Clown Aid

The Government is proposing a temporary cut in overseas aid. It should be seen not as a problem caused by our Covid difficulties but as an opportunity to reconsider our aid priorities. Aid should perhaps be focussed on poverty relief, education, governance and sustainability.
The current system is fraught with waste and abuse.
It is reported that the EU have been ‘acting like clowns’ after splurging £23million of overseas aid on more than 400 circus related acts. The British contribution to these bread and circuses was £3million.
The money was spent between 2014 and 2019.
The circus grants included £182,000 teaching tightrope-walking in Belgium, Ireland and Romania. Two troupes in Palestine got £138,000 in 2016 to help “foster unity and diversity”. Another in Ethiopia got £280,000 the same year, using some for a new big top.
Britain’s circuses received £721,000 which may have been for touring overseas rather than U.K. based education and entertainment.
The revelations have prompted circus jokes such as from German MEP Nicolaus Fest: “Many of my colleagues act like clowns, but I never thought they would actually fund the circus”.
“Taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned money squandered on such extravagant comedy.”
And that is the tragedy. It cannot be too difficult for better uses to be found for the monies – either as aid promoting self-sufficiency or as benefits in our own territories where we have asylum seekers and our own people who need to be levelled up.

Brexit in Ipswich

bojesen_brexitThe E.A.D.T., last week featured visits to Ipswich by the great, the good and the not so good, when Boris Johnson and Michael Gove visited on Tuesday to promote their Brexit campaign and Hilary Benn came on Wednesday as a Bremainder. Wednesday’s photo showed at least one of my Labour Councillor friends in a supporting role. This is interesting because Hilary Benn is a champagne Corbynista, educated at Holland Park School also known as the Socialist Eton. Benn is a member of the Stansgate Clan and an adept of telling lesser mortals what’s good for them. Whilst the Corbyn line is to remain in Europe, there are a number of Labour M.P. dissenters including Dennis Skinner, the M.P. for Bolsover, and Frank Field, M.P. for Birkenhead.
Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were greeted by Bremainders in the form of students demonstrating against the visit and thus exercising their rights to free speech whilst denying their responsibility to allow others to campaign for their views.
Mixed into this motley crowd was the university Provost and Chief Executive Richard Lister who joined the anti Brexit demonstrators. He is quoted as saying that academics were concerned about breaking ties with European colleges and universities. Yet, these ties are political not cultural. Academics will be able to participate in joint research (if their skills are up to it). Who is Richard Lister who thinks he is still an adolescent student at heart and who thinks that he does not have enough influence as a member of the Ipswich Vision Group, Chair of the Greater Ipswich Partnership and a member of the New Anglia LEP Skills Board that he has to behave like a hooligan?
Brazenly, like Basildon Man, he parades his self interest. He is short on specifics but the University depends on Government grants and subsidies (i.e. tax payers’ monies). He knows on which side his bread is buttered. But do we need him to take time off from provosting about in order to behave like a student?
He reports to the Board of UCS. It is time they asked him what’s going on!
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Wake County Board of Commissioners

Apple for the TeacherRaleigh’s News & Observer recently brought us the news that three Republican (GOP) candidates are running for seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The Republicans lost control of the Board last year and in the 2016 Campaign they plan to take a page from the Democrats’ playbook.
One GOP candidate was reported as saying that he had found out that education was an important issue.
No sh*t Sherlock!
In 2013 the GOP at state level budgeted to drain US$ 500 million out of public education in the state whilst moving $90 million from public schools into private schools via a new voucher program.
The evidence of detachment from reality was underlined by the rationalisation that the four ousted Republican commissioners were “collateral damage”.
What planet are these people on? Education is a key means of attracting jobs and providing social mobility. Bringing in efficiency is one thing but if you think that you can skimp on education then you are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land and as a politician you deserve what you get!
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Good News – St. Mary’s Primary School, Hadleigh

St Mary's SchoolThe Ofsted Report on St Mary’s C.E.V.A. Primary School has now been published. I’m pleased to report that the school has improved its rating from Requires Improvement to Good.
So many congratulations to the Governors, the Headmaster and his staff, the pupils and their parents.
Improvements of this nature are a result of hard work and leadership by everyone directly involved in the school and our congratulations are well deserved.


Education Means Jobs

The Professor and his PupilEveryone has opinions on education and everyone thinks that their opinions represent the best interests of the community. North Carolina like many other areas is looking for the best value for their revenues and the State legislature (Republican) feels that if it restricts funding, then inefficiencies will be squeezed out of the system by virtue of some form of budget Darwinism. Unfortunately (like many other Government Departments in N.C. and the U.K.) the thinking stops there and that’s when the inexorable law of unintended consequences kicks in.
The major inefficiencies in education derive from:

  • Bureaucratic hierarchy and control
  • Inflexible structures at the chalk face
  • Misdirected resources

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas so we should not expect the school administrative systems to voluntary devise ways of making themselves more efficient and more focused on achieving continually improving results. Given the unfettered ability to make choices the educational administrative system will pick the low hanging fruit and cull school crossing wardens, teaching assistants and catering budgets. Thus there is a focus on budgets and not on community outcomes. This is the lesson learned by Suffolk County Council. Following the wake-up call of being one step off the bottom of County Educational Performance tables we introduced the Raising the Bar initiative in 2013. Just a few years later we are 107th out of 151 in the league tables. Although, this is still not where we want to be, we are going forward because at County level we recognize that you can’t have decent paying jobs unless the educational infrastructure is in place.