Category: Education and training

School trips abroad: the “Grand Tour”, blighted by Brexit

Mike Zollo

Cultural osmosis For many decades, visits, homestays and courses abroad in the country of the ‘target language’ have been considered essential to the study of a foreign language, both for UK young people going abroad and for young EU nationals coming to the UK. Indeed, this is nothing new: human beings have always travelled, mixed […]

A fair start? Poor children locked out of vital early years services

Valerie Huggins

I awake this morning to news of yet another example of the deceit underpinning this government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda, in one of the most neglected areas of public policy: the support for our youngest children. According to the latest research by the Sutton Trust and the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust, England’s poorest children are being ‘locked-out’ […]

Lack of learning from Somerset’s failure

Mick Fletcher

Somerset residents face the prospect of a serious cut in the adult education provision available in the county next year, and substantial staffing reductions in their major adult education provider. Somerset Skills and Learning (SSL) is having to turn hundreds of students away and make teaching staff redundant this summer after failing to win a […]

Williamson’s Latin in schools wheeze…just another feles mortuus?

Valerie Huggins

I wake up to yet another ‘dead cat’ announcement from the hapless Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson: “Let them learn Latin” he declares in a £4m Latin Excellence pilot scheme to teach the language in 40 schools. It is not unreasonable for all those concerned in the difficult task of creating and maintaining an education system […]

Vocational exams and educational vandalism

Mick Fletcher
trainee plumbers

Government policy, even when wrong, can usually be understood.  Recent proposals for ‘chain gangs’ of offenders in high vis jackets for example might make no sense in terms of reducing crime but are explicable as an appeal to authoritarian voters.   Expert advice was clear that the privatisation of the probation service was doomed to failure, […]

Early years forgotten again

Valerie Huggins
child playing with wooden toys in early years class

I listened to Johnson’s levelling-up speech with hope in my heart that he would at last focus on the sector that has the potential to make the most difference to children’s life outcomes – early years care and education. In the speech, Johnson acknowledged that after ten years of Conservative government: “If you are a […]

National Meadows Day: a tale of two meadows

Miles King
meadow with orchids

Wildflower meadows have their day in the sun today, Saturday 3 July: National Meadows Day. National Meadows Day is a new thing, just a few years old, but it seems to have captured the public’s imagination, and rightly so. Because wildflower meadows encapsulate a beautiful coming-together of people and nature, creating something sublime which everyone […]

Discord not development: Robert Halfon’s recipe for the ‘left behind’

Mick Fletcher
young pupil completing exam paper

If further proof was needed that this administration is more concerned to play politics than to govern the country well, the recent report of the Education Select Committee provides it. The committee chose to tackle an important and urgent issue – the failure of our education system adequately to prepare large numbers of young people […]

Rocket fuel or rocketing debt? The new offer for adult education

Mick Fletcher

The government’s legislative programme announced in the Queen’s speech on 11 May gave particular prominence to the idea of ‘levelling up’, promising “bold new interventions to improve livelihoods and opportunities throughout the UK”.  Central to this vision is the reform of vocational education, described as offering new lifelong learning opportunities for adults. The prime minister […]

Adieu Erasmus, bonjour Turing? A French perspective

Geneviève Talon

The celebrated Erasmus Plus programme started as a large-scale exchange programme for university students across the EU. It also provides grants for a wide range of activities, including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses. In 2018, the European Commission adopted an ambitious […]

Abandon hope all youth who grow up here

Sadie Parker

“Am I gonna sit here and say that Brexit is perfect, and your generation is gonna reap the benefits? No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute, and I can see that. We’ve got work to do…” So said Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, addressing an audience of under-30-year-old […]

The Hypatia Trust – celebrating and enabling women’s achievements in Penzance

Tillie Holmes

The Hypatia Trust is a charity based in Penzance, Cornwall, which strives to support women’s education and achievements. Named after the remarkable hellenistic neoplatonist mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, the trust was founded 25 years ago by Melissa Hardie . She initially set up the charity with the primary aim to protect, maintain, and develop the […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

School funding crisis in Somerset will mean closures and redundancies

Editor-in-chief

Somerset County Council shows no signs of changing course on school closures and staff redundancies in Somerset  Plans for wholesale changes to schools in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area came to Somerset County Council’s Scrutiny for Policies, Children and Families Committee this week (Wednesday 3 March), prior to the Council’s Cabinet making a final decision on […]

On feast and famine

Anthea Bareham

Throughout my childhood we had a feast almost every day – not just on special occasions – every day. I expect you did too. We ate meat. Almost every day. Last week I attended a Guardian online webinar, one of Fairtrade Fortnight’s events. The topic was ‘The impact of the climate crisis on global food […]

Should charity start and end at home?

Valerie Huggins

In the UK, times are hard and budgets stretched. One in five children are living in food poverty. There is increasing use of food banks. More homeless people are sleeping on the streets. It is hardly surprising that there are growing calls for us to reduce the amount we send in overseas aid to other […]

Out-Foxing the Reclaim Party’s ‘war on woke’

Vicky Rosier

West Country Bylines has previously reported on the government’s culture war against perceived left-wing or liberal bias in the arts, cultural heritage and higher education sectors. In October 2020, Virginia Button outlined government pressure on arts institutions and museums to toe the line on their involvement in contested reassessments of British colonial history, at the […]

Slasher Gav hunts for headlines

Mick Fletcher

It’s certainly dramatic language. Gavin Williamson is on record as planning to “slash” (some sources even say ‘smash’) the taxpayer subsidy for subjects such as media studies. More cautious ministers might have spoken about reducing funding or withdrawing support but that’s not harsh enough for tough guy Gav. After all, this is a man who […]

Censuring students while censoring history

Mick Fletcher
black and white photo, man with finger to lips. secret

You could hardly make it up.  At the same time as government plans to appoint a ‘free speech tsar’ to stop students cancelling controversial speakers it also intends to summon heritage groups to be told by a minister what they can and cannot say about British history. It’s ludicrous but at the same time deeply […]

Has Brexit wrecked my life’s work?

Mike Zollo

“You may buy from us in English … but you must sell to us in my language!” This much-quoted maxim highlights the importance of language skills to international trade. What German Chancellor Willy Brandt actually said in the early 1970s was: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen […]

Gav’s latest whoopsie cost £425m and a Cornish school is not happy

David Hencke

Company predicted “successful business performance” on the back of feeding poverty stricken children The spectre of poor children going hungry during the Covid 19 crisis is something the government have had to be put under pressure to remedy – notably by Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer. But now it has emerged that even when […]

Smoke, mirrors and the scandal of student debt

Mick Fletcher

Student finance is a difficult subject for progressives.  On the one hand it seems outrageous that our young people should enter adult life burdened by debts of some £40 – £50,000   – the highest level of student debt in the world. On the other hand, fixing the crisis in social care and raising our shamefully […]

Goodbye Erasmus – hello nothing?

Alan Butt Philip

It was apparently a last-minute decision – taken unilaterally by Boris Johnson’s government and announced on Christmas Eve. The UK is pulling out of the EU’s Erasmus programme. This is the scheme, launched in 1987, which has enabled over three million European students to spend up to a year studying or working in another EU […]

Pinching pupil premium – the Williamson war on poor kids continues…

Andy Jolley

Short thread on how DfE sneaked out a £250 million cut to school budgets in the middle of a pandemic and how it will impact the poorest and most vulnerable pupils. No publicity, no great public announcement as @educationgovuk cut a quarter of a billion pounds from its Pupil Premium budget. Pupil Premium (PP) is […]

Future prospects blighted by the pandemic – a student writes

Bella Enoizi

The impact of Covid-19 on university students has been overlooked by both government and the media throughout the pandemic. Neither has support been received from the governing bodies of Higher Education institutions, in terms of either policy or financial relief. Where students have been mentioned by the media, it has only been to blame them […]