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Showing posts from September, 2019

“This Parliament is a dead Parliament”

These were the words of the government’s attorney general who was tasked with relaying legal advice to the prime minister in advance of the recent and unprecedented proroguing of Parliament. That it turned out to be bad advice, and the action deemed illegal, came as little surprise. He resisted further paraphrasing the famous Monty Python sketch as he defended his position as the fall guy. But the humour was lost in the red mist as it descended. His words defined the week as our democracy descended into chaos. He might as well have said that this is a 'dead democracy'. The Labour position is little better. The Labour leadership’s take on democracy was no better than the proroguing of Parliament when it comes to Brexit. The unedifying scenes in the conference hall in Brighton will have a lasting and damaging effect. The divisions were stark when it came to a motion for Labour to back remain in any future referendum. The vote was carried out by a show of hands; a met

Entering the world of Higher Education: More realism about students is needed

Two events this week emphasised the wide chasm that exists in perceptions of fairness in our Higher Education system. The events both inhabited space at either end of the spectrum that spans the student experience.  There is sense that many people involved in Higher Education policy do not get the illogical nature of how student support currently works. Or worse, want to dismiss the uncomfortable facts. It seems that support is predicated upon the ‘middle-class’ notion that all families provide for their offspring as adults entering Higher Education. This is a given for the majority of families and was reinforced as an idea when Unite Students released the results of their 2019 survey of student attitudes in ‘The New Realists’ this week. In parallel to this was the stark contrast provided by the charity StandAlone , that held a conference in Glasgow and a parliamentary evidence session in Edinburgh, on estrangement amongst students. They effectively punctured the ‘middle cl

The UK position in the OECD ‘Education at a Glance 2019’ report

This week brought about the release of the 2019 edition of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) overview ‘ Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2019’ . It was hosted this year in London by the Higher Education Policy Institute rather than the similarly named Education Policy Institute as in previous years. The UK is holding its own as Higher Education expands in other countries. However, we must not become complacent. Headquartered in Paris, the OECD produces, amongst its vast range of economic analyses, a valuable overview of education provision across thirty six countries with well-developed systems of education. The reviews are valuable to policy makers in the UK in that they make comparisons with similar countries and place the UK in relation to EU and overall OECD averages. This grounds us well in realism concerning global trends and economic progress elsewhere. What does the OECD report tell us? The report itself is 497 pages

Justine Greening…Greening… Gone!

In the sweltering heat of the meltdown of our parliamentary democracy this week, there were several high profile resignations and disgraceful expulsions of long-standing members of parliament. This included ministers and former ministers discarded for their genuine views on Brexit. The biggest shock came when the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, decided he could take no more and resigned as minister and MP to avoid the ignominy of being thrown out by his brother. This naturally dominated media coverage. Yet the loss of another establishment Oxford educated figure will be of little consequence in the long run. A resignation far more profound and far-reaching happened with the loss of Justine Greening from parliament. She should consider re-emerging on the side of another party more suited to her aims and reignite her challenge to the so called ‘elite’ establishment that barely passes for representational government. She too avoided t