Category: Social issues

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The UK’s shameful hostile environment is persecuting hope

Mike Zollo

“As I approached one of the drowned corpses on the beach, that of a young lad, the mobile phone in his pocket began to ring; I guess it was his mother or girlfriend ringing to ask if he had arrived safely …” The words of a Spanish Red Cross worker dealing with bodies washed up […]

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 […]

Racism is a pandemic and we are not handling it well.

Anthea Simmons

I was in two minds as to whether to put out the article below in the light of the publication of the Sewell Report. We will cover the report in full very shortly…urgently. Its message, if the extract below is anything to go by, must not get a hold on the popular consciousness. This is […]

Hey, Jean! Meet genealogy!

Sadie Parker

A woman called Jean caused a stir when she phoned in to LBC and told David Lammy, the UK’s Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, that he wasn’t English. He was born here, grew up here and all his sensibilities are English, but that doesn’t count, according to Jean. He can […]

They were women with flowers

Anthea Simmons

I don’t think I’ll be the only woman who’ll be crying herself to sleep tonight. Lord knows, there has been enough to cry about in the past few years and especially the pandemic months; yet, somehow, tonight’s appalling scenes were the last straw. What have we come to? They were women with flowers and candles […]

The royal row and tabloid tyranny

Mick Fletcher

Good drama can hold up a mirror to the world and the real-life drama unfolding around the British royal family certainly does. What it shows reflects very badly on aspects of our culture, particularly the sheer toxicity of much of the tabloid press. Less obviously at the moment, it also has a serious message about […]

Flag of convenience

Mike Zollo

“A poke in the eye! That’s what you’ll get, so I’ll take your sticks away before you hurt one another!” Imagine a little 6-year-old boy, so excited at holding his very own flag for the first time. As we lined up in the school yard ready to troop off to the venue at which hundreds […]

The Tory MP and a £20bn stealth tax on business

Mick Fletcher

I tend to think of Robert Halfon as a decent sort of chap who just got into bad company and so ended up as the Conservative MP for Harlow. He styles himself as representing the working-class Conservative voter and probably has more genuine sympathy with that group than many of his colleagues, who seem suddenly […]

Gavin must go; but that’s only the start

Mick Fletcher

No part of this government comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic well, and the staggering death toll is the tragic summation of a whole raft of failures. Probably the most expensive of these failures in terms of financial cost and, more importantly, human life, is ‘Test and Trace’ on which the Department of Health has […]

Digital divisions and the Tower of Babel

Mick Fletcher

People often talk of the ‘digital divide’, a gulf that separates those with access to IT and social media from others who lack the means or the understanding to engage with it. Some go further and speak of ‘digital natives’, those who have grown up with new technology and assimilated its ways like a child […]

The Turing scheme – does it address the loss of Erasmus?

Professor Paul James Cardwell

Some details about the #turingscheme as a replacement for #Erasmus are now out. Here are my initial thoughts, from an institutional and education perspective more than costs. First, setting up a scheme to run in 2021 is difficult and especially for those already in degree programmes who were due to go on Erasmus placements (language […]

A ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ – great, until you read the small print

Mick Fletcher

The shameful gap between the soaring rhetoric of policy announcements and the sordid reality of what is implemented has become one of the defining features of this government. The headline examples are of course the ‘oven ready deal’ that took 12 months to get anywhere near the oven, and the ‘world beating’ track and trace […]

Hunger games

Oliver Patrick

Not content with fiercely resisting calls to provide our poorest children with free school meals twice this year, the conservative government is charging headlong into a Brexit that risks all our school children going hungry in Brexit Britain. On Tuesday 17 November 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) released guidance on how schools should prepare […]

Protected characteristics or political playthings?

Florence MacDonald

I am a teacher and over the past month I have become increasingly aware of shifts in what is deemed acceptable for people to say and do in certain rôles, through interference from the government and, now, from the BBC. Phase 1 It began in early October with news of new educational guidance ‘Legal threat […]

Extreme political stances

Mike Temple

The once autocratic King Lear, now stripped of power and exposed to the storm, ushers the poor Fool into the hovel, then kneels and prays:                                                                 Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,                                       That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,                                       How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,                                       Your looped and windowed […]

Travelling outside comfort zones: two fingers up to the predictable

Dawn M Sanders

Why should additional needs limit your craving for adventure? Journalist Dawn Sanders, who has a visual impairment, argues impaired sight should not get in the way of free- spiritedness. Two years ago I met a kindred spirit where I would never have expected to: at the Royal National College for the Blind. Before going to the […]

A ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ is fine – but what will students live on?

Mick Fletcher

Let’s give a little credit where it’s due. The ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’,set out by the prime minister on 29 September, is aimed at the right target. It seeks to tackle two linked issues that threaten future prosperity: rising unemployment fuelled by the Covid crisis and the long running UK problem of low productivity. But let’s […]

Questioning capitalism is not extreme

Mick Fletcher

There is something especially hypocritical about this, of all governments, telling schools that they should not use material that could ‘undermine the fundamental British values of democracy [and] the rule of law’ It was, after all, this government that firstly broke the law by seeking to prorogue parliament and then, having been judged guilty, announced […]

Charity focus: What About The Children?

Jane Reddish

When I read the article by Dr Pam Jarvis in Yorkshire Bylines, I wrote to the Editor of my local Bylines to say how impressed I was by Dr Jarvis’s insight into the needs of young children, particularly because of my trusteeship of the charity What About The Children? The Editor-in-Chief asked me to let […]

Cornwall faces cold homes pandemic

James Miller

Despite its mild winters, Cornwall has among the highest levels of cold homes and fuel poverty in the UK, forcing many people to choose between heating their homes, and eating. The Government’s £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme, which aims to insulate up to 650,000 homes and create 140,000 jobs across the UK, launches this month. […]

Is it really time for T levels?

Mick Fletcher

After the high-profile shambles that has accompanied the A level and BTEC grading this year, the Department for Education (DfE) must be relieved that the next debacle likely to affect the same age group will at least be low profile. Few people seem to have heard that the new T levels (T stands for technical) […]

School reopening: mixed messages and mixed feelings

Virginia Stephen

The last day I spent in school, in March, was unnerving. I had been watching the distressing scenes from Italy and Spain and everyone already knew that we should have closed the week before. I felt too anxious to stay in the staffroom at break and lunchtime. A child with symptoms who had been sent […]

Back to school: Johnson concerned with kids’ welfare? Take a guess…

Oliver Patrick

This week, all students across the United Kingdom should be safe at school. Or will they? When the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) modelled the wider opening of schools, it concluded that a full opening would lead to a rise in the R number. Consequently, SAGE advised against full opening of schools. The […]