BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: From the web team
« Previous | Main | Next »

Thursday 27 August 2009

Sarah McDermott | 15:56 UK time, Thursday, 27 August 2009

Here's Emily with details of tonight's special programme:

Blair's Babies

Education, education, education has become the most irritatingly oft-quoted mantra of New Labour. But tonight, I make no apology for it. Today's GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland mark the first generation of children to be educated entirely under New Labour. So we devote this programme to asking whether things got better in England - where Labour's education policies have been put in place.

An opinion poll for Newsnight on that exact issue makes pretty uncomfortable reading for the government. 67% believe it has not delivered. When asked if state education had got worse since 1997 marginally more people said that it had.

England is ranked below Kazakhstan on an International Average Maths Achievement table*. Yet, it will surprise no-one to see that results out today make our young look more promising than ever. So how do we even begin to deconstruct the figures?

In the first part of tonight's programme we'll be looking at the exam and school system under New Labour and asking whether the investment, the emphasis on league tables and choice, and the greater number of teachers has made for brighter children. Later we ask the wider, cultural question: Is it possible to characterise what it is to be a 'child of Blair' - in the same way people did with the Thatcher years?

We'll be concentrating on the comparisons in England between 1997 and today. But we'll also look at how the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland education systems have changed with devolution - and ask who appears to have the right answers.

Join us tonight, 10:30pm, as we consider whether Labour's record on education is something it can be proud of.

Emily

(*TIMSS report 2007)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    blairs mantra of 'education, education, education, ok for him with his freebie degrees and his kids in private schools and today's youth are in debt till their mid thirties......no doubt about it NuLabour have put us back a generation and here comes the Tory party to put us back even further

  • Comment number 2.

    "England is ranked below Kazakhstan on an International Average Maths
    Achievement table*. Yet, it will surprise no-one to see that results out
    today make our young look more promising than ever. So how do we even
    begin to deconstruct the figures?"

    How indeed? I decided to make a start by reading the TIMSS report 2007. It is true that England is ranked below Kazakhstan on an International Average Maths Achievement table (at "4th grade"). So, however, is almost every nation tested. 4 nations ranked above Kazakhstan. 31 nations ranked below Kazakhstan. England is ranked *two places* below Kazakhstan.

    What point were you trying to make with the Kazakhstan reference? Is it a good point, do you think?

  • Comment number 3.

    RICHARD FEYNMAN UNDERSTOOD

    Feynman was once moved to expostulate: "Geeze, these guys don't know what they know!" He was referring to students who were 'schooled' but not informed/aware. Feynman would 'do a bit of teaching' when not winning Nobels, picking locks or playing drums. He found that if students had been taught (say - for illustration) "twice two makes four", when he took the class and asked: "what's 2 X 2" THEY DID NOT KNOW. hence: they did not know what they knew.

    Newsnight should get some 'schooled' kids in, ABSOLUTELY RANDOMLY', and test them INTELLIGENTLY in terms of the above, and any other means of discovering ROOT COMPETENCE in the various disciplines. I think the outcome might be arresting.

  • Comment number 4.

    "An opinion poll for Newsnight on that exact issue makes pretty
    uncomfortable reading for the government. 67% believe it has not
    delivered. When asked if state education had got worse since 1997
    marginally more people said that it had."


    Good subject, but please dispense with the opinion poll nonsense as this issue of declining standards has been under the research spotlight for a number of years now. After a couple of years of posts here requesting that you bring a few of the world leaders in research into changing national intelligence and demographics onto the programme to give their views on all of this (e.g. Jensen, Lynn, Murray, Rushton) and the implications for economies, we haven't seen anything yet. At least you mention the TIMSS report 2007 in your e-mail. Well done for that. Don't forget OECD PISA and the mess which the UK got itself into with suspect school sampling, that and the Leitch Review 2006. If these dysgenic trends are bad for the economy, they are bad for the economy. We won't be able to hide from that by pretending as it is not a matter of 'confidence' but behaviour. The USA ignored it for years, and look what happened.

    Anyone who hasn't done so already, at least watch the video, and think about how genes determine 'cognitive' behaviour, how genes are selected by assortive mating (like going with like), which is a gene-barrier which limits gene flow. Environnet is not really about what teachers/school etc one was exposed to, but all the physical events which occured after one's two sets of chromosomes came together to make one a zygote/embryo at conception (i.e. oxygen, nutrition, falls, illness etc etc).

  • Comment number 5.

    Last year there was a prominent by election. I recognised one of the candidates. In 1992 he had failed his GCSE maths and needed to ass it on a resit to do a B Tech in Business something.

    His dad asked me to give him private tuition. Though I had a number of higher qualification in other subjects which did involve maths I declined as I only had an 'O' in maths as a specific formal qualification in the subject. His dad still persuaded me.

    I turned up and asked for a look at the specimen exam papers to work out how to start. He gave me an exam paper. Looking at it I asked where the rest of the paper was. He said that was it.

    I was astounded. GCSE maths was hardly more than was expected of us age 11-12 working towards the old 'O' level. If you don't know what the fuss is about, get hold of a GCSE maths paper. If it's more than 30 years since you did a maths exam it will amaze you with it's ease and simplicity.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a regular employer I can only say that I see potential staff who
    Do not know where Brazil is
    Cannot write a letter
    Cannot add up simple sums without using a calculator
    And most of these are not just of GCSE grade but have been to a
    'university'
    As long as the current liberal thinking of teaching drama and theatre studies instead of core subjects prevails, we will carry on producing generations of young that are simply un-educated.
    Is it any wonder that they cannot get jobs?
    Not to me.

  • Comment number 7.

    I gather, from listening to Radio 4 that you have conducted a “satisfaction survey” on the Labour Party’s handling of the Education System to coincide with the exam results for the GCSEs.

    Not surprisingly, in the current trend of rubbishing the “Government”, the results suggest a high “disapproval rating”.

    Actually the “Labour Party” have done very well at one particular thing! Unfortunately for them, what they have achieved (ie succeeded in) is, in the much wider sense, to ensure a greater number of students with National Qualifications.

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, at the expense of academic excellence!

    The ‘A’ Level results showed a reasonable annual increase in pass levels. However, the Universities are still struggling to separate “wheat from chaff” because everyone gets an ‘A’!!

    Many years ago, the Universities even had input in ‘O’ Level results such that they were graded according to University places and not simply a “pass mark”. ie If the exams were easy, the mark to achieve an ‘A’ was quite high, say 90%!

    Again, I was listening to “The World at One” earlier and Mr Dyson said that there were actually more university places for “Media Studies” than Engineering. A fact that I had suspected in my worst nightmares. However, it simply highlights successive government attempts to reduce youth unemployment by ensuring students stay on into adulthood.

    Obviously, this simply results in a high “graduate unemployment rate”. This is not surprising since it would seem that most graduates have graduated with degrees in subjects with no relevance to employment possibilities. (obviously, notwithstanding the multitudes of careers in the media!) – It was most refreshing listening to the earlier “Crossing Continents”!!!!!

    Why not delve deeper into the subject and explore the underlying reasons for the decline in education standards (ie politics – both parties are as bad in different ways) and instead of asking “people on the street’ for their spoon-fed opinions, why not have an apolitical debate with academicians with no political affiliations?

  • Comment number 8.

    When I think education I don't think cheap. If the money doesn't go my way it wasn't meant to be. If the teacher want a raise, The teacher has to play the key. Why pay him my money if it doesnt come back to me?
    Not all children refuse to learn; what policy do they own without their own?

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi,

    why not shut down Oxbridge and all public schools,

    education -NOT,

    IT IS NOT SMART TO GET FOLK TO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS-

    THIS IS NOT EDUCATION,

    SUGGEST THAT THIS PRODUCES A FORM OF SOCIAL APARTHEID IN THIS COUNTRY,

    LEADERS WHO THINK THE WORLD OWES THEM A LIVING AND THAT EVERYONE ELSE ARE THEIR SKIVVIES, WHICH IS THE VIEW PROPAGATED OXBRIDGE AND PUBLIC SCHOOL,

    WELL SUCH PEOPLE ARE NOT NOT NOT LEADERS,

    SHUT THIS PLACES DOWN AND CONCENTRATE THE RESOURCES ON NON-ELITIST SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES,

    best wishes

  • Comment number 10.

    Just back from my patriotic UK ‘staycation’ in a wind-and-rain-swept tent, mainly spent in TM (transcendental meditation) in the absence of TV, and it seems the blogs have descended almost into blows (plus some whimpering) whilst I was away!

    At the risk of advancing opinions that may not be acceptable to all :-

    Edn x 3: Tonight’s NN is all about ‘what the people think of education’ rather than an objective and statistical evaluation of quantifiable results. Being a patriot, I would also like to see all opinion polls analysed by ethnicity, to see to what extent my country is being changed (for better or worse) by non-indigenous cultures.

    And if I can add a comment on a missed NN item that remains relevant:-

    Megrahi: with all due respect to the obvious sensitivities of the victims’ relatives, if the allegations are true - that a ‘deal’ was done as a means of securing oil for UK - may I suggest that the doctrine of Utilitarianism ‘greatest good for the greatest number of people’ may justify the release on commercial, not compassionate grounds. This is totally different from ‘what the greatest number of people think is good for them’.

    Ironically, the major failing of democracy is that staying in power depends upon pandering to the indulgent wants of the many (the lowest common denominator) whereas dictatorships tend to enforce what is best for country; often subject to the corruption of absolute power but we have our share of this in our democracy.

    The right kind of education should lead to enlightenment, such as a more contented and fulfilled society. However this seems not to be the case here, with so many amoralist influences from an unbridled media and commercial interests that have pushed the worship of celebrity and consumerism into the vacuum left by the decline of religion. It will take a benign dictatorship to recover our society from this decline.

    If our Head of State no longer has any power to put us back on the right road then all we can do is (to modify Barrie's exhortation)and Spoil Major Party Games. Perhaps a hung parliament will be all we can hope for, with sensible collaboration on what is best for society, rather than more of the non-constructive opposition of our present system?

  • Comment number 11.

    leftieoddbod (#1) "..no doubt about it NuLabour have put us back a generation and here comes the Tory party to put us back even further"

    The most important thing this electorate needs to grasp is that New Labour, has, in terms of policies, behaved no differently from The Conservatives.

    MrMauve (#2)

    Have a look at the PISA 2006 results, and 2003 and 2000. Whilst 2006 did not focus on maths in detail, alas, the 2003 and 2000 detailed PISA data for England had to be excluded because of sampling 'anomalies'.

    The fact that about 20% got A/A* and 66.66% got A-Cs in a system with grades A-G shows these results are not norm based. IQ tests are norm referenced, and are symmetric around a mean of 100 with SD=15 points. Education is being dumbed down, and people are getting inflated ideas of their abilities relative to earlier generations. This reinforces narcissistic entitlement at an age when identity is as precarious as 'the terrible twos' in my view. If I was trying to subvert a nation I don't think I could think of a better strategy.

    Some of the science questions these days are indeed just basic literacy questions. Efforts appear to be made to remove the sex difference in maths and science too, i.e by feminizing the curriculum. Yet we need technologists and engineers. Such steps corrupt science and technology for those with a genuine aptitude.

    Is it any wonder so many young people are cocky and overconfident whilst seeming to know next to nothing to their elders?

  • Comment number 12.

    IT TAKES ALL SORTS. BUT TAKES SOCIAL ENGINEERING TO MAKE IT WORK

    One I did earlier. Hopefully, some will see how the links (and changes in the late 20s and 30s) led to better management of human diversity and a viable society - for a while (see Sidney and Beatrice Webb's book or the PRC today).

    Many more will not see or approve of this, though Michael Young (and Richard Herrnstein) may have.

  • Comment number 13.

    Wot no Tobin tax?

    Surely the big story of the day is Turner's proposal for taxing financial transactions. Is this going to get serious coverage (given that Flanders & Peston are AWOL at the mo), or will it get swept under the BBC carpet? I hope not. I was looking forward to the graphics boys' 3D cake animation:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2009/08/radical_capitalist_proposes_di.html#P84928319

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 Hawkeye

    A key was Turners 'socially useless' concept. There is much going regarding this. A serious amount of work was done through DEFRA a few years ago. Unfortunately the recommendations never appear to have seen the light of day, if they had the economic situation would never have manifest.

    There is a major conference next month in London which I may or may not be attending or may or may not be speaking at. Will not know until next week.

    I have the outline agenda but it not up to me to disclose it. But what Turner has said I have more or less had sent to me a month ago, as part of the programme.

    What Turner is also saying also relates to some work The Cabinet Office requested in 2002 with regard to legislation.

    Certainly things will be get interesting over the next few months.

    If you contact me I'll send you some background from a few years ago.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 15.

    WE NOW KNO THAT ANY FULE CAN BE TOPP.

    Blair was only ever going to learn that which could elevate his desperate, wannabe, little boy. He would only cry 'education education education' (for others) as a means to his own elevation.

    The only education worth the effort is one where the disciplines are 'Awareness' 'Competence' 'Philosophy' and Psychology' - adding up to WISDOM. All else follows. However wisdom, in the masses, amounts to the end of just about everything this country now stands for: the continuance of power/money and money/power in the hands of an unworthy few.

    I write this - again - out of SHEER FRUSTRATION that (ad nauseam) we 'live within the lie', blog on a forum of the BBC that functions 'within the lie' and (as we now know) are moderated by some sub-contracted company who also, inevitably, 'live within the lie'.

    It all feels so close the final lines of '1984' does it not?

  • Comment number 16.

    flyingwillpower (#6) "As a regular employer I can only say that I see potential staff who..."

    People across the trades/professions have been saying this for years. The Treasury's Leitch Review of skills in 2006 made concerned noises about poor skills and implications for the economy, the LSC lamented deficiencies in adult numeracy/literacy levels, we have had problems with crime and bad behaviour in schools for years, and one just has to look at the behaviour in blogs when people are corrected to see that all is not well.

    Dysgenic fertility. All that is really of interest is why it's been allowed to happen. Is it an inevitable consequence of liberal-democracy, or has it been engineered by those who just want to profit in the short term or see liberal-democracies collapse politically? There's little doubt it's happening, the only really interesting question is, why? I've given my 2 pence worth often enough. Anyone else got any views?

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh, please, please, if it is not too late can we get that dippy bird from PM who is not willing to pull the plug on that modular nonsense ??

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't know what is more dispiriting: the collapse of 'state' education or the question, "So how do we even begin to deconstruct the figures?"

    Dear god, it doesn't take a genius to find some examination papers from twenty years ago and compare them to today's papers, alongside the subject's teaching methods, marking systems and 'grade' percentages.

    What's the bet another year's opportunity, to engage in a bit of elementary investigation, will be wasted by Newsnight.

    Only an imbecile believes our children are now amongst the best educated in the world, as the statistics would have us think, but Labour is allowed, by amateurish journalism, to get away with stifling debate by denigrating the critics.

  • Comment number 19.

    IT ISN'T TEACHERS - IT'S GENES.

    Intake, intake, intake....and subject selection/entry for qualifications. That's what differentiates 'failing' schools from 'improving' schools. It's rarely, if ever, down to teachers. Fill a school with 'deprived pupils' (i.e low genetic ability) and you'll drive teachers to despair.

    More VERY muddled thinking on Newsnight regardling the role of 'environment'. It doesn't make any difference in the sense that it's talked about, as it's genetic.

  • Comment number 20.

    i can PROVE how easy GCSEs and A levels have become; I have a set of exam papers from 1972, in various subjects, and I'm happy to challenge ANYONE to try them, I'll make them available online, on request...I dare you to try, oh, and by the way, I was 12 yes 12 when I sat them!

  • Comment number 21.

    Labour politicians get it wrong by making out it's all a matter of impoverished environment (it isn't), and Conservatives get it wrong by making out that there shouldn't be state education because they don't want a state, they want everyone to pay as it's good for business. We need state education because ability is genetic and we need a range of abilities/skills in society. We need to equip/resource genetic ability and that needs to be state planned.

    Why is NN asking the man/woman in the street via polls, or politicians? This is a technical, professional issue. Ask some behaviour geneticists, or even some animal farmers or breeders!

  • Comment number 22.

    Last week i recieved my A-Level Results which i was happy with but during the summer after my GCSE's i began showing symtoms of Multiple Sclerosis and was eventually diagnosed Feb 2009. I had to cope with the stress throught the whole of 6th form and most of the time is wasn't nice. More student support needs to be addressed in my oppinion in all schools, all i had was My Form Tutor, Head of Year and The Examinations Officier who were all amazing but i feel that more needed to be done for people in similar situations.

  • Comment number 23.

    Faith schools are backdoor middle class selection. I had not set foot in a Catholic church from when I was 18 until my daughter was coming towards school age (32). My daughter wasn't even baptised until she was 4. I played the game, went to Church, made nodding acquaintance with the priest and went to baptism preparation classes. My parents attended the baptism party and sweet talked the priest who then asked me where I was sending my daughter to school. Feigning ignorance, I claimed to be unaware of the whole situation (I'm actually a teacher!. He advised me to get in quick to local Catholic primary school which is heavily oversubscribed and requires signing off from him to be guaranteed entry. (Like I did'nt know!)
    All the other parents at my daughter's nursery were playing similar games and you could spot them at Church every sunday. Middle class selection..we know what the game is and you play it..Catholic, Protestant, whatever..it's wrong though it is selection but just a less honest way of saying that it is

  • Comment number 24.

    FIONA MILLAR IS NOT AN ASSET IN SUCH DISCUSSIONS

    She is a narrow agendanik (hardly surprising as her partner worshipped the ground the flawed Blair walked on). Two dimensional 'belongers' are two a penny. Let's have less ritual jousting and more INVESTIGATION of the subjects discussed, by individuals of depth and perspicacity.

    Incidentally - did anyone notice the set of fixed lines on Fiona's brow? Is there an expert in the house?

  • Comment number 25.

    Twenty minutes in and I've, like, had to, like, switch off. Another wasted opportunity.

    Programme synopsis: split England's state system into 3 types of school and not examine the fundamentals of the education system underpinning all three, speak to some of the heads (who praise their form of schooling, naturally) and the pupils (not 'students'; make sure to feature your quota of Muslims - the easily identifiable ones), none of whom can string-together a complete sentence, and set the parties against each other, in debate. Job done!

    The lefties at Newsnight have just prolonged the suffering of Britain's children.

    P.S. It's ironic that, on a programme about education, Newsnight's illiterate graphics were much in evidence.

  • Comment number 26.

    BITS AND PIECES

    barrie (#3) "He found that if students had been taught (say - for illustration) "twice two makes four", when he took the class and asked: "what's 2 X 2" THEY DID NOT KNOW. hence: they did not know what they knew."

    Actually, psychologists have known this for decades. Learning is context specific. It's why we have to teach people lots and lots of examples. Do we ever really learn abstract principles?

    Hence the Oedipus and Jocasta point about the intensional nature of the psychological verbs - including.....learning.

    Capice? Most don't, and this explains why:- we struggle with lost omniscience/omnipotence - a narcissistic thing - even for Feynman ;-)

  • Comment number 27.

    There is some pretty sloppy 'evidence' being bandied about in the film. The point has been well made about what little weight needs to be given to the opinion poll.

    Also, more than once in the programme the apparent fact that 75% of judges have had a public school background has been given as an example of Labour's failure to effect social mobility through their changes to the education system.

    How many 17 year old judges are there?

  • Comment number 28.

    Strugglingtostaycalm (#25) "Twenty minutes in and I've, like, had to, like, switch off. Another wasted opportunity"

    Me too, I put it on pause whilst I cooled down...It's still on pause ;-)

  • Comment number 29.

    indignantindegene (#10) "Edn x 3: Tonight’s NN is all about ‘what the people think of education’ rather than an objective and statistical evaluation of quantifiable results. Being a patriot, I would also like to see all opinion polls analysed by ethnicity, to see to what extent my country is being changed (for better or worse) by non-indigenous cultures."

    There you go. No sample statistics per se required either as this is population level data (N=~560,000). No controversy possible therefore. See the 'Ethnicity and Education: The Evidence on Minority Ethnic Pupils aged 5 - 16' report.

    All this stuff comes out every year, nobody takes it in. Most odd. Mad world. Some say it isn't true. Sigh....

    We know from HeadStart and MZ twin studies that abiliy and attainment is genetic too. Still the ignoratti twitter. Why? Is it because they aren't educated/educable? ;-)

  • Comment number 30.

    On the financial regulation debate and the opinions that we need to re-balance the economy and resize the banks and rein in the risk takers.

    Will we see the Tories and/or Lib Dems commit to some kind of Ministry, probably dropped off the Cabinet Office, that would be a "Ministry for Future Trends".

    Instead of thinking of financial restructuring and climate change and population growth and pensions and carbon shortfalls wouldn't it be right sophisticated to plug projections into a computer model and think tank that could be evolved over time so we could plan more effectively?

    For instance people are living longer and thats great. Dementia, I understand, could one day knock over the NHS on its own as the population grows proportionately older in relation to the earning youth.

    As we control and impact on the environment we need to be able to see the problems and crises coming and think proactively and not reactively.

    The financial crisis could act as an example of how decision makers can contribute to a crisis (the failed tripartite regulation arrangements) and never see it coming until it actually hits.

  • Comment number 31.

    On Afghanistan and the impact of increasing IED's it occurred to me that you can stabilise an area with dense troop cover as we don't have the boots on the ground.

    You can move people around by helicopter and that seems a good idea.

    But couldn't the UK buy or loan some predators. I assume that they have good infra red and that given you know where they are likely to plant the bombs you could have your own reception committee with stingers and probably not much chance of accidental collateral damage?

    I am sure the generals will be slapping their fore heads thinking of the many good reasons why that would not work or could not be afforded. But if its a political thing where public pressure might deliver some hardware as an election approaches ....

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    #26 Jaded_Jean

    When the people who are "agnostic" on the Holocaust and can't grasp that genetic variation is greater within a race than between races and think Hitler was a peace lover start lecturing on learning its hard not to laugh.

    But as ever when you read the "intellectual" far right who think the BNP a worthy home for a democratic vote - though they are against democracy - its a question of posture.

    For instance most rational teachers may explain something to their students whereas the far right will "explicate" and then use a cut and paste section from their Ladybird Far Right Ideology Manual.

    Try and make sense of the "internal political and economic threat" of the Jews in 1930's in nazi Germany. If you tried to use similar "analysis" using another characteristic that was also unrelated to their political and ideological activity such as hair colour or gender you would be laughed at.

    But these people take themselves VERY seriously and cannot grasp that genetic variation is greater within a race than between races. There is no basis in science whatever for such views and no major academic or scientific institution would validate.

    Oh I am sure Jaded_Jean will try the usual banal "there is evidence on the net" and there is a eugenics centre - that has no credibility.

    If you can believe there was no Holocaust I suppose you can bend your mind to any proposition though.

    But they won't be sending their "agnostically" motivated internet links and "statistics" to the defence team for Djemjanjuk, alleged Nazi death camp guard going to trial in Germany, because they know damned well it did happen.

  • Comment number 34.

    #4 Jaded_Jean

    "Anyone who hasn't done so already, at least watch the video, and think about how genes determine 'cognitive' behaviour, how genes are selected by assortive mating (like going with like), which is a gene-barrier which limits gene flow."

    For those who may not have guessed Jaded_Jean is into Hitler, eugenics, race "realism", euthanasia and is "agnostic" on the Holocaust.

    I suggest "Anyone who hasn't done so already, at least ..." makes sure their schools don't allow any body with such vile racial and social views to damage the minds of children.

  • Comment number 35.

    Now is the winter of our discontent;-

    why mess around Komrades? instead of all this academic guff why dont we introduce a strict military training regime in all our schools;

    instead of flower arranging and basket weaving....and cookery !!!!

    perhaps this sort of training could be introduced?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85LRf1YDjQM

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 36.

    #16 jj

    Many of us have got views and give them, despite taunts of 'Extreme Right' by others.

    Too few express concern at trends in our society, such as the news that 2008 saw the UK's highest population increase in 10 years, taking it to a new milestone (millstone?)of past 61 million. One government bulletin stated that the population increase was 'not due to immigration'; yet of the 791,000 babies born in 2008 (an increase of 33,000 on 2007) half of that increase were to women born overseas but living in the UK. So the increase IS largely attributable to immigration, without taking into account babies born to 2nd generation immigrants.

    Whether this situation has been 'deliberately engineered' or just 'allowed to happen' is, as you say, a really interesting question.

    What is not in doubt is the fact that neither the government nor the other major political parties will admit concern at the true and compounding effects of immigration and population increase, despite the obvious burdens on education, unemployment, NHS, housing, the economy, and the resulting deterioration in quality of life.

    Tonight's NN discussion was another party political points-scoring exercise, which touched on some aspects of our social plight without any party admitting to failure to act. References were made to changes in our younger generations, defining characteristics of 'Child of Thatcher' and 'Child of Blair' and David Willets made some good points in identifying 'Screenagers' and the fact that many schoolchildren 'now lack a sese of common culture'. But as usual discussion was 'run out of time' without any real conclusions.

    I'm fortunate to be classified 'Child of Churchill' - under-schooled during WWII, thus having to discover inner resources and expecting little help from the state.

  • Comment number 37.

    #29jj
    Thanks for the link; you have referred to it before and I did study it then. The problem is that neither Newsnight, nor any major political party wishes to bring such facts to the attention of the public.

    It would make a more vital special subject for a complete NN programme, without which I find it worse than reading the tabloids that constantly publish irritating reports, but fail to organise any sort of public meetings or organised protests. It just makes one more angry.

    Fortunately, my anger was dissipated tonight by watching the Chinese pianist virtuoso Lang Lang play Chopin at the Proms. Almost the entire capacity audience appeared to be indigenous, which must say something about the lack of cultural assimilation. However, to avoid the usual tag, I should add that he is one of my icons and a major role model in that he has been responsible for over 100 million Chinese children taking up music lessons, some 35 opting for piano. That seems like a massive change in culture from the Chairman Mao days. If only we could achieve such a sea-change in our deteriorating society.
    It also shows that formal education in the 3Rs is not all that education and enlightenment should offer. For the less able I suppose there is alway sport?

  • Comment number 38.

    Hey! teacher, leave those kids alone. and they have done that since the start of the Grange hill era. I went to a comprehensive in the late 70s. Thankfully I was blessed with traditional teachers, old and wise and who were capable in stretching the young minds back then. Sadly they all died off and the trendy wendies came along and ruined the education system...and children have suffered third rate education ever since. I am puzzled why this debate is aired every year, (well its that time of year when the kiddie winks get their exam results..duh!). Its obvious the standard of education in this country has dramatically fallen and to levels that its now a generally excepted national disgrace. We still appear to be in denial about it.
    We are told 'not to rain on the childrens parade' whilst they jump for joy at their grades. Am sorry children, i know you worked very hard but you was robbed, and you've no idea you was robbed...of any kind of decent education so am telling you here and now. Buy some books and pick up where you left off when you was at school..and really study, not to pass some low end exam but to enlighten your mind. Find friends who don't grunt and improve on your verbal skills and learn to blag because a university degree means Jack nothing these days.
    Anyhow, you have the likes and minds of Fiona Phillips to thank for your poor education, she, the blonde nightmare who appeared on NN tonight and her crazy partner - ali Campbell, a major blagger - who still believes in the current 'comprehensive' state education system for this theft of a decent education. Be aware of these kinda people, they are the ruiners of all thing good.

    P:S remember your three Rs ...reading, writing and drinking. Avoid smoking, its bad for your health.

  • Comment number 39.

    It would appear that today's average ( vacuum between ears ) politicians foolishly believe that the age of the building is the most important factor in our children's education. All very convenient for the stock market parasites embezzling perhaps now billions from the resultant PFI deals floating around. Perfectly sound buildings demolished and prime sites sold to property speculators when all they really needed was refurbishment during the long summer holidays. Of course the Tories let routine maintenance slip over the years so maintenance cost did add up, but then the eco-fascists threw in their " heating cost " scam, and there was also the politically correct excuse of " disabled access ".

    The result is that state education probably now costs over twice as much as it really needed to, and has become dumbed down over the years, just what the Corporate Nazi ideology specified under Thatcher. Science teaching emasculated, ideal for selling "green scams " to foolish consumers and perpetuating the "socially useless " parasitic angle of the stock market.

    Perhaps one major problem is the now almost exclusive incumbency of clone university graduate teachers with no experience of outside academic life. Back in the 1970s when I did my secondary education the best teachers were those trained ( no degree ) out of industry in the 1950s. They never had any problems controlling classes, perhaps because they could relate their life ( WW2 )experiences to captivate their audience.

    We did have some ex-university boffins but they were generally disliked by the pupils and if there ever was any trouble it was always in one of their lessons. It would appear that teaching is now an employment safety net for those uni grads who FAIL to get a position in private industry relevant to their chosen subject.

    Lack of educational achievement is not just down to schools, parents should encourage their kids to watch documentaries on TV. The trouble is that even the BBC has dropped serious programmes like Timewatch in favor of balderdash like " The Tudors " which is little more than an excuse to flash tits. Once upon a time Horizon concentrated on the basics of science, but now its lost the plot simply suggesting the latest theory proven or otherwise. On channel 4 Big Brother occupies the prime 9 pm documentary slot all summer when kids need to keep their education ticking over during the holidays. Similarly many educational programmes are shown in slots competing with soaps and other alleged popular dross. No Open University on BBC 2 on weekend afternoons like was the case in the 1980s, many informative documentaries from the 70s and 80s not shown as essential to developing minds because they are classed as repeats or not politically correct.

    Couple the above with the probability that the vast majority of the more intelligent " working class " stopped breeding under Thatcher and then Major its perhaps hardly surprising that standards fell so low. Perhaps they are now rising but there will always be a significant number of the population ( perhaps linked to ethnicity ) who will never master maths and written English. However that is not all bad because those who academically fail at school are often good at practical skills. The trouble is that these people are now technically excluded from skilled jobs like driving.

  • Comment number 40.

    DIRTY TRICKS

    indignantindegene (#36) "yet of the 791,000 babies born in 2008 (an increase of 33,000 on 2007) half of that increase were to women born overseas but living in the UK. So the increase IS largely attributable to immigration, without taking into account babies born to 2nd generation immigrants."

    Exactly.. as the birth rate stats only record country of mother's birth, these figures underestimate the births to non indigenous British females. On top of that, the birth rate is higher in lower SES groups overall. It isn't colour that's the issue, it's genetic ability. We are dumbing down the population. Those who make out the lament is racist either want this to happen, or belong to the class which, although low ability, has too much opportunity to express their ignorance/falsehoods.

    As I see it, the ethnic dimension is just an epidemiological one when considering what's happening to the county. Mean group differences do matter. The most obvious one is with respect to violent crime. This is why one will find some black and Asian people making the same point as White British. Ethnicity is just a phenotypic marker of more important underlying behaviours which are not randomly distributed across groups because of gene barriers, here the focus is on skills/educability, which has major implications for the economy and soial stability.

    thegangofone doesn't appear to understand any of this (that we need a balanced society), or relishes in the opportunity to be abusive like a hooligan, or doesn't appreciate that one entryist white group seeks hegemonic advantage by playing the anti-racism card. The last point is perhaps the more worrying, but must be entertained on the basis of the available statistics of over-representation. This itself is, may be indicative of an act of hypocritical racism, and it's one writ large elsewhere. It should be looked into, if only to exclude this as an explanation for the statistics.

  • Comment number 41.

    indignantindegene (#37) "Thanks for the link; you have referred to it before and I did study it then. The problem is that neither Newsnight, nor any major political party wishes to bring such facts to the attention of the public."

    It is remarkable isn't it? These data are published every year in great detail on government websites! Not just the schools results at Key Stages here in the UK, but across the OECD and beyond in the PISA results every three years since 2000. In the USA they are published by ETS and others in the SATs and NAEP. In other words, it's all available as population level data across the world, and has been available in sample form from research for decades. Yet there are still ninnies who say it is not so. How can one deal with such people? This is why I frequently say that NN, and other programmes, are appalling in their non coverage of the facts/news. They can not even begin to cover what really matters so long as their producers can not, or will not deal with the established facts.

    Even ETS went unheeded in February 2007. What do we get instead? Secret logging in remote East Russian forests...

    "It would make a more vital special subject for a complete NN programme, without which I find it worse than reading the tabloids that constantly publish irritating reports, but fail to organise any sort of public meetings or organised protests. It just makes one more angry."

    Me too...

  • Comment number 42.

    "UNDER-SCHOOLED IN WWII" - HURRAH! (#36)

    I had a gut distaste/loathing of school. I sampled them all - except borstal and public. Failed more exams than I passed. Avoided the armed forces and was 'not qualified' for (nor interested in) university (late 1950s).

    Since then I have put together a family life and a business life (35 years as 50% founder/owner/driver of a viable small company) and 'investigated' a lot of other stuff.

    In passing, when I advised my MP Richard Benyon (ex military) that (from my life in applied science) I judged the official line on 9/11 'unsafe', he brushed me off with lofty words. There is an obvious problem here.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just in case you miss my explanation JJ... 44. At 09:08am on 28 Aug 2009, ecolizzy wrote:

  • Comment number 44.

    DARK, BUT REALISTIC, THOUGHTS?

    thecookieducker (#38) "Its obvious the standard of education in this country has dramatically fallen and to levels that its now a generally excepted national disgrace. We still appear to be in denial about it."

    Note how you begin with tacitly Marxist/Lysenkoist assumptions, namely that it is environments, i.e teacher input, which matters. In fact, given the very high correlation (0.8-0.9) for IQ of Monozygotic (identical) twins raised apart (square the correlation to get the variance attributable to genes, i.e 60%-80%), we now know that cognitive ability is largely genetic, and that the relatively small 'environmental' contribution (20%) is not what most people think of as environment at all, but the combined effects of physical forces (like lower oxygen, drugs, illness, poor nutrition, blows to the brain etc) impacting on genes being expressed post-conception. It does not mean good/bad parenting/teaching - this has now been excluded as an important contributor by research! People really do need to take this in......as it's important from a policy point of view. Do you see how?

    Education turns out, in fact, to be nearly all about selecting abilities and catering for them, i.e giving natural abilities expression - i.e. shaping emitted behaviours. It is certainly not about turning sows' ears into silk purses. It is certainly not alchemy. Yet most people think it is! In fact, they don't even think about it, to them, this is obviously the case. They think it s all down to environment. They are Lysenkoism! People have got it all wrong, and it's that tacit Lysenkoism at work which takes teachers' eyes off what they should be doing - selecting innate skills and shaping them.

    We are dumbing our population mainly because a) we are breeding badly - inflating the numbers in the lower half of the Gaussian curve by promoting the birth rate there whilst lowering the birth rate in the upper half, by over educating females and feminizing the curriculum - Service Sector economy - delaying motherhood and and b) not educating properly according to what we now know from (Quantitative rather than Molecular) behavioural genetics research. If educational alchemy was possible (and most of us wanted it to be), Head Start which began on a massive scale in the 60s in the USA would have worked - but it did not - the Black-White achievement gap did not close. Race was just used epidemiologically to look at the nature/nurture issue, i.e. nobody was really interested in colour per se. Nor will Sure Start work here. We should, I suggest, look upon this ignoring of the research evidence as evidence of something very sinister going on. Some people seem to want to have the population dumb down....:-(

    Why? Is it cock-up? or is it to breed uncritical consumers/cheap labour? It need not be intentional. We must judge this on the basis of outcomes not intention. We are breeding cash cows - see sub prime targets in the USA and here. Look where the money was to be made...That's what has been driving this folly in the liberal-democracies, and it's what socialism, i.e national socialism (Old Labour) tried to control. Those who want consumers thwart/vilify this. See Hayek's 'Road to Serfdom' cartoon.

  • Comment number 45.

    "AND THE WISE MAN IS A LITTLE LESS CERTAIN" (#43 aka 44)

    Yesteryear's certainty is, all too often, today's niggle and tomorrow's busted flush. Science is very bad at remembering to form ONLY 'working hypotheses' rather than INSTALLING DOGMA (that is the job of religion). There is a deep seated NEED in humans to belong to, and be identified with, a group. Some dress to match - scientists conform to the current paradigm.

    In ancient times this was expressed as: "EVERY DAY THE CLEVER MAN FINDS HE KNOWS SOMETHING NEW - AND THE WISE MAN IS A LITTLE LESS CERTAIN."

    I, too, derive much of value from JJ's postings and links, but I eschew JJ's certainties in the interest of scientific advance. ;O)

    This may seem like a claim to wisdom but, paradoxically, I am daily less sure . . .

  • Comment number 46.

    barrie (#45) "I, too, derive much of value from JJ's postings and links, but I eschew JJ's certainties in the interest of scientific advance"

    Then you have failed to see that I generally write in the language of probability/statistics aka 'the science of uncertainty'.

    Perhaps you confuse clarity with certainty? You did say you had a problem with the lingo ;-)

    That MZ twins have such high correlations for IQ when raised apart. That DZ twins have the expected correlations like siblings. That we can not raise IQ by education, that IQs of fathers and sons increases with age. That..... and much more all points to something which is 180 degrees at odds with what most educationalists and politicians assume and worse, argue within. Cyril Burt was unjustly treated, it turns out, it was political. It is always the same group which does this. Why? There is a consensus amongst the researchers now as to most of this. Most lay people have it wrong. Most people are ignorant of the research evidence. If one equivocates, it just encourages the ignorant to argue about what they know nothing about. :-(

  • Comment number 47.

    addendum (#46) The sad fact is that most of the points that I have been covering are no longer the really interesting scientific issues anymore. The quantittative genetic and behaviour results suffice for the population level points. The really interesting stuff is where the specific genes or QTLs are located and how they chemically express to drive behavioural diversity via biochemistry in fine detail, i.e the molecular genetics, neuroscience and behaviour. That some people want to question or 'debate' the now well established basics, is, well, tiresome. That politicians talk such twaddle in this area, given what is known, just highlights how ineffectual politicians really are in our liberal-democracies. They are wind-bags.

    Polls indeed....

  • Comment number 48.

    PROOF READING (#47)

    I do love a good pun. English is such a versatile language! (For the avoidance of doubt: I intend: the reading of one's own work, seeking error, but also the reading purported 'proof' in some matter.)

    Ho JJ! I shall treasure your #46 in conjunction with my #45, and continue to follow your links and leads - but only some (not all) of your conclusions.

    JJ - Your use of "Then you have failed" has a ring of certainty about it?
    Ho hum - another eschewal looms. (:o)






  • Comment number 49.

    Hello,

    while it's highly cathartic to get things off our chests by blogging, what does it achieve? not trying to dish blogging, it gives a platform to people who cannot conform to rigid Party lines on issues, which I think is healthier and suggests the way forward in our Society, the paradox is that by remaining so indivualistic, how does one move things forward?

    organising bloggers in a sense is a contradiction, we eschew our indivuality and uniqueness -which is Great, and intelligent but perhaps having identified that we are around by our presence on the blogs, is there a next step?

    I have to think there is, but what is it?

    any ideas?

    By the way although I pulled Sarah McDermott's leg on the blog yesterday, I do realise the blog was from the Newsnight producer and not someone else, so it shows the NN team do look at the blogs, if they are looking in today perhaps they might have some thoughts on this?

    I guess political parties were organised to give individuals a voice, and given that we may be entering a world where Political parties have less influence, what should take their place for the common good?

    best wishes

  • Comment number 50.

    Ultimately it is the children/pupils/students who are cheated.

    For example; BTEC in theatre management; gained successfully and "with distinction" by working in the box office of a regional theatre, selling tickets and balancing the receipts over three nights of performances.

    Who is kidding whom?

    Not only are children/students/pupils lured up these dead ends, but "grown-ups" are actually paid to deliver this twaddle to them.

    Private schools, trust me, are absolutely ruthless when it comes to pupils who aren't making the grade; they dump anybody whose grades look to be an embarassment to the school and the parents are totally responsible for paying for extra tutorials/coaching in an attempt to improve the performance of their children.

    It's a bit like the NHS, where routine surgery is regularly picked up by the private sector, such as Nuffield, whilst the hard , complicated stuff is left for the state sector.

    Or the financial sector; privatised profit, nationalised risk seems to be the overall flavour of the age, thanks to Lady Margaret and Phony Tony.

    Who will get us out of this cycle of mediocrity?

  • Comment number 51.

    THE THOUSAND MILE JOURNEY ENDS WITH THE FIRST STUMBLE (#49)

    Hi BGT. That feeling that it should be possible to build on . . . seems to arise regularly. But is free-thinking inimical to consensus? I am inclined to answer: "Yes, unless the group is made up of wise, mature individuals, for whom constructive compromise is more rewarding than seeing their personal input flourish." I think you will agree, that if there are any such about, they are few and far between. Further, by their nature, they never rise to high office. Paradox.

    This is why I keep coming back to the Kogi. Not only is mankind unsuited to the current lifestyle, it looks as if we are inherently incompetent. Only a hard, demanding, existence restrains our tendency to get 'too clever by half'. In the absence of environmental restraint, we need a wisdom-based 'adjustment' which, for the Kogi, seems to be the 'unnatural' creation of the Mamas.

    If we had a UN chamber filled with Mama's, and a world culture that followed only leads set by them, who knows what advantage might accrue?
    But we are at the other extreme and heading for trouble - as the Kogi, themselves, tried to tell us.

    Best wishes appreciated. However, if wishes were horses . . .

  • Comment number 52.

    'HE TACKLED THE JOB THAT COULDN'T BE DONE' (#50)

    "Who will get us out of this cycle of mediocrity?" Well it won't be Frown-Brown or Shiny-Boy Dave or even Cloggy-Clegg.

    I wonder if some bunch of Crass media types might go so 'edgy' that they accidentally break out of 'banal' and into a media-powered countrywide search for the most wise and stable individuals in Britain. The 'winners' might become an alternative to Parliament, of such power, that what Fawkes failed to do, becomes de facto accomplished. I have a dream today.


  • Comment number 53.

    #52 barrisingleton

    "The 'winners' might become an alternative to Parliament, of such power, that what Fawkes failed to do, becomes de facto accomplished. I have a dream today."

    Thats the assorted far right Hitler-lovers for you - including the BNP.

    For those whose floating vote went to the BNP recently if you saw the Spanish Civil War piece you will have an idea of how both Stalinists and Nazis shot "anarchists and Trotskyites" enthusiastically.

    Anybody who is not a Stalinist or a Nazi is an "anarchist and Trotskyite". Bear in mind also that the Nazis shot Stalinists during and after the civil war and killed tens of millions of them in Russia.

    Hitler was a "peace lover" and they are "agnostic" on the Holocaust.

    You get the picture.

  • Comment number 54.

    #46 Jaded_Jean

    "Then you have failed to see that I generally write in the language of probability/statistics aka 'the science of uncertainty'."

    To most academics or scientists I would think what you have written is in the language of delusion.

    For instance you are "agnostic" on the Holocaust but will cite your "web sourced statistics" on the fact that "too many" Jews survived the Holocaust for it happened. Hence you are "agnostic"!?

    The fact that the academics and Historians and war crimes investigators could not estimate the total number of deaths as there were no reliable sources of information eludes you.

    I don't see the alleged Nazi death camp guard Djemjanjuk trial using your weighty evidence in his defence because its rubbish.

  • Comment number 55.

    #21 Jaded_Jean

    "We need state education because ability is genetic and we need a range of abilities/skills in society. We need to equip/resource genetic ability and that needs to be state planned."

    This is the nonsense of National Socialism surfacing yet again hence the reference to genes whilst the race "realism" and apartheid type policies remain submerged.

    Genetic variation is greater within a race than between races and there is no basis in science for the policies of the BNP - for example.

    "Ask some behaviour geneticists,geneticists".

  • Comment number 56.

    #44 Jaded_Jean

    "Race was just used epidemiologically to look at the nature/nurture issue, i.e. nobody was really interested in colour per se. Nor will Sure Start work here. We should, I suggest, look upon this ignoring of the research evidence as evidence of something very sinister going on. Some people seem to want to have the population dumb down....:-("

    You would need to be dumb to believe this National Socialist rubbish. As I mention again and again genetic variation is greater within a race than between races. This is probably due to the fact that most of the world is descended from a very few individuals and the races have only diverged cosmetically in a general.

    "Some people seem to want to have the population dumb down."

    I assume that this is your usual hint with regard to the "Jewish Communist International" and that whilst you are "agnostic" on the Holocaust you see the Jews as an "internal and political threat".

    They probably don't have a high opinion of you and nor should anybody who loves democracy and freedom.

  • Comment number 57.

    At 08:30am on 27 Aug 2009, JadedJean wrote:
    ecolizzy (#21) A few heuristic/rhetorical questions:

    Sorry JJ just catching up with NN blog, I do have a life away from the computer screen!

    I don't object to your postings at all, in fact you have informed me of quite a lot, but I do object when one poster is modded immediately, with several in front not. I wouldn't describe it as unfair, that's childish, but it's odd, and now I see it's outsourced, which I find hilarious as Barrie does, it makes one wonder even more. I notice several other posters commented on the fact you were modded so rapidly, but I have the honour that Sarah picked up on my post, perhaps because I stated what I thought baldly. The problem now to me is that it could be you that owns the modding company. But never mind alls fair on the blogging round.

    One comment I would make, regarding the growing population here, as always ignored by NN. When researching my family tree, we were in a local library looking up births, we had gone back to Elizbethan times, (yes my family were around then, we never moved and stayed in one area) all the baby girls were named Elizabeth, which I wouldn't have known without looking at very old docuements. Now I believe The Times published a list of the most popular babies names here a while ago, top of the boys names was Mohammed, so that tells you a lot doesn't it.

  • Comment number 58.

    ecolizzy (#57) I've replied to your Wednesday post.

    thegangofone appears to have a problem with objectivity. He appears not to be able to discuss issues without personalizing them. This is peculiar, as such behaviour is at odds with his claim to have two 'science masters'. Even an undergraduate degree in science would have put an end to that usually. Maybe he means masters at school?

  • Comment number 59.

    Where has Go1 claimed to have 2 science masters, I've missed that one.

    One definitely isn't in genetics, evolutionary biology, ecology etc.

    The other definitely isn't in a physics related subject.

    Mind you I get offers of science masters every week in the email. Perhaps Go1 took advantage of the offers I declined.

  • Comment number 60.

    thegangofone (#55) "Genetic variation is greater within a race than between races"

    Let me ask you a few questions. Please answer them.

    1. If variation between two groups is less than variation within two groups, but the means are different, why is that not important. Take height differences for male and females for example. The range in heights for women and the range in heights for men are both greater than the mean difference in heights between men and women. Is it not true to say that men are taller than women (on average). Is this not significant?

    2. How do you tell the difference between Black people and white people? Do you notice any other differences other than skin colour?

    3. Do you understand that DNA markers can be used to discriminate between races with pretty close to 100% accuracy?

    4. Do you know what the rank ordering in Key Stage 1, 2 3 and 4 is for the major 16+1 ethnic groups? Why has this ordering remained the same for nearly a decade? Why does it tally with the ordering in the USA?

    5. Did you read and understand the link on the Lewontin Fallacy?

  • Comment number 61.

    I do not like the comparison with Kazakhstan either. Kazakhstan is not some third world nation. Education here (in Kazakhstan) is up on a high level. There might be a corruption, bribes (to get a degree), but if one wants to study, he/she will study. Degree is just a piece of paper. Knowledge is priceless.
    People are obsessed with mathematics. It is mandatory to know Elementary Mathematics to get a degree in any sphere (be it arts, sports or anything else).
    School education is based on the Soviet schema. So, school children are highly loaded with lots of information. They cannot choose any particular subject to focus on. They have to know everything.
    If only there were better management and proper financing...

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.