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James Hellyer

He told BBC One's Sunday AM programme his aim was to "set people free", while Prime Minister Tony Blair was in politics "to tell people what to do".

Obviousy making the teaching of sythetic-phonics compulsory isn't "telling people what to do" in Cameron's eyes.

James Burdett

There is a distinction between setting a national standard for schooling and dictating the minutiae of daily life. Put simply I cannot imagine Cameron organising a conference to discuss how many fat and thin people should be on TV. As to synthetic phonics, it is clear that they work extremely well for pupils with dyslexia and other related problem and they do no harm to pupils of greater ability, this surely has to be the way to go....


I wish the ICM poll had been more detailed to see if Clarke really is only ahead on the recognition factor.
It doesn't suprise me than this poll is less dramatic than the yougov one on party members. The people out there haven't been as susceptible to Cameron's spin as the members, who now support him as leader of the conservative party based on a 20 minute rehearsed speech.
I'm sure this will change though, when Murdochians and 'News International' who love this Blair clone are done, he should be definite favourite with one and all by the time this race is over.


James, that's absurd - Blair does not dictate "the minutiae of daily life" either. The point is, does Cameron - or any politician - know how reading should be taught, better than teachers? If so, fine - let him be the country's Grand Head Master. (I also happen to think phonics teaching is right, but that's not the point.)

Jonathan Sheppard

To me the issue is does Camerons well publicised speech mean the end of the Clarke campaign? Clarke was seen as the "Big Beast" who could possibly challenge Davis. Now some suggest that Cameron is the favourite. Could those in the Clarke camp who dont want Davis now leave Clarke - and thereby end his possible final push for the leadership?

Wat Tyler

Sorry about this, but I can't resist it. I actually trained as a teacher many moons ago, and I well remember the reading fad at the time- it was called ITA- the Initial Teaching Alphabet. The educational establishemnt seemed to think it was The Answer. But,ummm...where is it now?

I was myself taught to read in the 50s using the fad at that time- Look And Say. You know what? I still can't read properly- I've just memorised thousands of words.

These fads come and go. The important thing is to leave the decision to teachers. A one-size-fits-all approach driven by national politicians- however well intentioned is a ******* disaster.


Now we've seen the polls, I am looking forward to a closer examination of the policies, in which, editor, I believe you are going to pose a series of questions to the candidates. If you are looking for any questions, I would like you to consider:

Immigration - Do you believe that current immigration levels are too high? If so how would you reduce it, and how would you deal with the hundreds of thousands of migrants who are here illegally?

Identity cards - do you believe they have a role in the law and order of this country?

The EU - will you repatriate our fishing rights from Brussels? Are there any other issues you would like to see repatriated? Will you take our MEPs out of the EPP-ED grouping in the EU parliament?

Future Leadership Elections - Will you support the party members continuing to have the final ballot for a party leader?


If you want to have a poll Derek.Wouldn't it be more sensible to ask people questions that really matter.I doubt if 1 person in a hundred knows what the EPP is or gives a damn about itand fishing reights are hardly top of concerns either.
Personally I would have thought questions about running the economy,public services and general foreign policy would be much more relevant.For good measure candidates should be barred from using cliches.This will cause a few of them severe problems!

Adrian Sherman

"candidates should be barred from using cliches". Quite agree, Malcolm.

Though I fear, if this were to occur, Cameron would be better suited as a Trappist monk, rather than a politician.


Cameron is on record as saying he will leave the EPP

Oliver McCarthy

Yes, Wat and buxtehude would probably be on to a winner allowing teachers to decide what they should teach. But as far as I'm aware teachers are somewhat under-represented in the Tory Party.

My own view is that teachers shouldn't be allowed to do up their shoelaces by themselves, let alone teach. Until the Tories put parents first, the parents will carry on electing Labour governments.

David Cameron is the parent of young children. So is Tony Blair. So is Gordon Brown. So is Charles Kennedy. Which party didn't most parents trust at the last election? And how are we going to get that trust back?

James Hellyer

Don't you think that lack of trust was more attributable to our fighting a nasty, narrow and negative camapign, whose main contribution to education was to shout "school discipline!", rather than because Michael Howard didn't have a babe in arms?


"Which party didn't most parents trust at the last election?" I don't think the reason we weren't trusted was Michael Howard's failure to have young children, nor even our failure to support Labour interventionism in schools. By this argument, Oliver, every aspect of our party was the *reason* why we didn't win! Michael Howard wears glasses, and which party failed to win the trust of the people? So wearing of glasses must be a mistake...

I expect that teaching phonics is a good idea, but I don't think its the government's job to decide that. You say that teachers can't be trusted, so legislate. Will you also legislate to ensure they are sensitive? And aspirational? And maintain discipline? What about a law to ensure that they use red ink when marking books? And while we're at it, why not legislate to ensure that nurses make at least one joke when tucking up patients, because research has shown that laughter speeds up recovery time.

Where do you begin and end using legislation to ensure your preferred professional practice? And while we're at it, can we have some legislation to ensure that politicians behave properly too?

Wat Tyler

Well said bux...I'm going to see if I can find out what synthetic phonics actually is. All I know so far is that it would be expensive to introduce- presumambly because some dark corporation owns the intellectual rights and you need to buy entirely new libraries from them to teach it. That- I seem to remember- was an issue with the Initial Teaching Alphbet.

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