Peers in the House of Lords this week rejected moves to make collective worship in schools optional, rather than compulsory.
The law in England and Wales states that children at all publicly-funded schools “shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship”.
One of the proposed amendments to the Education Bill would have given community schools the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to hold acts of religious worship. A second amendment would have given pupils the right to withdraw themselves from worship. A further amendment would have allowed pupils aged 15 or older to withdraw themselves, building on the NSS success in 2006 in introducing sixth form pupils’ self-withdrawal.
The amendments were moved by NSS Honorary Associate Lord Avebury during the Report Stage of the Bill on Monday. He said: “It is time for the long-standing tradition which no longer reflects the beliefs of more than a tiny fraction of the people to be jettisoned”.
Speaking in the Chamber, Lord Avebury set out a list of reasons why requiring schools to conduct a daily act of religious worship is no longer appropriate. Not least of these were numerous references to the high rate of schools’ non-compliance with the law, showing it to be unenforceable and unpopular. Ahead of the debate, the NSS sent extensive evidence to the Education Minister at the request of the Department for Education. England and Wales are alone among Western democracies in requiring such enforced worship in community schools. The Joint (Parliamentary) Human Rights Committee endorses the proposal to bring down the age of self -withdrawal.
Speaking on behalf of the Government, Lord Hill of Oareford made it clear that the Government did not support the amendments. He said “Our starting point is that the requirement is long-standing. It is difficult to dissociate that from the history of the country and the role that the Church has played over a long period in individual schools and also collectively in society. A full account of the debate can be readhere.
Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society said “It is disappointing to hear the Government repeat the same old tired justifications for insisting on a daily act of Christian worship.
“The amendments were pragmatically drafted not to argue for an end to all worship in schools but simply to allow schools the freedom to choose for themselves whether hold it. It is perhaps an indication of the influence wielded by the Church of England that the Government wasn’t willing or able to make even the smallest concession, in the face of such reasonable amendments.
“The law requiring worship will eventually change; it is just a question of when. It is important that people make their views known to their MPs as it will clearly take a massive groundswell of public opinion to give the Government the backbone to stand up to the Church on this issue”
Sex and relationship education
Also this week, during Wednesday’s Education Bill debate NSS honorary associate Baroness Massey of Darwen issued a strong rebuke to the Christian Institute over their deceitful campaign against her amendment to ensure that the chief inspector of schools reports on the delivery of personal, social and health education including sex and relationship education.
Speaking during the debate, the Baroness said: “My amendment is about well-being and protecting children. The public have been fed dangerously misleading information. Never in the time that it has been my honour to serve in your Lordships’ House have I known such a sinister and vicious campaign, which has sought to misinform others.”
Baroness Walmsley, who also put her name to the amendment, told the chamber, “we have a so-called Christian organisation telling lies and being both uncharitable and cruel.”
The amendment was not supported by the Government, who are seeking to make inspections less prescriptive and more focused, and was withdrawn.
A further amendment from NSS Honorary Associate Baroness Flather to re-introduce the duty for the Inspector to report on schools’ contribution to community cohesion went to the vote but was narrowly defeated.
by Tony Barrett
Conservative: OED definition;
1. Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values.
2. Favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.
Placing good and Higher Education out of the reach of those that are not part of the ruling elite, or the economically powerful, is a step backward. During the Victorian era good and Higher Education was not for the masses, eventually through reform and investment a high standard of ‘free’ education was made available to us ‘the masses’ (Today this free education is still available, however if the Conservatives have their way it soon, will become a right of the past, and we will witness the education system reverting back to where it was 100 years ago.)
During the 1960s many a new University and campus sprung up to accommodate the mass influx of new students eager to exploit this newfound right of ‘free Education for all’, this decade also saw rapid and radical change, we were now better educated therefore felt able to challenge our masters, through education and attaining knowledge, we the masses had grown in confidence and become powerful.
‘It is this power that the ruling elite fear
In 2012 we will see Universities in England begin to charge up to £9000:00 for fees, Politicians have expressed their amazement that all universities are going to charge the full amount, whilst still believing that social mobility is still high on the agenda.
‘It beggars belief that those in charge of our country can not equate that withdrawal of central funding to Universities will result in said institutions having to raise their fees substantially in order to provide and deliver the best service’
This can only lead to Good and Higher Education only being available for the wealthy. The Tories have wanted to “change and rationalise” the education system since as far back as 1984, if not before.
In 1984 a senior Department of Education Officer warned in a report that
“Legislative powers might be necessary to change and rationalise the schools curricula. We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths, the Brixtons, the Handsworth, and the Miners. But if we have A Highly Educated and Idle Population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict.”
‘People must be educated to once more know their place’
At this time the Department of Education was under the leadership of Sir Keith Joseph, I find it difficult to think that Sir Keith knew of the contents of that report considering that;
‘In 1984 Sir Keith’s public spending negotiations with his Treasury colleagues resulted in a proposed plan for extra research funding for universities financed through the curtailment of financial support to students who were dependent children of more affluent parents. This plan provoked heated opposition from fellow members of the Cabinet.’ (Cecil Parkinson was his most vocal opposition)
The suggestion that they could cope with the Toxteths etc…. goes to show that Tories have little if no respect for the working classes i.e. the Miners Or the non-white community as the Social Unrest that took place in Toxteth, Handsworth and Brixton were ‘Race Riots’ They however did fear what they named the ‘Highly Educated Idle’. The Tories were extremely aware of the correlation between ‘Knowledge and Power’; they fear the masses becoming highly educated. They saw the working-class and Non-white population as having a low standard of education therefore lacking in knowledge and unable to pose a challenge to their authority, If they did start to challenge then their protests were met with state sponsored violence.
To have knowledge is to have an advantage over those without. It enables those with knowledge to dupe those without, creating leaders (those with power) and those that follow (sheep). They need the masses to follow without question. A highly educated population “If” organised can pose a considerable political threat and challenge. If this highly educated population is idle the political threat becomes greater, as they sit about and plot challenges to the ruling elite.
For over forty years we have seen the slow demise of the Ideology of free education, Even at Primary school education is only free if one is content to let their child get the basic bare minimum out of the education system. It smacks of hypocrisy, those who are pushing forward these reforms and those before them during the 1980s that voted in the changes to funding in Higher Education, were all beneficiaries of a Free Grant system, the ability to claim housing benefit (During Term Time as well as during the Vacations) and the availability of dole during the times that the Universities were on holiday.
‘Universities are fountains of knowledge, from which all those wanting to drink, should be allowed’
The destruction of a fair education system began with the change from a three-tier education system to that of just one option (State Comprehensive Schools). The old system categorised pupils according to ability. The Grammar Schools were the gateways into Universities for pupils from less affluent backgrounds. These Grammar Schools threatened the elite ness of the Higher Education system, meaning that not only would,
‘Public School Boys have to rub shoulders with those they had always seen as beneath them, also knowledge was being opened up to the masses leading to the ruling elite believing their power base was under threat:’
Hence the statement;
‘People must be educated to once more know their place’
What must have really annoyed them was once those from less affluent backgrounds gained entry into Higher Education it was for ‘free’. The ruling class must have been aghast at the thought of giving the masses the tools with which their power and authority could be challenged, “Nam liber”
With the destruction of the Technical Schools and discontinuation of Apprenticeships, saw another attack upon the education system one can only surmise that the reasons for this was to curtail the numbers gaining top qualifications within industry therefore enabling them a better wage, resulting in large sectors of society being able to climb the economic ladder, gaining economic power. Economic power and knowledge make a formidable mix as we climb up the social ladder our norms and values can and do go through change. If I did not go to University and was in the position economically to support my children I would encourage them to enter Higher Education. With the destruction of our education system this form of social mobility is being curtailed.
As long as the ruling elite can deliver a poor education system to the masses it will never fear the masses challenging them. Whilst it changes the funding system for higher education to suit the needs of the wealthy it will not fear its power base being eroded or diluted by a highly educated society. It is all about social control and the need to retain that authority and power amongst their own class.
The LRC condemns the Coalition government for voting through the trebling of tuition fees, for abolishing the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and the 80% cut in central teaching grant to Higher Education institutions.
We welcome the protests over the last months that have involved school, college and university students and the numerous occupations of universities , colleges and schools – and the support received by students from education trade unions and non-education trade unions alike.
We also congratulate the vibrant demonstration organised by students that brought 30,000 people to the streets on 9 December. We note that the march from Malet Street to Parliament Square was entirely peaceful and incident-free
We condemn the unprecedented levels of violence from the Metropolitan Police and call for kettling to be abandoned as a police tactic.
We call on the Labour Party to support the abolition of all fees and restoration of student grants (including the EMA) and on Ed Miliband and all Labour Party members to give their full backing to the students’ campaigns, and to join them in future protests.
The LRC will support future campaigning by students against fee rises and the abolition of EMA, and for free education paid for out of general taxation.
Full report from NCAG members who attended the siege of Millbank Tower tomorrow…
Supporters and users of the careers and counselling service for young people Connexions are being asked to head for County Hall on Monday, by unions, teachers and activists to give weight to the fight to save the service from cuts.
Sixty-five jobs are facing the axe which will lead to an already struggling organisation having to half it’s service to young people in our area. The proposed reduction of the service is part of a £10m package of savings that will be decided by full council on Monday.
It’s likely to be a very busy time in the coming months fighting against attacks on essential local services, but it’s imperative that wherever the attacks on these services occur, we put our full weight behind the fightback, especially where services for some of the most vulnerable in the community are going to be affected.
Isn’t it time we used more common sense? Multicultural and identity politics do nothing more than segregate. IF WE CAN’T GET THAT RIGHT IN OUR SCHOOLS, WHAT CHANCE EQUALITY IN THE REST OF ‘SOCIETY’?
Pockets of deep segregation are revealed in a mapping of the ethnic make-up of England’s schools.
University of Bristol researchers show that in Manchester, fewer than 1% of pupils of Pakistani origin are at schools which have a white majority.
It also shows changes – with the number of white primary school pupils in London falling by a quarter since 2002.
The project’s director says the overall trend is for more pupils to mix – with segregation “constant or decreasing”.
The Measuring Diversity project at the Centre for Market and Public Organisation provides an ethnic breakdown of pupils in local authorities in England.
This shows both the numbers of different groups and also the extent to which they might meet by attending the same schools.
The project’s website shows the great variation in the school population across the country – with some areas in which white pupils remain the overwhelming majority and others which are much more diverse.
In Hull, there are no primary schools which are defined as “minority white” – in which less than 30% of the school population are white.
In contrast, in London the number of white minority primary schools has risen from 22% to 36% between 2002 and 2008.
This reflects that the number of white pupils in London primary schools has fallen by about a quarter in six years – and only about 6% of primary schools now have a substantial white majority.
The figures, taken from the annual census of state schools, also reveal patterns of divided communities – with pupils much more likely to attend school with people from their own ethnic group.
In Oldham, about 80% of pupils from the sizeable Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities go to schools where they will meet few white pupils.
In Camden, north London, more than three quarters of Bangladeshi pupils go to mostly non-white schools.
In the same borough, only one in six white pupils go to schools in which white pupils are a minority.
But Simon Burgess, director of the centre at Bristol University, says that the overview of the statistics shows that there is no increase in segregation.
“The overall pattern is that segregation is either constant, or decreasing,” he says.
Professor Burgess wants the information on local areas to inform the debate about diversity and make-up of communities.
“It is a common saying that people’s attitudes are strongly influenced by their school days. So the peer groups that children play with, talk to and work with are important factors moulding their perspectives on society,” he says.
“The extent of ethnic diversity in schools is an important issue of public debate. This website provides some facts to enlighten this debate.”
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that schools were obliged to “promote community cohesion through twinning, sports and art to equip young people to live in a multicultural country”.
A divide has opened up between the education haves and have-nots across East Anglia, new figures reveal.
Location is shown to be a key factor for children as they fight for a prosperous future, with youngsters in some areas trailing well behind those living just a few miles down the road.
The EDP has analysed district-by-district statistics detailing how well 11-year-olds did in English, maths, science, reading and writing tests earlier this year.
They show that youngsters in Waveney are the worst of more than 350 council areas in England for their English results, with only 68pc getting the target level four.
Great Yarmouth is rock-bottom in the country for the percentage of 11-year-olds who got at least a level four in reading, writing and maths – at just 44pc percent, well under half of the children who sat the tests.
Meanwhile, more prosperous South Norfolk is 8th best for English results, with 88pc of children getting at least level four.
Other figures show:
Waveney and Yarmouth are joint second from bottom of the table for maths, with 66pc getting the target level four – with only Wansbeck in Northumberland faring worse, at 65pc
Waveney is the worst in England for English and maths combined, with 57pc getting level four in both
Waveney and Yarmouth are tied at the bottom of the table for the average points score for pupils in the tests, at 26.5.
It might be expected that many of the worst performing councils are in inner cities.
But many of the areas near the bottom of the table are in deprived coastal areas, some of which have endured high unemployment and falling income per household as holiday habits have changed.
They include Wansbeck in Northumberland, Great Yarmouth, Waveney, Swale in Kent, Ipswich, Hastings in East Sussex, Adur in West Sussex and Thanet in Kent.
Chris Snudden, Norfolk County Council’s head of primary school improvement, said: “We know that some areas of the county have significant levels of deprivation, including Great Yarmouth.
“Some of the performance there comes from communities that are increasingly taking families from other parts of the country and other parts of Europe. Therefore the figures are not a surprise.”
Mrs Snudden added: “Our aim is that all children should do as well as they can. Our school support money is weighted according to the greatest need.”
She said along with the extra money, there was extra teaching in small groups for children with identified difficulties.
Mrs Snudden cited the work of Alderman Swindell Infant in Yarmouth, which had been named “outstanding” by Ofsted despite the challenges of deprivation and large numbers of overseas children.
“Our evidence is that if you get your strategies right, children can succeed. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a lot of hard work with children, parents and communities.”
Earlier this month, the EDP reported that Norfolk improved from 119th to 111th of the 150 local authorities in England in the 2009 primary school tests.
The county remains comfortably below the national average, despite a small improvement in the percentage of pupils getting the target level four in maths and science and small dip in English results.
The more detailed district-by-district figures show how Norfolk’s long-term position in the bottom half of the table is down to piecemeal performance, with results particularly poor in Yarmouth and Norwich, below average in Breckland, average in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and North Norfolk, and well ahead of the mark in Broadland and South Norfolk. source
Politicians seem to have one thing in common, whichever party they hail from – and no, we don’t mean an unquestioning adherence to failed capitalism, although that is almost invariably the case these days.
That common ground is their unshakeable belief that the public has the attention span of a particularly challenged gnat. How else can one explain their continual policy back-flips?
Take, for example Universities Minister David Lammy. Way back – actually, only back to July this year – Mr Lammy was proclaiming that “in tougher times it is right that we continue to invest, which is why we are providing funding today to help meet some of the unprecedented demand to study at university.”
All well and good, and very praiseworthy it sounded, that is until yesterday, when Business Secretary Peter Mandelson pronounced that cutbacks were needed to pay for the “higher than expected cost” of funding grants and loans for the record number of students going to university during the recession.
In his annual grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Dark Lord announced university funding cuts of £135 million for next year.
This is on top of £600 million efficiency savings to be made from 2012, which were announced in the pre-Budget report by the Chancellor, and £180 million of efficiency savings over the next 18 months.
The letter also says that universities will be fined £3,700 for every student they took on this autumn above the limit set out by the government – fines which will add up to many millions of pounds.
Mr Lammy was speaking at a time when the government was providing an extra 10,000 university places in a frantic effort to cut the number of school-leavers entering the unemployed statistics direct from school.
But government generosity at that time was strictly limited. Although it funded student support in loans and grants, there was no money to finance the teaching and universities had to provide it out of reserves.
These are now to be depleted even further to penalise universities for taking on more students than the government expected during the unseemly scramble to provide the extra places between July 20 and the start of the university year in September.
Mr Mandelson said at the time that the costs of supporting extra students would be met be “reprioritising” existing budgets, whatever that means.
Well, it’s now become clear. He meant that the costs would be met until the Labour government had bunged billions at the banks to such an extent that the public finances needed drastic retrenchment.
Apart from taxpayers having to pay the penalties for Labour’s misplaced generosity to a pack of failed gamblers, young people not even qualified to pay tax yet will also have to cough up, in terms of their life opportunities being cavalierly restricted.
So much, then, for Mr Lammy’s “continued investment.” The British people will continue to be squeezed to underwrite the profligacy of the bankers and education will have to bear £915 million of that squeeze.
And that’s just the start of a retreat from education that the government is trying so hard to portray as simple necessity. It is, in fact, nothing of the sort. It’s a judgement call that the government has got wrong.
To subsidise the banks, it is mortgaging the future of Britain’s young people, truncating the expansion of education chances for poorer students before that expansion really got under way.
And that is an ill-judged call, because it will inevitably restrict Britain’s ability to climb out of recession and the consequences will be visible for decades.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described the cut as “a real Christmas kick in the teeth for staff and students and proof that the government has completely lost its way when it comes to higher education.”
We can’t better that estimate.
Common sense at last!
Thousands of Norfolk parents, already under financial pressure from the recession, will not now face a big rise in the fees they have to pay to bus their teenager children to college.
As previously reported in the EDP, Norfolk county council, which has a multi-million pound funding shortfall in the next few years, had wanted to halve the annual post-16 transport subsidy – which would have led to a fare hike from £334 to £501 per student from next September.
But last night the county council announced a U-turn on the move, which had been branded “short-sighted” by college bosses who said it would have a “disproportionate impact” on young people from poorer families.
Shelagh Hutson, cabinet member for children’s services, yesterday announced the decision to maintain the annual subsidy for the service at current levels.
After considering the possible impact on the uptake of post-16 education, Mrs Hutson asked officers to look elsewhere in the budget for savings.
She has written to colleges and sixth forms to thank them for their representations and to let them know that the proposal will not be pursued.
She said: “I absolutely understand people’s concerns about this issue and equally why we had to look very closely at the level of subsidy this service receives. However, having listened to representations from across the community, I have decided that the current level of transport subsidy should not be reduced and that we will therefore continue to invest very heavily in this area for the benefit of our children.
“While it was right that we leave no stone unturned in our quest for budget savings, I am convinced this is the right decision at this time and have asked officers to look again for another solution to close the gap we face. This will be an extremely challenging task, but it is one on which we must deliver.
“This budget round is clearly very difficult and everyone should be aware that the outlook for the years ahead is extremely bleak, with the threat of severe cuts in public spending in the future.”
Shane Mann, president of the Students’ Union at City College, Norwich, said it was “fantastic news” the subsidy would not be cut.
He added: “We’re extremely pleased and glad that the county council has decided to do a U-turn on this proposal and realised the effect it would’ve had on education in Norfolk.”
Post-16 transport is currently subsidised to the tune of £4m a year, with help given to more than 6,000 youngsters to travel to sixth forms and colleges. The level of subsidy in terms of bus passes and fuel costs in Norfolk is greater than that offered by most of its neighbouring authorities.
Despite a budget increase of £2.7m for 2010/11, increasing the total Children’s Services net revenue budget to £169m, a shortfall of £10.5m remains. The department is facing tough choices for the year ahead, largely because of the increased costs of looking after the county’s vulnerable children.