And Tristram Hunt can kiss my hairy freckled arse

Private schools would be stripped of £700 million in tax breaks if Labour is elected, under plans being drawn up by Ed Miliband.

The “class war” proposal could add up to £200 a year to the cost of a private school education.

Tristram Hunt, the shadow Education Secretary, is expected to outline plans to “claw back” relief given to private schools from paying local authority business rates.

More than 2,000 private schools across Britain can claim up to 80 per cent cut in their business rates because they are charities, worth around £150 million annually.

Mr Hunt will say that a Labour government will legislate to ensure the schools only qualify for this “subsidy” if they pass a new “schools partnership standard”.

Sigh. They’re charities. So, they should get the same breaks (and face the same costs) as other charities. Providing education is, and has always been seen as, a justifiably charitable endeavour.

And I’d also advise being very, very, careful about how you define “school” or “education” in this sense. For I’m absolutely certain that there’s all sorts of charities out there providing some educational benefits that you don’t want to subject to this taxation because they’re run by your supporters.

But the real problem here is that it’s a gross misunderstanding of what the charitable sector is all about. This is an areas supposed to be outside such detailed and direct governmental control.
Charity is about the things the little platoons do for the little platoons. Civil society: not politically directed centralised society. Government is and should be limited to setting the general rules. You’re a charity? Here are the rules. The same rules apply whether you’re a Labour Party front organisation, a donkey sanctuary or a school.

So here, here is that hairy freckled arse: pucker up matey and then you can fuck right off.

They had an investigation to figure this out?

Seriously?

Investigation reveals US university let athletes take fake classes
More than 3,000 students at University of North Carolina took fake classes as part of a program that allowed many to remain eligible to play sports

What?

Aren’t universities supposed to be where all the bright people are?

There’s amoeba at the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench that know about this, wolverines convene on the taiga to gossip about it. But then there’s no one so stupid as a bureaucrat insistent on not noting what they don’t wish to see, is there?

And absolutely no one at all should be thinking that this is happening at only one US university. It’s not even epidemic, it’s pandemic in the system. A 30 second conversation with most of those* playing college sport is all you need to divine that.

* Perhaps a touch harsh: but true of the major sports at the major sport playing places, if not of all sports at all colleges.

This is what happens when a craft becomes a profession

The professional classes then colonise that former craft:

 But then who am I to criticise Stephenson when journalism is as much of a rich kids’ game? Lindsey Macmillan of the Institute of Education found that journalists used to come from families 6% better off than average, whereas now they come from homes that are 42% richer. Indeed, British journalists, the supposed tribunes of the people, now hail from wealthier backgrounds than, er, bankers, an awkward fact that ought to cause embarrassment all round. I look at my younger self today and wonder if he could become a journalist on a serious newspaper. My parents were teachers. They were comfortably off by the standards of 1980s Manchester, but they could never have afforded to rent me rooms in London and cover my expenses while I went from internship to internship. They had to look after my sisters as much as anything else.

When the standard method of entry was a lowly paid couple of years on a local or regional to be followed, maybe, by a climb up to the nationals then that “right background” didn’t make a difference. When acting meant living on sixpence (rather than the nothing of interning or “parts to gain exposure” ) for a couple of years and doing Rep then again, that sorting system of separating the sheep from the hams didn’t favour background.

Once these, and other such crafts, become professions then it’s obvious enough that those from the professional classes will try to colonise those former crafts.

Quite what we do about it is another matter. No one wants either Rep or local newspapers any more and there’s no point in running them just as socially equitable training grounds.

We could say much the same about being a solicitor or an accountant. Many a working class boy has made good by doing their articles while working in the past. Now it’s graduate only entry (in effect, if not in possibility) and once again the selection process favours background.

Eh? We do?

We know that sporting talent will be randomly distributed among the 700,000 babies born every year.

Is this some ignorance of genetics from Will Hutton? We would rather expect that sporting talent will be more common in those born to parents with sporting talent, wouldn’t we?

This matters. There is growing concern that too much of Britain’s elite sport is occupied by athletes educated at private schools: for example, 41 % of the medals won at the 2012 Olympics went to the privately educated. We know that sporting talent will be randomly distributed among the 700,000 babies born every year. Yet the British system ensures that it will be those lucky enough to be born into households rich enough to educate them privately that will have the best chance to lift their natural sporting ability to Olympic standards. By any moral code, this is not fair, but beyond morality this is a huge squandering of talent.

And the entire idea there is flawed because it’s not looking at the entirety of sport. Agreed, those born into wealthier families are more likely to, if they have the requisite talents, shine on horseback or in rowing. But how many middle class or upper middle class footballers are there? Class (or income, not the same thing in the UK, obviously) might well influence which sport the talented pick up but that isn’t the same as saying that the underprivileged do not have an opportunity in all sports.

The same is true of intellectual and academic ability. The Sutton Trust reports that four private schools and one sixth form college in Cambridge send as many students to Oxbridge as nearly 2,000 state schools. Are we to believe that native academic ability is uniquely concentrated in the children of parents rich enough to afford to pay the fees (or live in the catchment area of Hills Road sixth form college, Cambridge)?

Genetics again Will. For yes, we do rather think that the children of all of those Cambridge academics have something of a leg up in intelligence. For intelligence is indeed inheritable (with regression to the mean etc). And even if you want to insist that intelligence is randomly distributed (something which it cannot be for if it were it would never have emerged in the first place) then yes, we’d still expect that children growing up in the groves of academe are going to do quite well in academe.

Actually, there could be a fascinating paper in this. Why don’t the Oxford schools display the same results? Are the catchment areas different, there being no one school that gets all the professors’ kids? Are more privately educated in Oxford?

Rules is rules of course but do they have to be enforced by complete and utter fuckwits?

The mother of a terminally-ill boy is fighting against being fined for taking him out of school for what could be his last holiday.

Maxine Ingrouille-Kidd has been threatened with a fine of up to £120 and possible prosecution if she takes her son Curtis out of school during term time.

Doctors have given Curtis, 13, who is a blind quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, just a few years to live and warned he may only survive until his late teens.

“My son is 14 in October and this may well be his last holiday,” the mother-of-three said.

Crippled JC on a sodding pogo stick I know that common sense isn’t common but is the entirety of the regulatory state run by total and entire morons and fuckwits?

What the hell is anyone doing insisting that this boy be incarcerated in the bosom of the education system in the first place? It’s a waste of his life and our money anyway.

Way back when a childhood friend of mine (by a long way my best friend as well, which probably explains quite a bit about my character now, I tend to regard friendships as fleeting things) died of a brain tumour at 16 or so. At least he was spared someone wittering on about how he should still be working for university as commoon sense did seem to be more common then.

Just rank fucking idiocy on display here.

And this is a particularly twattish statistic

The group’s report highlights European Commission research showing that English 15-year-olds came bottom of a table of 14 countries for competence in the main language taught in schools.

Just 9 per cent of English pupils had a basic mastery of French – the most commonly-taught language – while the average across 14 nations was 42 per cent.

Err, no.

The most commonly taught non-domestic language in England is French. The most commonly taught non-domestic language across Europe is English. 42% of European youths are proficient (to the standard that this survey requires) in English.

Admittedly, that’s still higher than the number of English people who are proficient in English but that’s all part of the long march through the institutions.

Labour’s new exciting education policy

Let’s bring back City and Guilds.

Universities will run a new range of German-style “technical degrees” under Labour plans to target school leavers who shun traditional academic subjects.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will outline proposals to encourage top universities to develop high-level practical courses in subjects such as engineering and technology.

Sigh.

I’m really not sure this will work you know

Children should be kept in school for up to ten hours a day to help reverse the ‘real and persistent’ underachievement of white working-class pupils, an influential group of MPs says today.

Schools should extend their opening hours to ensure pupils can complete their homework, as part of a raft of measures to rescue a generation from joblessness and poverty.

In a major report, the Commons Education Select Committee said evidence suggested that longer school days could give pupils the equivalent of two months’ extra progress over an academic year.

The report lays bare the extent to which white children on free school meals are under-performing at school.


We used
to be pretty good at educating the indigenous working class. Now we’re not. And the solution is going to be to expose said children to even more of the fashionable lunacy that infests the education sector?

I’m really not sure that this is a winning proposition you know.

Great moments in Higher Education

And in what may be the most satisfying irony to come our way in many years, the Dean of Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology– the very person responsible for assessing academic credentials and, in fact, the author of a book of advice for college-bound students–confessed in 2007 that each of her advanced degrees was strictly imaginary.

Well, that kills that idea then

Peal said the link between poverty and poor educational performance had become a “truism” in the left-leaning educational establishment, but it was disproved by international figures.

For example Japan, Canada and Poland all fare worse for child poverty than Britain in Unicef data.

But they rank higher than this country in a key measure of educational achievement, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the report said.

And social inequality is more extreme in China and South Korea, but both beat Britain in the PISA data, it added.


Turns out
that it’s just crap teaching in crap schools that’s the problem.

Tempus mutandis

I still think the only reason to go to school is to learn how to read. After that you can teach yourself most stuff. The idea that people are still leaving school illiterate is to me a total disgrace. I went to a slum school in Salford, a secondary modern, but I swear to Christ, nobody left unable to read a book.

John Cooper Clarke.

And this is good:

So which way would you vote?
It’s a tough call. I wouldn’t recommend any of them. I suppose if I had to I would vote Labour but only out of blind class hatred, nothing else. That’s what keeps these bastards coming back. To be honest, the only one whose language I even remotely understand is Nige [Farage]. Shoot me down in flames. Everyone else: they talk about nothing that seems to matter. It’s beyond satire. And even satire has become PR, you know, since someone told politicians they will get more votes if they join in with the piss-taking themselves.

Lecturers ‘struggle to speak English’ at elite universities charging students £9,000 a year

This is hardly new.

Well, the £9,000 a year might be but the struggling to speak English isn’t. We had one full professor at the LSE where English was his fourth (and very badly learnt) language. Japanese, German, Russian I think, then English. Excellent economist doing very interesting research but as a lecturer not all that understandable.

Now this is a school science project

And yesterday he became the youngest person in the world to achieve nuclear fusion from scratch at his Lancashire secondary school, using high energy to smash two hydrogen atoms together to make helium.

‘It is quite an achievement. It’s magnificent really,’ Jamie said afterwards. ‘I can’t quite believe it – even though all my friends think I am mad.’

Well done that man.

And well done the teachers who allowed him to do it of course. For he was creating RADIATION!

Markets: cooperation or competition?

A question from a reader:

Look, here’s the challenge for Christians, *if* they can see it: those men in suits, in offices, they’re out for themselves, selfish, no thought for the common good. But mankind’s progress has been migration, conquest even, leading to trade in goods and ideas and methods. Self interest has worked for mankind’s benefit, the greed of those men in suits has worked for mankind. At the very least man has been served better by his restlessness than by any higher motives. How do Christians respond to this – to us – paradox.

Within Catholicism at least, the only brand of Christianity that I know much about, it is the motive for an action which is important. A married couple having a legover as a result of their mutual love for each other is just fine: admirable even, a use of one of God’s gifts to us (dependent upon the level of contraception being used or not of course, nothing is ever simple in Catholicism). A man demanding a jump from his wife because he is blinded with lust is not admirable. Indeed, many would say it is sinful. The action might be the same but the reason matters.

As to a market economy, where we’re all assumed to be motivated by our (enlightened) self interest yes, if we think of this as purely being driven by greed then we do have a problem. Greed is indeed a sin and thus, again within Catholicism, we cannot accept that good things can come from bad. So while the results of a market economy, driven by that greed, seem to be better than any other system we’ve tried, that original motive makes the result unacceptable.

Many people, rather cleverer than I am, have grappled with this problem for some number of years longer than I have done so. But here’s at least my attempt at the beginning of an explanation.

Which is that markets, certainly the business world that I’ve been involved with, are not all that much about competition. It’s there, certainly, but that’s not what is really going on. The competition is to try and find the people that you can cooperate with. Say my process needs widgets: I’m not competing with those who make widgets in the slightest. But those who make widgets are competing with each other to find who is going to be the one who cooperates with me in providing my widgets.

We are not competing therefore: we, I and the widget makers, are trying to work out on the basis of price, reliability, quality and all that, who should be the people that we cooperate with.

To return to our sex analogy, we are in a dating market before we make our choice. True, that choice is not until death us do part but believe me, there’s still a commitment being made. Anyone in business will tell you how difficult it is to depose an incumbent supplier.

As above there’s a great deal more thought gone into this question than I can offer. But I would at least begin to argue that the way out of this paradox is to understand that markets are a selection mechanism as to who to cooperate with rather than vicious and impersonal competition driven by greed. Just as the dating market works: we’re looking for the best we can get and no one at all thinks that this is odd behaviour in that context.

Lord this is going to cause all sorts of problems

A gene which may make people more intelligent has been discovered by scientists.

Researchers have found that teenagers who had a highly functioning NPTN gene performed better in intelligence tests.

It is thought the NPTN gene indirectly affects how the brain cells communicate and may control the formation of the cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the human brain, also known as ‘grey matter.’

It’s probably true. For even a mild bout of pondering the emergence of intelligence is going to conclude that it is genetically based. And if it is then some people are going to end up with a healthier dollop of it than others. And it will obviously also be inheritable.

However, this isn’t politically acceptable to a certain section of the commentariat. I’ve seen, for example, in Danny Dorling’s writings a flat out statement that all babies are equal and that any differences are entirely due to nurture and environment. Anyone could, in his phrase, grow up to be a Professor of Social Geography at Sheffield.

A statement so barking as to make one conclude that anyone has. For we can clearly see that genes exist for unintelligence: how else are we to explain Down’s Syndrome? My lament here though is that the more people do identify the genetic base3 of intelligence the more that certain section are going to stick fingers in their ears and shout lalala. And unfortunately, they’re the people who control much of the education system, certainly the part that educates the educators.

A note on British inequality

When you’ve the plumbers knocking on the door of the one percent I’m not entirely sure that social stratification is the thing driving inequality:

Mr Mullins is considering hiring further French plumbers if demand continues to increase, after Mr Hollande’s 75pc levy for France’s highest earners was last month approved by France’s highest court.

“The worse the French economy gets, the better things become for our business,” said Mr Mullins.

He estimates that the new French-speaking recruits could earn between £120,000 and £150,000 a year, in line with his company’s other top engineers.

It might be, rather, that the famed British inequality is in fact geographic inequality rather than class or job based. Further, given that we know very well that the cost of living varies wildly based upon geography then we almost certainly don’t have as much consumption inequality, the only form we should be worried about at all, as people seem to think.

I’m not sure if it is true today but it most certainly was a few years back. That according to ASHE, the highest paid group of women, measured by average hourly wages, were black women. No, we most certainly do not think that black women in general outearn women of other ethnicities. But that is what the figures tell us. The answer being that black women are highly concentrated in London, where wages in general are very much higher than elsewhere.

I am, as I’ve said before, convinced that some to much of the famed British inequality is this inequality of incomes over geographic areas, not inequality of consumption. Essentially, because London dominates Britain in a manner that happens in just about no other European country.

All of which means that the standard techniques to reduce inequality, that predistributionism, the higher taxes, higher minimum wages etc, just aren’t going to address the problem. If, indeed, it’s worth addressing at all. If it really is geographically based then if it is to be dealt with then it would need to be some geographic solution.

A free school fails: Hurrah!

The inspection of the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby was brought forward after claims female staff were made to cover their heads even if they were not Muslim, and pupils were segregated – with girls forced to sit at the back of the classroom.

The leaked report describes the faith school as “in chaos” and in danger of collapsing, as well as “dysfunctional. It is expected to suggest the school be put in special measures.

The report, seen by the Guardian, says: “Leadership and management, including governance, are inadequate and have been unable to improve the school.

“Staff have been appointed to key roles for which they do not have qualifications and experience. For example, most of the primary school teachers have not taught before and the head of the primary school is experienced in teaching secondary-aged pupils only.”

The school is one of Michael Gove’s flagship free schools and opened in September last year.

Contrary to what you will be told, this is part of the success of the scheme. Experimentation does fail, often. But it’s only through that process of experimentation that we manage to make things better over time. And the joy of a “market” approach, in this case just one that is not centrally directed in detail by a bureaucracy is that we do indeed get more experimentation. As long as known failures get closed down quickly then the system will, through this method, continue to improve.

Err, no Polly, no

Like Cummings, I am not qualified to interpret genetic research, so I asked Professor Steve Jones, the celebrated geneticist at University College London, what it means. Cummings, using the work of the behavioural geneticist Robert Plomin, badly misinterprets it, says Jones, and “fundamentally misunderstands” how biology works. That 70% is, crucially, “a statement about populations, not individuals. It certainly does not mean that seven-tenths of every child’s talents reside in the double helix.” Teachers become more, not less, important, Jones says, when examining the close interaction of environment and genes. Even in the simple matter of height, environment plays its part: with no DNA change, his native Welsh population has grown two inches and increased its IQ since the 1950s. Moving to affluence increases a working class child’s IQ by 15 points.

The effect is not upon the IQ of that one working class child that moves into affluence. It i exactly as you are criticising Cummings for: it’s the Flynn Effect and it works on populations, not individuals.

And as to this:

With destiny all but set by five years old

If destiny is set before the education system even sees the child ten it’s clear and obvious that it’s not the education system that influences destny, is it?

No wonder the education system is fucked

Michael Gove held talks with a leading scientist who believes that genetics, not teaching, plays a major part in the intelligence of schoolchildren, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

That seems like a useful belief to have. Given that we usually define intelligence as that innate thing which is then educable.

Mr Gove’s policy adviser, Dominic Cummings, provoked outcry yesterday when it emerged he had backed Professor Plomin’s research that genes accounted for up to 70 per cent of a child’s cognitive abilities.

Outcry? What? For the various twins studies do show something along those lines. Intelligence is heritable: we wouldn’t be the human race if that were not true.

Note that saying that something is heritable does not at all mean that it is entirely or only so. But it is indeed heritable as is blond hair and blue yes. So why outrage?

The research is contentious because ministers and educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability.

You what? You mean the education system is based on a simple lie about the nature of human beings? No wonder it’s entirely fucked then, eh?