our ambassador to the EU (known as UKREP) until Theresa May forced him out in January 2017 for having the temerity to suggest she should have a clear plan ready before triggering Article 50. Since then he has made a series of incisive speeches, all of which have proved remarkably prescient. […]

Trouble in Tory paradise?

Jacob Millen-Bamford

Conservative backbench MPs are an unhappy group at the moment. Number 10 is struggling to manage them and is seen to be ignoring their concerns. When the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority in the 2019 general election this majority was widely seen to be impenetrable. The government, and therefore Number 10, would be able to […]

Let’s celebrate the real wealth creators

Jacob Taylor
silver round coins

Cast your minds back two months, to a time when every Thursday evening you would step out your front door or lean out of your window and join your neighbours in clapping for the “wealth creators” of Britain. That’s not who you were clapping for? Well according to Boris Johnson we were as much clapping […]

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 […]

The computer says “no”

Juliet Lodge

The computer says, “No, you Josh from a community comprehensive in Mexborough shan’t go to Oxford”. Nor shall you, Amber from Bransholme, Hull’s largest council estate. But the computer says “yes” to Harry from Rishworth and Olivia from Ampleforth. As for grades, the computer says “yes” to downgrading Josh’s and Amber’s and “yes” to inflating […]

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.

Is Boris Johnson losing the plot?

Anthony Robinson

On a visit to Northern Ireland yesterday where he met Irish prime minister Micheál Martin, Boris Johnson made the extraordinary claim that there will be no border down the Irish Sea, saying if there is one it will be “over my dead body”.  This is widely reported in the local media (here and here) and […]

A case for school-led political education

Beanna Olding

Twitter wars; they’re everywhere. Even if you are not on Twitter, you’ve probably still seen a fair few. And even if you haven’t directly seen the venomous, back-and-forth, 280-character limited attacks, I’ll wager that you’ve read the news articles denouncing or encouraging them. It seems that the debate around whether or not these Twitter wars […]

The taste of Lavender is as good as the scent

Meryl White

How I’ve appreciated the smells of lavender growing in my garden this year reminding me of visits to Lavender farms across the UK and Provence in France. As well as being a beautiful plant, lavender is well known for its soothing scent and the calming benefits of its oil. It’s a classic in the world of […]

Brexit backing billionaire plans to open new car plant – in France

Anthony Robinson

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the chemical company Ineos and Britain’s richest man, plans to open a car plant in France to build the successor to the 4×4 Land Rover Defender which was discontinued in 2016. Ratcliffe, who was a supporter of Brexit, reportedly moved to Monaco in 2019 in order to avoid paying £4bn […]

Public health should be in public hands

Jane Thomas

This morning on BBC Radio 4, Minister of State for Health Edward Argar attempted to defend the indefensible by suggesting that the government will stick with Serco to provide the essential coronavirus test and trace programme. This is despite mounting evidence of the abject failure of the current test and trace programme run by Serco, […]

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