Schools campaigner changes group name to improve debate

ENDING a ‘war of attrition’ with teachers is the aim of a name change for an online school campaign protest group.

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ENDING a ‘war of attrition’ with teachers is the aim of a name change for an online school campaign protest group.

‘Save our Secondary Schools’ Facebook group has morphed to become ‘Support our Secondary Schools’ after a suggestion at a public meeting with Education.

It will be run by Rhian Tooley and Bridget Aegerter, who originally stepped down in November, and say altering the first word to one less confrontational would improve the tone of debate.

‘If it makes us less challenging to the teaching establishment, so be it. I think what we need to get away from is the adverse criticism of the schools and particularly criticism of teaching staff. A lot of teaching staff have taken personal offence,’ said Mrs Aegerter (pictured).

The group was originally set up to highlight the ‘education system as a whole’ and its failings.

ENDING a ‘war of attrition’ with teachers is the aim of a name change for an online school campaign protest group.

‘Save our Secondary Schools’ Facebook group has morphed to become ‘Support our Secondary Schools’ after a suggestion at a public meeting with Education.

It will be run by Rhian Tooley and Bridget Aegerter, who originally stepped down in November, and say altering the first word to one less confrontational would improve the tone of debate.

‘If it makes us less challenging to the teaching establishment, so be it. I think what we need to get away from is the adverse criticism of the schools and particularly criticism of teaching staff. A lot of teaching staff have taken personal offence,’ Mrs Aegerter said.

The group was originally set up to highlight the ‘education system as a whole’ and its failings.

However, the campaign quickly took on a life of its own and soon the message was becoming distorted in bitter arguments, she said.

‘All I was saying was some of the schools are performing really badly. I wanted to make some noise about the fact they are failing.

‘I never set out to cause a war of attrition between parents and teachers.  I did not want them ripping it out of each other. We need to reconcile the gap.’

The group was set up in September in a bid to get Education to improve the schools following a fall in the percentage of pupils getting A* to C in their GCSEs this year and at its height had over 400 members.

Mrs Aegerter would now like, she said, people to switch to the new page.

There was ‘no big plan’ when the group was set up, she said, and it was only bringing attention to this ‘detrimental’ issue that was her goal.

Now, the group’s focus is not just on the education system, but on trying to engage parents of all children.

‘A lot of parents who have kids don’t engage with their kid’s education. If we can get even a tiny percentage to engage that would make a big difference.

‘There are quite a few kids whose parents just don’t care that much. We just need them to say, “have you done your homework?”.’

Comments for: "Schools campaigner changes group name to improve debate"

Bridge

I would just like to clarify that I never said I didn't want teachers and parents "ripping it out of each other". This is not a turn of phrase I would use.

However, that small point aside, the message is undoubtedly that the war of attrition that seems to have inadvertently developed between some parents and teachers needs to be resolved. We have all made our point and we have all had a good moan. But now, rather than keeping on attacking the schools, the department and the board, I think we (the public) need to start asking "what can we do to help?".

For example, I certainly do not believe that a union member 'leaking' inaccurate and highly inflammatory information to the media last week, and causing a totally unnecessary furore, helped anyone.

The last few months have presented a major learning curve for me personally. I started out with very little faith in the system, based on historical evidence (that is why I set the FB group up after all), but having spent time and effort acquainting myself with the current Board and the current Head of Education, I have found I have increasing faith in them.

Yes there is a very long road ahead, but we HAVE started that journey. It is going to be long and at times painful, but we are on the way. And what we need to do now is try and 'support'.

Spartacus

Bridge

It is fantastic to see everything back on track and you should be proud of all the information being disseminated, the debates and meeting of minds occurring on SOSS.

I was very impressed with how the "leaking" story evolved on Friday and how quickly the facts were established for the benefit of all concerned.

I would encourage anyone to join your group, especially parents and teachers as they are best placed to exert collaborative influence on the children and the communication between the two is vital for the parent/teacher partnership.

Political lobyists will succeed or fail with their aims but ultimately the question "What can we do to help" is indeed the right question for everyone to be asking right now.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1375945155983585/

Grumpy teacher

Spartacus, will you be joining the group?

I don't use Facebook but I think as a teacher I probably wouldn't be allowed to join.

Spartacus

Grumpy teacher

Well, you will not be seeing the pseudonym "Spartacus" posting on SOSS!

I have no doubt that your input on SOSS would be invaluable, if there is any problem with public comment maybe Bridge would bend her rules and allow you to use your pseudonym?

Other teachers have freely posted comments under their real names and I personally suspect the group could have disintegrated without the balance their insights have provided to the group.

I am aware that you have had some criticisms of the central education department and board in the past and I suspect there may be still a way to go to heal past wounds and build better ongoing collaborations between teachers and the "centre" but I believe if anyone can help build bridges it is er... Bridge!

I would be interested to hear whether you still have concerns and what these are specifically. For example how do you feel about the team of "critical friends" which was highlighted in the press last week which was put together last year to help raise standards in schools? Are they supportive?

Grumpy teacher

Spartacus, I am all for healing wounds and moving on.

As a teacher I am privileged to work in a wonderful school with great colleagues, supportive parents and children who in the most part want to learn and be the best that they can be. (Can you guess where that is?) To me the centre is almost irrelevant. I am alarmed that they are spending money importing "critical friends" (i.e. expensive consultants with large fees, hotel bills and travel costs). We don't need them and we will probably never see them anyway. Why can't the money be spent instead on support staff to help those children with special needs?

There has to be a central infrastructure to ensure staff get paid, vacancies are filled and buildings are maintained, and there needs to be an independent quality assurance system. Beyond that, let schools get on with the job and cut the unnecessary bureaucracy.

The first Mulkerrin report accurately summed up what is wrong with education in Guernsey. The Department has dodged the issues and carried on regardless. I had great faith in Mr Mulkerrin but I feel he has gone native and a wonderful opportunity has been lost.

Spartacus

GT

I don't think the team are incurring travel costs are they? I got the impression they are established staff.

I also got the impression that they ARE a quality assurance team/support staff to help with those who have special needs. If so they must need to work closely with schools, and perhaps spend most of their time in them, this is why I'd like to know whether it is working or whether it is unnecessary. I might be completely wrong, I'm just intrigued and I'd just generally like to know more.

If you don't have much contact with the centre and yet you get visits from Sillars and Buckland, I'm guessing you work at Le Rondin? Or maybe one of the colleges?

I hope you get onto SOSS.

Bridge

@Grumpy Teacher

I am perplexed by your post. I have said repeatedly in all the media outlets I have had access to that Support our Secondary Schools actively seeks more teachers. We really truly need and WANT more teachers! Please join. You will be extremely welcome and your views invaluable. Bridge x

Caroline Bowker

In response to the comments above regarding "leaking" information to the press, which I presume is aimed at me, I would like to point that I was approached by the Press and responded simply to the information they had received. If you would like to discuss the facts of the issue, please do feel free to contract me. I don't hide behind a pseudonym and my number is in the book.

Bridge

@Caroline Bowker

This is what was reported on the BBC Guernsey News website:-

"A teaching union says it is concerned about the number of teachers at a Guernsey school due to leave at the end of the term.

The NASUWT says staff offered voluntary severance at La Mare De Carteret have been asked to step down half-way through the academic year.

Guernsey NASUWT secretary Caroline Bowker says cutting teaching posts at this time of year will have a knock-on effect for students.

She said: "It will mean teachers being asked to leave at a time when they are in the middle of courses. I don't think it is the natural wish of any teacher to be asked to leave mid-year.""

I wonder if you could clarify whether you made these comments, and if so, whether you still stand by them?

I have been advised by Education that your claim that staff were asked to leave at the end of December was wrong. CS staff who applied for VS (in that particular round of applications) were always going to leave in December. Education then asked for a variation of this clause in relation to teachers, specifically to avoid disruption for students. Therefore, for teachers, VS meant July UNLESS the head said they could go earlier and not adversely affect students learning. This implies that teaching staff who are leaving in December, due to VS, are only doing so because they have asked for and been given permission.

A source at Education has also confirmed that the number of voluntary severances was nowhere near that which was reported (apparently by you).

I also know that the ensuing media frenzy caused great disruption at La Mare de Carteret School.

I believe it is in the public interest to know why this situation arose and any clarification you can provide would be very gratefully received I am sure. Certainly SOSS was approached by the media with the story, which had apparently been leaked by you. If this is not the case, I think the public ought to know and the media be asked to issue a suitably corrective statement.

Bridget Aegerter

Stephen John

Bridge

I wonder why your response to Mrs Bowker is worrying.

Mrs Bowker posted an open invite for those concerned to contact her thin order to discuss the media reports.

Your response is to go public with the Education side of the story without giving Mrs Bowker the courtesy of putting to you her comments on what you were told by Education.

So far as the Mare is concerned, if staff are leaving in December it suggests that the Head teacher is in agreement. It also suggests that the school,was over staffed if it could shed staff mid year.

If the school was not over staffed then it is likely that there would be problems for pupils after staff had left, albeit with the approval of the Hesd.

There is a public interest, but surely you should have given Mrs Bowker the courtesy of responding in a private conversation with you, before going public with the Education version.

You clearly had a conversation with Education. Why didn't' you take up the invitation of Mrs Bowker to discuss the matter before going public?

Spartacus

Stephen John

Caroline Bowker apparently overstepped the mark by going public herself with inaccurate information causing a fresh bout of undue concerns about La Mare.

The correct facts were established by communication direct from the head teacher of La Mare to several enquiries by concerned parents and the response was relayed to Bridge via SOSS.

I gather it is not unusual for staff to leave in December, for example one teacher who is leaving is pregnant, and one would assume that the head is competent to handle normal staffing turnover to ensure continuity of classes affected.

I have no idea how on earth you have concluded that the school was overstaffed.

Perhaps Mrs Bowker should have had a conversation with education to get her facts straight before she made a public comment?

Bridge

@Stephen John

I understand your point, but frankly I am neither a journalist nor Mrs Bowker's PR officer.

As a concerned parent, I was at liberty to contact Education last week, just as everybody else was, to seek clarification of the situation - which they duly provided I hasten to add. I understand that the head of La Mare was similarly bombarded with queries from anxious parents.

If Mrs Bowker has genuinely been misquoted in the media, then it is in her interest to defend herself and rectify the situation, not to have me or anybody else do it for her. And if she has had this 'story' erroneously attributed to her, I would very much encourage her to set the record straight in the public domain.

Stephen John

Bridge

What concerns me is the fear that the comments of you and Spartacus are designed to lower the standing of Mrs Bowker.

Mrs Bowker posted suggesting she had been misquoted. Yet, you and the aggressive one re publish these comments on these pages.

It would have been courteous and fair to have contacted Mrs Bowker to hear her side of the story. You knew of her invite to talk as you replied to it. Yet you ignored it.

Claiming not to be a journalist cuts no ice

Spartacus

My comment on the Mare being possibly over staffed comes from the fact that they could have unplanned losses without any consequences.

The Press' should be monitoring the use of supply teachers at the Mare to cover for those who taken voluntary severance.

Stephen John

Bridge says she is neither a journalist not Mrs Bowker's PR.

You seem to be doing a good job as a PR for Education! You say you got clarification from education but then failed to get clarification from Mrs Bowker.

Any reason why you want to reduce the standing of Mrs Bowker in the eyes of those in the field of education and the wider public ?

Sorry if there is some depiction but some posts seem to have gone missing.

Bridge

@Spartacus

Thank you.

@Stephen John

I have no duty whatsoever to contact Mrs Bowker (be it legal, moral or professional) and you cannot impose one on me.

If you are so concerned about what is 'courteous and fair', why don't you ask Mrs Bowker yourself what she reported to the media and enlighten us all on her behalf?

I am not just 'claiming' not to be a journalist, I am not one. If, one of these days, I find myself in a position of influence and responsibility (like Mrs Bowker) or that of a paid journalist, I might have a different view.

Spartacus

Stephen John

You can hear what Caroline Bowker actually said on Jim Cathcart on 6/12 @1.35m here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01l9lg9

Education responded to these comments here:

http://www.education.gg/article/109901/Statement-to-the-media-re-Voluntary-Severance

I have every confidence in Vicky Godley to manage her staffing requirements at La Mare including succession planning.

Bridge hasn't "reduced the standing" of Caroline Bowker and I'm certain she hasn't "gone native" as you seem to be implying! ;-)

Storm in a teacup.

Stephen John

Mrs Bowker's post suggests that the allegation of leaks against her were not justified. She says she was responding to information the media had already received.

Yet, Spartacus repeats the claim and Bridge fails to seek Mrs Bowker's side of the story.

Why?

Bridge

Get over it Stephen John, it is becoming boring.

Bridge

@Stephen John

I have now spoken at considerable length with Caroline Bowker. I have also apologised to her for anything inaccurate that I have written or implied about her during the last week. She was very gracious and our conversation has been most beneficial (for me at least).

Other than that, I am not going to disclose any further details of our conversation because it is entirely a private matter between us. Suffice to say that I believe we now understand one another :0)

Unimpressed

Good question, the word "busybody" comes to mind.

Spartacus

Stephen John

The radio comments publicised information which was personally conveyed to her and therefore a leak. Just saying.

Dave

Why is bridge a busybody for trying to find out the truth about what went on? As an interested parent she has every right to want the truth. just as dozens of other parents did on the day. Everything is still a secret at education even now that Neals gone. At least Bridget Agetter tried to find out what the situation really was and her version seemed to be a lot closer to the truth than the radio from what I;ve heard. If teachers are being made redundant mid-year we should know and if people on the inside are passing false details to the press we should know. if the bbc is broadcasting stories which are not fact we should know.

Personally I am glad that Bridget Agetter and Caroline Bowker have talked. Imagine if the teachers union and SOSS banded together - now that would be interesting.

BadDonkey

Lobbying for the 11 plus to stay anyhow .

tulip

BadDonkey, does your group have a facebook page? If so, what is it called?

Neil Forman

Hi Tulip

The group is called Save Our 11 Plus

Spartacus

So now BadDonkey doesn't need to use a pseudonym anymore.

Bridge

And I am not a member ;0)

Neil Forman

Spartacus

I have asked Neil if he is bad donkey and he says no, he does post occasionally but not under that name.

I gave the name because it is the pro 11+ group.

Bridge

Why not? ;-)

BadDonkey

I don't use facebook tulip , but if you need to get hold of me you can on bad.donkey@gmail.com

Secondly @ Sparticus , but it seems you do have need of a Pseudonym , don't you ;)

In your position I would use one as well.

Neil Shepherd

Thank you Neil Forman for promoting the Save Our 11 Plus group on Facebook.

If anyone needs any information or directions to join the group, please do not hesitate in contacting myself or Neil Forman via facebook.

Bridge

@BadDonkey

Support our Secondary Schools is about supporting the high schools in their current form. Selection may or may not come to an end in due course, but at the moment we need to support the system we have in place.

BadDonkey

No system is perfect, but the one we have is tried and tested for this small community.

The 11 plus is just a small fraction of what is needed to maintain a high standard of education.

For those that use Finland as a benchmark really should take a closer look at its failings presently , the money in their educational system is just not available like it used to be. They are far from a perfect system. Mainstreaming of pupils would not bring up the standard but degrade it . Education should be as flexible as the individual students potential.

Our goal as a community should be to forward all aspects of our childrens knowledge , combined with professional skills that can be re introduced into many facets of our community .

Bridge

Are there any teachers out there who are willing to provide some insight as to what could be improved in our high schools in the short or long term and what the community can do to assist? SOSS cannot lobby for improvements if it doesn't know what improvements could make a difference.

If you would prefer to contact me directly, my email address is bridget.aegerter@gmail.com. Any communications will be treated in strict confidence.

Island Wide Voting

Luckily for us Grange House always manage to secure first pick of newbie teachers

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520202/I-like-student-bossom-Headmaster-reveals-semi-literate-job-applications-received-post-boarding-school.html

GM

IWV

The only surprise is that we should be surprised.

Standards have downsized in recent decades since it was decided that proper grammar, spelling and sentence construction was no longer important to get right. We now have generations of young adults leaving school who are of little use to many employers as they cannot even write letters to customers or clients.

I have experienced staff who have absolutely no idea how or when to use commas or apostrophes, and who haven't got a clue how to correct sentences when Word tells them that they have made grammatical errors. And I'm talking about school leavers with 7 or 8 GCEs, sometimes even with A Levels.

It DOES matter. It always has done. Which idiots deemed that it no longer mattered? It is one reason why the likes of Vietnam and Poland have overtaken English education standards.

Stephen John

GM

I suspect a factor in those entering the working world somewhat short of the skills needed in the workplace, is the reluctance of lecturers and teachers to accept the needs of employers.

All too often I used to hear staff reject the needs of employers on the basis that we know best or what's it to do with them!!

This attitude was clearly seen when a student went to a finance house on works experience and promptly told than their business plan was not in the correct format. The student had been told by her tutor that there was only one correct format, the one she had been taught.

Bridge

@GM

At the risk of igniting a storm of controversy (again) I tend to agree with you on this. There is a teacher at my daughter's primary school who cannot spell even fairly simple words such as 'appology'!! I too have a problem with this because with the best will in the world, how can she teach children to spell if she cannot spell herself? Another teacher at the same school told my eldest daughter's class that the Cold War was when all the German soldiers died on the Russian Front because they were cold!! Now this may not be materially damaging in itself, but it demonstrates a staggering level of ignorance of the most basic and relevant history.

It seems that grammar and spelling are not as important as they used to be. In my day, you could fail an exam for not spelling words correctly or for using poor grammar. Nowadays it doesn't seem to matter.

Can anyone clarify why this drop in standards in English language seems to have occurred over the last couple of decades?

Phil

Probably because if not the level of exam failures would have been catastrophic, thereby meaning that a huge amount of schools would have been unable to meet their precious targets. The increased use of technology hasn't helped of course, but I see no reason why English language standards could not be significantly improved should there be the desire to do so.

As an employer there isn't a chance I'd take someone on who couldn't write a letter or construct a sentence properly. My son can speak better English than some of the youths you hear nowadays, and he's not 3 years old yet.

Spartacus

Bridge

I agree that teachers should be exemplary in their grammar and spelling and if they are not then they need help to develop their skills.

If they say something in jest to get the children's attention for a subject such as history, which can be dry, then they should make very clear that it is a joke! Small children do no always "get" it.

My standards at school were very high, but not all my teachers were perfect, so I wonder whether the perception that standards have dropped is accurate.

In the UK there is documented evidence of a slip in English standards and maybe this applies to Guernsey however I suspect part of this could just be due to infiltration of a different school of thought which simply favours substance over style.

Fastidious correcting of spelling and grammar can be counter productive however everyone seems to agree that encouraging avid reading of good quality material is the best bet for enabling children to absorb high standards and that is certainly the approach I personally have taken as a parent.

GM

Spartacus

Call me old-fashioned, but I would prefer that teachers should "develop their skills" re the basics before they are deemed qualified to teach.

Yes - an infiltration of substance over style is definitely to blame for the drop in standards. An attitude of "it will do - I know what you were trying to say" was allowed to develop and become the norm in the UK, and thus here as well (teachers obviously all attended the same Marxist training colleges).

When I was at Grammar School (the 70s), we would be marked down in subjects like Biology or Geography if our answers contained poor spelling or grammar.

Spartacus

GM

I agree that teachers should develop their skills before they are qualified. However this is beyond the control of the employer. If the qualified teachers who have been recruited have a skills gap it is down to the employer to fix this surely.

Is it a drop in standards? You and I would have been marked down but we attended very academic focused schools. I'm not convinced that in our day the state secondary schools had higher standards than today.

Besides, substance should not be sacrificed in favour of pedantry surely?

I wonder if the wider problems in England are due to changes of culture, immigration etc or perhaps it is simply part of the continual evolution of our language. English has changed a lot since the day of Shakespeare and what about Chaucer?

The main problem as I see it is ensuring the employee market in Guernsey has an adequate number of candidates with a very high standard of business English.

GM

Spartacus

I agree that this is not the fault of the States as employer. Teachers should not be qualifying as teachers in the first place if their own basic skills are not up to scratch. It is a direct result of the "dumbing down" of UK education.

Yes - we seem to have both attended very academic focused schools. We are literate. Precisely why I'm so much in favour of the Grammar School and the Colleges. A more academically focused education produces far higher standards.

The decline started in the early 70s with the secondary moderns. It seems to have been a strategic policy change by those leading UK education at the time, and it just snowballed.

It's not necessary to be pedantic, but where is the line drawn? Correct is correct and wrong is wrong.

I don't think immigration or evolution of the language is to blame. Culture, yes. A culture of "it will do" and pupils not having their errors pointed out has meant that they have never been taught that getting it grammatically correct actually matters.

No - the Guernsey emoloyment market does not need "business English". It just needs grammatically-correct proper English, correctly spelt.

Spartacus

GM

The problem with your comment that you support Grammar and Colleges because those schools produce far higher standards is that those schools are only attended by the minority and that is perhaps why only the minority of students have those high standards.

Surely the answer to the problem if you want far higher standards is to expect higher standards of everyone which surely is an argument against selection.

I would like to see everyone educated to the same high standards as the colleges but you say they can't - you say life's unfair. Well you can't have it both ways GM. We reap what we sow.

Does everyone need "gramatically correct proper English" i.e. business English? Including those who take vocational career routes?

GM

Spartacus

We ALL want Guernsey standards to improve.

It should not be necessary to have to attend the Colleges or the Grammar School in order to receive a basic standard of education which existed at a higher level in all schools 30-40 years ago than it does today. If the secondary or high schools are incapable of teaching the basics of English grammar or correcting bad spelling, then God help us. What on earth ARE they teaching there? Are you going to try to suggest that this is not their responsibility?

We are failing any pupil who is not taught how to spell or how to properly construct a sentence, regardless of whether they follow a vocational career or not. Basic literacy is surely the foundation of any education system.

I'm actually very concerned with your view on this, on the assumption that you are not merely trolling. You seem to be suggesting that the "it will do" attitude, with no need for it to be grammatically correct, is not an issue. That is precisely why the UK education system today, and by extension the Guernsey education system today, is producing such low standards. If teachers are educationalists are driving such an attitude, then it speaks volumes.

Spartacus

GM

No it's not necessary to attend the Grammar or colleges in order to receive a basic standard of education however we were talking about the superior standard which you and I were privileged to receive.

Perhaps teaching methods have changed and perhaps newly qualified teachers these days do not have the same quality of grammar, I simply don't know whether this is the case or not.

However every educationalist will tell you the single most important thing for high standards in schools is quality of teachers and IF we want to improve standards of grammar and spelling in all our schools we clearly need to develop our teachers, if, indeed their standards of grammar and spelling are discovered to be not up to scratch when they arrive in Guernsey.

I have personally not noticed any grammatical problems or low standards at all from school however I have no reason not to trust what Bridge has reported although you seem to be blowing her anecdote of one incidence by one teacher out of all proportion.

As I have said perhaps my experience is due to the fact that I took the advice to ignite a love of reading of good quality reading material and this is in my opinion vital as a part of children's readiness to learn. Not all children get that opportunity and perhaps that is where efforts should be focused, indeed I believe there is a reading programme which has been set up to accomplish this already.

The “it will do” attitude is not acceptable to me however for some children it is probably counter productive to be too pedantic. That was one valid point I made. Another valid point I made was that our language is probably evolving (See Armstrong and Miller's WW2 pilot sketches).

I am not convinced our standards in Guernsey have dropped, I have personally seen no evidence.

GM

Spartacus

Sorry but I cannot get my head around the absurdity of your suggestion that we send those who are teaching our children English and maths to classes to learn the very basics of the subjects that they are being to teach!

I reiterate that they should have these skills before they qualify as teachers.

Would you go to a dentist who hasn't yet learned how to do fillings properly? Doesn't his qualification indicate that he is properly qualified? Why would teachers be any different?

If teacher training colleges are "passing" incompetent teachers then the entire education system is doomed. Maybe we should start recruiting teachers from what used to be known as the Third World, where standards re the basics seem to far exceed those of the UK.

Charley

Spartacus

Sorry if I am being dim but I don't quite understand what you mean by your 6.01am response to GM.

You seem to be questioning whether it is necessary for all students to be taught grammatically correct English as those on Vocational courses may not need this. This seems to be contrary to the view that all children are capable of accessing an academic education.

Poor grammar and spelling don't necessarily prevent academic success but it certainly make it very much more difficult to achieve.

Spartacus

Charley

I didn't question whether students should be taught grammatically correct English I questioned whether all students need those skills to the very high level of business communication. I hope this clarifies.

This is in no way contrary to my view that most children are capable of accessing an academic education, with or without those skills.

Bridge

Folks

We are having a mini-referendum on SOSS about teachers posting anonymously. Will let you know the outcome, but it is looking favourable so far :0)

Stephen John

Bridge

You are right to be concerned about the decline in standards.

When did the decline commence. I suspect more than two decades ago.

The problem is not just a Guernsey problem. It is a national problem.

I just wonder if the almost mandatory use of calculators has led to the lack of understanding of proportions, approximations etc.

I also wonder if the widespread use of computers has contributed to instant answers but no long term learning. There are exceptions when students do use the internet as a learning tool and not a source of multiple pages that have a title that might be related to the task in hand.

Before I left the CFE I was involved in the teaching of the now University of Manchester finance degree course. I recall the Manchester lecturers telling us that they needed to run courses in how to write an essay answer to an examination question. This for university level students.

Only a few days ago I was reading of the decline in standards in Schools in Wales. The comparison between now and when I was in school is so sad (mind you it was a long time ago)

Last week I was watching an interview with the Head of a failing High School on the Isle of Wight. The head was eloquent on the rich width of the curriculum. She was however lost for words when asked to explain the number of students whose literacy and numeracy skills left much to be desired. Yet, the same failing school, with dire figures relating to literacy and numeracy still managed to send some students to Oxbridge last October. Is it to do student motivation?

Bridge

@Spartacus

It was not a joke. She presented the information as factual and had to be corrected by another teacher who happened to be in the room!

You are right that there has been an apparently accepted drop in (english) standards nationally over the last couple of decades and I find this very sad. But then I was baffled by maths and failed my 'O' level so do I have the right to criticise those who don't know where to put an apostrophe or spell 'appology'? But then again, I am not teaching children how to perform alegraic equations.

Bridge

PS: Can anyone out there teach me algebra please? ;0)

Cough cough........

Quite happy to help you out Bridge, you should know that I'm a very strict disciplinarian though :-)

Bridge

@Cough cough

Hmmm...not sure that's gonna work ;0)

Cough cough........

Ah, maybe therein the problem lies!!

Kidding obviously, but I remember very well from my school days (80s) that poor grammar and poor basic maths were not well tolerated, and anyone not up to scratch was given plenty of encouragement to raise their game, a young man or lady with rudimentary English language and maths skills is preferable (in my humble opinion) to one with various qualifications in subjects that mean next to nothing in the workplace.

Bridge

The position on SOSS now is that teachers may post under a pseudonym if they declare that they are a teacher and id themselves to either myself or Rhian Tooley.

This is the only way we can think of whereby we can maintain a spirit of openness and deter trolls at the same time as accommodating teachers who may have a valid reason for not wanting to advertise their identity.

I do hope this helps :)

Bridge

Watcher

Bridge,

Well done for trying to bring teachers into the debate but do you seriously believe a teacher, possibly making a comment totally against the rules under which he was employed, would give his name to a couple of ladies who a few months ago were virtually unknown ? He or she would, I humbly suggest, spend the rest of his career waiting for his comment to come back and bite him. I don't know what the answer is but I would dearly love to see the various gagging orders eradicated so that we could all hear it like it really is.

Stephen John

Watcher raises valid points.

Any teacher with ambition towards promotion, on licence, young or relying on the job as a living would think twice about openly critical of rage Education department.

In 2001 there were only two or three who would put their names to any opposition to the proposals from the Grange. The ones who opposed were not afraid of the Grange as they weren't constrained by the factors mentioned above.

A move to get the gagging orders overturned would be in the public interest and they should be legally challenged.

Bridge

@Watcher

Thanks for your feedback. I understand your concerns which is why SOSS has adopted a policy whereby teachers can post anonymously provided they declare that they are 'a teacher'. We do actually have a few teachers on board already. It seems to me that unless a few more teachers get on board and help us identify the issues that need dealing with, we cannot effectively apply political pressure where needed - we will be groping in the dark.

MP

Isnt it sad that these teachers feel that they are not able to raise and voice their concerns and frustrations through normal channels....

BadDonkey

To be honest Bridge , teachers that post anonymously may have to do so. There are also some pseudonym posters on the forum who are also in Govt.

Bridge

@Spartacus

Thanks for your flattering remarks on another thread!

Can I just ask you to please clarify the following comment:-

"I have on this forum debated my observation that most of the Mulkerrin recommendations were flawed, mainly because they are not legally possible! I think that is a valid “excuse” don’t you?"

I raise this point because JB stated quite clearly at the SOSS meeting that the current Guernsey Education Law was not prohibitive to educational progress in any material sense. I wonder if this means therefore that JB also gives little credence to the Mulkerrin report?

Thanks

Bridge

Spartacus

Bridge

I do not have any legal training however I'm sure JB is right that the education law is a permissive law. However perhaps it is too permissive?

There were 7 main green recommendations in Mulkerrin's report.

1. Excellent teachers scheme.

When I said the recommendations are flawed because they are not legally possible the main one which springs to mind is the excellent teachers scheme. The implications of teacher licences and extending them should not be underestimated and I am deeply concerned about reducing opportunities for locally resident individuals who have roots here but whose rights/ability to continue to live and work here is apparently being challenged by various changes being proposed by the States.

The wider ramifications of regime change are being debated on other threads on TIG however my view is that the spirit and purpose of the Housing Law should be remembered and respected, which as things stand, makes the excellent teacher scheme a non starter. It worries me that education are being pressured to find loopholes because precedents could be set which would make it easier for other industries to use these loopholes as well.

Guernsey wants and needs great teachers but it is a complex problem which is not properly addressed by continually importing the majority of teachers from the UK on licence in my opinion.

2. Update the Education Law. As JB explained the law is not prohibitive as such however Education undertook to make proposals for changing it and to bring a report to the States in Q2 2013 for debate in Q3. This process would

"afford an opportunity to examine and if necessary

re-determine certain aspects of the current Law and policy in 

respect of admission to schools; secondary selection procedures; 

parental preference, inspection of schools; attendance and 

exclusion processes; and appeals procedures" (From "Implementing the Mulkerrin recommendations") These matters were all critiqued by Mulkerrin, have been discussed/debated at length on TIG and cannot be properly addressed as the law stands in my opinion.

3. Remedial action to continue – it stopped in 2012.

4. Publication of results – already done prior to Mulkerrin

5. Teacher appointments to be made by heads as part of LMS –Nothing in the current law prohibits this but it is conceivable that proposals to change the law might affect it. "This will require process changes and training in recruitment and

selection for head teachers and their nominees in order to ensure 

that legal obligations, best practice and consistency are maintained"

6. Governing body system – I believe it is intended to give "greater powers by ordinance under section 6.1 of the Education 

Law, 1970".

7. Develop LMS – Again this is not prohibited by the current law but whatever is established might be affected by changes to the law.

Mulkerrin is an asset to the Education board and he certainly has a lot of experience and knew how to create a successful school in the UK as well as knowing what factors contribute to a successful school system, however my observation was that his 2012 recommendations did not take into account all of Guernsey's unique circumstances.

I agree that the law needs to be urgently updated and I'm not sure that I agree with JB's assertion that progress will not be held up. However mine is a layman's opinion.

Have you met Mulkerrin yet?

Stephen John

Grumpy Teacher December 10 9.40pm says he or she work in a wonderful school where learning prevails and asks us to guess which it is.

Answer. Grammar School or Ladies College

The concept of Critical friend in educational development should be a colleague not an expensive consultant. With a colleague you can (should have) an informed discussion on teaching and learning. The critical issue is how many teachers really accept they can continually develop their skills and are willing to change. A few years ago it was noticeable that a significant number of teachers ha a negative approach to the need for personnel professional development and reflection on their practice, with or without a critical friend.

The question that needs asking is why doe Guernsey need to import yet more expert when it has supposed experts in the central office. After all we are talking about basic teaching, carried out by specially trained graduates, not rocket science.

I tend to agree with the grumpy one that Mulkerrin has gone native. The technical term is a victim of group think. Join the gang and think like the gang!!

Charley

It may be that imported experts are a useful in that they challenge the 'group think' effect. I remember having a lengthy discussion with the external reviewer of another service a few years ago. The reviewer commented on the 'Guernsey effect'. As most of the professionals she had interviewed were UK trained and many had only worked in Guernsey for a short time, she was surprised how they dismissed certain universally accepted ideas on best practice as not relevant ' because we do things differently here'.

How long, asked the reviewer, does it take for professionals to become Guernsified?

Spartacus

Charley

I believe best practice in Guernsey is based on UK standards however we should not dismiss the fact that Guernsey does have it's own laws so a degree of Guernsification (!) is perhaps warranted.

I would be interested in any comments from teachers of whether the central team of critical friends is a helpful and successful collaboration.

Bridge

@Spartacus

I would also be very interested indeed to hear what teachers think of the critical friend initiative. Is it just another expensive waste of time or is it an invaluable support to the educational outlets of the island?

Stephen John

Bridge asked teachers for their views on the concept of critical friend.

No answers. Odd they have no ideas!

Stephen John

Charley

Whatever the reasons for the so called Guernsey Effect the situation gets worse by the minute.

The problem is to teach basic subjects. Teaches are employed to do this. Frequently there is someone in the management team with responsibility for the curriculum.

Then at the centre we have specialist advisers. More recently at least one High School has had specialists flown in from the UK

Now we talking about importing critical friends.

Where is it all going to end? What is the cost?

Bridge

@Spartacus

Thanks for this - will read and digest and revert if applicable.

Whilst writing does anyone know:-

1. Why it is taking so long to sort out the IT issues in schools? If these sorts of problems were being experienced in the private sector i.e. a bank, they would have to be sorted out overnight. And they would be because the corporation would be unable to function otherwise. Why is it taking so long for them to be sorted out in our schools which, in my view, are arguably even more important? Two heads have told me in just the last week that the IT issues are crippling their functionality and yet the problem rumbles on. Why?

2. Is it true that local heads are only allowed to use one recruitment agency when appointing supply staff? And if so, why?

Island Wide Voting

GEP editor.A couple of good points from Bridge well worth looking into

Bridge

I really do find it inexplicable that it may take up to a year (as mentioned by Minister Sillars at the SOSS meeting) for the IT issues in our schools to be sorted. How can it possibly take so long? I think this is certainly something that needs a more definitive answer from the Education Department in the very near future. We may need the GEP to back us in our quest though.

Does anyone else have a view?

GM

Bridge

Yes - it should be accelerated right to the top of the "to do" list.

Education needs investment

Bridge,

Totally agree, the resources and facilities are out of date, IT is a joke in schools. It would be great if they could address the fundamentals before wasting time on a vision that cannot be actioned. The more that technology fails (SAPs included) the less likely people will embrace it's use and in doing so fall behind other countries who invest in education. Look across the Channel, even Jersey is spending/investing in education. In guernsey it is all about cost cutting....making teachers redundant in the calender year as opposed to the academic year. The decision makers are not accountable, can we download a report on the education department in the same way we can for a school???

As for recruitment the policy is wait until the last minute, if there is nobody on island find anyone that can fill the gap. There is no concept of 'attracting' effective teachers...and again investing in education.

It is a major concern for the island when basic things cannot be achieved when there is so much to achieve.

GM

The recruitment policy and process seems to be an utter shambles.

No doubt Spartacus will tell us that "all is well" at The Grange.

Spartacus

GM

What evidence have you based your opinion on GM?

Please don't tell me you blindly follow an anonymous person's unsubstantiated criticisms like a sheep.

Show me some facts!

GM

Spartacus

I base it on all I hear from teachers and from one secondary sachool head.

If you expect me to name them then you can whistle!

I knew you would immediately go into a state of denial.

Spartacus

GM

You are entitled to your opinion however I note on this occasion it is purely based on hearsay.

GM

Spartacus

Hearsay? Teachers who have been recruited from the UK via the system and have experienced the process themselves?

So what are your views based on then?

Stephen John

Spartacus

If GM heard one thing in conversation with educators it is not hearsay.

Hearsay is something very different. It is evidence when someone says thy heard from someone else that the Head of such a school said this or that.

Spartacus

Stephen John

Listening to reports from other people is not first person experience or evidence it is hearsay.

Island Wide Voting

@ 9.22

...as opposed to trashing our Grammar school and Colleges ... which is heresy

GM

Spartacus

So in life you disregard absolutely everything until you see it at first hand for yourself?

That explains an awful lot re pension deficits and most of your education-related posts. A total state of denial.

Spartacus

GM

Absolutely right, I keep an open mind and remain skeptical until there is proof. "believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see."

GM

Spartacus

So - even when a substantial deficit actually existed at the end of 2010 when the last actuarial valuation was published (100% proven) and even when the audited accounts of the States for 2011 and 2012 state that the investment fund has substantially fallen, which massively further widened the deficit based on all of the latest information available, you don't consider that to be good enough evidence for you?

Do you still believe that the earth is flat?

GM

Spartacus

Sorry - I went "off piste" there and got my threads mixed up.

Same message though.

hougue

Happy to enter the debate as a teacher. The issue concerning a lack of grammar, punctuation and language skills seems to lie with young teachers who don't seem to have the skills themselves. You speak to any long established teacher and they are still harping on about the basic skills, which I believe the parents want. But in this age of technology (if and when it works) and gimmicks, teaching the 'old fashioned' way is almost frowned upon, as a lot of these basics need practice and reinforcement, which is not in keeping with the 'zap it to them' approach.

Children have too many diversions these days in the classroom which deflect them from a good learning environment. They can have a drink to rehydrate them, they can discuss anything and everything with a partner or a group and so on. Silence seems to threaten them and they are obviously not used to it.

Teachers are now driven by data. What can they get in, what they can get out, and how does in look on a computer printout?

Bridge

@Spartacus

1. I am still mulling over your comments on the Ed Law. In fact I have printed it and need to look at it before responding. My initial response to you however is that we should be concerning ourselves with quality teachers, not necessarily local ones (although I do agree that local teachers should be appointed where they represent the best person for the job).

2. Yes I have met Mr Mulkerrin.

3. I am surprised you have not commented on my question on ICT issues within schools. Do you have a view on this? Do you think that more should/could be done, and in a more expeditious manner? I am the first to admit that I am the last person on earth to express an opinion on this (still living in the technological stone age myself) but it does seem to be an issue that is causing schools major headaches.

Spartacus

Bridge

Thanks I'll be interested to hear if you have views on the law. I'm not known for my concise posts sorry!

Yes I agree we should be concerning ourselves with quality teachers, and I believe we do have quality teachers despite Guernsey's housing law and other significant obstacles.

However, abolition of 11+ and creating a modern, world class fit for purpose system in it's place together with giving our teachers higher status, autonomy and respect will ensure that teaching is a far more attractive career choice in Guernsey compared with other established industries as well as attracting some of the best teachers from elsewhere. I believe this is where effort should be focused rather than trying to fight against the housing law.

Some people seem to be very hung up about teacher turnover but I don't share this concern. I see no problem with ambitious teachers using Guernsey as a stop gap for 5 years, using it as a place to come and focus on developing their skills, collaborating with local permanently resident teachers.

To attract more applicants from elsewhere as needed, particularly specialist teachers, we must be able to find ways to add value to their CVs because I suspect the nature of a fixed term contract and working in a small island community naturally means that career progression opportunities are limited. We need to compensate for this. I also think we should be headhunting and I'm not sure whether that ever happens.

I do not profess to be knowledgeable about the internet problems which is why I have not commented much but I have been concerned. I share your view that such problems should never ever be allowed to happen, if problems do crop up they should be fixed - whatever it takes.

From the information given I find it hard to imagine how these problems were not foreseeable, I am surprised that some of the technology was described as being 5 years old and at the end of it's useful life. Why wait until the end of it's life? 5 years seems a very long time in technology isn't it?

I would like to see a lot more published information about the school IT problem, as I was left feeling unfulfilled by the press release.

Kevin Stewart seems quite driven in regard to pushing forward developments to our island IT infrastructure. I tend to agree that the importance of the very best technology to support our businesses and services should not be underestimated.

BadDonkey

Nice to know where you stand Sparty.

Charley

Bridge

Have you downloaded the consolidated version of the Education Law with all the amendments included? There isn't much point in reading the actual 1970 law as most of the more antiquated sections have been repealed and various amendment have been added.

As the Ed dept say, the law is permissive rather than prescriptive but even if no radical changes are made it does need tidying up and updating.

The Education (Amendment) (Guernsey) Law 1987 is I believe, the last time special educational needs legistlation was updated.

Bridge

@Charley

Yes I have, but thank you for pointing this out for anyone else who may be interested in having a look at it.

Stephen John

Bridge @ 12December at 9.17pm

Thank you for posting that you had apologised to Mrs Bowker for anything inaccurate that you had written or implied about her during the past week.

It says much for your character that you posted on a public forum about your conversation with Mrs Bowker when you could have sent a private email.

Bridge

@Stephen John

I can't make out if you are still having a go at me or not? I told Mrs Bowker I would publicly acknowledge my shortcomings in this matter and I have done so. I feel I should add that she was very gracious about the whole unfortunate episode.

I hope we can all move on now.

Stephen John

Bridge

Not!!

Bridge

@Spartacus

Thanks for your thoughts. Since you clearly harbour such a keen interest in education, perhaps I can run a few more things by you?

Do you regard the FTP as a major stumbling block in the reform of Guernsey's education system?

Do you TRULY believe that reform is achievable?

Do you find it alarming that we apparently have £900K to spare to advertise our finance industry in emerging markets (which apparently are on the wane anyway and it is now frontier markets we should be looking at if we have so much money to spare), yet we are slashing £7m from our education budget and can't even afford to keep the schools' swimming pools open?

Do you find it a worry that such a large section of our society is now so socially and financially alienated that they don't even care or know if their children are going to school, never mind what they get up to when they get there? You said yourself that some children are afraid to go home... what is our government doing to help them? Expecting teachers to deal with the fallout of this social disintegration in the classroom is not acceptable in any shape or sense.

Do you agree with me that it is about time the government of Guernsey showed even a modicum of concern for the increasingly numerous disenfranchised members of our society?

Spartacus

Bridge

I am a supporter of efficiency measures and I believe the FTP is a worthwhile exercise. FTP is not THE problem as such. The problem is much deeper rooted as you know but FTP is a small spanner in the works to resolving things.

So no I do not approve of slashing £7M from the education budget at the current time as we need to find funding for pre school proposals, amongst other things. However I do believe they can make savings and this target is achievable in the longer term by changing the expenditure priorities and improving efficiency.

As you know I have been calling for the FTP savings from the college grants to be reinvested in the high schools mainly to compensate for the current disparities in our system, I approve of the pupil premium concept. I agree that swimming pools should not be shut.

I am absolutely certain that educational reform has already started in Guernsey and will be successful, but it will take time. We have strong leadership, an impressive vision, and I believe the public are currently supportive of change.

I am hoping secondary reorganisation proposals brought to the States next year will be strong enough to enable 11+ to be phased out gradually over 5 years or so. I genuinely wish there was a way to make the issue less divisive as I would like them to find a solution which is acceptable to everyone. I would not want anyone's schooling to be disrupted but I would like to see more collaboration and integration between Highs Schools and Grammar/Colleges.

Regarding the States spending priorities, I believe private enterprise should fund itself generally, I don't approve of public funds being used to line the pockets of individuals and corporations. For example, I have strong views against the strategy of subsidising the dairy industry to the tune of £2M or so and I disapprove of £2M being spent by the public on a new abattoir for the benefit of private traders. I'm against MITR as I see it as a ticking time bomb.

Regarding our society divisions and 10,000 people in poverty (shame on us), the 113th MOH report entitled "Health Equity" was an overdue wake up call to our politicians. It says it all. We should all be worried about our society.

Bridge, given that you are proving yourself to be a formidable political animal with considerable people skills and other talents I assume you are planning to stand for election in 2016? It would be rude not to you know.

Bridge

@Spartacus

I see you and I have very much in common :)

Unfortunately I do not have the knowledge (nor really the time) to respond in any depth to some of the issues you raise here, i.e. the abattoir. I have no reason to doubt your assertions however, as you are clearly someone who does their homework.

You are absolutely correct about Dr Stephen Bridgman's report and I would recommend everyone have a look at it (who hasn't already). It is sobering reading for anyone who cares a jot about social injustice in our island. In fact it should be compulsory reading for all secondary students.

I also agree that the college grants should end, really without further ado or excuse. There is no plausible reason why they should continue. How can we continue to turn a conveniently blind eye to such blatant propping up of an already privileged section of our society when so many are without basic amenities? It is political irresponsibility of Victorian proportions. It is also eye-wateringly short-sighted of those who claim that the end result (of having our own home-grown doctors and lawyers, which is rubbish anyway) makes it all worthwhile. It is a disingenuous claim and in fact I don't even believe that those who still make it really believe it when they look deep inside themselves. All it (the subsidy) does is continue to fuel the ever-widening divide which prevails in any regressive society. And I feel the same about our regressive tax regime.

There is far too much pandering to the privileged of this island at the direct expense of the lower sections of society. Guernsey's government seems to blatantly ignore all the long accepted guidelines of the world's leading socio-economic think tanks such as the World Health Organisation and Unicef and ploughs on stubbornly along its well-trodden furrow, with blindfold on at all times.

It is a sick society that we have reaped.

Bridge

@Spartacus

I forgot to mention, I don't think I could be part of a government that was not subject to political opposition. I do not regard it as democratic (although this philosophy is still in its embryonic stage and would require further contemplation).

Just as importantly I do not believe I have the requisite level of learning OR popularity to stand.

Why don't you stand? You would be an ideal spokesman for the oppressed masses... I'd vote for you. If you're in my parish. And if you tell me who you are!!

Spartacus

Bridge

No political opposition? That's not what I observe!

Don't worry you've got a couple of years yet to dispense with any self doubt.

I would like to see the oppressed masses empower themselves. Thank you but I have no political ambitions. Besides GM et al would spontaneously combust!

GM

Spartacus

Yes I would. With very good reason.

Bridge

"The social [inequalities] within countries are caused by the unequal distribution of power, income, goods and services. This leads to visible differences in people’s lives, their access to health care, schools and education, their conditions of work and leisure, their homes, and their communities.

This unequal distribution of health is not a “natural” phenomenon but the result of a combination of poor social policies and programmes, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics (WHO 2008a).

Guernsey anyone?

Right wing Ray

Bridge

Are you of the opinion that social inequalities should be put right by the redistribution of wealth so that the lazy so-and-so who,by choice, couldn't give a fig at school or in the workplace can just sit back and rake in the rewards from the hard earned income of those with a directly opposite view?

In the absence of a 'free' NHS in Guernsey are you of the opinion that the lack of wealth for the above reasons naturally leads on to the lack of health?

Are you of the opinion that the lack of wealth and the lack of health in Guernsey can and should,with certain exceptions,be something that every individual should be taking the larger part of responsibility for himself?

Spartacus

Right Wing Ray

The antidote to your acute bigotry is basic income.

Martyn Henley-Roussel's recent letter in the press was excellent.

GM

Spartacus

I didn't see that letter and my Presses have been recycled. Is there an online link?

Island Wide Voting

Thanks for that Spartacus

I suppose that 'intolerant of any opinions differing from your own' is something else that doesn't appear in your dictionary

A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from their own or intolerant of people of different political views, ethnicity, race, class, religion, profession, sexuality or gender.

Spartacus

"Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot: someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats or views other people with fear, distrust, hatred, contempt, or intolerance on the basis of a person's opinion, ethnicity, race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics."

- Wiki.

Spartacus

http://www.thisisguernsey.co.uk/discus/messages/11779/12122.html?1386862050

Island Wide Voting

GM @ 5.24

The letter was in the Press on 11/12/13

The details of the 1975 Canadian experiment can be found at ...

http://legalcheckpoint.blogspot.com/2007/11/social-policy-manitoba-mincome.html

Obviously it didn't work or the whole world would have adopted it

Neil Forman

Spartacus

Your post at 7.49

Your attitude in the last few weeks makes you a bigot then

Spartacus

Neil Forman

Absolutely not. I strongly deny that I am a bigot.

I'm not prejudiced at all in fact I constantly battle against prejudice. Nor am I intolerant of other's opinions as I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech.

My debating style relies on researching and presenting authoritative evidence and assessing what is fact and what is opinion.

However I will freely admit that I am intolerant of abuse, bullying and bigotry.

GM

Spartacus

You are bigoted against those with money, those who pay for their children's education and those who support any sort of selection or elitism.

Election Issues

@ 8.41

"Nor am I intolerant of others' opinions as I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech"

and

"researching and presenting authoritative evidence and assessing what is fact and what is opinion"

I, for one find these statements highly debatable.

There is no need to reply as I am really not interested in what you have to say.

Spartacus

GM

I'm not bigoted against anyone at all.

I have strong political ideologies but that does not affect the way I view people or treat people. I am against prejudice in all it's forms and argue against unjust policies. That does not mean I am bigoted against those who benefit from unjust policies.

Spartacus

So GM

What did you think of Martyn's letter?

GM

Spartacus

An interesting concept, but as I said to Bridge on another thread my fear is that until the bloatedness of the public sector is addressed, and until Social Security can distinguish between those who genuinely need help and those who just want to milk the social welfare system, it looks rather like a sponger's dream. I'm not remotely in favour of extending the social welfare system, but I'm keen to ensure that those who need it most do get it, and more.

Not many people will be prepared to pay more tax just so that the spongers can continue to sponge and so that unnecessary jobs in the public sector can continue to exist.

With a lean, hungry and efficient public sector, and with a social welfare system which stops sponging being a lifestyle choice, it would be worth revisiting.

Spartacus

GM

Perhaps the premise of basic income is that a person's contribution to society should not be valued by monetary means or judged according to their financial contribution.

Part of the justification is surely that it would considerably reduce bureaucracy and public sector costs because it is a universal benefit requiring minimal administration.

Island Wide Voting

Spartacus @4.31pm

Martyn's letter was good because it only included the good bits of the story

Perhaps he intends to write another letter explaining that the 1975 Canadian experiment was quietly dropped without ever giving an official explanation as to why it was abandoned, but looking at the figures I can hazard a guess

The experiment was launched with the aim of keeping 300 families above the poverty line by paying each family according to their circumstances ( number of children / disability etc) a minimum living 'wage',whether or not anyone in the family actually worked,but earnings above that minimum wage would be taxable in the normal way if the tax threshold was reached

The budget at the start of the 1975 experiment was set at 500,000 Canadian dollars but soon ballooned to just over 17,000,000 Canadian dollars,albeit to assist 1,000 families

In 2013 terms that would equate to just over 70,000,000 Canadian dollars ... Are you getting it yet?

The intention was good but it was just not sustainable

I've read somewhere that the majority of women have difficulty in digesting the more practical side of life because their brains are wired differently.That explains a lot in your case Spartacus but what about Martyn?

Perhaps Martyn is actually a Martine?

GM

Spartacus

Understood, but what about those who don't contribute at all to society and simply choose to be a drain on society? Those who could work but won't work.

Spartacus

IWV

CAD 70,000,000 to end poverty in Canada? Is that all?

So perhaps we could achieve this in Guernsey for the same cost as an abattoir?

Spartacus

GM

What about them? You stop judging them, that is all.

Spartacus

short video about basic income

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zru79jcVTt4&feature=youtu.be

GM

Spartacus@6.45am

Are you suggesting that we should condone and encourage those who could work but who choose instead to take social welfare benefits?

I think you will be on your own with that view, apart from those who are benefiting of course.

Why should I stop judging them? I'm paying for their lifestyle choice, and so is every other hardworking taxpayer.

Spartacus

GM

No because everyone would be automatically entitled to a basic income. So those who could work would be incentivised to improve on that basic position rather than disincentivised as at present.

You should stop judging anyone. You are not in a position to judge benefit claimants, there are people appointed to that task who are suitably trained to do so.

GM

Spartacus @8,37am

Are you for real?

They are incentivised now. Its called pride and self-respect, rather than sponging.

The people who are "trained" clearly aren't doing a very good job. They are merely following the chav social benefits culture of the UK.

Your comments are hardly surprising coming from you. You sympathise more with the bullies and those causing disruptive behaviour at the high schools, rather than the victims, and you side with the spongers of social benefits.

Your moral compass clearly does not point to the north.

Barmy.

Island Wide Voting

Spartacus @ 6.43am

I don't think you're dim so you must be trolling yet again.No need to as I understand that the book has already been closed on the 2013 Troll of the Year award

70M CAD was the cost for the period of the experiment for 1,000 families ... an ongoing cost rather than a one off outlay

As you have reminded us elsewhere the deskbound gentleman with more letters after his name than there is in the alphabet believes that 10,000 people are living in poverty in Guernsey,which if I remember rightly means amongst other things that they cannot afford to eat out regularly or have an off island holiday every year

I doubt that ten years combined FTP savings would cover six months worth of your dream world basic income scheme

I'm not sure if it was Nelson Mandela but somebody once said that socialism ALWAYS runs out of other people's money

Spartacus

GM

Being sympathetic to bullies and trying to understand the cause of that behaviour is due to the anti bigot humanitarian side of me.

That's why I even feel sorry for you!

Spartacus

IWV

No I suspect that was Thatcher.

Why all the abuse?

Island Wide Voting

Yes, sorry for that Sparty old chum,old pal

Must be my acute bigotry seeping out again

bcb

Sparty at what level do you set the bar re sympathy towards bullies? does it stop where the bully pushes someone or a few nasty words? or is it raised to a level where sympathy still holds when they beat the hell out of some person or god forbid a child? or is it extended right up to where we could even include horrific bullying which could lead to someone committing suicide from said bully? What about mafia type bullying?

Your sympathy must run out at some level surely?

Spartacus

bcb

Good questions.

My interest and empathy is in the root cause so that we can understand how the behaviour arose and how the problem can be solved.

My view is that consistent effective measures on the lower end of the scale, as opposed to mere retributions would reduce the incidence of events on the higher end of the scale.

GM

Spartacus @5.24pm

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why our state schools are in such a mess today.

The bully is more important than his/her victims.

God help us if that view is universal within Grange House.

Bridge

@Right Wing Ray

You clearly dwell in the "I'm alright Jack" camp of political philosophy which means that it is futile for me to respond to you, particularly as I have no motivation to do so. I suggest you just carry on living in your insular, self-serving, bitter little empire and keep on withering any poor soul who has less than you with your caustic bile. I am sure it will make you very happy.

I will just say however that I believe there are a very significant number of good-hearted people in Guernsey who do care about the economic and social disparity between rich and poor and that many of those people would be prepared to pay a few more pence in the pound to help those less fortunate get a better deal. I know I would. Even the most hardened capitalist, armed with half a brain cell, can see that mobilising the economic underclass (probably known in your vocabulary as 'dirty little poor people') and giving it a leg-up is of benefit to the whole of any society.

The domain of the socially disenfranchised constitutes an arena of crime, degradation, debt, drugs, alcoholism and domestic abuse plus educational, health and social failure on just about every level. These factors are a drain on the whole of our society and we ALL have a duty to the whole of our society, not just to the intangible fantasy idyll that the more deluded among us imagine we inhabit.

Obviously all this will be a revelation to you, entrenched as you are in flinty stone-hearted bigotry and hate-fuelled intolerance. Good luck with it all.

GM

Bridge

I'm a capitalist and I've said several times on TIG that I wouldn't be averse to paying a higher rate of tax. In fact I have suggested a top marginal rate of income tax of 25% on earned income over £100,000, perhaps with a 22% or 23% rate over £75,000.

However, whilst I have no aversion to paying extra tax to help those who genuinely need it, I am totally against it until (a) the bloatedness within the civil service is well and truly eradicated (and yes, this includes the top-heavy management structure at Education), and (b) a way is found to treat those who truly need social welfare help differently from those who don't want to work, could work, but who see it as a lifestyle choice.

I simply don't want to pay extra tax only to see it going directly to the spongers. If it goes where it ought to go, then I wouldn't object.

Island Wide Voting

Bridge

Sorry but I think you ,and Spartacus,may have deliberately missed a couple of vital words in my 1.23pm post in order to bash me over the head with your own rampant bigotry

Line two " by choice".. see if you can find those two important words

If you both believe that Guernsey people who " by choice" (note, not by circumstance)can take the view that without any effort on their part to support themselves and their families deserve to have a free ride on the backs of the rest of society then thank goodness neither of you intend to enter local politics

Bridge

@GM

Thank you for being prepared to concede a measure of social responsibility. I could not ask for any more than you have stated you would be prepared to relinquish. Your post demonstrates the level of reasonableness that I know is inherent in any morally upstanding member of society.

GM

Bridge

I think you would find a lot of high earners in the Guernsey finance industry who would share my view. I know several just in my circle of contacts. We appreciate how fortunate we are.

Bridge

@GM

Do you know you have actually restored my faith in humanity this morning? Your latest post has given me hope that we might perhaps one day achieve a more equitable deal for those less fortunate in Guernsey society. I am not suggesting the government should impose super-tax (or anything like it) on high net worth individuals, but I do believe that high earners can afford to contribute a small percentage increase from their annual incomes for the benefit of all. There is so much in Guernsey that could be improved if only the higher earners (of which there are many) contributed just a little bit more each.

GM

Bridge

I think you'd be pleasantly surprised. Its obvious that the wealth gap has become uncomfortably wide, at least to anyone with any ounce of social conscience.

Dealing with the "sponger" and civil service bloatedness conditions are not easy though.

Bridge

@GM

Do you have any ideas as to how this problem (the genuinely needy v the 'spongers') could be resolved?

GM

Bridge

Don't make it so easy to draw unemployment benefit. Test invalidity claims more rigorously. Don't pay such generous benefits for simply producing children.

Encourage people to look for work instead of paying such generous benefits that there is not enough incentive to bother working.

The detail is more difficult, but the benefits culture has been created so it can obviously be dismantled.

Above all, don't blindly follow the UK's social welfare system.

Phil

Bridge

I share GM's views on this, and confirm his assertion that many in the finance industry feel similarly.

The first move in my opinion should be to do away with the upper limits on social security contributions, and treat unearned income in exactly the same way as earned income.

In time we could do away with social security altogether and raise income tax accordingly, in effect social security is a tax anyway and doubling up on the cost of collection is futile. The employer's contributions could be replaced by a payroll tax and we would end up with a situation where there would be less avoidance opportunities and a significantly reduced cost of collecting the overall "tax take", it really shouldn't be that difficult to implement.

Paying an extra couple of per cent tax would not bother me in the slightest if it went to the right people, however the way things look currently I would not be in favour, it seems all too easy for people to simply choose to not work rather than getting off their backsides and contributing to the economy and therefore society. I'm not talking about single parents by the way, I'm a father of two and recognise how hard it must be to bring up kids in a single parent household, what I really object to is able bodied individuals refusing to work on the basis that the wages on offer are not attractive enough or the hours involved too inconvenient etc.

In my time I've done bar work, weekend window cleaning, worked on milk rounds etc, none of which were very well paid or indeed nice hours but at least I was earning rather than turning up at the social security office expecting a handout. Until the current system changes and work of any kind is made the more attractive option then the workshy will continue to be exactly that in my view, and I have no inclination to pay more in order for that to happen.

Spartacus

"A nation should not be judged by how it treats it's highest citizens but it's lowest ones" Nelson Mandela

bcb

No Bridge its caused by a selfish me me me attitude which is the dominant factor in our make up.

Bridge

Grammar Schools Do not aid Social Mobility says Ofsted Chief

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25386784

Island Wide Voting

In which case by your,and Spartacus' all encompassing definition,the man must be a bigot

Spartacus

The definition of bigot is not all encompassing at all.

Not everyone who has a strong opinion is prejudiced nor a bigot.

Bigotry clearly pertains to prejudice and how a person behaves as a result of prejudice.

GM

Spartacus

Yes, and you behave in a totally bigoted and prejudiced way against anybody who favours selection and retaining the 11-plus.

GM

I am a bigot.

I am prejudiced against anybody called Spartacus who posts on TIG, who is absolutely never ever wrong, who trolls endlessly, who defends the performance of an indefensible Education Department to the death despite claiming not to be connected to it, who is determined to dismantle our well-performing Grammar School because selection at 11-plus is against their socialist inequality beliefs, who hasn't a clue about how pension schemes work, who doesn't understand accounting or balance sheets, and who wouldn't spot irony if it slapped them in the face.

I am truly ashamed of myself. I tried to join a rehabilitation group to deal with my bigotry but was advised that the group was already full and that there was a waiting list to join it.

Spartacus

GM

No I don't. That's absolutely untrue. I am a liberal humanitarian, the opposite of a bigot.

I have strong views against selection but that does not affect my feelings or behaviour towards those who support it.

There are various reasons for supporting 11+ and I understand and tolerate most of the arguments in favour of it however the evidence does not support those arguments.

I have clearly stated my wish that they will find a solution for reorganising secondary education in such a way that is not divisive. I would like a solution which unites everybody. I have indicated that I would relax my views if a compromise could be found e.g. Switzerland.

I have family and friends who support selection and who currently have selective places at Grammar and colleges because of it. I don't hold it against them nor do I begrudge those currently in that position.

I have said many times that I welcome debate.

GM

Spartacus @1.29pm

Sorry - that's totally inconsistent with my vast experience of your many posts.

You clearly have a very different perception of how your posts come across.

Spartacus

GM

You are sounding like Basil Fawlty again ;-)

Spartacus

GM

No, whatever you perceive in me, for all my faults, it's not bigotry.

I suspect anyone who is a bigot is aware of it and unapologetic.

I'm mulling over ideas for a new pseudonym name, just forewarning you so that you don't get upset.

GM

Spartacus

I think somebody can be an unconscious bigot, blissfully unaware of how their comments are perceived.

I don't think a change of pseudonym will make any difference. Your posts stand out a mile.

BadDonkey

New pseudonym Sparticus ?

What about using Jagster ? :)

Spartacus

I'm not Jag Sherbourne but I do agree with pretty much everything she says.

It wouldn't be fair to call myself Jagster in her honour as she might not agree with everything I say!

Thanks for the idea though!

Stephen John

This report is based on the fact that only the 3% who have free meals are from a poor background. This is a flawed approach.

The report also ignores the fact that there are few grammar schools left. This means the demand for places is going to be high. We also believe that the more affluent are more mobile and will move to an area of good schooling.

The author ignores the fact that the same "middle class" pressure is seen in areas where there are excellent comprehensive schools. Good comprehensives are if pull of what the report terms middle class kids.

The report ignores the fact that comprehensives have at the age of 11selection based on ability. Are the so called kids from poorer families in the lower ability sets?

The report also ignores OFSTEDS own recent report claiming that non selective schools fail 41% of the more able students

Quick fix

More grammar schools to help the less mobile families send their children to good schools within their locality.

Nip prove quality of teaching and learning in comprehensive schools and local High Schools.

Election Issues

@ 10.55

This is because Sevenoaks grammar school annexe bids were rejected. Plans to expand grammar school provision in an area of Kent have been rejected by the Department of Education.....this is because the proposals did not comply with the law. Kent County Council will continue to argue for expansion. The law forbids the opening of new grammar schools but changes last year enable existing grammar schools to expand.

There seems to be a very pressing need for more places at these schools in Sevenoaks as more parents want to send their children to grammar schools.

I wonder why???

Sir Michael Wilshaw (Ofsted) was the son of a postman who had the benefit of a grammar school education which has obviously helped him reach this position. He seems to say that now he wants to remove that particular route to any of today's working class children.

Sir Michael says..'What we have to do is make sure all the schools do well in the areas in which they are located'....

...well...they have had local schools ever since the removal of the grammar schools and the results of that catastrophe can be seen today.

Stephen John

Election Issues

An interesting site re pupil learning is to be found at www.teachingbattleground.wordpress.com.

I found it by googling Sir Michael Wilshire.

What is interesting Is that Sir Michael is a maths specialist, but with a basic teacher training certificate followed by a part time history degree.

Some good examples of up innovative learning - teaching algebra using the twelve days of Christmas is an example.

It makes one wonder why the teacher graduates of today often can't hack the basic teaching of maths.

Election Issues

Stephen John @ 1.39

From your link:

1/Questioning is always a good thing???

2/Learning is better when students 'discover' knowledge for themselves or teach each other????

Sir Michael suggests that the more 'pushy' parents should 'whistle blow' directly to Ofsted about poor teaching standards...

..so these 'pushy' parents are considered good parents........but those 'pushy' parents who really want their children to attend a grammar school for a good education are considered not so good parents??

Sir Michael said that the recent announcement that graduates with third class degrees in maths and physics (?) will be given 9,000 pounds to fund their training was a failure to seek the "best"!!

These comments put him on a collision course with Micheal Gove.

Stephen John

Election Issues

You ask two good questions.

Much depends on the subject matter. From my own teaching experiences I think questioning was essential in subjects such as management and education.

In both these subjects the basic textbooks exactly that - basic.

If I can take the topic of motivation the bog standard texts will have the same basic toppers types of motivation. Simply repeating these basic types of motivation is of little value other than to show replication.

The learning comes from applying the theory to practice. One of the best papers I saw was from a Guernsey student who used the battle of Agincourt to question the appropriateness of the different theories of motivation. Original and excellent learning.

In law I read a paper on the law of negligence where the Guernsey student questioned and discovered aspects of vicarious liability that were not obvious from a basic textbook.

So, there are times when learning benefits from questioning and discovery. In both instances I have no mentioned the student could not access the information on the Internet but had to work at applying theory to a real world situation.

I found that teaching the basics and then encouraging the student to apply the theory to everyday events through questioning and applying, to be a reasonable approach to converting teaching -the easy bit, to learning and understanding - the hard bit.

The teaching battleground web site itself requires questioning and discovery. Don't just believe, question and look for evidence and proof.

Election Issues

Stephen John @ 8.45

I noticed an article in the Guernsey Press where the Education Department want to compare 15-16 year old student's performance in Guernsey schools.. with the rest of the world. This is using International league table...OECD Pisa tests.

The UK failed to make the top 20 in maths, reading and science.

Deputy Sillars said it was important to compare Guernsey on the world wide stage rather than just the UK. However, Guernsey is not part of OECD so cannot be included in Pisa league tables.

In the results of the Pisa tests released earlier this month...15-16 year old students from Shanghai topped the rankings in maths, reading and science.

I presume after these recent results from OECD Pisa... that we no longer will be following Finland's education system but that of Shanghai to become a world leader in all things educational?

Election Issues

With ref to OFSTED's Sir Michael Wilshaw's comments about grammar schools in England....

Wealthy parents are buying homes...even second homes...near over subscribed schools including the top comprehensive schools as well as grammar schools, while others are resorting to breaking the law by setting up fake addresses in the most desirable catchment areas.

The results of The Parent Power survey commissioned by the education charity the Sutton Trust ....comes only a few days after Sir Michael attracted a huge amount of criticism by saying grammar schools are "stuffed full of middle class kids".

He said that grammar schools did not help social mobility as better off families are forcing out poorer pupils by snapping up properties in the area or paying for tutors to help their children pass the 11+...

..but it seems it is the LACK of grammar schools (only 164) ..that is creating such intense competition for places....there seems to be a very strong case for opening a lot more grammar schools in all sorts of areas.

Parents who are concerned about their children's education will always try to move house to live near a good school....this has been happening for years...BUT the problem today is that the house prices in these catchment areas are so high that most parents just can't afford it.

So only the wealthy manage to arrange to have their children educated in the good schools.

Top comprehensive schools are selective by the very high house prices set by OFSTED TABLES, rather than a child's ability.

OECD Pisa 2012 results (which are highly dubious at best by the way in which the results are collated)..high performing school systems tended to be those that did not segregate children by EDUCATIONAL ABILITY.....well the results of this research has blown that argument right out of the water.....because the top schools are selective by parent's ABILITY TO PAY either for houses in these catchment areas or for a private education.

GM

Election Issues

I have been regularly suggesting on TIG that we need a second Grammar School here so that double the number of island pupils can access a grammar school education.

There is a very good reason for the upsurge in demand for grammar school places in the UK - the state system is (generally with some exceptions) completely failing, and our high schools merely follow on the coattails of the UK in teaching methods and teaching standards.

I am more convinced than ever that two Grammar Schools are needed here right now, and ideally within 10 years we could have a third.

Election Issues

GM @ 9.50

I agree with your plans! I am convinced that taking away selection will be a disaster.

In UK Michael Gove has left the door open for an expansion of grammar schools. In his first public comment since plans for a 'satellite' grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent were rejected by his civil servants, he said he would be prepared to back future applications to expand selective schools.

The issue with the 'satellite' grammar school plans............... put forward by two existing grammar schools in Maidstone to set up a new

'satellite' in Sevenoaks was that officials ruled they were not expansion plans..but constituted a new school.

Those grammar schools that remain(164) in England are in more affluent areas so it is obvious that they will attract predominately middle class children. If a brand new grammar school was built in the middle of a working class area then there would a mix of children from different economic backgrounds.

Grammar schools are one way for bright children of all backgrounds to realise their academic potential. If you take away selection by ability then you are left with selection by ability to pay.......either house in catchment area or private school.

Stephen John

Election Issues @19 December at 12.00 says that taking away selection would be a disaster.

What I can't understand is why those who so hate selection on ability at the 11plus accept the need for selection by ability for the same children, only a few months later when they go to the secondary school.

Look at the very informative La Mare web site where it is open about selection, by ability, for core subjects such as English, maths and science.

Motive of the anti 11 plus axis is clearly not objection to selection, but the destruction of a performing Grammar School to be replaced by struggling High Schools.