Monday, 24 March 2008

Class sizes in England and Scotland, compare and contrast

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted this post. It was about how the SNP government in Scotland were placing an upper limit on class sizes which was much lower than that of England. (If memory serves, the limit in Scotland was to be 23 while the upper limit in England had been increased to 35 - I don't recall whether that also applied to Wales or Northern Ireland.)
I went on to quote from a newspaper article (from The Times, I believe) about how the UK Department of Education believed that increasing class sizes was not a problem as long as a sufficient number of extra Classroom Assistants was provided.
I went on to argue that the real reason for the UK DoE's different approach to that of Scotland was money. I quoted from another newspaper (from The Scotsman, if memory serves) about how spending in Scotland was £6000 per child higher than in England (again, I don't know how this applied to Wales and N.Ireland) and to point out that providing extra Classroom Assistants was no substitute for reducing class sizes in terms of educational benefits as Classroom Assistants are not actually teachers.
The post was not, of course, intended as a criticism of the Scottish government, whose commitment to improving educational standards I strongly admire. It was intended as a criticism of the UK government for failing to show an equivalent level of commitment.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The man in Whitehall knows best‏

In yesterday's debate in the House of Commons prior to Wednesday's vote on whether or not to ratify the Lisbon Treaty already signed by Gordon Brown, Europe Minister Jim Murphy dismissed calls for a referendum, saying that "the place to make these decisions is in this chamber - not on a crane half way above the city sky of London (referring to protesters who had earlier scaled a crane and unfurled pro-referendum banners)."
What he really meant was, even though 88% of the public apparently want a referendum, it should not be up to the public to decide these crucial matters concerning the country's future because the Government knows what is best for us. This, in spite of the fact that even a Labour MP (Gwyneth Dunwoody) has stated that the debate on the various aspects of the Treaty was being "cut short in the most brutal manner" and the Europhile Lib-Dem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey described the Government's rushing through of the bill as "damaging to the pro-European position."
How it's possible to be "half way above" something, I have no idea.