Thursday, February 07, 2013

British Labour Party is the elite 'Downton Abbey party', Michael Gove claims in row over who is on the side of working class students

Labour is today cast as the ‘Downton Abbey party’ which refuses to back opportunities for poorer people which have been enjoyed by the political elite.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is to use a speech to accuse Ed Miliband of reacting to the idea of increasing the aspirations of students with the ‘horror’ of the Earl of Grantham in the ITV drama to the news that a chauffeur wanted to marry his daughter.

In a surprise reversal of class-based political attacks, Mr Gove will claim Labour believes working class pupils should ‘stick to their station in life’ and not enjoy the elite Oxford education enjoyed by the party’s leadership.

Labour leader Ed Miliband's reaction to raising aspirations for working class students is likened to when Downton's Earl of Grantham learned his daughter wanted to marry a chauffeur

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation tonight, Mr Gove will defend the Government’s English Baccalaureate measure, which recognised students who secured at least a C grade in English, Maths, two sciences, a language and a humanities subject.

The measurement, introduced two years ago, had been greeted with ‘visceral horror’ from the Labour party and the unions, he is expected to say.

‘How dare anyone - let alone the Department for Education - reveal how many state school students were getting the sort of education that enables the children of the rich to dominate British life?’

The eBacc inspired opposition ‘because it revealed how poorly served so many state students were’, he will say.

Mr Gove claims the attitude among the Labour leadership is like that of the landed gentry in ITV’s landed gentry, who do not believe that the working classes and the servants should enjoy the same privileges that they do.

He will contrast the privileged education of Mr Miliband, shadow chancellor Ed Balls and shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg who all studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford with the lack of ambition for students from poorer backgrounds.

And he will draw on the explosive storyline when the Earl of Grantham discovered  Lady Sybil was running away to marry Irish chauffeur Tom Branson.

‘At the moment just 16 per cent of students in the state sector secure the EBacc. Only 23 per cent are even entered for it. More than three-quarters of state school students have been denied access to the qualifications which will empower them to choose their own path,’ he will say.

‘But for Labour that’s not only no cause for concern – it’s a truth which should be suppressed.

‘The current leadership of the Labour Party react to the idea that working class students might study the subjects they studied with the same horror that the Earl of Grantham showed when a chauffeur wanted to marry his daughter.

‘Labour, under their current leadership, want to be the Downton Abbey party when it comes to educational opportunity.

‘They think working class children should stick to the station in life they were born into – they should be happy to be recognised for being good with their hands and not presume to get above themselves.’

Mr Gove will say that claims of ‘rapid and relentless educational improvement’ under Labour which saw GCSE results soar have been ‘shown up as a far more complex narrative of inequality and untapped potential’.

He will add: ‘But instead of using this information to demand that poorer children at last enjoy the education expected by the privileged, far too many on the left attacked the very idea that poor children might aspire to such an entitlement.’

Labour hit back tonight, insisting there remains widespread opposition to the plans.

Mr Twigg said: 'Michael Gove is clearly rattled by the widespread opposition to his EBacc exams. Instead of lecturing others, he should listen to business leaders, entrepreneurs, headteachers and parents who think his plans are backward looking and narrow.

'We need to get young people ready for a challenging and competitive world of work, not just dwell on the past.'


MD: Copyright policy makes school board owner of student work
ard to own all students’ work with copyright policy

A county school board in Maryland has proposed a copyright policy that would allow it to take ownership of all work produced by students and faculty — even work created off campus during personal time.

A Prince George’s County Board of Education proposal obtained by WTOP says that “any works” created by students or employees “are properties of the Board of Education even if created on the employee’s or student’s time and with the use of their materials.”

University of Missouri law professor David Rein told The Washington Post that some universities have “sharing agreements” with students and faculty, but he had never heard of a local school board of trying to profit from a student’s work.

“The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that,’” Rein observed. “I can’t imagine that.”

Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs explained to the Post that the policy was meant to make it clear that the school owns the rights to any software — such as iPad apps — written by teachers, but the board never had any “intention to declare ownership” of students’ work.

“Counsel needs to restructure the language,” she admitted. “We want the district to get the recognition … not take their work.”

National Education Policy Center director Kevin Welner reviewed the policy and said that the board appeared to be trying to generate extra revenue from lesson plans developed by teachers.

“I think it’s just the district saying, ‘If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want be in on that. Not only be in on that, but to have it all,’” he remarked.

In an 8-to-1 vote last month, the board approved the policy for consideration, but it was recently removed from agenda of Thursday’s meeting. If the policy is approved, Prince George’s County would become the first district in the area to claim ownership of work produced by employees and students.


Many new to trades lack basics, say Australian employers

BAKERS who can't bake bread, butchers who can't make sausages and hairdressers who can't shampoo hair - welcome to a new generation of qualified professionals.

Tradespeople have slammed the current apprenticeship system, with a national skills shortage leading to newly qualified butchers, bakers, hairdressers and chefs who are unable to complete basic tasks.

Many trades have moved from requiring long-term work experience and compulsory TAFE time to flexible systems with on-site training and competency tests, with some bakers now qualifying in 12 months.

Old Fernvale Bakery owner Bill Rose said the skill level of qualified bakers was "ridiculously embarrassing", and many couldn't even bake a loaf of bread.

"Trying to employ a baker who can bake is the most difficult thing to do in this country," he said.  "I can get 60 resumes from people who are qualified and simply can't even bake a white loaf of bread."  "They have no idea how to make a pie and I can't remember the last time a baker applied for a job who could bake a cake."

Mr Rose said bakers who completed their apprenticeships through supermarket chains often did little baking and were "unemployable" in a traditional hot bread shop.

Uncle Bob's Bakery owner Brett Noy said many qualified bakers now didn't know how to follow a recipe, mix dough or use a thermometer.  "They can't even make scones," Mr Noy said. "There are many housewives in Brisbane who have a greater baking knowledge and talent than what's coming out of our apprentice system," he said.

The baker - who is captain of the Australian Baking Team and operates four branches in the southeast - said reduced training could affect food safety standards.  He said he had taken his concerns to the government but with nil effect.

The problems are not limited to the baking industry.

Super Butcher general manager Terry O'Hagan said qualified butchers coming through the supermarket system needed retraining and often had little to no experience sausage making, meat boning or breaking down lamb and beef.

"There are people that have a butcher's certificate that you can't call butchers," he said.  "It really annoys me that those certificates can be handed out just like that, because they just don't have the skills."

He said the current system was failing apprentices as well as the industry, and needed to be changed at a government level.

Victoria Point's Beautify Hair Design manager Dana Kovacic said the salon industry had similar problems, and she had fielded job applications from qualified hairdressers who didn't know how to shampoo hair or do a basic children's haircut.  "We can't employ someone and we've been looking for six months because they can't even do the basics," she said.

Ms Kovacic said in one demonstration a fully qualified hairdresser had bleached her hair so badly that it melted off in the applicant's hands.

She said the lack of knowledge in combination with the chemicals used in the industry could be dangerous, and hairdressers should have to pass an independent examination before becoming qualified.

Belmont-based School of Culinary Excellence owner, chef and trainer Alison Taafe said she had met qualified chefs who were unable to make basic sauces, run a service properly or prepare meat, despite having passed skills tests.  "It's very obvious that some of them have been put through their apprenticeship and are not competent in certain things," she said.

She said the apprenticeship system needed to go back to basics to ensure people with the qualifications could actually do the job.

Queensland Education, Training and Employment Minister John-Paul Langbroek said that he was confident in the quality assurance framework.  "The Newman Government is committed to ensuring training qualifications are of industry standard," Mr Langbroek said.

He said oversight of qualifications and training providers was regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority, and encouraged those with concerns to contact them.

ASQA chief commissioner Chris Robinson said since its inception in mid-2011, the body had received more than 600 complaints against training providers, and 184 training providers had been refused registration or had their registration cancelled or suspended.

"The quality of Australian training is pretty good, overall, but there are some real issues in the system where people are not providing adequate quality and not doing assessment properly, and there are people coming through and getting assessed as having competencies they don't have," he said.

But, he said, problems in the apprenticeship system were not endemic, and said the body had found only about 5 per cent of providers had serious issues in training provision from the country's 4900 training organisations.  "We are highly concerned with what is a minority of providers who are not providing training that meets the national standard and we're aiming to deal with them," he said.

Outgoing Federal Skills Minister Senator Chris Evans said the State Government was responsible for the arrangements between apprentices, businesses and training providers, and the Federal Government had made a record investment of almost $1.5 billion in the Queensland training system.

"Unfortunately, our investment in quality training hasn't been matched by the Newman Government which has announced plans to slash its investment and cut the number of TAFE campuses by half," he said.

A National Skills Standards Council spokesman said a review was under way into vocational education and training standards.  He said learner outcomes were a significant issue in the review, and new standards were set to be implemented from 2015.


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