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You have shown with your posts is that families on several kinds of benefits are eligible for FSM and that families have to fill in a form to inform the school of their conditions in order to claim FSM.

So?

the only way this helps the pro-GS case is if GS have a massively higher percentage of families who claim working tax credits? Is there any evidence of this?


Posted by: Jon Gale | June 01, 2007 at 14:26

I start to discern Jon Gale that you are not very bright. The Free School Meal canard that Willetts used relied on 2003 data......it is way out of date.

Even so Free School Meals is a junk indicator of anything apart from the fact that the family is workless

If the parents haven't got work - schooling is the lowest of the child's priorities

False thesis one: "Grammar schools are not the miracles they are claimed to be" - who said they were? That's *your* strawman;

false these two: "The notion of compulsory selection at 11 with grammars/secondary moderns is ... not politically possible" - it's patently politically possible in that it happens: Kent, Essex and Northern Ireland may not be places you like or wish to spend much time in, but they plainly exist, as do their grammar schools (but no doubt it is an extraordinary coincidence that wherever there are grammars schools, they are always *locally* popular - for of course, if they weren't, they would be locally voted out of existence);

false thesis three: "David Willets' speech ... is infinitely more Conservative or right wing than consigning the majority to secondary moderns" - a false antagonism. Who is suggesting that this should happen? This entirely unneccessary fuss has stemmed from Willets & Cameron's *attack* on extant grammar schools;

false thesis [sic] four: "Jim" tells us that, "Brady's stats don't 'prove' anything. He has illustrated an inability to argue critically or adress [sic - *ouch*] the broader issue of education for all. Simply asserting grammar schools excellence isn't a policy or 'principle'" - well everyone else reading can judge the quality of Jim's assertions and his rhetorical techniques. Personally I haven't heard Brady sneer anything as pointlessly unpleasant as Jim's pompous little aside: "I'm sceptical many posters have read [Willet's speech]";

false thesis five: "But don't go after [Team Cameron] because they aren't bringing back Butler's 1944 education act" - who is supposedly going after them because they're not offering that? Another strawman;

false thesis six: "criticise Gordon Brown a long way before you criticise David Cameron". Why? Tribalism? Don't all we know that we shouldn'y pay heed to our fusty old base vote inclinations with anything as dated as dull partisan unthinking obedience? If Cameron offers us himself as the true heir to Blair, he doesn't deserve, and won't get, Conservative support.

2Can't someone start a discussion about the scandal of the Smith Institute and the sudden letter from Paul Myners, attempting to cover up a fraudullent payment from the Treasury. This is Gordo's slush fund, potentially his bunker gotterdammerung."

I thought that was Guido's territory!

"David Willets' speech, which I'm sceptical many posters have read, offered the notion of a far broader choice for all children in all areas. This is infinitely more Conservative or right wing than consigning the majority to secondary moderns."

No problem with that, if only he'd kept quiet about grammar schools! What would be even more right-wing though would be to give schools total independence including control over admissions.

"Peter Farrington - With view like those what on earth were you doing voting Labour?"

I have come to realise over several decades that all of the good things I want for my country are not possible under socialism, and that it actively militates against them happening.

"This is exactly how schools used to function - we still have canteens and dining rooms - what you propose is ridiculous. Next you'll want to charge for textbooks.

The cost of processing Free Schools Meals forms is not zero - it requires the LEA Bureaucracy and they then assess the costs back to the school. I bet the administration cost more than the meal"

If people can afford to feed their children they should do so. If they cannot do so then they should receive funds to do so apart from any Free School Meals scheme.

Frankly if modern Conservatives think that
it is the job of the state to feed children whose parents can quite adequately do so themselves then there is little difference between Labour and Conservative. I can make my own children a packed lunch. Why would I want the state to do so?

There should not be a form for Free School Meals, this could very easily be administered by providing a certain amount of income to pay for school meals to anyone with school age children in receipt of certain levels of benefit.

At the school everyone pays or eats a packed lunch. The source of the income to pay for the meal is either private or public, but neither the school nor fellow students need know.

During the war perhaps there was utility in feeding all children once a day. But we are not at war, nor living through a great depression. I'll feed my own kinds thanks, and I thought that was Conservatism.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I said I wouldn't post again but I am.

I did go off to do something else but was troubled that I hadn't in fact actually read DW's speech. I looked it up: "david willets grammar" and tried to read it on screen. You can't do that, it is too long. I printed it off: 12 sides of A4 in a 10 point font.

Reading through it I saw references that I liked and began feeling a bit guilty for slagging him off. For instance, anyone who is interested in the work of the outstanding Girl's Day School Trust, must be on the right lines.

I began thinking that this is OK if it were coming from a consultant rather than a decision-maker. There is far too much detailed wittering to be a sensible thought process for a politician. It would just need a politico with a red pen to go through it and you would be left with some useful research, I thought.

But as I read on I saw that it really does argue against vouchers, selection and new grammar schools while illogically accepting the continuation of existing ones. It really is quite a sad document in the end that just isn't conservative or even viable as a coherent idea. Apparently, the way forward is going to be based on paid "research" as if the educational establishment needs more of that. There is no sense of tough, creative decisions being made just a very lengthy, confused, lefty ramble with no real aspiration.

So I was right after all. Read it for yourselves.

When they realise that their little dears are not clever enough and are put in a secondary modern they will change their tune.

My wife went to a secondary modern school and it did her no harm at all. She went on to one of the best-regarded universities outside Oxbridge and became a career teacher.

However the choice today would be between a relatively small number of grammar schools and a larger number of comprehensive schools. The supposed hordes of middle-class parents opposed to selection would send their offspring to the comps, so 'dustbin' status would be determined solely by location, as indeed it is now.

A Cardinal is not supposed to have any children (only nephews) but perhaps Mgr. Pirelli would care to tell us which type of school he would choose for his own family?

Henry

You shouldn't feel bad. I read it the day it was posted here. I know quite a bit of what he said was plausible argument but he did not need to knock the grammars by implication or otherwise. From memory I searched the speech and the word grammar appeared 17 times, the word discipline once. Discipline is the sine qua non of education and teaching. There was loads he could have said but did not, like much more on discipline. Do you really think the Tories are going to sort discipline in our schools with the unions and pc human rights lawyers et al. No, of course they won't which may be why there is more on grammars than discipline. Willetts and Cameron got stuck in a row of they own making and then made it worse.

When the Tories start thinking about others, then others will start voting for Tories.

Conservative policy should be to do away with state schools completely and replacing them with private schools. Income Tax should be reduced asccordingly.

Conservative policy should be do do away with state schools completely and replace them with private schools. Income Tax should be reduced accordingly, with special allowances given where tutors are employed.

I searched the speech and the word grammar appeared 17 times, the word discipline once. Discipline is the sine qua non of education and teaching.

Do you think Willetts was put up to it by 'Dave', desperately seeking his Clause 4 Moment but keen that the coat should be trailed by someone else?

The Telegraph's Jeff Randall is not the only person to have memories of Cameron's weak-willed indecisiveness and inclination to panic during the brief period he had anything resembling a proper job at Carlton Communications.

I know a side-splitting tale from the Carlton era concerning a red-faced Cameron tearing his hair out in an outbreak of blind funk, but sadly I am sworn to secrecy by the witness to this entertaining event.

Which rather brings us round to the big question on Day 17...

...where's Dave?

TT - A non-selective private school (but entrance exams aren't that onerous and are just a sop to selection). If there was an excellent comprehensive that set or streamed then I would choose that instead.

The real question is discipline and all this hot air has ignored that problem. Address that and we really would be on the right track.

A non-selective private school

Why not a comp?

Surely that's what you want for everybody who can't afford your 'non-selective private school'?

A case of 'do as I say...'?

I live in East Yorkshire and like most parts of the country we do not have grammar schools - this us boring the pants off most of us. Why not just ban all mention of grammar schools for the next 7 days - I bet no one will die.

If the comprehensive was as good then I'd choose that. We have a mix of private and state in this country and that's not going to go away, I have the option of using private healthcare and you wouldn't expect the NHS to be split into grammar and secondary modern hospitals to compete would you?

Tory Truth (17:55) You are thinking along the right lines, but we also need to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools, and reduce the leaving age to 12 for those destined for unskilled manual work.

"I live in East Yorkshire and like most parts of the country we do not have grammar schools - this us boring the pants off most of us."

If you don't understand why it is important and has a much wider scope than merely the preservation of existing Grammar Schools then I am even more concerned that modern Conservatives are not actually Conservatives at all.

It is about choice, and about excellence, and about the best opportunities for all. If you are bored by it then why should I vote for your party?

The outcome of the pointless grassroots battle with the leadership will be that Labour becomes the largest party in a hung parliament and a deal on PR. Then where will you be harping on about Europe, Immigration, tax cuts, condemming the environment to degradation, condeming many 12 year olds to secondary moderns and manual jobs? Labour must be glad to have opposition like this.

I have the option of using private healthcare and you wouldn't expect the NHS to be split into grammar and secondary modern hospitals to compete would you?

Posted by: Cardinal Pirelli | June 01, 2007 at 18:16

Now that does show a complete state of ignorance. You argue that private healthcare and the NHS is analogous to public schools and state schools ?

How many private Universities are there in Britain ?

Yet all Universities are selective - not one to my knowledge is comprehensive in its intake

In actual fact though hospitals are split and graded - some are General Hospitals, some are Trauma Units, some have Teaching Hospital status, some are Specialist Burns units, some are Eye Hospitals


I doubt Moorfields is comparable with Alder Hey, or that Guys and Barnsley General are comparable. Great Ormond Street is a specialised hospital.

We currently have the Government closing subscale hospitals in southern England to have A&E units that serve populations of 500.000+ as we do in Northern cities - there is a campaign to keep these hospitals open even though there are good reasons for consolidating hospitals to gain concentreation of medical resources.

Most parents have a fairly good idea about how bright each of their children is.

And there's absolutely no disgrace in being below average in intelligence -
almost by definition, half the population is below average in intelligence.*

The disgrace is not making the best of whatever talents you have.

The question is whether all children will make the best of their talents if they're bundled together in one comprehensive school, or whether they will all do better
if they're in a variety of schools more closely tailored to their abilities and needs.

I used to believe that the comprehensive principle was probably better - but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and over four decades of seeing how poor
the practical outcome has been, in general, I've gradually changed my mind.

* Strictly speaking, half the population is below the median, but when the distribution is symmetrical that is also the mean or average.

The outcome of the pointless grassroots battle with the leadership will be that Labour becomes the largest party in a hung parliament and a deal on PR.

Electoral Calculus predicts the next British General Election result using scientific analysis of opinion polls and electoral geography.

If there were a General Election tomorrow, what would happen?
Current Prediction: Conservative short 24 of majority

Prediction based on opinion polls from 19 Apr 07 to 28 May 07, sampling 7,633 people.

..where's Dave?

CRETE

That is before Gordon Brown has had his honeymoon period. With all this Conservative infighting it is surely more likely that he will call a snap election and divided parties do not win elections.

"condeming many 12 year olds to secondary moderns and manual jobs?"

The manual jobs have to be done, and somebody will eventually be "condemned" to doing them. Isn't it better that they know how to do them well? Whether 12 is always the correct age at which to finalise the type of career is another matter, but if not 12 what do you suggest - 18?

There should not be a form for Free School Meals, this could very easily be administered by providing a certain amount of income to pay for school meals to anyone with school age children in receipt of certain levels of benefit.

come on...have you heard of secondary poverty ?

Primary Poverty is where you don't have enough money.

Secondary Poverty is where you have enough money but are incompetent at budgeting

I am afraid many of these children in need of vouchers for meals are simply in that state because their parent/(s) had children and children are the major cause of poverty.

Some of these people are hopeless inadequates with a drink, drug or addiction problem who would have additional money used not for school meals but for the 'tally man' when Provident wants its loans repaid.

There is a whole world out there which seems unknown to many who post here, and giving more money to people who have no bank accounts or credit rating in the hope they might feed their children is a bit naive.

Parties that abandon principles do not win elections either.

The Conservatives need to show that they believe in something, in a better life for all (as far as UK politics makes anything better).

Merely aping Labour turns me right off. I don't care if the Conservatives aare arguing about Grammar Schools and other things, I'd rather that than merely sitting quiet while Conservative ideals are thrown away as the result of the latest focus group meeting. While you are arguing there is still some prospect for democracy. When you don't argue then I will know that there is no point voting Conservative.

"condeming many 12 year olds to secondary moderns and manual jobs?"

Yes...terrible...better to get our plumbers from Poland than have our own fair youth soil their hands.......

The interesting question is why in our major inner cities 26% population is long-term unemployed

where's Dave?

CRETE

Oh how nice for him.

With any luck he'll be devoured by a rogue Minotaur.

TomTom (with your inability to keep the same upper and lower case letters), I usually skip your 'ignorant' posts but all you say reinforces my point, not that you realise that of course. The governmnent you laud is busy closing my local A&E despite it coming top in comparison to others.

The University of Buckingham is private by the way.

"Secondary Poverty is where you have enough money but are incompetent at budgeting."

Ahhh...of course. That is true.

But there are many other ways of dealing with that without introducing the heavy and usually incompetent hand of the state. I read somewhere that 300,000 children are not getting the Free School Meals they are entitled to. Therefore the system of state provision through public humiliation of children in the lunch queue doesn't work. Something different needs to happen.

Socialism says that people are inadequate and so the State needs to take control of their lives. Conservatism SHOULD say that people may be inadequate but they should be helped to become competent themselves.

I can imagine lots of ways this could happen. The provision of voluntary sector short courses in budgeting for instance.

The main reason I disagree with your point is that since many parents are unable to complete the forms to claim Free School Meals it is not enough to simply complain that they would not be able to keep the money safe for school meals. If they cannot do either then I would expect Social Services to already be in contact with them.

Now all the other relatively poor families seem to be able to claim Free School Meals, so why should they not equally be able to decide how much of the funds they receive they want to spend on their child's lunch or on the meal the child will eat in the evening?

I find your post rather disparaging of the relatively poor families who do budget but are too proud to claim Free School Meals. Not all the poor are incompetent.

Finally, another use of the imagination suggests that School Meals are paid for electronically or by voucher - my own children's school is cashless at the Cafeteria. And therefore payment is received by the incompetent poor in a form which can only be spent in the School Canteen.

There are lots of possibilities, but suggesting that all children receive a Free School Meal, or that many of the poor are irremediably incompetent do not seem sustainable ones from a Conservative point of view. These seem rather a socialist pov. I should know. I was one.

The really dysfunctional families where parents are drinking all the income. Well they are already known to Social Services and so they need not skew any argument. Extreme examples do not form a sound basis for policy.

BTW....since John major expanded universities to 150+ the largest growth in jobs has been in a) hairdressing b) care homes


Most jobs are low-skill and manual - that is how economies work.

Let us consider a simple fact. Most Grammar Schools existed long before the 1944 Education Act.

The Act required Secondary Modern and Technical Schools to be built and equipped.

Of 29 Secretaries of State for Education since 1944 - 20 were educated in public schools.

It is pretty clear that the Treasury controlled spending so the Technical Schools were never properly rolled out and the Secondary Moderns built cheaply and under-resourced. The Grammar Schools stayed in pre-war buildings and continued with low investment.

It is a product of governments that simply did not invest in Education and Training and British Industry which wanted cheap labour and imported it from Third World countries

I bet you will find Education spending increased in 1964 was cut in 1967 and went through a series of spurts and stops as the economy deteriorated and the Treasury controlled spending.

I wonder if any grammar schools were founded after 1945

I would expect Social Services to already be in contact with them.

I would expect Social Services to prioritise their caseloads to match their budgets....in our region we have been hosts to huge numbers of incomers who have rather added to their caseloads.

I have no expectations of Social Workers especially now the Government has split Social Services with an Adult Section and the Children Section being merged into Education.

This is one reason why that 13 year old carer took her mother's morphine to commit suicide - because Social Services no longer has an overview of families after the Government split it into two different functions which no longer communicate

Yorkshire and Humber is a region of contrasts. With a population of around 5 million people, it is one of Europe’s fastest growing regions......In recent years, it has received £1.2 billion of European funding because it has some of the poorest areas in Europe. The average household income per person is £13,872 – almost £2,000 less than the national average.


In Spring 2005 Yorkshire and the Humber had the fourth highest regional economic inactivity (neither employed nor actively seeking work) for males (16.9 per cent, England average 16.1 per cent), fourth highest for females (27.3 per cent, England average 26.6 per cent), and fourth highest overall (24.9, England average 21.2 per cent).

* Almost 13 per cent of young adults (16 to 18 year-olds) in Yorkshire and the Humber were not in employment, education or training in Spring 2005 (England average 10 per cent).
* Since 1992 the percentage of young adults not in employment, education or training has decreased by 3 percentage points.


* 826,000 dwellings in Yorkshire and the Humber failed to meet the 'Decent Homes' standard in 2001. This represented 37.4 per cent of the region's stock of dwellings (England average 33 per cent)
* 10.4 per cent (England average 7.2 per cent) of households in Yorkshire and the Humber lived in fuel poverty (based on income and heating costs) in 2003, down from 14.9 per cent in 2001. In 2003 the region had the second highest proportion of households living in fuel poverty.

Bradford could well have one of the worst child poverty problems in the Western world, according to a new report.

A UNICEF survey states that the UK is bottom of a league table of 21 industrial countries, including Eastern Europe, when it comes to child welfare.

And this, coupled with figures from Save the Children which indicate that Yorkshire and Bradford in particular are above the UK average for child poverty, paint a damning picture of both country and region. The figure for children in families in receipt of benefit in Yorkshire is 29 per cent.

Figures for Bradford specifically are equally disturbing. Two wards, Bradford West (24.6 per cent) and Bradford North (23.5 per cent) exceed the national average for child poverty indicators.


Dr Sam Oddie, a paediatrician working with the Born in Bradford Campaign, which aims to study 10,000 children from birth in the district, said Bradford had a higher level of infant mortality, a strong indicator of poverty, that any of the countries studied in the UNICEF report.

"The infant mortality rate in Bradford is over 9.5 (deaths per 1,000 live births). This puts us well above the statistics for the other countries listed in the UNICEF report. This is a strong indicator of poverty.

"In addition we believe the high rate of premature birth and low birth weight is strongly related to deprivation. These are daily realities here. Infants born prematurely or underweight are at increased risk of poor health and developmental problems later in life."

Posted by: Gaynor Wilson, Clayton on 4:02pm Thu 15 Feb 07
There is not enough support for children of parents who are not coping. I am a grandmother who took over the care of my two year old grandson when his mother had a break down. Because she lived one street outside a 'surestart' postcode, there was nothing social services could offer in the way of support or a nursery place, as a result I have become the baby's unpaid carer and there is no support for me either,yet another way Bradford is failing its community.
There is not enough support for children of parents who are not coping. I am a grandmother who took over the care of my two year old grandson when his mother had a break down. Because she lived one street outside a 'surestart' postcode, there was nothing social services could offer in the way of support or a nursery place, as a result I have become the baby's unpaid carer and there is no support for me either,yet another way Bradford is failing its community.

"I wonder if any grammar schools were founded after 1945".

I think my school became a Grammar in either the late 60's or early 70's. It had been Maidstone Technical School for Boys, and became Oakwood Park Grammar School. But it was always known (in my time in the 70's as the Boys Tech so it must have changed relatively recently).

"Yet another way Bradford is failing its community."

I have sympathy for this woman. I grew up in a family where my parents always fostered children and so I am not at all unaware of the desperate circumstances of some folk.

But what is 'Bradford'? How is it different from the community itself? I don't know where this woman posted this message in February, but why is the community of Bradford not trying to help the people of Bradford? It is surely a socialist proposition that the state (Bradford) should solve all problems. It should not be a Conservative one.

In the 1850's my home town became one of the first to build a Public Baths so that less well off people could have a regular bath, and be clean and have dignity. The Baths was paid for entirely by the community, by those who could afford to. There was not a governmental Department of Public Baths with a huge organisation to be fed, a Minister and a life of its own to be sustained. Just local people meeting a local need, quite likely being inspired by other similar local actions elsewhere. Nowadays we have been so thoroughly trained under socialism that we can barely imagine that we are the local community and that WE might have a local responsibility for others.

It might seem uncaring to even suggest that the State should not leap in to meet every need, but in the middle term, let alone the long term, trusting in the State leads to the atrophy of society. We need to restore a sense of local community and local society. In the end it is community which has greatest power to solve most social problems, not the State.

TomTom,

"The Free School Meal canard that Willetts used relied on 2003 data......it is way out of date."

Ok, now that I've stopped laughing, lets re-cap.

For your ideas to work:

Within the last 4 years there has been a massive demographic shift within Grammar Schools, which means grammars now have a disproportionately large number of families on Working Tax Credits, thus explaining how FSM eligibility can be abnormally low, yet still allowing grammars to be engines of social mobility.

I'm laughing again

I wonder how many more there going to be like "cl" up there at half six? You know, folk who blame the dumb grass roots for 'division', as opposed to the leadership that went out of its way to attack them.

"For your ideas to work:

Within the last 4 years there has been a massive demographic shift within Grammar Schools, which means grammars now have a disproportionately large number of families on Working Tax Credits, thus explaining how FSM eligibility can be abnormally low, yet still allowing grammars to be engines of social mobility.

I'm laughing again"

Why must social mobility be always determined by the very poor moving upwards? I would hope that there was such movement but there is lots of other movement upwards which is not worthy of being sneered at.

My daughter, now at a Grammar, will be the first member of my family to go to University, as I was the first to go to a Grammar School. My Dad went to a Secondary Modern and took night classes in Technical Drawing and Algebra.

Is that not social mobility? Why does that not matter? I seem to be paying a huge amount of Tax to support the poor, is that not a good thing? Would it be better if I was one of the incompetent poor? Or if my daughter had no opportunity to excel?

I find it very hard to comprehend how so many 'Conservatives' seem to be as riddled with class hatred as the most ideological of Socialists.

It is never right to discriminate AGAINST one group of people unjustly in favour of another. The answer is always to help the other group to succeed. This is why the attacks on Grammar Schools and selection for academic excellence are as debilitating as reducing the entry requirements for Universities. The answer is to help poor children succeed (often against their parents inclinations) rather than to handicap not very wealthy working and middle class children and students.

If poor children can't pass the 11 plus then start working on the most intelligent 5 year olds to overcome parental indigence, don't cripple intelligent working and middle class children.

Peter Farrington talks a lot of sense. The problem is Peter, state intervention on the massive scale we now have destroys the means and the urge for self help. My old grammar school was founded by a single benefactor. Where I live now the Victorian hospital and the water supply was arranged by locals (admittedly after they had worked out the consequences of their absence). But at least the Victorians to an overwhelming extent worked (without thank God using the expression) on an evidence based system. In many respects they make today's policy makers look like hangovers from the Salem witch trials.

Sorry but the post by Oliver Arthurs @12.57 is fundamentally wrong - so wrong in fact that one would be forgiven for thinking it was being posted by Labour to steer us into further trouble. The majority of the public are most interested in whether Govts/candidates will offer solutions on the following:

1) Law & Order
2) Health
3) Education
4) Economy/benefits system/pensions

Matt

Cardinal at 14.15 has a point. At one time MPs correspondence was weighed down with angry parents livid that little Johnny didn't get into XYZ grammar. It was a big issue.

Matt

Mr Arthur ranks crime at number 2, you put it at number 1, so you agree with one of his three there then. You then have a fourth shot which he may or may not agree with. So for all I know you may be ad idem on 2 out of 4 important issues. BTW, I agree that health and education are important. As for the economy, although I think it is headed for trouble, I think most people would also express concern at our immigration policy which to must seems a de facto one of open borders. Which leaves me to think with all respect that your post is the one that is flawed.

Bill, thanks, I'm really trying to emphasise some issues that he didn't mention and put some form ranking to it. They surveys I have done in various campaigns came out that way. I very agree that Law & Order is a key issue. I liked the social responsibility agenda from DC. However Oliver Arthurs doesn't mention Health and education. We do have to convince peollewe can run these and improve them. If we can't you really can kiss goodbye to ever being elected under any leader!

Matt

condemning .....to secondary moderns and manual jobs?"

What a patronising approach. What is wrong with manual work?

Properly funded secondary moderns providing good vocational training could cater much better for non-academic pupils. All that's needed is the political will to provide the right facilities and a wider acknowledgement that manual work is worthwhile and can be very satisfying - and extremely profitable.
What's so great about working in an office, sitting in front of a computer all day?

".... manual work is worthwhile and can be very satisfying - and extremely profitable."

Who has the better prospects? A graduate or someone with a trade skill in demand?

Read this story..

Biologist quits research laboratory to earn more money fitting gas boilers
By Sally Pook
Last Updated: 1:37am GMT 24/02/2004

A molecular biologist whose research could help arthritis and cancer sufferers is to abandon his academic career for a better paid job as a gas fitter.

Karl Gensberg, 41, has been a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Birmingham for 13 years but says he can no longer afford to work on short-term contracts in the education sector.

The scientist, who is married with a son, spent six years studying human biology and molecular microbiology only to realise he could earn more money and have more job security fitting boilers.

Dr Gensberg, who earns £23,000, believes that unless conditions in the profession improve, more academics will be forced to follow suit.

He knows of two other colleagues who have left Birmingham, one to run a boarding house in France. The other is considering joining the Royal Mail.

"My plumber was fitting my boiler and said he assumed I had loads of money because I had a PhD," Dr Gensberg said. "I happened to have my pay slip to hand, so I showed it to him and he was absolutely gobsmacked.

"He said he earned £33,000 and some of his colleagues took home £50,000. I just thought what am I doing? My work is a combination of zero career structure, contractual abuse and pathetic pay, which is a pretty poor package."

I know, I don't really want to start the whole argument from scratch again. I'm still hoping the policy group will provide us with a well though out analysis of all this.
I just wanted to remind a few bloggers that not everyone wants academic success - it isn't the be all and end all.

"Those upwardly mobile parents who find their offspring languishing in a secondary modern will turn against us with a vengeance."
I would like to see your evidence for this assertion. Kent is generally very Conservative and there have been Grammar schools there since the second world war. The same is the case in Buckinghamshire, Ripon, Stratford-Upon-Avon and many other very strong Conservative areas of the country. If these parents are turning against us with vengenance then they sure are taking their time.

"I just wanted to remind a few bloggers that not everyone wants academic success - it isn't the be all and end all."

Of course not. That is why diversity of provision is so important. But for those who have academic skills is it is iniquitous that they are not provided with a suitable secondary level education.

We can't keep complaining that UK children are falling behind those in other countries if we don't provide opportunities for all to do their very best in the best school for each one.

I would be more than happy for my son to train as a plumber while my daughter goes to university. What matters is that each fulfills their potential in a way that suits their abilities.

Centralised prescriptions about local education do not achieve this at all.

I absolutely agree, Peter.

" If these parents are turning against us with vengenance then they sure are taking their time."

I agree. Certainly in my own town there are very many over subscribed Secondary Schools and over subscribed Grammar Schools, and the problem is not enough places for all children rather than many schools that no-one wants their children to go to.

Indeed the school that I did not want my children to go to under any circumstances was one which an acquaintance definitely wanted her children to go to. Most people seem very happy, apart from the complexities and anxieties of school placement itself, and the lack of places for what seems a hundred or so children.

Diversity of provision certainly seems to work here, and there is also a Roman Catholic Comprehensive which is also over-subscribed and has a very good reputation.

There's far too much red in Kent when you look at election maps, Kent should be nearly all blue, if not all blue.

The grammars are there because the local authorities have tended to be conservative, not the other way round.

Can't wait for Day 18!

Notably Cardinal Pirelli only commented on Kent, where the Labour seats are marginal. In all the other areas with Grammars the 'vengenance' of those parents with children that didn't get into Grammar schools hasn't materalised. In Kent itself the seats that are currently Labour swing with the political tide, children not getting into Grammar schools has nothing to do with the voting patterns in these specific seats.

"Those upwardly mobile parents who find their offspring languishing in a secondary modern will turn against us with a vengeance."
If I'm not mistaken, I seem to remember a number of years ago a law was introduced which allowed local populations to vote to get rid of their grammar school: Labour activists stirred up a vote in Ripon but parents -including those with a child in secondary modern - voted to keep the grammar.

Why should Kent be all blue? There are significant centres of relative deprivation that could be expected to vote for a party that throws other people's money around like confetti.

The fact is that the Grammars are very popular. I don't see that it has anything to do with the LEA. People like them, and they like most of the other schools where I live.

Some parents make a big thing of the 11+, but I sense that the sense of failure is something caused by parents rather than the 11+. My eldest passed and went to a Grammar, my middle children are at a local Secondary. I am very with both placements and would never dream of speaking in any sense of my children having failed, or indeed passed. I stress to them all that they are at the place where they can flourish best.

I wonder if there would be ANY clamour for the end to academic selection if some parents did not take their children's result personally and actually feel that THEY were failures. I don't. And I don't allow my children to think like that either.

..very HAPPY that is..

Spot on, Peter.

Sasha - notably, you ignore my more important point after that, the one that you cannot deny.

Within the last 4 years there has been a massive demographic shift within Grammar Schools, which means grammars now have a disproportionately large number of families on Working Tax Credits, thus explaining how FSM eligibility can be abnormally low, yet still allowing grammars to be engines of social mobility.

I'm laughing again

NO Jon Gale I think your obsession with free school meals is what is commonly known as [email protected] It is meaningless.

It is a pointless correlation wholly devoid of meaning. It represents the complete bankruptcy of researchers that they have to grasp at this straw and make it a proxy for something else.

It is statistically aberrant and not relevant to the issue.

Those who think that secondary moderns are popular are living in a dream world.

I think Brady pointed out that the Educational Maintenance Allowance might provide a more useful measure.

I think Brady pointed out that the Educational Maintenance Allowance might provide a more useful measure.

I think "delusional" was the word used last time - but it wasn't very productive.

"Those who think that secondary moderns are popular are living in a dream world."

What a load of rubbish. Do you have any children?

I have children at a Secondary Modern and I am very happy and the parents I know are also very happy.

I also have a daughter at a Grammar and went to a Grammar myself.

Mr Farrington when are you going to understand that you are representive of nothing? That you mistakenly voted labour for so long should give one pause as it is....

Shouldn't a Cardinal welcome the sinner that repenteth?

"Mr Farrington when are you going to understand that you are representive of nothing? That you mistakenly voted labour for so long should give one pause as it is...."

Lol! Are you serious?

I'd have to say that if you represent Conservative thought then it has no chance at all of gaining electoral support. Faced with someone who disagrees you get abusive!

Not only that but your argument is false. I certainly represent at least one person, who could be tempted to vote Conservative, but not by posts like yours.

The one that Peter quite aptly deals with. I wouldn't say that my local authority, Warwickshire, is more Conservative then those of us living in the county. If it were, and if any other were, then the controlling party would lose control.

Well you certainly sound like one of those labour trolls who try and claim that they miraculously would vote conservative if only we adopted electorally divisive policies. Pardon me for not believing you.

Sasha - do you not remember why certain local authorities have no granmmars?

David Starkey had some views on this in The InI ask Starkey what he thinks of the modern education system. This is the interrogative equivalent of driving a car and then discovering that the brakes do not work. He is unstoppable. Starkey is utterly contemptuous of standards in schools and universities alike. Referring proudly to his grammar-school heritage, he insists that those schools "drove you". When he was at Cambridge, he and other state-school products easily outshone their counterparts from Eton, Winchester or Westminster. Students from lesser public schools were "absolutely thick" and "had been shoddily taught". The destruction of grammar schools is "the most shocking feature of late- 20th-century Britain, and directly responsible for the decline in social mobility".

http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiledependent some time ago

As some people have mentioned above, not everybody is suitable for an academic education, somebody has to do the manual work and if the secondary moderns could become technical schools there would probably be less stigma surounding them. Forcing comprehensive education on everybody just because some parents can't accept the fact that their children aren't geniuses is just spiteful.

This area is sinking fast - it has few fee-paying alternatives, no public schools, but a major metropolitan district sinking with new private Muslim schools opening all the time so they can escape from the sink schools and have single-sex education

Posted by: Bradford | June 01, 2007 at 11:20

Families getting together to open new schools using their own money, eh?

Perhaps we should appeal to them, and the parents of the 70,000 odd other children educated at their parents' cost, even though they've already paid once for a service they decline to use?

That would be a VOUCHER.

Interestingly, this proposition was explicitly mentioned by both Willetts and Osborne, but has been buried by the GS furore.

Personally, I believe our position should be that it is no business of the state how schools assess applicants for entry. Then all the socialists can go away and set up schools which take a balanced mix by ability, all the soc-dems can have geographic comprehensives and all the true liberals - that would be the Conservatives - can have meritocratic selection.

And this doesn't mean that the selective schools cream off the brightest pupils. They will only cream off the brightest pupils from the group which wishes their children to go to a selective school.

If our soc/soc-dem friends are so confident that meritocratic selection is so unpopular, then they will, presumably, attract far more pupils than the selective schools and have a good representation of the "brightest" pupils in their mixed ability comprehensives. The results in a few years time will be interesting.

One thing is certain, if there is sufficient support for each type of school, then ALL will happily co-exist alongside each other with parents having greater choice. Then it will be the parents who decide, not the state.

Good thinking. Of course they wouldn't go along with that because they assume that the bright children should be in the comprehensives "pulling up" the not so bright. Just as Alan Johnson assumes that the private schools should be helping the state schools. A cheek, in both cases: "We have set up this system which doesn't work, even though we insisted that it would work, so now your children / your private school must help to educate the other children we've let down."

Has anybody thought about the children who don't want to be in school? Perhaps if they had the opportunity to work at an earlier age, they might not play their part in creating some of the other wonderful problems which grace our society these days?

Has anybody thought about the children who don't want to be in school?

Government after government has put up the school-leaving age in order to massage the unemployment figures. Little need for that now since the influx of immigrants proves that we have more than enough work to go round.

Most children will never become academics (and the current appalling standards in state schools are hardly likely to encourage them anyway). The sooner they are out working the better for them and for everybody else.

The ridiculous proliferation of so-called universities is another bane of modern Britain. Working and learning on the job through apprenticeships, day release schemes etc is a far better way for most of the population.

"Well you certainly sound like one of those labour trolls who try and claim that they miraculously would vote conservative if only we adopted electorally divisive policies. Pardon me for not believing you."

I sound like a Labour troll because I believe in Grammar Schools!!!!

Now THAT is delusional.

Don't worry Peter. The Cameroon trolls are becoming more than usually petulant because - for a record period - things haven't been going their way.

Most of them have been stunned into a very welcome silence. Since their usual repertoire consists of variations on a single theme 'The polls say Cameron is winning - Hooray!', this is hardly surprising.

In my long experience most ex-Labour people who are impelled to join the Conservatives tend to have relatively 'right wing' profiles even by Tory standards so your views strike me as extremely authentic.

Traditional Tory - I think you are bang on in respect of apprenticeships. It's a funny thing, but when people did 5 or even 7 years of 'on the job' training, they felt valued, respected themselves and their skills were appreciated as a part of the wider business effort. One supposes it just isn't so easy to write statistics these days on the quality of workmanship, so it looks better if they can tick boxes instead...

TT - You know full well that leftists come on here to try and stoke the fires (UKIP as well I presume). Maybe he isn't but a damascene conversion because of Ann Widdecombe from *labour* seems unusual. Maybe he likes the christianity bit (frankly I'd be happy if religion stayed out of politics though).

I agree with the leaving age being ridiculous, the idea of it being eighteen is sheer madness. Better to make it fourteen and have separate trade based courses from that age. Similar effect to the grammar split but choice based. That to me is what this is about, being given the freedom to choose, not being told that 'you go here' and 'you go there'.

Adam when I left (public) school I became an articled pupil - a middle-class apprentice if you like - learned on the job and took professional examinations with the help of a correspondence course.

Later I joined the Inland Revenue where this system was very well organised, possibly turning out the best-qualified members of my profession.

Nowadays - surprise! surprise! - entry is only via a 'university' degree and in various managerial roles I have had to waste time with graduates 'unlearning' the nonsense they have been taught by lecturers who either haven't done the job for years or who have never done it in their lives!

The obsession with 'university' education whicb I suppose dates back to the Wilson years is very damaging to this country and to genuine academic standards.

Let's stop pretending that the 'University' of Greenwich has any conceivable resemblance to Oxford University.

TT - We're in serious danger of agreeing on something! University education is far too easy to obtain, when all are graduates then were just left with the terminally thick to be our artisans. My solution is partly, as I said, changing school leaving, plus changing the nature of higher education. I think of myself as a maverick rather than a Cameroon by the way, I'm unhappy with his management style for exampls, Matthe Parris suggests as such in The Times today.

TT - We're in serious danger of agreeing on something! University education is far too easy to obtain, when all are graduates then were just left with the terminally thick to be our artisans. My solution is partly, as I said, changing school leaving, plus changing the nature of higher education. I think of myself as a maverick rather than a Cameroon by the way, I'm unhappy with his management style for exampls, Matthew Parris suggests as such in The Times today.

Couldn't agree more Cardinal.

Maybe this is the sort of thing Willetts should be commenting upon.

The obsession with 'university' education whicb I suppose dates back to the Wilson years is very damaging to this country and to genuine academic standards.

The lawyers and accountants changed to all graduate entry c. 1975 which was stupid - articled clerks were better in workface experience

Great letter in the London Evening Standard on Friday:

Tory U-Turn will rescue children

I IMAGINE thousands of poor but academically gifted children will in future look back to yeseterday's Conservative U-turn on opposing new grammar schools and credit Tory MPs Graham Brady and Dominic Grieve for giving them the chance to fulfil their true potential.

The wide spectrum of academic ability among pupils and variation in local needs means that there can never be a one-size-fits-all solution for education.

Local communities should be empowered to choose the right educational strcutures for thei area, free from the kind of political interference that both Labour and Cameron's clique have recently shown their enthusiasm for indulging in.

It is reassuring to know there are still Conservatives pursuing deeply principled politics even if, for now, they are diametrically opposed to the aims of their party leadership. Chad Noble, progcon.org

"You know full well that leftists come on here to try and stoke the fires (UKIP as well I presume). Maybe he isn't but a damascene conversion because of Ann Widdecombe from *labour* seems unusual."

Why be so patronising? You don't know anything more about me than I have said here. Is this how you try to attract Conservative voters? It doesn't seem as if it would be very successful.

Unfortunately Peter, the nature of the internet means that it's difficult to trust what people say. This has become the case here because (and you probably didn't know this) it has been shown that both UKIP and labour have posted messages purely designed to create trouble. That the press think that every post here is from conservative members is a real problem. Many times I have seen reference in papers to comments here as being from the grass roots when I know that the quote is from anything but.

By using your real name you also make it easy to find out who you are. I don't know if that was your intention but again, that's the nature of the internet. Was Ann W's faith a factor in your votes for her?

TomTom @ 11.39 - referring to your quote on 'university' education, and then your post in reply. I agree with you, as the same seems to have happened with nursing, that for decades 'managed' to produce conscientious, hardworking nurses, who started their training ON the wards, remained ON the wards, and went off to lecture courses run by the hospital (if it was a teaching hospital), to get the training needed to pass their state exams. Now it seems that 'university' has to be the first training, well I suppose it would teach them how to get drunk quite well, but absolutely nothing about how to cope with patients, and it may well encourage some nurses to think that having been to 'uni' that they are above giving badpans and badbaths, but actually that is all part of nursing.

I used my real name because I have nothing to hide.

I have always been a Christian but only voted for Ann Widdecombe last time. Before that I thought that Socialism of various hues of red was the means of achieving the best for people.

Over the last 10 years of the Blair government I have become dissillusioned with socialism, through reading mostly, not least the Spectator, and I have come to see that a large state prevents that happening.

I used to read the New Statesman but increasingly I found it anti-thetical to my faith, not to say strident and rather dull.

When I started reading the Spectator I was very pleased to find that it accomodated a wide range of generally intelligent and thought-provoking opinions.

My Christian faith informs my politics but it does not represent my politics, especially if politics is the science of what is possible. That is why I tend to be Libertarian. I realise that if I am in favour of legislation AGAINST someone else then it is in the nature of things that the wheel of fortune turns and I find myself coming under some variant of the same legislation.

So I tend to think that a small State and a diversity of provision normally sorts things out in most cases.

We appear to be on the same side, I hope that you see the grammar spat as a side issue, as you appear to agree with us more than you could with any other party.

Slightly earlier I outlined my ideas which I believe cover the aspect of freedom of choice, I just don't believe that grammars allow choice and that they are more coercive. Allowing an earlier school leaving age coupled with a proper skills based training and also cutting back the idea that everyone deserves to go to university would be my preferred option.

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