PISA is a half measure of education

December 4, 2013

In this country parents don’t choose to live in poverty in order that every penny of the family finances can provide one child with the best possible education. We do not sacrifice all leisure and play in order to spend every waking hour and minute on extra homework. Nor do we threaten our children with our own suicide, when the child looks likely to fail an exam. Asian parents, on the other hand, apparently do.

In the UK, we want our children to grow up as rounded, happy individuals. The purpose of school is not simply about passing exams, but also for building character. It may be easier to get a child through an exam if we teach by rote, but we also want our children to have curiosity, creativity, and a sense of adventure. These qualities are not easy to measure, but are essential for a successful life.
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Miliband needs practical policies on integration

December 28, 2012

Today, Ed Miliband promised that in 2013 we will see some concrete policies that define what being a one nation party means. Good. We need them. There are many areas the detail is necessary, not least on integration.

Before Christmas, Ed made a good speech on the subject. He struck the right notes in a measured manner, acknowledging the benefits migrant communities have brought to Britain while stressing the importance of the basics such as everyone speaking English. So far, so good.

Now we need to explain what this means in practice. For those that can’t speak English, what will we do?

A practical example. In my experience, if I can’t understand my Bangladeshi client, when I’m filling out the legal aid form, then I just pass them the pen and ask them to fill in their own details. In the box marked “place of birth”, quite often, they will write, “London hospital, Whitechapel”.
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Metta Bhavana Great Britain

March 31, 2011

I once had a work-mate who went to school at Eton. We used to talk about the culture of our respective schools. He said that at Eton, popularity and happiness are absolutely essential. There was a constant pressure to be outwardly happy, regardless of whether your mood was good or bad, at any given moment.

I found this interesting because at my school, Stepney Green, in the east end of London, everything was about being hard or at least the illusion of being hard. The glamorous kids were the ones with problems. Miserable and angry was cool.
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