Monday, January 15, 2007


The EU has been accused of using underhand means in the classroom to try to 'brainwash' British children into becoming enthusiastic supporters of the European project. A new teaching pack on the EU has been introduced for use in Key Stage 3 and 4 'citizenship' classes that claims to offer a balanced view of the organisation and its role. The taxpayer-funded materials - available to schools in bulk and at no cost from the European Parliament's UK office - hail the effectiveness of EU legislation on everything from smoking and workers' rights to genetically modified organisms and food labelling.

But Eurosceptics were up in arms last night about elements of the lesson notes and pupil worksheets, which guide teachers and pupils in 'de-bunking' the views of a man who is critical of a lack of democracy in the EU. The UK Independence Party, which blew the whistle on the pack, also attacked the way the Eurosceptic character featured in the pupil worksheets - 'Portsmouth plumber Charlie Bolton' - is an ageing, white man who contrasts with other young, smiling, fresh-faced people. Below a chart showing how the various institutions of the EU, such as the European Parliament and European Commission, interact, Charlie Bolton says: 'Europe - it's just faceless bureaucrats - none of them elected. 'And they impose their laws on us from Brussels whenever they fancy. All that red tape to make our lives harder.'

It then guides pupils to reject the notion that the EU is anti-democratic by reminding them of the elected European Parliament. 'Do you agree with Charlie? What does the flow chart tell you about how laws are made?' it asks. The teacher is also instructed to show pupils how to counter his argument and to lead the pupils to conclude that he is wrong and that the EU is democratic. The lesson plan reads: 'Discuss Charlie Bolton's attitude to EU legislation. If Charlie knew that the Members of the European Parliament are elected and that the Council of Ministers represents our governments, do the students think that he would change his mind?'

Yorkshire's UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom hit out last night at the pack, branding it 'bias and propaganda, masquerading as neutral fact'. 'At a time when the Government has been downplaying Britain's history and political traditions in our schools, taxpayers are instead forced to pay for our children to learn EU systems,' he said. 'Given that up to 75 per cent of our laws are now made in Brussels, I suppose it does make some sense, but I am sure that most parents would want their children to learn our political systems and institutions rather those that are being imposed upon us. 'It is obvious that the EU has given up on persuading the grown ups, so now they have started on the children.'

Shipley's Tory MP Philip Davies, spokesman for the Better Off Out campaign, added: 'The EU gets more like the Soviet Union every day when it resorts to brainwashing children. 'All it does is confirm my worst fears. 'But it's not just Charlie Bolton who's sick of the EU - opinion polls show that more and more people are fed up with membership and now a majority of businesses are against it. 'It smacks of utter desperation on their part because they know they've been rumbled.'

The European Parliament insists that the pack is impartial and that it helps pupils make their own minds up about the EU. 'The resources have been designed to offer a balanced introduction to the European Union and the European Parliament, to encourage students to take part in discussion and to form their own view on the subjects covered in the resources,' say the officials responsible for the pack


British Labour party minister axed 2,700 special needs places

RUTH KELLY, who was heavily criticised last week for educating her dyslexic son privately, presided over the closure of more state special school places annually than any other Labour education secretary since 1997, new figures show. In 2005, the only full year Kelly ran the education department, school closures led to the loss of more than 2,600 places for children with special needs. The closures continued in 2006, when Kelly was in charge until May.

Her record has angered parents who cannot afford private education and rely on state schools where there is often inadequate expertise.

The figures add to the claims of hypocrisy faced by Kelly, now the communities secretary, when it emerged she was prepared to spend £15,000 a year on a place at a private school in Oxfordshire.

She defended the decision on the grounds that her local council, Tower Hamlets in east London, could not provide for her son’s “particular and substantial learning difficulties”. The nine-year-old is understood to have dyslexia and dyspraxia, which affects co-ordination.

David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, who asked the question that led to the figures emerging, said he backed a moratorium on closures. “Every week I get letters protesting at special schools being closed,” he said. “It is an incredibly sensitive subject.”

The figures obtained by Willetts show that 2,770 places in special schools were closed in 2005 and another 2,051 in 2006. Some of these have been replaced by small units attached to mainstream schools.

Local councils have been under pressure to close special schools in an inclusion drive by Labour to educate children in mainstream schools wherever possible.

However, in 2005, as the closure of special schools was gathering pace under Kelly, Baroness Warnock, whose 1978 report on special educational needs paved the way for the policy, admitted it was leaving “a disastrous legacy”.

Last year there was a slight policy shift when Lord Adonis, schools minister, said there would be a tightening of conditions that had to be met before special schools could be closed.

Jackie Gibbon from Hereford whose nine-year- old daughter is dyslexic and dyspraxic, said: “I’d love to be in Ruth Kelly’s position, but we can’t afford it.”


Australia: Year 12 English students study SMS, podcasts


Show and tell is one assessment task suggested for Year 12 English students in South Australian schools by the state's curriculum board. Changes to the state's English curriculum this year also include the study of SMS, podcasts, graphic novels and song lyrics. Teaching resources authorised by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia for assessing students in the English Studies course, which is the literature course, include ideas for "non-text-based" activities. "Choose three objects which are of significance to you, and explain their importance in your life," the document says. Other activities suggested include giving demonstrations of packing a picnic basket, reading astrology charts, making a cake, giving a facial or grooming a dog.

English Studies is based on the critical study of texts, while English Communications is a broader study of the power and role of language in society. From this year, as part of their study of personal communications, English Communications students in Year 12 will have the opportunity to study text messages, along with family gatherings, letters and telephone calls. Other forms of communication studied under the various topics include talkback radio, junk mail, press releases, chat rooms, online shopping and podcasts.

Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop yesterday lamented the studying of text messages in lieu of time-tested classics such as Shakespeare, particularly in states such as South Australia and Queensland that do not have English as a compulsory subject for all school students. Ms Bishop said that as part of the development of a national curriculum framework in English, she would like to see Shakespeare included as a compulsory text. "I strongly encourage state education authorities to include Shakespeare and other classics in their curriculum," she said. "An appreciation of the best literature available should be an essential part of schooling. I would encourage state education authorities to aim higher, for higher standards."

Ms Bishop described the study of text messages in Year 12 as illogical, and said most students would know more about it than their teachers. "By replacing the teaching of the classics with courses that encourage them to text, are you encouraging students to take the easy path? It's not challenging or stretching students." Ms Bishop said the introduction of national literacy tests from 2008 would include assessment of spelling, grammar and punctuation not currently tested in state-based assessments. "The difficulty is not having students learn how to send text messages, but having them speak correct English."

Jury Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Adelaide, Penny Boumelha, welcomed the idea of English being compulsory for school students. Professor Boumelha said that teaching students how to write text messages was of little value in an English course. In the curriculum document, text messages form part of the communication study. A spokesperson for the assessment board was unavailable yesterday.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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