Supporters of Forest Hill School took a motion calling on Councillor Maslin to resign as Cabinet Member for Children & Young People to the Lewisham Deptford Labour’s General Committee. I wrote about the funding crisis and the campaigns to save the school last month. The school is actually outside the constituency but both workers and parents do live in the constituency. The motion was defeated.
The proponents of the motion argued that the Party had policy to support the school, that the Council had failed to take any of the measures proposed by the Party and Union, measures which have been taken in Greenwich: negotiating for relief on the PFI loans, extending the loan period, and giving them money. Cllr Maslin had refused to meet with parents until after the motion had been published and scab labour had been used to break the strike, although everyone now claims it was an accident.
This is a circular I received from a supporter of the Forest Hill School anti-cuts campaign.
Many of you will have heard of the ongoing dispute at Forest Hill School, Lewisham over cuts and the impact on teacher workload. NUT members have taken 9 days of strike action in total and yet the council or School management are still unwilling to engage seriously with the union or parents to solve this dispute.
On Tuesday 20th June, the school showed outright contempt for staff and broke the law by bringing in agency Supply teachers to cover during the strike.
Those of you who regularly read this blog will see I stood for Secretary of Lewisham Deptford Labour Party as part of left/momentum slate, and those of you who follow Momentum Exposed will know we lost. This was quite disappointing and we have had some difficulty in working out how to develop Labour’s campaigning beyond the electoralism & careerism practiced by the Labour First influenced majority. I think, and many of my allies agree that one of the differences is that on the Left we want to empower and engage our members and our voters; it’s been hard to do that and get the Deptford Labour Party via its General Committee (GC) to express its views when we are in contention with the new MP, and the Council majority. There would also seem to be a desire to exclude the ideas and enthusiasm of many of the new joiners. It was when looking back at what we as members had achieved, that I came to the conclusion that we haven’t done so badly and you can make a difference by joining the Labour Party. Over the last four years, we i.e. ordinary members of the Labour Party have made a difference, most recently on the New Bermondsey Development aka the Millwall CPO but also we have moved forward the national trade union campaign against blacklisting, the Council’s initiatives on welcoming refugees, on Education and have even won a commitment to return the Anchor to the High Street.
While at times the Labour Party’s procedures seem strange, and exceptionally ill-tempered, belonging to the Labour Party makes a difference. These decisions have involved us debating with and winning other members to our point of view and ensuring that our Councillors take this forward.
I attended my first South London Fabian Society earlier tonight. This is part of my search for a place to think and refresh my enthusiasm for ideas and electoral politics. The speaker was a man called
Richard Brooks, who had worked as a senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. He is the author of the award wining for his Fabian booklet, Out of Sight, “How we lost track of thousands of NEETS, and how we can transform their prospects”.
There was a story earlier in the week about the IT industry organising to influence the quality of IT teaching in the UK, or is it England now. According to the BBC, they argue that teaching in schools focuses too much towards using office software, by which we all mean Microsoft Office. My experience as an observer, and parent of students is that the syllabus for our brightest and most committed IT students is exclusively about using Microsoft Office products. Frankly this bores the brighter students. This boredom was compounded at the turn of the century by the decision taken by many schools to teach the GNVQ syllabus, and not the GCSE National Curriculum. This decision was taken because good GNVQs scored more highly than the GCSE in the school league tables and it could be taught with the same time commitment.
Let me assure you that the GNVQ IT syllabus was boring, requiring a very narrow rote based skill set demonstrating the ability to write a letter, create a single table spreadsheet, create a powerpoint slide show and use a forms package. There is no HTML, no SQL, no scripting, no programming and very little hardware, I am not aware that they even opened up a computer to examine the parts or to learn about what are now called user installations. They didn’t even teach anything useful like how to configure an internet gateway.
Today I go to seminars where senior software development managers are crying out with frustration that Universities aren’t turning out skilled programmers. Europe and the UK’s system software business is tiny, there’s only one European CPU and no European computer manufactures. All Europe’s Computer Scientists work for US companies.
So at last, even some of the campaigners for the current curriculum recognise that its 20 years too old. It needs to change to encourage our best to work in IT and Computer Science.
The UK’s early specialisation makes this an issue of crucial importance. People that fail or give up at GCSE will be most unlikely to study such a subject at either “A” level or University.
This was written in 2014 as far as I can tell, got lost and then found, I posted it in May 2017 and backdated it to this post date.
Among the debates about the UK’s futures is how to ensure that there are enough high wage jobs and skilled labour to perform them for our future. The need for effectively skilled people today & tomorrow requires a clear education and skills supply policy. Furthermore there is a lack of clarity as to where these jobs might come from, with some arguing that we need to ‘rebalance’ the economy, usually away from the financial services industry, others that we need stronger copyright laws in order to allow our ‘creative’ industries to grow. Carlotta Perez and her acolytes, with others suggest that the IT revolution is not over and that it and its multiplier effects are the source of future work and wealth.
Over the month it has become clear that a grave injustice has been done to a number of GCSE students. These exams are marked by a number of different examining boards and it would seem that advice issued by OFQUAL has led to harsher marking than those marked in January and a number of students not achieving their predicted grades.
Last month, I reflected on the debate about the school curriculum for Information Technology, it seems that even the government are listening. Michael Gove the Secretary of State is making a speech later today, in which it seems that he plans to “abolish the national curriculum” for ICT and “set teachers free”.
I don’t think this’ll be enough. If the exam boards don’t change their exams, and we don’t make/train better skilled teachers, it won’t change.
It would seem that even the IT industry is fed up with England’s IT education syllabus. A number of IT companies, most of them US subsidiaries have issued a “report” seeking to influence the quality of IT teaching in England. In an article, called “Coding the New Latin”, the BBC report,
Today, the report is dated 28th Nov, the likes of Google, Microsoft and other leading technology names will lend their support to the case made to the government earlier this year in a report called Next Gen. It argued that the UK could be a global hub for the video games and special effects industries – but only if its education system got its act together
I don’t want to get into a row with David Blanchflower,who takes issue with the QS University Ranking results 2011 and have no argument with his assertion that Cambridge is not the best University in the World, but unless the U. of Shanghai (UoS) have revised their methodology since I last looked at it while on the EU’s NESSI steering committee, in early 2009 , they
- overemphasise Science (& specifically Medicine)
- overemphasise US publication (& hence English language research)
- have no teaching quality metric ( apart from alumni citations)
My final note from the Water’s Power:09 Conference; Robert Johnson, a development manager at one of the London based banks stated that of the people he’s looked at in recruitment,
Many… developers don’t have a computer science background…
which makes it hard for them to write code for both distributed computing platforms and multi-threaded CPU systems.
It seems this is a reflection of the trends I have written about at on my old sun blog, tagged ‘university’ and more importantly at this site, in an article called British Higher Education. Given a choice between studying something easy or something hard, now that they have to pay a lot, students and their families choose the easy route. A further cause is the dead hands on the school IT curriculum design and the gestation period to make changes.
Why is the LSE not one of the top Universities in the world according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities? I scattered some thoughts on the UK Higher Education system in an article on my blog the other month and promised to look and see what Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s methodology thought of, what I thought to be three highly competitive British Universities, i.e. LSE, Sussex and Warwick, which had failed to make the top 100 of their 2007 ranking. I have come to the conclusion that what seems to me an anomaly, illustrates either a flaw in the methodology, or a misuse by me as the ranking’s design goal does not meet my needs.