Monday, October 19, 2015

UK: Selective schools create real wonder our leaders hate  them

By Peter Hitchens

There aren’t enough public sector houses to go round. Would it then make sense to demolish all those houses and make everyone except the rich live in tower blocks?

Of course not. Yet this mad principle – that if everyone cannot have something, nobody can have it – governs our education policy, and no major party disagrees with it.

Half a century ago, everyone agreed that secondary modern schools were not working. Everybody knew that the technical schools, promised in 1944, had not been built.

The one good part of the system was the grammar [selective] schools. They were enabling a wonderful revolution in which the very best education was flung open to anyone who could pass an exam, and our obsolete class system was finally being overthrown by unfettered talent.

Alongside them, and based on the same kind of selection by ability, was a brilliant scheme known as the direct grant, by which scores of the finest private day schools in the world took in large numbers of state school pupils free of charge.

Girls and boys from grammar and direct grant schools were storming Oxford and Cambridge by the end of the 1960s, elbowing aside public school products without any special concessions or quotas.

The sane response to this would have been to build the technical schools (which we still badly need), improve the secondary moderns and encourage and expand the grammar schools and the direct grant schools.

The actual response of Tory and Labour governments was to destroy hundreds of superb grammar schools, some of them centuries old, and abolish the direct grant system. You could fill several books with these follies, and I have.

One of the many crazy results was the revival of the dying private schools, which held open their ornate gateways to paying refugees from the comprehensive madness. The comprehensives were so bad and so disorderly that basic competence and order could be sold as top quality for fees of £25,000 a year.

It was a typical example of our governing class’s habit of finding the things that are healthy, good and beneficial, and destroying them.

As it happens, this particular mistake is reversible, and has been corrected in recent times. When communism collapsed in East Germany, thousands of parents petitioned their new free state governments to restore the grammar schools which their Stalinist rulers had ruthlessly replaced with comprehensives.

Comprehensive schools, as too few understand, have never been designed to improve education. On the contrary, their inventor, Graham Savage, actually admitted that his plan would hold back bright children.

They are a revolutionary scheme designed to enforce equality of outcome. That is why it is against the law to open any new grammar schools, and why this week’s odd legal fiddle in Sevenoaks is causing so much fuss.

But a tiny rump of grammar schools continues to exist. They are so much better than the comprehensives which replaced them that even Labour politicians, such as Harriet Harman, have readily endured derision and career damage to send their children to them.

This is why the remaining few grammars are so besieged. Their enemies repeatedly lie about this. Because a tiny few oversubscribed schools are dominated by the middle class, they claim that a national system, available to all, would have the same problem. This obviously isn’t true, yet they keep on repeating the falsehood.

It is time for these lies to end. As things are, state schools are rigidly and cruelly selective, but their pupils are picked on the basis of their parents’ wealth and ability to live in the right catchment area, or their public piety – or both.

The rich and powerful (including many Tory and Labour politicians and some of the keenest campaigners against grammars) play a constant Game Of Homes to lever and wangle their offspring into the best postcodes and the best ‘comprehensives’. Many of these are so socially selective that they have hardly any poor pupils receiving free school meals, though you never hear this fact mentioned.

Why do we put up with it? Why can’t we restore the lost grammar schools when huge numbers of parents want them and they are proven to work?

How dare we laugh at the Germans for being subservient and obedient, when we tolerate this stupid, dishonest policy, which wrecks the hopes of thousands each year and madly wastes the talents of this country?


UK: No mixed tennis at Muslim-run school: Ban among extreme segregation imposed that also saw girls banned from taking part in a netball tournament

Girls at a school engulfed in the Trojan Horse scandal were not allowed to play tennis with boys, it has emerged.

The ban was one of many extreme measures imposed at Park View Academy in Birmingham, a teaching misconduct hearing was told yesterday.

Segregation of the sexes was part of everyday life at the state academy, with girls banned from taking part in a netball tournament because male teachers would be present, a former staff member said.

In assembly, boys filed in one side of the hall while girls were led through the other, it was claimed.

Another time, girls were called back while they were on their way to a tennis tournament after it transpired they would be playing against boys, a panel heard.

Giving evidence, Susan Packer, who was in charge of public relations at Park View, told the hearing: ‘There was always lots of displays encouraging the children to go to prayer.

'There was a call to prayer every day, which was a change. In 2012 tannoy speakers were put in and the call to prayer was put out every dinner time.

‘I ran a lunchtime club and I noticed the numbers declined, particularly the boys, as they would go off to pray.’

Mrs Packer added that there was a push to ‘Islamise’ the school in 2012 when it was granted academy status.

In classes, sex education flyers telling Muslim women to obey men were handed out, she claimed.

The leaflets read: ‘A woman could not refuse to obey her husband in marriage and that included that she could not say no to her husband having sex with her.’

Mrs Packer said that when she raised her concerns about the pamphlets to senior colleague Lindsey Clark ‘days went by’ and nothing was done.

She admitted that she had never seen any of the lessons being taught and had misplaced her copy of the worksheet.

Giving evidence to the National College for Teaching and Leadership panel in Coventry, Mrs Packer said that she noticed a rise in headscarves in the building from 2012.

The then-principal Monzoor Hussain had ‘no respect for women’, she said.  She added: ‘Girls did not have a choice of what they could take part in, they were forbidden from taking part in any type of sport where a male was present.’

Mrs Packer described the segregation as ‘stifling’ and said that parents and pupils alike became increasingly frustrated. She admitted she had felt ‘intimidated’ by the growing Muslim influence.

The school’s focus had shifted from providing a solid education to becoming ‘a good Muslim’, she believed.

Her evidence was heard as part of a hearing into the conduct of two sex education teachers, Inamulhaq Anwar, 34, and Akeel Ahmed, 41. The men are charged with unacceptable professional conduct, bringing teaching into disrepute.

The pair are alleged to have struck an agreement with others that heavy religious influence would be included in pupils’ education. Anwar is also accused of breaching proper recruiting policy.

Describing Anwar as a ‘General’ rather than a ‘foot soldier’, Mrs Packer, said: ‘He would be encouraging children to be a good Muslim and go to prayer five times a day.’

Mrs Packer resigned in October 2013 after raising concerns about the school. She told the panel: ‘People were worried about raising issues at the school because you were likely to be called Islamophobic. I found that out to my cost - I had allegations made against me.

‘I had to resign from the job I loved because I was raising concerns about how girls were being treated, how female staff were being treated.’

Giving evidence later, her husband Steve Packer told of how he had stood in to teach sex education when Mr Hussain was on sick leave.

In the classes, it emerged that women were told they had to engage in sex whenever their husbands wanted.

Mr Packer added: ‘I said this kind of thing is covered by law in this country and any woman that doesn’t want to have sex with a man and says “no” then if the sexual act carries on that is essentially rape.’

Park View School was allegedly one of a number of establishments targeted by Muslim hard-liners who wanted to take control of schools across Birmingham. The plot, revealed in March 2014 was called ‘Trojan Horse’.

Following the allegations and after an investigation by the Department for Education, the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted. Park View has since been renamed Rockwood Academy.

Anwar and Ahmed deny the allegations. The hearing continues. 


'This is not what a rapist looks like': Student causes outrage on Twitter after arguing sex consent workshops don't apply to him

A student at Warwick University has caused uproar after he rejected an invite to a workshop on the importance of consent because he 'didn't look like a rapist'.

George Lawson, 19, who lives in Rugby, posted an article titled 'Why I don't need consent lessons' along with a photograph of him holding a sign stating, 'This is not what a rapist looks like'.

Following a backlash on social media and from his fellow students, the 19-year-old told FEMAIL that he stands by his article but admitted the sign in the photo was a 'massive faux pas'.

George, originally from Cardiff, received an invite to an I Heart Consent workshop via Facebook. The sessions are being rolled out in students’ unions across the UK to enable young people to talk openly about the complexities surrounding sexual consent.

While Oxford and Cambridge have scheduled them into freshers’ introductory timetables, other universities have also started running them voluntarily.

George took to his keyboard to explain why he felt like the invite was 'a massive, painful, bitchy slap in the face'.

He wrote in the piece, which appeared on online student newspaper The Tab, 'It implies I have an insufficient understanding of what does and does not constitute consent and that's incredibly hurtful.

'I don't have to be taught to not be a rapist. 'That much comes naturally to me, as I am sure it does to the overwhelming majority of people you and I know.

'Brand me a bigot, a misogynist, a rape apologist, I don't care. I stand by that.'

Predicting the inevitable questions about 'blurred lines' George wrote, 'I already know what is and what isn't consent. 'I also know about those more nuanced situations where consent isn't immediately obvious as any decent, empathetic human being does.  'Yes means yes, no means no.'

He accused the Russel Group University consent teachers of not having a 'high regard' for their peers and added 'get off your f***ing high horse'.

His article has received backlash on social media and from his fellow students. Jane Casey tweeted, 'The irony is that this is exactly the sort of twit who needs to go on a consent course.'  While Ione Wells was 'Speechless at how someone can undermine such important education'.

Those who had fallen victim to sexual assault in the past also aired their views.

@erenfrey linked to the article on Twitter and posted, 'A year ago in March I was sexually assaulted at Warwick and articles like this make me sick.'

While Chris, who later specified he was male stressed that 'men are victims of sexual assault too'.

He commented beneath the article, 'The guy who sexually violated me didn't think he'd done anything wrong. He just thought he got carried away and I was making a big deal out of it.'

Fellow Warwick University student and volunteer at the I Heart Consent workshops Josie Throup was so incensed she wrote a retaliation piece for The Tab yesterday titled Why consent workshops are a necessity.

Holding a sign saying 'This is what a consent educator looks like' Josie wrote: 'I wanted to run workshops which debunk the common myth which people like this writer still seem to believe, that 'rape only occurs between strangers in dark alleys'.

'He took a picture with a sign, proclaiming 'This is not what a rapist looks like', when the truth is, it is.'

Speaking to FEMAIL, George admitted that the sign in the picture was a 'bad move'. 'I know a rapist can look like me. A rapist can be white. A rapist can be attending a Russell Group University and a rapist can be young. 'But the photo was supposed to be satirical. It was me playing on the 'this is what x looks like' trend and people didn't get that. 'That was a massive faux pas.'

He said he tried to get some other people to have their photo taken with the sign but, unsurprisingly, they weren't 'comfortable' with it.

But aside from the photo, George said he stands by his article.  He said: 'The backlash was inevitable and I do stand by my comments.  'I was insulted because I took the invitation to mean I didn't already know what consent is and that therefore I'm a potential rapist - and that's a bit offensive.

'There is sexual assault and rape among students, but they're blaming the wrong people. It's a massive broadside against everybody.  'If you're going to commit rape you're not going to go to one of the lectures.

'They're trying to help, so I support that. I just don't think its the best way to help people. I think it's wasted efforts.'

Although when asked how sexual assault on campuses should be addressed, George was stumped.

'I didn't present an alternative - and honestly I don't know what that can be. But I was raised by decent parents and I know not everyone has that luxury... that privilege.'

George said that if people found themselves in a 'spot of trouble' it was probably because they hadn't been educated earlier in life.

'I think if there has to be education it has to come earlier - not at the age of 18 when you start university. It just feels like too little too late.

'People are dropped into this new world and some people might find themselves in a spot of trouble, but if they'd had the education earlier it might be better.

'But I don't think sitting people down and lecturing them is the way to do it.'

To those offended by his article, George said: 'We're probably on the same side'. 'No sane, empathetic human being would be in support of rape or opposed to any attempt to stop or minimise rape.

'But I would just say your efforts may be better directed elsewhere.'


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