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Doing the sums

Brian Taylor | 12:28 UK time, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Let's do a few sums with regard to teacher numbers.

In case it escaped your notice, they're down in Scotland by 975 over the past year.

Labour's Rhona Brankin reckons that should add up to the sack for the Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

It will scarcely surprise you to learn that Ms Hyslop dissents. She wants to show us the working behind the raw calculation.

Pupil-teacher ratios and class sizes are in record good standing, she says. Still, she is making no effort today to suggest that this performance merits a gold star.

At the very least, it may make it still more difficult to achieve the SNP's manifesto promise to "reduce class sizes in Primary 1, 2 and 3 to eighteen pupils or less".

(Shouldn't that be "fewer"? Depends, I suppose, on whether it's linear or quantitative.)

Anyway, grammatical quibbles aside, that particular pledge is looking increasingly problematic, not least because sundry local councils have indicated they're less than thirled to the concept.

Figures 'mince'?

And therein, also, lies an element of today's controversy. Ms Hyslop points out several councils have increased teacher numbers and others have maintained their figures.

Just four, she notes, are responsible for more than half the decline.

Those four are Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Renfewshire and Aberdeen. Politically diverse in terms of control - or, at least, about as diverse as Scotland gets.

Ms Hyslop offer soothing reassurance. With the ministerial "partners" at Cosla, efforts will now be made to help and assist those particular councils and others.

Under the concordat, councils have relative freedom - but they are bound to act towards agreed targets including, say ministers, the maintenance of teacher numbers.

As one might expect, teachers' unions are fretting. The EIS said they were "both disappointed and angry". They said promises were being broken.

And the line from Cosla? They note that the "figures may not be as robust as we would expect."

Translation? They could be mince.

Still, presumably, we can expect robust stats to be drawn up between now and the next Holyrood election. Judge us, say Ministers, at that point.

Comments

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  • 1. At 12:57pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    Another example of where the 'good intentions' of 'national' government fall down as a result of the actions of local government.

    Yes, Fiona Hyslop should be concerned about these figures but, if the local authorities who manage our schools and, ultimately have responsibility to hire and fire teachers are not recruiting, what can she do. Even if there was scope within the current budget to do it, experience has shown that simply throwing money at the problem won't solve it.

    Is it a case for resignation? I suspect not. The reality is, if the local councils won't play ball, there's little that the education secretary can do about it (and a Lab/Lib education secretary would be in exactly the same position, except, I suspect, they would attempt the tried and failed fall back position of throwing more money at the situation without increasing the accountability of those charged with spending it).

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  • 2. At 1:03pm on 24 Mar 2009, forfar-loon wrote:

    Brian,

    Pupil-teacher ratio is surely the most important thing, no point having teachers standing around idle.

    That said the SNP did pledge to reduce class sizes below current levels. Retaining these 1000 teachers (if the figures are correct) could surely have helped.

    Perhaps these 1000 teachers have opted for a less stressful career, one where the risk of verbal and physical abuse is much lower, yet where a juicy pension still awaits. I wonder...where exactly are those 1000 extra police coming from?!

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  • 3. At 1:15pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Failure on class sizes is hardly the fault of the SNP. They've come to power following a decade of Labour-Liberal party power- where they categorically failed to invest in expanding the number of schools in the system- as this is the only way to lower class sizes perminently, more teachers in the network and more schools in the system.

    And the Labour attempt at modernising existing schools, PPP/PFI was a costly failure (or should that read, is still a costly failure...as its my generation thats going to have to pay for it all)

    Brian when you write "Under the concordat, councils have relative freedom - but they are bound to act towards agreed targets including, say ministers, the maintenance of teacher numbers." what are you trying to say? We need to fix a target of teachers in the system, and at local levels in order to get moving towards smaller class sizes in the state network.

    This is one area where I believe the Nationalists deserve more time- why don't we assess their achievements at the election in 2011? Rather than now.

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  • 4. At 1:16pm on 24 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    No one should be surprised that Labour wants to highlight only the number of teachers: education is one of the most unionised 'industries' we have in this country.

    Quality, not quantity, is what we (and we'ans) need.

    Even class size is something of a distraction.

    An outstanding teacher can enthuse (and educate) a class of over 40, a poor teacher (and I have known several) can struggle with single-figure classes/groups.

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  • 5. At 1:17pm on 24 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    If pupil numbers have gone down then teacher numbers should follow the trend. Its what happens in all other industries. Resources meet demands.

    What a petty silly argument. There needs to be a reality check here. Politicians would get on better if they stop treating the electorate as idiots.

    Why has Fiona Hyslop not made this point? If she is to be criticised for anything it should be that she has done little to sort out the obvious waste in education.

    Also she must guard against giving councils more money at the expenseo fother areas if they have chosen not to recruit teachers as opposed to other efficiencies.

    She should provide some clarity on this issue.

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  • 6. At 1:19pm on 24 Mar 2009, Roberto calico wrote:

    It won't be much a help in putting this disappointing trend right that aforesaid Ms Hyslop and Ms Hutton hardly get on like a house on fire.

    This possibly gives some rationale behind the usual knee jerk reaction from Labour but not one they would have thought about.

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  • 7. At 1:22pm on 24 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    As Brian points out, COUNCILS are responsible for delivering education; and failing is more likely to be down to local authority failings (including by parties in the Opposition at Holyrood) than to lack of will or intent by the Education Secretary.

    Personally, I think we should go down the route of having defined Education Boards - whose memberships are identical to the council (i.e. a councillor is automatically a member of the Education Board for the area) - with all funds ringfenced for the use solely in pursuit of education provision.

    Education is too important for politicking.

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  • 8. At 1:24pm on 24 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    Woosh !!!

    The 'China visit' has been swept aside with undue haste as we move onto familiar ground. It was looking too unconfortable for Labour and the Scottish media.

    deanthetory is quick out of the blocks as he tries to forget his 'misguided' contribution to the 'China visit' story.

    Another Labour MSP calls for someone to be sacked. That must be every member of the SNP cabinet now wearing this particular 'badge of honour'.

    So, some councils have managed to increase numbers and some haven't, let's look at each council and establish why - Is that too difficult?

    That, or the figures are garbage - but at least it allows deflection from Murphy and his Chinese takeaway.

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  • 9. At 1:24pm on 24 Mar 2009, newsjock wrote:

    Trust our Brian !

    We're not looking at the maths: we're not looking at the arithmetic: we're doing "the sums".

    I'm a little less sure about "less" being linear. In theory I would be quite correct to ask for "a little less cake" (ie quantitative), but in practice I never would. I always prefer "more", also quantitative.

    The crux of Saint Brian's message though holds true. How can the SNP achieve smaller class sizes with fewer teachers ?

    Mission Impossible !

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  • 10. At 1:54pm on 24 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    Class sizes have always been a ridiculous measure of success and are not definitive (I'm sure most of know this instinctively even if we are not willing to say so public).

    What they really need to focus on is raising the working standards of teachers; time spent training and conversing with other teachers to help them gain useful skills, the introduction of a robust classroom discipline mechanism and improved teacher pay.

    This real motivation is key to improving the performance to our schools.

    The SNP were daft to ever take on such a pledge in the first place.

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  • 11. At 2:05pm on 24 Mar 2009, enneffess wrote:

    This is not a sacking/resignation issue.

    But the problem, as already stated, is that class sizes cannot yet be reduced as the ratio has remained constant.

    That is the main issue, not the drop in numbers.

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  • 12. At 2:07pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    BrianSH

    I see what you are saying, but one of the ways to achieve better disipline in our classrooms is by having fewer children for the teacher to have to control.

    And it does actually affect the schooling standards, as classrooms of fewer children can mean more time for teachers to spend with individual children.

    This is rather relevant, but more so than you seem to realise.

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  • 13. At 2:08pm on 24 Mar 2009, sid the sceptic wrote:

    OK so now we are finding out why labour HAD to ring fence any money they gave to councils for all those years.
    a large percentage of councils & councillors could not run a bath unaided.

    interesting that the usual suspects are named and shamed again.

    once we get the teachers sorted out we should start on councilors and councils.

    why should these 3 groups continue to think that it is there god given right to have a job for life when no one else now has that privilege?
    Sid

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  • 14. At 2:09pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #4 O, B, F & U

    "An outstanding teacher can enthuse (and educate) a class of over 40"
    I would agree, as someone who attended a couple of one teacher primary schools in the N.E. where the same person managed to teach P1 - P7, I know it can be done. Granted, the school roll was closer to 30 than 40 and that the teacher had the support of visiting art/PE teachers for a couple of hours a week but, by and large, she got the job done and had us ready for the joys of moving up tho the big school.

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  • 15. At 2:13pm on 24 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    As I mentioned in Schools of Thought (at #75), the central government in France is responsible for administering not only educational policy but also the staff engaged in carrying it out.

    That is to say that in that fair land central government is directly responsible for teacher recruitment, deployment and retention, which is to say that it is directly responsible for teacher numbers by virtue of being their employer and is thus in a position to exercise direct control over them, which is what it does, the administration of the Ministry of National Education being present in every region and in every departement of the country.

    In UK Scotland, on the other hand . . .

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  • 16. At 2:29pm on 24 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #9. newsjock

    How can the SNP achieve smaller class sizes with fewer teachers ?

    The same way Herod achieved it in Bethlehem?

    Mission Impossible ! No, you've underestimated the depths to which the SNP will sink to force independence on us Scots!

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  • 17. At 2:32pm on 24 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    #12 deanthetory

    I know that you are of similar age to myself (20ish) therefore I assume you went to a somewhat better school than I; where in the [Personal details removed by Moderator] a class of 8 pupils misbehaving could easily cause difficulty if given to inept teachers; whereas some classes with approx 40-50 pupils and with a decent teacher would rarely have any difficulties.

    I myself was lucky enough to get a lot of good teachers and thus some very good results in some subjects - others I can quantify as being somewhat useless at best.

    But perhaps you are drawing from a different experience?

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  • 18. At 2:42pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #16 handclapping

    "Mission Impossible ! No, you've underestimated the depths to which the SNP will sink to force independence on us Scots!"
    Eh? I think that's a fairly low blow even by the standards we sometimes see on here (unless you are being ironic and I've missed it).

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  • 19. At 2:46pm on 24 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 15

    more centralisation is exactly what we don't need.

    Far too many decisions that affect peoples lives are taken too far away from where the people live.

    Education is a good example. the standards should be set nationally and the implementation left local. That way you should get local authorities delivering solutions for local communities.

    However this requires competent local authorities, which can be called into question.

    However deciding everything in Edinburgh is no different to westminster for many scots. No thanks

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  • 20. At 2:49pm on 24 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 14

    I agree I started in a two teacher school with 25 in each class. we got on fine and suffered no ill affect in Sceondary school.

    Quality of teaching is a real issue. How many teachers get fired in a year for incompetence? Very few indeed. Its a job for life and that is what stops higher levels of attainment. There is no presure to improve.

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  • 21. At 3:00pm on 24 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #18 Fit Like?

    As we can't put iron in the sea, ("Setback for climate technical fix" on BBC environment pages) it has got to be deposited somewhere!

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  • 22. At 3:12pm on 24 Mar 2009, Tom wrote:

    This is a non-arguement.

    For example, Aberdeen has a multi-million pound debt that needs to be repaid, do you honestly expect Aberdeen City Council to not cut education funds?

    Of course teachers will be sacked as budgets become smaller.

    And why are we ignoring the councils who have improved on teacher numbers?

    The majority of councils have maintained teacher numbers, which is by far better, then let;s say sacking them.

    And at the end of the day the Minister for Education has little influence when it comes to local councils who actually spend money on educational services.

    This is a price we have to pay for allowing more local authorities to have more power.


    DeanTheTory:

    #12

    "I see what you are saying, but one of the ways to achieve better disipline in our classrooms is by having fewer children for the teacher to have to control."

    I suspect you went to a good school. You either went to a good school, or at least better then mine.

    The problem is not about the numbers of school pupils when it comes to enforcing disipline.

    For example, I have a friened who cared so much for education that they went to 3 out of 7 exams, and walked out on the third one. They were a bad apple, had specail help with one-on-one learning with professionals.

    In primary I was apart of a class of 33 which was the limit at the time. I do feel that I struggled in areas and was unable to get proper help, but then again when my class was smaller in P3 I remember that the teacher helped me reach a better reading group by sitting down and reading books together to help me catch up with the middle level readers... so in that sense I do believe class sizes are better smaller but not for discipline.

    At Academy my registration teacher was teaching his class, one pupil was not listening and the teacher asked, "Are you paying attention?" The boy ignored or never heard and the teacher proded the boy... this ended in a police investigation.

    When it comes to discipline it the lack of what teachers can do that allows pupils to run riot. It's worse when it's concerning pupils who do not want an education because for all teachers can do, give a good telling off, hand out dictention (which is pretty fun, ever been in a room for 20-30 of the schools worst pupils? Very funny) and of course kick them out from school altogether.

    Of course the last does not solve the problem simply sends the problemed child to another school to annoy.

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  • 23. At 3:19pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #19 northhighlander

    Let's see If I can comprehend your tortuous thinking.

    "more centralisation is exactly what we don't need.

    Far too many decisions that affect peoples lives are taken too far away from where the people live.

    Education is a good example. the standards should be set nationally and the implementation left local. That way you should get local authorities delivering solutions for local communities."


    Yet when you are adversely affected by the incompetence of your council, you run bleating for central government to give you the new school that your own council was too incompetent to provide?

    Time for a reality check on what you actually believe.

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  • 24. At 3:22pm on 24 Mar 2009, myheavens wrote:

    I am clearly not understanding this debate, it seems we are agreed that the teacher pupil ratio remains consistent at 13:1 ie 1 teacher for every 13 children. If that is so then how come we have class sizes that are significantly more than 13? or is that too obvious. We are told that class sizes are in the mid twenties or more. How come? do we have too many teachers employed who do not actually teach!!!!

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  • 25. At 3:27pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #21 handclapping

    "As we can't put iron in the sea, ("Setback for climate technical fix" on BBC environment pages) it has got to be deposited somewhere!"
    You've completely lost me I'm afraid (easily enough done considering the day I'm having).

    Are you sure you didn't attend the Eric Cantona School of Eloquence?

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  • 26. At 3:35pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #24 myheavens

    "I am clearly not understanding this debate, it seems we are agreed that the teacher pupil ratio remains consistent at 13:1 ie 1 teacher for every 13 children. If that is so then how come we have class sizes that are significantly more than 13? or is that too obvious. We are told that class sizes are in the mid twenties or more. How come? do we have too many teachers employed who do not actually teach!!!!"
    Easily explained. The 13:1 ratio is simply an arithmetic average. If you take into account that in the Highlands and Islands and NE, there are numerous schools that have a total roll of less than 13 (the primary school on Eigg for example has 9, Muck has 5). Going back to my own primary school days in the 1970s, Glenferness Primary had a school roll of 12 and Achfary (where my brother and sister went) had a roll of 7 (it had only been 5 until we moved there).

    I'm sure the same is true of other rural parts of Scotland but it's the North that I'm familiar with.

    For every school that has classes under the 13:1 figure you quoted, there will be corresponding schools with classes greather than that ratio.

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  • 27. At 3:36pm on 24 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #19 northhighlander

    My dear fellow, you have missed the point.

    In my #15 I did not advocate anything. I merely showed how it comes to be that a minister of education can reasonably be held to be responsible and accountable for teacher numbers. If you control them, the buck stops with you. If you don't, on the other hand . . .

    The efficiency and smoothly brilliant competence of central-government teacher recruitment in France in accordance with set targets so that the objectives of the government may actually be achieved is something for which it somehow does not seem to me to be appropriate to apologize. But, if you prefer to close your mind to it, I quite understand.

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  • 28. At 3:46pm on 24 Mar 2009, myheavens wrote:

    Fit Like #26
    Thank you for taking the time to reply, however one must always be very careful when using averages. I appreciate that in rural areas there are particular requirements, however the vast majority of teachers and school children are in the urban areas, therefore it is difficult to see how rural schools with there legitimate requirements can significantly effect this ratio. Therefore my question remain do we have too many teachers not teaching? or at least not teaching most of the time?

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  • 29. At 3:47pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 22 Thomas

    "When it comes to discipline it the lack of what teachers can do that allows pupils to run riot."

    You make an interesting point.

    But more precisely is it the lack of a deterence that leads to child misbehaviour? I.E. should the belt be brought back?

    Otherwise children from urban-deprived areas will continue to realise that all a teacher can do is 'shout' at them. I.E. no discipline still.

    I for one don't like the idea of physical punishment. And if that power wasnt restored to teachers little changes.

    Oh, and my schooling history is entirely beside the point and irrelevant.

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  • 30. At 3:58pm on 24 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    #29 deanthetory

    Personally I'm not against the belt per se' there discipline and control standards in some schools is an outrage; far more so than the belt ever was.

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  • 31. At 4:02pm on 24 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #25 Fit Like?

    To translitterate the Greek, I was an "eiroon", a dissembler and being ironic in my #16. My #21 was meant to be a pun on iron metal vs irony deceit. Don't worry about it, I can not understand what I'm talking about sometimes but I have a lovely voice!
    Well, I think so.

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  • 32. At 4:05pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #28 myheavens

    "one must always be very careful when using averages"
    In other words, a classic schoolboy error on my part.

    I take your point.

    I was effectively continuing the point I started in #14 which northhighlander backed up in #20, presumably because he is a product of the same schooling system, ie that class sizes are not the real issue and that quality of teaching is.

    Certainly, I count myself lucky with the quality of my teachers and the fact that in my 1st year in Secondary, I was in a class that was bigger than the entire roll of the primary school I'd left at the start of that summer didn't disadvantage me in any way.

    That said, that was before the age of Munn and Dunning, League Tables, Performance Targets, etc and when teachers still wielded the belt at the slightest provocation.

    Still, I like to think I came out of it OK.

    Anyway, the old adage of lies, damn lies and statistics still holds true.

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  • 33. At 4:11pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Brian SH

    The belt is a form of cruel treatment. It is hardly the place for teachers to start physically assaulting their pupils.

    If anyone had belt me as a year 3 pupil i'll tell you mother would've been belting the teacher! Parents simply don't tolerate that others can beat their children with inanimate objects.

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  • 34. At 4:15pm on 24 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    One thing to increase teaching ratios is to allow professional administrators to do the 'donkey-work' of running our schools, and allow teachers to teach.

    WHY does a school need a Head TEACHER?

    Like nurses, teachers I know bemoan the fact that gaining promotion (and hence increasing their salary) has taken them away from the front-line - the reason they entered the profession in the first place!

    In order to encourage those who CAN teach to do so, there should be an element of salary which is directly (and increasingly) proportional to the numbers of years' teaching experience, regardless of the teacher's standing in the political hierarchy of the school's structure (with allowances for mid-career parental breaks, etc.).

    It should be a badge of honour (and source of immense personal pride) for a teacher to be able to point to having undertaken the same role for 30 or even 40 years, and a source of shame for those who have climbed the greasy pole of administration, distancing themselves from the pupils at the earliest opportunity.

    (Another analogy is a beat policeman with no aspiration to be a (desk) sergeant, or anything more senior, merely seeking to make the local enivronment a better place.)



    Head Teacher at 32? What was the point of all the time spent gaining an honours degree and following up with Teacher Training?

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  • 35. At 4:15pm on 24 Mar 2009, Fit Like wrote:

    #31 hancclapping

    No worries. Trying (and failing) to figure out what on earth you were on about brightened up an otherwise dreadfully dull afternoon.

    Not sure that I'm much the wiser now that you've explained but we'll just keep that one to ourselves.

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  • 36. At 4:19pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #29 deanthetory

    Hmm, in your experience, what deterrent would you advocate for this child misbehaviour?

    "Otherwise children from urban-deprived areas will continue to realise that all a teacher can do is 'shout' at them. I.E. no discipline still."

    Misbehaviour doesn't check the street names first.

    Oh, dear. (Disgusting.)
    What a Tory snob.

    Get some life experience dean and be content to embarrass yourself in the normal teenage way.

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  • 37. At 4:25pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #28 myheavens

    Another factor is that secondary schools are significantly better resourced than primaries. Since they are judged on their exam results, significantly more staffing resources are put into courses at Higher, Advanced Higher etc.

    You will find many of these classes with only a handful of pupils. Even those HTs who try to limit the number of subjects in upper school to allow a fairer distribution of staff across the school, have difficulty in achieving this due to vocal (middle-class) parents who insist on their kid getting exactly what they want. Councils won't support HTs against voters!

    The system also has a lot of Learning and Behaviour Support teachers, who don't take whole classes, but work with small groups. The Special Schools with a very low pupil teacher ratio also have to be taken into account.

    It would actually be quite easy to produce classes of 18 in the Infant classes, by diverting resources from elsewhere in the system - but wee Robbie in P4 would lose the extra help he needs in learning, and Mrs Jones daughter wouldn't be able to do Advanced Higher German.

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  • 38. At 4:28pm on 24 Mar 2009, simon7-0 wrote:

    The fact is that the SNP promised in their manifesto:

    "We will maintain teacher numbers in the face of falling school rolls to cut class sizes."

    That promise has been broken, and no red herrings from Fiona Hyslop will change that fact.

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  • 39. At 4:56pm on 24 Mar 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    This is, again, another smoke screen to distract us from the real issues. I'd be interested to know who controls those coucils where the teacher numbers have fallen and I'd also be interested in why they have fallen. I think Brian is being negligent in not highlighting those councils. This is just another round of petty labour SNP bashing. Come on, Brian, you're too intelligent a person to become the lap dog of the anti-SNP gang. Stick by your principles (like John Letford) and do some proper investigative journalism. You were never anti Scottish government when labour was in power. We pay your wages, through the licence fee, so have the decency to earn it.

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  • 40. At 5:04pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #34 O.B.F.U.

    I prefer your contracted name!

    The reason for having Head TEACHERS is partly historical, but is maintained because it works.

    They are supported by finance officers etc who do most of the administration, but do you really want an administrator to decide on the best reading scheme for the school to adopt?

    The most important tasks for Senior Staff is to monitor the quality of teaching and learning in the school, and to implement better learning strategies. You can't do that if you can't even teach yourself.

    One of the reasons that the NHS is arguably less effective than schools, is that the major decisions are taken by professional administrators, who don't understand the critical issues involved. Hospital cleaning and c-diff anyone?

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  • 41. At 5:18pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 36 aye
    "Misbehaviour doesn't check the street names first."

    I'm afraid poorer behaviour tends to be most prevalent amongst children that derive from socially deprived areas, ergo why i stipulated 'urban-deprived', as the best way to solve poorer child behaviour is to tackle inner city poverty.

    There is nothing snobbish about this.

    What is your point aye? Do you honestly believe that making the point that poorer child behaviour is linked to poverty is snobbish?

    Oh dear Ms Aye...

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  • 42. At 5:51pm on 24 Mar 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    I read the first few sentences and then found I just couldn't be bothered reading the rest of today's Labour Party press release. There's lazy journalism, then even worse there's lazy journalism with a political slant. Just not good enough BBC!

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  • 43. At 6:02pm on 24 Mar 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    "Ms Hyslop offer soothing reassurance."

    Shouldn't that be "offers" or "offered"?

    Depends, I suppose, on whether we expect pedantic journalists to achieve the same high standards they're demanding of others, or whether it's just an example of that current political penchant for the rule: "it's okay for me but not for you".

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  • 44. At 6:05pm on 24 Mar 2009, Silas wrote:

    This particular policy, in my humble opinion, was a little bit of a mistake. Not only is it an incredibly difficult policy to maintain, it is also not, i believe, the prime route to success in schools. A good teacher should be able to pass 30 students better than a lesser one will be the success of 18 or less.

    It's more dependant on the teacher.

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  • 45. At 6:15pm on 24 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    #40, oldnat

    Good points, well made.

    As an outsider, I have been viewing schools as delivery mechanisms for policy dictated from on high, but I concede I might be heading towards Lowest Common Denominator education.

    Perhaps, like most politicians, the merit of my contribution would have benefited had I taken time to consider the topic in depth rather than diving in and expressing a view about something whereof I know little.

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  • 46. At 6:38pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #41 deanthetory

    Everything is so easy and obvious to you isn't it...

    Actually, no, your ignorance is quite staggering.

    Poverty can be a factor
    Absent parents can be a factor
    Only children in loveless homes can be a factor
    Money instead of time and attention can be a factor
    Having a nanny replace Mummy can be a factor

    But the things that cause misbehaviour are found in many homes in many areas across the board.

    Your discriminatory assumption that those from "urban-deprived", as you so sickenly describe it (have ever even been there), areas will therefore exert misbehaviour is such a slur.

    And also a terrible insult to those hard working good families in these areas, for there are some!!

    "ergo why i stipulated 'urban-deprived', as the best way to solve poorer child behaviour is to tackle inner city poverty."

    That link is laughable, pie in the sky. If we were all rich there would be no misbehaviour?

    Tackling poverty tackles poverty. Then accessibility to parenting support, through family or community led, can start to tackle misbehaviour.

    That you present the problem in such simple terms is truly scary.

    You maybe want to learn something and come back?

    And "Ms Aye" just shows obnoxiousness, by insinuating that referring to me with a female title is somehow derogatory??

    You really do inhabit a Victorian, ignorant, arrogant, - "I know better" fantasy. (Why don't you just buy, or get mum and dad to buy you, a sports car instead.) Except you are commenting on real life, peoples' real lives. Think about it - should you?

    On what I've heard so far, you should never be elected ;-P

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  • 47. At 6:59pm on 24 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian

    I think you do the SNP a disservice. It's malice aforethought by them; they are just making space for the thousands of bankers that Global Brown is having to retrain.
    We'll see how it stands in 2011.

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  • 48. At 7:07pm on 24 Mar 2009, bighullabaloo wrote:

    # 41 deanthetory

    "I'm afraid poorer behaviour tends to be most prevalent amongst children that derive from socially deprived areas"

    Perhaps, perhaps not. Without proof why should anyone accept your word for gospel?

    You obviously haven't read the story on the BBC website today: "60-foot penis painted on roof".

    At least we have irrefutable proof that poorer behaviour isn't just found in "socially deprived areas."


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  • 49. At 7:16pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #39 gedguy2

    Your suspicions are unfounded.

    Remember that under PR voting, councils aren't the 1 party monoliths they used to be.

    Too difficult to play that sort of game nowadays.

    I had a look at the figures, but there's not a lot to be gleaned from them for either side.

    Changes in Secondary numbers don't mean anything for Infant classes. In Primary the largest reductions in staffing are Aberdeen and Western Isles (both -7%), Inverclyde is -6%, while both Renfrewshires, South Ayrshire and Stirling are -5%.

    Aberdeenshire is up 7%.

    But a lot of changes can happen because of school closures etc.

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  • 50. At 7:30pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #45 O.B.F.U.

    Carry on "diving in and expressing a view about something whereof I know little."

    It's half the fun of blogging!

    I've learned a huge amount from people replying to some of my half-baked posts.

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  • 51. At 7:47pm on 24 Mar 2009, A_Scottish_Voice wrote:

    These blogs are becoming more 'Scotsman like' by the day - a shake of the head look and move on.

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  • 52. At 7:52pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    aye grow up, proverty is a factor- thats what I said, but I went on to highlight you need to TARGET the worst hit areas and Urban inner cities do have greater levels of poverty than most.

    You need to solve poverty by starting in the worst hit areas first.

    What point are you making here? What aspect about this gets Ms Aye so angery, do you really believe that poverty isn't a prevelent factor in childhood behavioural trends, as I feel its one of the more substantive factors amongst many ergo why I said "urban-deprived", as this is a rather clear way of refering to children from poverty backgrounds in the worst hit locations (i.e. URBAN inner cities).

    You seem to see the word 'tory' and consider snob. Thats sad- perhaps your un-awhere that over the weekend i've been on a social action in Strathbungo and Govan, cleaning up the streets and removing graffitti- so as a Glasgow boy yes I know about urban inner poverty and it is the most pressing form of poverty, and it leads to all kinds of childhood behavioural problems. We must end inner city poverty in order to help childhood behaviour in schools and their behaviour more generally.

    Dont lecture me on poverty, I've seen the worst aspects of it.

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  • 53. At 7:57pm on 24 Mar 2009, alistair mackinnon wrote:

    Labour in Scotland appear to call for resignations (from the SNP Scottish government) at the proverbial drop of a hat, opening of an envelope or occasional set of (infinitely interpretable)statistics.
    This might appear to be another case of the boy that cried wolf, just making Labours' case weaker. However, the boy that cried wolf was at least sincere in his belief of danger around the corner. Labour now seem to utter outright slanders of the SNP which are then parrotted by the press. The SNP strategy, which I applaud although it seems generous, seems to be to let Labour condemn itself with its' increasingly shrill and tendentious criticisms of the elected governments record.

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  • 54. At 8:04pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    dean,

    Given that your ego seems to be preventing you from not paying me a lot of attention (flattered, I'm sure), I predict you may be late for assignments and fail parts of your course.

    If you do, I think I will have done you (and us!) a great favour.

    You can stop your self-serving crusading around in the "tory boy scouts", saving the world with your 'projects', and go out in to the real world, get a lowly, low paid job, and earn your way there, work your way up and appreciate not only how the world works but how others live in it.

    It may stop you being the typical kind of graduate we see nowadays that believes they are all-seeing and behaves as though the world should be grateful.

    Because by Jove, judging by your skewed naive views on here, if you don't.....

    Just my opinion ;-)

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  • 55. At 8:23pm on 24 Mar 2009, Tom wrote:

    DeanTheTory:

    #29.

    "But more precisely is it the lack of a deterence that leads to child misbehaviour? I.E. should the belt be brought back?"

    Is it a punishment at all when the child feels no fear, has no regrets and continues the same the following week?

    "Otherwise children from urban-deprived areas will continue to realise that all a teacher can do is 'shout' at them. I.E. no discipline still."

    It's a country-wide issue. It's not based primary at urban-based areas. Perhaps more of an issue at the more run down parts of the country, but I would not say it's much different elsewhere.

    I would also bring up that the Academy I attended was not near the city, and mixed with middle class and some middle class groups, all reasonabley well off... and the pupils who caused problems had fathers in high places and had millions in the bank.

    It's more about the individual then location, class or anything else.

    "I for one don't like the idea of physical punishment. And if that power wasnt restored to teachers little changes."

    You know how play ground politics goes, You and I are both young. It tends to be the strongest and most vocal of lads who have the most repsect from the others and those who are opposite are sometimes bullied.

    It's all about dominance and teachers have to show they are the leaders, and have to be respected.

    I've seen teachers leave or walk out, some even cry! But I've also seen the most vocal of teachers manage a class without much interuption because they are not afraid to show their aggressive sides.

    "Oh, and my schooling history is entirely beside the point and irrelevant."

    I disagree.

    It's our differences, in the way which we live and in the way we have been brought up which defines who we are and what we believe in.

    And from your comment, "I for one don't like the idea of physical punishment..." I could guess that you have neither been in a fight at school or perhaps you were bullied at school which helps shape your opinion that phyisical punishment is wrong.

    I am not being nasty, but it's important to learn where you are coming from in order to know why you think in a certain manner.

    I believe in the use of violence, or physical punishment as you say should be applied. I have personally seen results from pupils who fight and loose with the victor gaining instant respect because in some sort of level they have shown they can take care of themselves. And I have also seen the most vunerable bullied because they could not...

    I believe there is a link here, and if teachers applied the same they may be able to gain the reluctant pupils respect through fear and violence.

    I suspect some may have been caned at some point here, and they appear to turn out perfectly fine, and I believe many here may at some point been smacked as a child for doing wrong (it was more acceptable in the past then now) and I believe it does no harm to the person(s).

    Years later, and we see more and more teachers being attacked themselves...

    Is there a link?

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  • 56. At 8:28pm on 24 Mar 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    I have to agree , the policy did not take into account school accommodation , therefore a wee bit daft!
    But the fewer in a class the better the discipline.
    Just as an aside ,Guido has some interesting economic news today, well worth the listen!And I'm sure that the UK media will have missed it.

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  • 57. At 8:54pm on 24 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    http://www.order-order.com/2009/03/hannan-tells-gordon-he-is-pathologically-incapable/

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  • 58. At 8:56pm on 24 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 9:09pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #52 deanthetory

    "Dont [sic] lecture me on poverty, I've seen the worst aspects of it."

    Congratulations!

    dean, because you've seen the good grace to observe poverty (like Prince Charles?) doesn't give you any authority to lecture anyone else on lecturing, since that's what you seem to do a lot of on here, albeit though incredulously misinformed.

    High and mightyily again, you sweep in with your superior assertions.

    "...prevelent [sic] factor in childhood behavioural trends, as I feel its one of the more substantive factors amongst many ergo why I said "urban-deprived""

    What do you know about "childhood behavioural trends"!

    You patronise just about everyone at once, I'll give you that.

    "You seem to see the word 'tory' and consider snob."

    Spouting and sermonising about things you may or may not have observed but are light years away from understanding, is very snobby.

    You'll only make things worse.

    (Why do you overuse "ergo"!
    As it's a bit like "ego".....? ;-)

    The stuff of your posts is why people hate MPs.

    ;-)

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  • 60. At 9:13pm on 24 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Dean - a word of advice,

    May I suggest you stop picking fights with aye_write (that you will inevitably lose), and consider how you are making the party you support, in-built in your blog name, look?!

    Tories actually have something to be proud of today after their MEP, Hannan, stood up and told the unelected PM what the country as a whole thinks of him. Don’t ruin that with old-style blaming "the poor".

    Bad-behaviour is not restricted to "the poor", or deprived areas - it is more prevalent in deprived areas, yes. But, if you want to find out about anti-social, irresponsible behaviour a quick glance at the record of Bullingdon Club when Boris, "call me Dave" et al. were there would be a good place to start.

    http://markgorman.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/osborne-bullingdon.jpg

    http://www.recessmonkey.com/wp-content/uploads/boris-johnson-bullingdon-club.jpg

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  • 61. At 9:31pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 54 aye

    "Because by Jove, judging by your skewed naive views on here, if you don't.....",

    So you think it was nieve of me to say "You need to solve poverty by starting in the worst hit areas first. " Please explain how you propose to tackle poverty if not at the worst hit communities first?

    What I propose is large scale investment in the provision of green spaces, and places for the young to go in these areas- while attempting to solve family breakdown problems etc, only through time, money and a whole lot of effort can we reduce (if not end) the damaging effects proverty is having on childhood behaviour in the worst hit poverty zones in the country, which can be most prevalent in the inner cities. Something has to be done to end the great social deprevation in inner cities in order to solve childhood behavioural difficulties as their aesthetic environment does affect them. But hey, Ms Aye views such issues like this as entirely "skewed" and "naive"

    ------------

    @ 49 oldnat

    Those stats seem rather damning, a 7% cut in staffing in Aberdeen! This is related as has been said before I believe to the general state Aberdeen council is in at the present. Should the SNP executive step in and directly sort out the council budgetary commitments and offer to bail it out of some of its more pressing debts? Might this help improve the quality of schooling in Aberdeen- or might this just lead to a further weakening of local deomcracy?

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  • 62. At 9:40pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 55. Thomas_Porter

    I agree that poverty is a nation-wide problem but I am making the point, perhaps rather unsuccessfully, that the only way to solve it is to start in the worst affected areas first. To me, and from my experience, it seems to be inner-cities. But Yes, its a nationwide problem, but you need to start somewhere and the worst hit tends to be, in my mind as I'm sure in yours too, the best place to begin.

    As for corp punishment, no. I have not been bullied, nor have I ever been in fights. But this does not detract from the central issue, that prevents one from agreeing with you and your advocation for a return of the cane.

    Its the old liberal problem of example. What example does it set to beat a child into conformity? I just can't forsee what Pychological damage might be to a child if beaten at school by intolerant teachers (and there are always some of those).

    Besides, I fail to relate to your point about school-ground politics, as I'd never expeirenced the image to paint. Therefore I must take your word that it is representative of many comprehensive schools.

    Might one suggest a compromise between our two possitions? What about this:

    only head teachers are given the power to use the belt, and not individual classroom teachers. This will provide the deterrence that comes with the discipline of the cane- but reduces the number of times it is ever applied, lessening my liberal objections somewhat. Teachers would have the power to threat to send a child to 'the headmaster' and in return a level of discipline is restored to classrooms without the need to belt first think later.

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  • 63. At 9:42pm on 24 Mar 2009, greenockboy wrote:

    A look at the English daily's reveals what is happening outwith 'Labour Press Release Land' that we read about up here so often.

    The 'UK is broke' reveals Mervyn King, so bad is it that the only tactic left in order to 'stimulate' the economy is printing more money.

    Gordon Brown has given yet another sycophantic speach. Mr 'Proud to be British' is apparently also 'Proud to be European' as he continues begging people to be his friend for the forthcoming G20.

    Another Labour MP has 'stuck rigidly to the expenses' rules by claiming around 20,000 pounds.

    Oh, the bogeyman has been brought out of the cupboard in order to deflect everyones attention from these unfortunate events. Apparently a 'dirty bomb' could be exploded somewhere near you.

    Don't these papers down South realise that a few Scottish councils are refusing to hire teachers !!

    Thank goodness for the Scottish media.

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  • 64. At 9:44pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    An interesting publication on childhood discipline in schools from the Student Services UTAS:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 65. At 10:09pm on 24 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    I can guess what Gordon Brewer will be discussing on Newsnight Scotland then?

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  • 66. At 10:10pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #55 Thomas_Porter

    "And from your comment, "I for one don't like the idea of physical punishment..." I could guess that you have neither been in a fight at school or perhaps you were bullied at school which helps shape your opinion that phyisical punishment is wrong."

    Thomas, it's dean's mother who looks after him........!

    "If anyone had belt me as a year 3 pupil i'll tell you mother would've been belting the teacher!"

    Plus, dean's type, despite even a barrage of evidence, won't admit you know anything. That you disagree just means he must be even more clever through being surrounded by even more fools...

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  • 67. At 10:21pm on 24 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    60.pattymkirkwood

    I will take no lectures from aye about poverty. End of.

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  • 68. At 10:53pm on 24 Mar 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    #61.deanthetory
    From Wiki

    "Poverty in developed countries is manifest in a set of social problems including homelessness and the persistence of "ghetto" housing clusters."

    Poverty is a symptom of the class system coupled with an unequal distribution of wealth because of the capitalist system that we live in. Providing money in painting a nice environment will not sort it but giving people hope and expectation by providing meaningful work in pleasant surroundings will reduce it. This will benefit all society by reducing crime.

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  • 69. At 11:05pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #61 deanthetory

    How tiresome, but if you must bend over again...

    "What I propose is large scale investment in the provision of green spaces, and places for the young to go in these areas..."

    And poverty will disappear because we have a nice park to go to??

    Was that taken from the "Plant a Lawn and See Poverty Gone" book from the 'Dim but Noisy and Tory' library of political nonsensical ideas?

    So, is there a reducing level of poverty the further you travel from parks? If there are more trees does it matter? You could colour in a lovely diagram. But as an action to reduce poverty, it's pretty sh!t!

    You will find misbehaving poverty stricken 'poor folks' just living in an area with nice greenery! (And I'm afraid probably more dog poo ;-)

    dean, you are hilarious! To think making the place look like a rich area will....make it a rich area.
    :-D
    Oh, what fun!

    "- while attempting to solve family breakdown problems etc"

    Right, so while we are doing the important job of planting more trees (?), we fit in family break downs.

    Good grief.

    Because family break downs are an awful cause of poverty?? If these folks could just be like you good folks and keep their marriages together....!! (Don't they know you just have affairs but insist on the pretence of staying married? No wonder they catch poverty.)

    Are family break downs not often a symptom of poverty? After all money worries is cited as the no. 1 cause of arguments in the family home, and I'm sure now that will further increase.

    "only through time, money and a whole lot of effort can we reduce (if not end) the damaging effects proverty is having on childhood behaviour"

    No we get to the cut and thrust of your argument - empty rhetoric.
    Yep, a politician alright.

    "Something has to be done..."

    Yeah, yeah...

    "as their aesthetic environment does affect them."

    If you're poor, you can't improve as you would like your "aesthetic environment". And improving your "aesthetic environment" does not make you less suddenly poor!

    Are you even talking about poverty now, or Changing Rooms??

    It's not like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!

    "But hey, Ms Aye..."

    You try to demean me. Now, lets look (LOOK dean...!) at how. You are trying to belittle my gender. You as a male are being condescending to me as a female through my female title, because I am female.

    If you were a manager you could hauled up in front of a tribunal for that.

    That is pretty sickening dean. It's quite pathetic, more than a little smarmy, certainly creepy, and out of date. But most of all...

    SEXIST.

    Can my husband address your mother as "Ms deanthetory" in a "I ridicule, you are so stupid" way? Would you like?

    Look at yourself. Is this any way to loose your......

    Accept it, just because you like the sound of your own ("important") voice chitter chattering, you still

    DON'T HAVE THE ANSWERS".

    Next...

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  • 70. At 11:08pm on 24 Mar 2009, Tom wrote:

    DeanTheTory:

    #62.

    "To me, and from my experience, it seems to be inner-cities."

    I do agree to an extent, but as you are from Glasgow then you know that Glasgow's problems are historically linked to Thatcher's Government.

    In order to tackle poverty we should look into what the area lost to start with, and help return it to the city.

    But I would not place it all into inner-city solutions. People in Scotland sometimes travel around, sometimes to cause trouble in another area, and other times because they have friends in other parts of the country.


    It's difficult for me to accept that we should help inner-city areas when we should be taking the rest of the local area into account.

    "As for corp punishment, no. I have not been bullied, nor have I ever been in fights. But this does not detract from the central issue, that prevents one from agreeing with you and your advocation for a return of the cane."

    You see, do you feel what I have experienced first hand useful or irrelevant to the conversation?

    "What example does it set to beat a child into conformity? I just can't forsee what Pychological damage might be to a child if beaten at school by intolerant teachers (and there are always some of those)."

    Look at the past generations. They lived with the cane, the leaders of this country lived with the cane. It has done no harm to them, and it should not do harm to our children.

    I disagree with your final comment. Thesedays the chances of children fighting back are high, specialists should work within the school to handle cases where violence would be used, they would help enforce the strict rules and consequences.

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  • 71. At 11:10pm on 24 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    Absolutely flabberghasted by Gordon Brewer's introduction to the topic of teacher numbers on Newsnicht:


    "This is a story about schools, but it's also about the number of promises made by the Scottish Nationalists while they were battling for your vote and which have been broken, ignored or quietly forgotten now they're in government."


    Eh?

    I am reminded of Angus Deayton's response to any nonsensical suggested answer on HIGNFY: "In what way?"

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  • 72. At 11:10pm on 24 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #61 deanthetory

    Unless you know the detail of every authority's schools, it's very difficult to know whether there is a significant effect on education or not.

    I was struck by the 7% reduction in Aberdeen exactly matching Aberdeenshire's rise by 7%.

    Did schools close in Aberdeen, and the surplus staff move to the county? I have no idea. I do know that generalised figures as in the annual teacher census don't actually give the detail needed.

    In general terms, I think we are seeing some of the effects of local government being made accountable for really running their own affairs, instead of being micro-managed from Edinburgh. Within organisations cultural change is difficult to implement.

    At the same time, the change of voting system has meant that one party control has largely disappeared, and there is far more transparency by officials to all councillors - not just the ruling group. A lot of past mismanagement is coming to light, and that should allow local democracy to improve.

    All the political parties have been negligent in not addressing the critical structural issues for local government.

    Instead of arguing about marginal changes in class sizes, we need to be discussing whether education should be run by local authorities at all.

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  • 73. At 11:37pm on 24 Mar 2009, Brian Hill wrote:

    This issue is more complicated than mere numbers.

    We might have learned a bit more about it on Newsnight tonight had Gordon Brewer allowed Fiona Hislop to speak more than 10 words at a time without jumping in like a rabid dug.

    Meanwhile Rhona Rankin was able to sit quietly giving us an uninterrupted Labour Party Political Broadcast while Brewer sat benignly waiting for her to stop.

    The bias in the Scottish media is blatantly obvious but not even that will save Labour from the black storm clouds gathering on the economic horizon. Storms for which they are already being blamed.

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  • 74. At 11:38pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 75. At 11:52pm on 24 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    deanthetory's...
    "I will take no lectures from aye about poverty. End of."

    Proves my...
    "dean's type, despite even a barrage of evidence, won't admit you know anything. That you disagree just means he must be even more clever through being surrounded by even more fools..."

    "End of."!!!

    ;-D

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  • 76. At 11:57pm on 24 Mar 2009, TimothyFClarke wrote:

    Brian sort the BBC Labour mouthpiece out. Newsnight Scotland is getting dull for it's inevitable lack of impartiality but the contrast between Brewer's SNP and Labour interviews today could only have been more shocking if he'd offered Rhona a cuppa and a choccy biscuit to dunk in it.

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  • 77. At 00:42am on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #70 Thomas_Porter

    Re "the belt"

    As someone who was required to administer corporal punishment, I have to tell you that it is damaging to those who administer it, as well as the wider community.

    Many pupils who never received it lived in fear that they would make a mistake and suffer it.

    Some of the worst behaved young people came from families so violent, that the belt was meaningless.

    Can you imagine being pinned against a wall by a digger blade, before your father took off his belt and lashed you?

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  • 78. At 00:44am on 25 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    aye

    I call you Ms, due to the fact that you demanded on Nick Robinsons block that I address you by your proper title 'Ms. actually'.

    Hardly sexist to keep to your rules.

    But you've also rejected the importance of providing young teenagers with places to go. It is actually vital that the young teenagers in the cities like my home of Glasgow, are given provision of green spaces- even if its just to play football rather than causing anti-social behaviour problems. I think that this is a triffle more progressive than you have offered up.

    As for the rest of your exceptionally dull contribution- concerning family breakdown.
    I was explaining its relevance to childhood behaviour, and yes family breakdown is a cause of childhood behavioural problems Aye. And you can spin that all you like its still a relevant assessment. And not original to oneself.

    Please, as for comments such as "if you must bend over again..." its simply not appropriate.Why don't you offer up your reasons for childhood behavioural problems if you rule out:

    1. aesthetic environment factors
    2. family breakdown
    3. inner city poverty

    What then do you believe the major cause for childhood indiscipline is?

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  • 79. At 01:05am on 25 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 72 Oldnat

    Cheers. I think your right about the past crimes of local government now coming to public attention.

    ----

    Thomas

    "You see, do you feel what I have experienced first hand useful or irrelevant to the conversation?"

    Extremely useful. It does seem that modern schooling, based upon what you've said about schoolground politics, is a horrific place for many children.

    Can one what you think may reduce bullying in schools, as its serious and surely a pyschological approach to children rather than implimenting a fear factor might help reduce these problems?

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  • 80. At 01:07am on 25 Mar 2009, mekquarrie wrote:

    It's not mandatory for a minister to stand down when asked to do so by a member of the opposition. This is the ebb-and-flow of robust government and SNP ministers will just have to get used to it.
    Can't remember many calls for more money for more teachers from Scottish Labour at the budget debates. Possibly, just this week's rant.
    Next week? Iain Gray will probably complain there is not enough sugar in his tea...

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  • 81. At 01:49am on 25 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #67, Dean, stop your sermonising tone and I may just be able to take that response of yours seriously! Perhaps, you are not best placed to lecture on poverty? Because that is what you are doing, with seemingly very little in the way of background knowledge.

    As an aside: rural poverty is a big deal, please don't diminish that. It can be even more crippling, with no mobility (or total reliance on the 4 times a day bus) in the countryside or isolated small towns, what are your prospects really?

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  • 82. At 02:18am on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    If anyone saw the STV poll suggesting that Labour were going to have an 11% lead over the SNP in the euro elections, you will be interested to know that the pollsters employed by STV (Progressive Scottish Opinion) are the ones who predicted a 17% lead for Labour in Glasgow East.

    They are not members of the British Polling Council, which is suspicious in itself, and they don't follow normal polling practice of weighting by previous voting pattern, or on checking who would actually vote (rather important when polling is likely to be low).

    In other words STV chose to select a firm with a history of inaccurate polling, and methodology which would not allow them into the professional body for pollsters.

    My bet would be that Labour will have the largest number of votes in the May poll, but not on the evidence of a charlatan poll.

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  • 83. At 02:51am on 25 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    Newnight Scotland was surprisingly hostile to the SNP. But- I suppose the likes of the BBC Scotland thought "we've got 'em now" when this story broke.

    The SNP have two years to turn things around, and now amount of pressure from the opposition parties will surely get Hislop to resign after she's been giving local councils enough money to address the issue of teacher numbers (which have fewer job roles in schools available now anyway..)

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  • 84. At 05:10am on 25 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 81

    "As an aside: rural poverty is a big deal, please don't diminish that"

    I'm not, merely saying that one must start somewhere- and all one is suggesting is in the inner cities.

    As for moralising tones, an apology is offered. One shouldn't let aye get at me. The attacks were just rather personal and its not true to say I have no awareness or experience of poverty.

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  • 85. At 05:29am on 25 Mar 2009, gedguy2 wrote:

    # 49 oldnat
    I'll bow to your superior knowledge on that point.

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  • 86. At 09:52am on 25 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    #78 Deanthetory

    Simple, I blame the parents and 'human rights' for children. If I spray painted trains or assaulted anyone at the age of 10 I'd have got the smack to end all smacks.

    And quite right too.

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  • 87. At 10:13am on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #78 deanthetory

    dean, I don't like a liar.

    On NR's (did you not think I might do this?) in response to your:

    "But hey, mrs aye knows best doesnt she"

    I said:

    "Why do posters who are annoyed by me always say that?......(though I am a 'Ms' actually)."

    So I question your attacking my gender as a form of insult. (That I am female isn't an insult though is it?)

    Contrary to your jumped up:

    "I call you Ms, due to the fact that you demanded on Nick Robinsons block that I address you by your proper title 'Ms. actually'.

    Hardly sexist to keep to your rules.
    "

    I did not instruct you to continue attacking my gender with another female title, "Ms"!

    You bend the truth. I'm afraid you LIE.

    Because you say "Ms" instead of "Mrs" doesn't make it any less sexist!

    That you seek to patronise my gender at all is beyond reproach.

    It's discrimination. Try it in the workplace, see how you get on.

    It is an outrage and it should be an outrage. Wholly unacceptable in today's society.

    You prove yourself not to be progressive but sexist.

    A typical Tory?

    You don't even question the issue, like it has no bearing at all, just jump to your immediate defence.

    You said, right from your first (aggressive) response on that thread:

    "Stop talking utter rubbish aye"

    But, when I correct your misinformed post, (as I am quite entitled to do!) it then becomes:

    "Oh, but your Ms Aye- the basher of Westminster

    "Grow up Ms Aye, your showing Scotland up."

    Plus numerous references on here:

    "Oh dear Ms Aye..."

    And after I said to you:

    "And "Ms Aye" just shows obnoxiousness, by insinuating that referring to me with a female title is somehow derogatory??"

    You continue!

    "What aspect about this gets Ms Aye so angery"

    "But hey, Ms Aye views such issues

    I note you do not refer to any other posters in such derogatory or sexist terms.

    If I have criticised you, it has always been in relation to points made (opinion) or your attitude, understanding, tone or intelligence - all things you can do something about.

    I hope you see there is a significant difference.


    Will you apologise?

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  • 88. At 11:05am on 25 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    27 Franklyfrancophone

    Once again you demonstrate some peculiar contradictions in your arguments. You repeatedly appear on these blogs celebrating the superiority of all things French and lampoon the apparant inferiority democratic deficit in all things British.

    Yet here you are again extolling the virtues of extreme centralisation (something which is routinely criticised here), as initiated by Louis XIV and codified by the Corsican Corporal during one of the periodic attempts at pan-European totalitarianism. So the State centrally appoints teachers eh? Would that be to to ensure "efficiency" or conversely, to ensure that the State imposes a homogeneous view of itself on impressionable minds in a country where social problems are so often settled with riot police?

    I have met and worked with many intelligent and charming French people, but a unifying feature of their lives has been the tyranny of their educational system. We worry about social mobility here but at least those who were not that succesful at school have some chance at improvement. In France I'm informed, one's school results...all centrally controlled, normalised and recorded will determine absolutely your life chances. The system is designed to cream off a technocratic elite via the Grandes Ecole to run Government, whilst the rest are prepared for a life of 35 hour per week mediocrity in the sprawling public sector. Everyone I have met has ruefully agreed that...yes, they can quote you their results and class position in every subject in every year in secondary school and university. It's an obsession that is thankfully lacking here.

    So Local Authorities can employ teachers? I think that's quite healthy by and large. It allows the teaching staff to reflect the local culture and to direct themselves towards schools that match their own ambitions. It does however turn up some stupidity, such as the problem in Wales where there is a chronic shortage of maths teachers, but local authorities will only employ teachers who are also able to speak Welsh. There is some sense in this ruling for some artisitic or cultural subjects but for maths and science it's nonsensical and self-defeating.

    Just to finish with some fun. There is a little known but nonetheless true story of France copying features of the British school system. Following the humiliation at the hands of Bismarck in 1871 there was a bout a soul-searching as to the causes of the apparant lack of toughness and resolve in the French officer class. Looking across the Channel (this pre-dates universal compulsory education by the way), they saw that a major difference between the boys at school of each nation lay in the playing of sport and, in particular, rugby football.

    Whilst young upper class Frenchmen were composing poems and trotting around on horses in elaborate clothing, their counterparts were grinding each other into the February mud in pursuit of an oval-shaped leather ball. Hence the adoption of rugby in some French schools...to toughen up the dilletante sons of the upper class. Was it a success? Well subsequent outings against les Boches did not fare much better so the primary purpose certainly failed...but France has at least emerged as undoubtedly the most attractive Rugby playing nation of the modern era. So that's OK;-)

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  • 89. At 11:18am on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #78 deanthetory

    "aye"

    Most use "AW" or "aw" or "a_w" etc. I'm just saying this because it will make you sound less of a tattie. No offence, I'm actually being helpful.

    Might I add, that where your reactionary style probably works well against the very tetchy "The EU is bad, because the EU is bad!" lot on MM's, it's letting you down here. It just sounds irrational. Again, I aim to be helpful (and selfish because it affords me far to many opportunities to metaphorically kick your a$$, and I have things to do! ;-).

    "But you've also rejected the importance of providing young teenagers with places to go."

    Nope, never did say that.
    I said as a method to tackle poverty, providing green spaces isn't going to have a transformative effect i.e. I disagreed with your presentation of it as a main step (didn't say green spaces were bad!)

    "As for the rest of your exceptionally dull contribution- concerning family breakdown.
    I was explaining its relevance to childhood behaviour, and yes family breakdown is a cause of childhood behavioural problems Aye. And you can spin that all you like its still a relevant assessment. And not original to oneself.
    "

    That wasn't what you said.

    "What I propose is large scale investment in the provision of green spaces, and places for the young to go in these areas- while attempting to solve family breakdown problems etc, only through time, money and a whole lot of effort can we reduce (if not end) the damaging effects proverty is having on childhood behaviour in the worst hit poverty zones in the country"

    No, you were mentioning family breakdown with relevance to poverty.

    "Why don't you offer up your reasons for childhood behavioural problems if you rule out:

    1. aesthetic environment factors
    2. family breakdown
    3. inner city poverty
    "

    But, as you knew, I did not rule out those things, or any things out.

    You have consistently put words into my mouth and made a steady case against what I did not say. You did it on NR's aswell.

    Is it perhaps an urgency to get your ("important") post out and a lack of listening to others?

    It certainly shows you have difficulty with debating technique. Perhaps if you feel permanently at loggerheads with the world, is it the world that is wrong?

    But it's lying dean. Pure and simple.

    If you can't answer my points, please don't resort to lying about what I said. I may be many things but honest is one of them - I am happy to be incorrect rather than dishonest.

    It will not only irritate me but loose you all credibility with other posters and readers alike, who will see it as a disingenuous attempt to win your argument at all costs - not attractive, and not attractive to voters. They've seen it all before and it isn't pretty.

    That's why I say you lack integrity.

    Voters above all else want honesty.

    "What then do you believe the major cause for childhood indiscipline is?"

    There are a host of contributory factors, but at the very immediate level, it is poor parenting. Now, I do not lay all blame at the door of ineffective parents, there may be many reasons why they have become so, apart form merely their being personally to blame, though of course that is always a factor when we are talking about adults. For one they may themselves have had bad parents.

    But it is stress that contributes to bad parenting, and that is not by any means confined to inner cities! The other cause is lack of confidence and lack of knowledge and skills. Both can cause giving up.

    With skills grows confidence and you can get that in any social environment. Children don't need a lot of "things" to be happy.

    Factors hampering parents' progression to that state I'd say are:

    Parenting is not valued as it should be in this country.

    Lack of available knowledge and support - the extended family can no longer be relied on.

    Pressure to not need support - it is assumed that women, because they are women, should just know what to do.

    Accepting or asking for help is seen as failure - why is everyone not seeking help...

    Add to that pressure at home:

    Money worries
    Lack of time
    Boredom
    Work committments
    Not getting a break
    No work-life balance
    Relationship stress
    Lonliness?

    This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and resignation.

    Poverty is definaltely a factor as it as much of the above does accompany it. Of course I am for tacking that. (Another post perhaps, but an overall approach I think has the most merit.)

    But those things can come with or without poverty. We must also recognise that and see the whole picture I think.

    This is a much ignored subject. Overlooked. But it is of paramount importance. Often it is only one specific area that is tackled. A thorough open examination would do a lot to dispell the great deal of misunderstanding that still surrounds it.

    I don't claim to have all the answers.

    PS I don't bear a grudge.

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  • 90. At 11:58am on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #88 Anglophone

    I expect you to be properly English. What's all this nonsense about a "British school system"?

    Be proud of your own land, man. It was the English public schools they were copying!

    It's also one of the glories of English eccentricity, that it is the only country where private schools are called public schools, while local authority schools are called "state schools".

    Celebrate your differences!

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  • 91. At 12:22pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    re my #89

    dean,

    Just to add, those 'obstacles to great parenting' I list are, I accept, to a great, degree all in the mind.

    And I by no means know if I've even got them all right. I was just coming up with an answer to your question for you, with my best estimations.

    But what I am getting at is that if our common experience in this country was one where parenting is appreciated and an area we see it as obvious to focus on, then it would be natural for us all to just be better parents. (It would be ordinary, instead of the current situation where a struggle leading to delinquency can be the norm!) I don't think that's the case.

    A parent's quality of life, where this is detrimental to their parenting, must also be altered/improved of course, otherwise you are just adding another load of stress on to an already stressful situation.

    But that, is not in the majority of cases poverty led. Life management (those hints and tips our grandparents never gave us) is more universally lacking and I think in a great many cases improving this alone can effect better parenting.

    Even, we have more juggling to do these days so we need to better, and not worse, at it.
    :-)

    Blether over!

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  • 92. At 12:28pm on 25 Mar 2009, BrianSH wrote:

    #87 aye_write

    That post was very long and boring. You can call me anything you want; I don't care.

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  • 93. At 12:34pm on 25 Mar 2009, myheavens wrote:

    Dear aye_write
    Could I request that you shorten your posts some of them here are over 6 screens long. Your excessive use of quotes and double or triple line spacing does not help.
    I am not necessarily critising the points you make, but being briefer would almost certainly add to power of them.

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  • 94. At 12:39pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    #83, deanthetory

    "New[s]night Scotland was surprisingly hostile to the SNP"

    More surprising is the fact that you are surprised.

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  • 95. At 1:04pm on 25 Mar 2009, cahoona21 wrote:

    The SNP policy is admirable but flawed in that the new PFI schools are barely big enough to handle the class sizes that they have never mind having to find the extra rooms needed.

    One way the local authorities are getting round the class size limit is to put two teachers in the same class thus halving the ratio. Good accountancy, probably bad for education.

    I know of one council that is diverting any additional ring fenced funding by reducing the educational budget in line with the increased funding.

    Say 500,000 ring fenced for reducing class sizes, then 500,000 is removed from the educational budget somewhere else - neg gain to education - Ziltch.

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  • 96. At 1:04pm on 25 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    Brian

    Coming back to your blog to see if you had moved on, I was struck by your "975 over the past year". This is surely an apples and pears sort of counting. Maybe Group Theory had not been invented when you yourself had the benefit of Dundee's finest.

    If the requirement is for primary teachers for P1 to P3 to be such that the maximum class size is 18 then only teachers qualified to teach at those particular levels are relevant and to parrot "975 over the past year" is to show that you are, or are in danger of, becoming infected with the virus that infects the political, of opening the mouth without engaging the brain first.

    In addition, pun intended, you do not address the other factor in the equation for 2011, namely the numbers of children that will then be in the appropriate bands so in a spirit of goodwill, as I sometimes enjoy reading your threads, for "doing the sums" I will give you 3/10 for recognising that this is a problem capable of being mathematically modelled.

    I am a little surprised that no teacher appears to have taken umbrage at your treating them as interchangable widgets.

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  • 97. At 1:07pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    aye_write vs deanthetory

    Not a fair 'fight,' is it?

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  • 98. At 1:10pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #84 deanthetory

    Just noticed this little gem.

    One shouldn't let aye get at me....and its not true to say I have no awareness or experience of poverty.

    First, should it not be "one shouldn't let X get to one"?

    Anyway,

    It is not true to say I said you have no awareness of poverty.

    I implied you didn't have sufficient experience.

    I said there was a vast gulf in your understanding.

    I stand by that, but concede you are making efforts.

    That you twist, misrepresent and LIE about everything I say is out of order and WRONG.

    It indicates you have the personality of a snake. Do you?

    Actually, I don't believe you do...so far.

    I think you are so self-enamoured, so certain that you are right, you forget to contemplate others have a point, and instead take what they say as a token insult (such as your blatant, incorrect stating that I said you have no experience...understanding would be a better word...of poverty), worthy of the height of indignation in response.

    It's churlish overreaction, and I suppose maybe typical of someone of your age, though I don't make that an excuse.

    You want to be taken seriously, please don't do it. It's deceitful.

    Be an honest debater, then I'm happy to say, for what it's worth, that you might eek out your desires in politics. If you treat me, and others, like fools, and childishly react as though we've said something we didn't, the journalists will see through it, the TV cameras will see through it - the public
    sees right through it.
    They don't like to be conned.

    Your politics could have some place in independent Scotland. A sane sensible approach is always necessary. I might even team up with you on some issues.

    I must oppose your excuse for remaining in the Union, to scrounge off it - I'll happily debate this, but not now (lets think of the other posters!).

    But, as acrid as that opinion is, I feel you may only be genuinely misguided, and that I'll acknowledge is no crime. Lets talk about it another time, but for now, start again?

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  • 99. At 1:11pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    A propos of nothing in particular, does anyone knew when 'Blether with Brian' is moving to the new [inferior] blog formatting?

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  • 100. At 1:17pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #90 oldnat

    They've got to keep the myth alive oldnat - it means they're better ;-)

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  • 101. At 1:30pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    dean,

    re parenting

    I forgot to mention, maybe universal access to parenting classes (I'd call them something else!), such as the very successful "Triple P" from Australia, in the same way as we all get anti-natal classes, would be a way to go.

    As with the anti-natals, you only take out of them what you need, so it's hardly indoctrination. The mere fact you talk and feel that there is support, can be all that's needed to affect a transformation in outlook, and in parenting, with results for the behaviour of the child/ren.

    I'd say if these were an accepted norm of society not only would a lot of our problems be aired finally (it's all a shamefully kept secret at the moment - not least because we all associate it with inner city poverty actually!), but also we'd go a long way on the road to solving them.

    There has certainly been much funding available for BookStart and SureStart, with rhymetimes and library promotion, so it would seem viable that monies could be directed to the setting up of such parenting information also. After all, poor parenting can cancel out the effects of reading a book when you're three months old.

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  • 102. At 1:33pm on 25 Mar 2009, Post_Haste wrote:

    aye_write

    #92 and #93 have a point, you know.

    Valued though your contributions rightly are, there is something to be said for a less self-indulgently rotund style.

    The art of writing has been said to consist in making more of less. Think about it.

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  • 103. At 1:36pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #92 and #93

    If you don't like them, don't read them. You can scroll past, simple as that. (But then what would you moan about! - only kidding ;-)

    I only try and make them easier to read, #93. The Beeb's layout could be better... ;-)

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  • 104. At 1:45pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    #92

    Is this a giveaway that BrianSH IS deanthetory...?

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  • 105. At 1:50pm on 25 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    @ 89 AW

    "Lack of available knowledge and support - the extended family can no longer be relied on."

    This may well be true, I've often heard the 'experts' on television explaining the demise of the 'grandmother' figure; who traditonally helped ease the constant pressures on mothers/young parents etc. So yep, the demise of an appreciation for family and the importance of 'rallying round' fellow members of the family have caused in all likelihood rather problematic situations where mothers / fathers have no relief.

    @ Brian SH

    I hear what you say, and there may certainly be truth in the importance in a 'belt around the ear'- but many child pychologists often refer to 'spanking causes misbehaviour' argument:

    http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/FivePrecepts/spanking.html

    Dont know about it specifically oneself.

    ----

    Note to AW:

    It was never a deliberate intention to seek to dimean your sex/gender but one almost certainly - reading back - realises the implications of what one said rather than what one meant to say.

    You indeed have full apologise for any sexism, however unintentional it may have been.

    But I shan't apologise for the rather surpising brutality you've been attacking one with over the last couple of days, having started on Nicks blog- over my opinion that Scotland naturally could be independent, but the ave. standard of living might decrease, therefore my rejection of independence. This caused you to attack ones character rather brutally, and it begs the question why?

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  • 106. At 1:51pm on 25 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #88 Anglochap

    You misrepresent me, of course, as it suits your purpose to do so. I refer you to my #27, in which you will find the following:

    "In my #15 I did not advocate anything."

    I merely drew attention to a set of circumstances in which a minister is in a position to control a certain matter to such an extent that s/he may reasonably be held to account for it and then contrasted that French situation with the existing position in UK Scotland. A reasonable and indeed rational procedure, it seems to me.

    A non-anglocentric perspective may not be your cup of tea, but that is your problem. Your not untypical sophistical francophobe rant is, as usual, not without a degree of entertainment value, however. Carry on England.

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  • 107. At 1:55pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #92

    Maybe I should shut up and get back to the kitchen?

    ;-)

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  • 108. At 1:56pm on 25 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    90 Oldnat

    Sounds like a case of "can't win whichever way";-) Had I said English public schools you would have written an excoriating piece about the playing of vigorous organised manly sports in Scottish schools...long before English milords had even stopped chasing peasants across the countryside (add/delete cultural stereotype as required). I just used British as a handy lingua franca to denote the whole island which was, I think, a unified country when France first experienced the problems of German nationalism.

    Who knows, had the French hit upon Shinty as a means of putting some lead into their national pencil, the history of modern Europe could have been completely different.

    You can rest assured that I am quite proud with being English and British (you shall not trap me there) and can breathe easy in the knowledge that they are two different, yet complementary things.

    The adjective "Public" in England does have this worrying conundrum when it comes to schools. I'm sure you know that the handle originally derived from schools that were not exclusively for the clergy...hence public. It only really applies to a handful of ancient institutions and we tend to prefer the term "independent" these days, which I'm sure you will agree is a touch ironical. Maybe you should be pushing for a secular, democratic, "Public Scotland!"

    You do have a few of these touching oxymorons yourself, the best being Free Church;-)

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  • 109. At 2:28pm on 25 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    100 Aye-Write

    Shame on you...it's all that high-octane badinage with (What's the Story) Dean the Tory...it's making you bitter.

    The original piece contained absolutely no reference to "anglo-supremacy" whatsoever. It worries me...you guys can identify slights and slurs where none exist. I think that some national deep-breathing exercises may be in order.

    To fire up a mini storm...why doesn't Brian ask the question, "even if the public vote for independence...who will pay the eye-watering costs of separating all those government institutions, public bodies, companies. The IT alone will run to billions (doesn't Mr Aye-Write work in IT by the way???? ;-)). We're all a bit broke down here thanks to the Hon Member for Kirkaldy and getting hit with even more tax to pay for Scotland's separatist ambitions might provoke a bit of a response from my normally ambivalent countrymen.

    Can I be assured that the SNP Scottish Government will pick up these unnecessary costs and make them plain in their manifesto? ;-)

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  • 110. At 2:28pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #102. Post_Haste

    Well, if I were attempting the art of writing, fair point. Sometimes I do! But this time it was the "art" of debate I was "indulging" in. Debating is more clear and punchy, can have reference to personal anecdotal evidence etc.

    The reason was that being the subject of sexist rebuffs is very serious. I meant to demonstrate that in no uncertain terms to dean, hence the adopted style. The post referred to was addressed to dean. No one else needed to read it if they didn't wish to.

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  • 111. At 2:31pm on 25 Mar 2009, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    #82 Oldnat, just had a look at the poll you mentioned, I think we can discount the Liebour vote growing from 26 to 41%!

    Maybe sometime, Brownedov or someone equally talented with polling figures can give a more detailed analysis, but even assuming that said polling company (with a history of spectacular failures to even predict the correct result, never mind the margin) what impact would Scotland's normal 25-30% turnout for Euro Elections have on the result?!

    And is anyone else a little concerned that they are planning on taking 4 days to count the votes? (5 to respect the Sabbath in the Western Isles)!

    http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.2497629.0.EU_election_results_will_take_four_days.php

    I realize the system is complex and all member states need to vote and announce results in something approaching unison, but why the extra day longer than England and Wales?

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  • 112. At 2:38pm on 25 Mar 2009, fourstrikes wrote:

    Eh, it's all so complicated ;)

    Dean - AW doesn't like that form of address. I started off with that too. It's common courtesy to change the way you speak to people if that person's finding it unpleasant.

    Back on topic...when it comes to corporal punishment, I'm inclined to the thought it was never as effective as made out. My dad left school at 14 years old and he told me that the corporal punishment he experienced was random, for ridiculous things like not memorising Bible verses correctly, and had no deterrent to the school "tough guys" who actually boasted about how much punishment they got. I don't see how it would even vaguely work nowadays.

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  • 113. At 2:43pm on 25 Mar 2009, fourstrikes wrote:

    I like long posts and I cannot lie....:)

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  • 114. At 2:55pm on 25 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    106 Franklyoutofhisdepth

    Thanks mon brave. I always like to think that I entertain.

    You may not use the word "advocate" in 15 but, if that's the case then what's your point exactly other than to celebrate the virtue of centralisation. I simply put across the sub-text to that centralism plus a cheeky bit of history.

    PS: You shouldn't take little denunciations of other countries too seriously. You might get the impression that I believed such things privately.

    A bientot

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  • 115. At 3:16pm on 25 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    107 Aye-Write

    Maybe so maybe not, but I have sometimes hoped that Mr Aye-Write is a good cook as you spend so much time blogging here that your emaciated bairns must be begging for food from behind a pile of un-ironed laundry;-)

    PS: Before you gird yourself up to incinerate me...I do all the cooking in our house. It's the only way of getting a proper meal;-)

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  • 116. At 4:18pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    I know that, at least in the past, some BBC blog pages limited comments to 500 characters (including spaces, blank lines, etc.).

    Comments to 'Blether with Brian' might benefit from such a limit, if only to require contributors to self-edit.

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  • 117. At 4:35pm on 25 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #111 pmk

    Surely it's the same number of days as the English, 'cos we're just as good as them, but we need another one to loose the register!

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  • 118. At 4:36pm on 25 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    I referred in my previous posts in this thread, for the limited purpose reiterated at #106, to the French education ministry's role in providing a work force of educators in conformity with requirements determined in accordance with the established mechanisms of the democratic process.

    As the anglo-chap appears to be fascinated by the French system, which is, admittedly, fascinating, not least because it is designed to ensure in so far as the republic can contrive to do so that its constitutional responsibility to provide its citizens with equality of opportunity within the limits of its democratically authorized and monitored powers is discharged.

    What is actually taught in schools and teaching method are subject to regulation that is in turn subject to democratically accountable parliamentary scrutiny, as one would expect in a rigorously egalitarian democracy.

    In order that the fundamental principles of the republican constitution may be honoured, the republic requires that there be no post-code lottery so far as quality of provision of education and other services is concerned. It is contrary to the founding principles of the republic to allow different zones of quality of provision to be established on its territory. Those founding principles essentially concern equal rights, which it is the constitutional right of the citizen to expect his/her government to be organized in such a way as to protect and to be held fully and clearly accountable for. Fudge and muddle and blurring of lines of responsibility have no legitimate place in this elegant scheme of things.

    If people in Scotland don't care for an approach of this nature, they will not allow it to be adopted, of course, which is as it should be, but you cannot responsibly decide either for or against an option until and unless you have made yourself thoroughly familiar with it. If the people of Scotland were to be presented with the opportunity to consider whether they wished to have such a system and chose to reject it, they should not be surprised if the efficiencies and other benefits that go with it continue to elude them.

    As for riot police, I have never met anyone from the CRS, if that is what was referred to, so far as I am aware, although they can be, naturally, normally present at the very many mass street demonstrations which are a normal and traditional feature of French democracy. I do remember with gratitute, however, the 'kepi' (bobby) who used to stand at the entrance to the cinema of a Friday night as we 'ados' (teenagers) went in and came back out, making his small contribution to making sure that the constitutional rights of all citizens to personal security and the protection of their property were not violated as a result of youthful high spirits or as a result of any other cause. This is, with respect, an approach which UK Scotland's 'broken society', if that is what it is, might benefit from considering. Sir Fred Goodwin might agree too following the vandalizing of his property in Edinburgh. Where were the guardians of the peace when all that was going on?

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  • 119. At 4:47pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #115. Anglophone

    Anglophone,

    That's rude (really rude).

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  • 120. At 4:49pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #109. Anglophone

    My God, at last a response and all I had to do was make a tongue in cheek joke.

    I wound the winder-upper up ;-)

    Just read your #115.

    Thanks.

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  • 121. At 5:05pm on 25 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #114 Anglochap

    This 'depth' thing is one of your famous assaults on what you take to be a 'soft spot', is it? I see no indication that I take you seriously. I shall have a look and see if I can find one.

    What is my point exactly, as you put it? It is a question of perspective, old chap. My perspective is inseparable from my identity, which is franco-Scottish. I see Scotland from that perspective because it is entirely natural for a Scottish citizen of the French republic to do so, as a more acute observer might have realized without having to have it spelled out to him.

    Do have a pleasant evening in your little corner of dear quaintly mouldering old England.

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  • 122. At 5:27pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #115 Anglophone,

    I didn't figure you were mean.
    (You were mean.)

    What do you do all day....
    Swan around visiting the so many countries you mention - I could do that.
    Talk b-sh!t in meetings - I could do that.
    Wear a suit and look/sound important - I could do that.
    Tap the keyboard, pretend to work and blog - I could do that.
    Bamboozle others with your knowledge of their IT system, while pressing Control, Alt. Delete - I could do that.
    In between watch some rugby and do a little cooking - I could do that.

    Now, my day.....

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  • 123. At 5:34pm on 25 Mar 2009, Post_Haste wrote:

    #110 aye_write

    I see. The art of writing encompasses even blogging. I could spin this out over three paragraphs, but three sentences will do.

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  • 124. At 5:39pm on 25 Mar 2009, Anglosaxophone wrote:

    #122 aye_write

    You are seeing more clearly now?

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  • 125. At 5:47pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #123 Post_Haste

    Blog snob ;-)

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  • 126. At 5:52pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #124 Anglosaxophone

    No, more confusedly.

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  • 127. At 6:11pm on 25 Mar 2009, Miss Terri Poster (NOT) wrote:

    #113, fourstrikes:

    "I like long posts...."

    Who says single entendres aren't funny...?

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  • 128. At 6:29pm on 25 Mar 2009, Post_Haste wrote:

    #125 aye_write

    Only trying to help. Was once told the same myself. Hated it. Then learned from it.

    Carry on the good work. ;-)

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  • 129. At 6:56pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #128 Post_Haste

    No offence taken :-)

    Thank you and the same to you.

    (You realise if you ever do a long post again.... only kidding! ;-)

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  • 130. At 7:33pm on 25 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #82 oldnat

    Saw your post this morning and note that it's seemingly only covered on STV's Labour leads European Parliament poll in Scotland. Google News doesn't give any other hits, and you're absolutely right about Progressive Scottish Opinion. Not only are they not members of the British Polling Council, they don't publish any details of their polls on their website. STV's report is all that's available.

    #111 pattymkirkwood

    I'd very much like to analyse the data, Patty, but I'm afraid I can't make bricks without straw. More of a job for Greetings_Earthlings, I think.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 131. At 8:26pm on 25 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    you can't have a real blog that is so tightly moderated it just takes to long for posts to come through.
    By the way I predicted that Gordon Brewer would go to town on the SNP last night however it was even worse than I thought especially his downright biased introduction - absolute bile.

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  • 132. At 8:28pm on 25 Mar 2009, Post_Haste wrote:

    #129 aye_write

    If I ever do a long post, pounce.

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  • 133. At 8:57pm on 25 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #115 Anglophone

    Right everyone who's interested, the moment you, and possibly Anglophone, have possibly been waiting for has finally arrived. Welcome to The Reprimanding of Anglophone, by aye_write.

    Anglophone,

    The kids are well nourished and in bed, the dishwasher's on, both washing machines are running and I have sat down.

    You began with "Shame on you!". You later inferred while I deny my blogahoilism, and campaign away online for an independent Scotland, my kids are so neglected, that when I get it, they have since starved. Nice.
    Err, shame on you!

    Then you state "It worries me...you guys can identify slights and slurs where none exist."

    My #100 was, for a laugh, playing on the notion that 'British', like owning a member-enhancing sports car, makes one feel bigger and better, and affords the same comfort as a sooky-blankie. It did not make reference to anglosuprema-lalah, except perhaps to infer that it doesn't exist. An anomaly ;-) The fact (it stands up in law - I used a smilie) I wasn't being serious, did not indicate I thought you were a sufferer. (Hello, my name's Anglophone.....and I'm an anglo-supremicist. ;-) It of course would have required me to feel some sentimental resentment - I don't.

    All that high-octane badinage with (What's the Story) Dean the Tory wasn't making me bitter.

    So it was actually you who identified a slight slur where one did not exist.

    It worries me that you thought #115 was funny!

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, if you thought I was on a bash Anglophone mission in #100 then your hurt feelings and out of joint nose might have had some part to play.

    But gosh, I really hit a nerve?
    You weren't expecting it, or not from me...?? ("Never mind that young dean.....??")

    Might some personal shaving mirror-gazing time be more in order.

    Excuse me, I have to throw some grit at the kids ;-)

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  • 134. At 9:35pm on 25 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 23

    Again you deliberately miss my point. Highland Council need to be funded to build any new schools. As they are all now to be built from Capital funding this is allocated from Edinburgh.

    As can be seen from the List above the SNP are quite happy to take the credit for the school building programme. As I have said previously no councillors will be cutting the ribbons on new schools, the area will be covered by SNP ministers.

    Therefore they must also accept the involvement for schools that are substandard and not funded.

    So as you seem to find this difficult to understand, I would like to see a system of government that leaves local decisions
    to local people. to enable such as system there needs to be a fair distribution of resources. When additional funds are available they must be distributed fairly. If this had happened Wick High would not be an issue.

    None of these things have happened since devolution and are unlikely to happen in the near future with or without independence.

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  • 135. At 9:37pm on 25 Mar 2009, rickyross wrote:

    To take up Miss Ann Thrope's point.
    Maybe all comments should be limited to 500 words - it may aid the moderators and thus speed things up a tad.

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  • 136. At 9:52pm on 25 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    re 40

    I don't entirely agree with your sentiment.

    Head teachers are usually teachers who have considerable experience in eh ..teaching.

    A lot have left school gone to Uni then back to school. Not exactly a good grounding for running a business, which is what a large school is. Not exactly good experience for dealing wiht HR issues, finance, project management etc.

    I agree it needs to be qualified teachers that decide the method of teaching and what type of books to buy.

    But they don't always make good managers. Just as nurses don't always make good managers in the NHS.

    The real problem holding back educational attainment is that poor teachers are never fired. Addressing poor performance requires strong mamangement. When teachers manage teachers this won't happen.

    I am minded of the old adage, " those who can do those who can't teach"

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  • 137. At 10:47pm on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #108 Anglophone

    Of course you can't win. I thought that was already established!

    "You do have a few of these touching oxymorons yourself, the best being Free Church;-)"

    Touche!

    Please keep posting here (although you don't really need to reply at length to my jokes).

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  • 138. At 11:06pm on 25 Mar 2009, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    Northhighlander

    Will you please stop ignoring points of information that are provided to answer issues in your posts.
    Highland Council IS given money to maintain its school estate and build new schools where and when needed. It accepted the funding given to it by the Scottish Government for all the things it is supposed to do so if new schools are to be built that is the decision and the responsibilty of Highland Council. It is entitled to contest its cash settlement but hasn't done so.
    Will you make your mind up on other issues as a well.
    You attempt to hold the SNP responsible for huge problems it inherited from the previous administration.
    If this is to be accepted logically it also takes the credit for the schools it is now opening.

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  • 139. At 11:18pm on 25 Mar 2009, handclapping wrote:

    #137 oldnat

    What jokes?

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  • 140. At 11:40pm on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #134 and #136 northhighlander

    I don't disagree with your perspective that national politicians should not take credit for local action. You may have missed one of my previous posts which compared the current nonsense to the house building competition between Tory and Labour in the 50s.

    You want any capital funding to be allocated fairly. Of course, you are right. It was up to Highland Council to do this. They failed. How is this a matter for central government? Actually, having attended a number of school project openings, they have always been done by councillors (apart from one done by Princess Margaret). They control the process. All politicians want the credit - they don't give it to others!

    You have frequently suggested that "poor teachers are never fired."

    You confuse the process of quality assurance with employment law. Let me explain (as someone who has been personally been involved in the sacking of a number of teachers during my career.)

    Employment law, quite rightly, requires that incompetence needs to be demonstrated, as does the need for management to demonstrate that they have taken all appropriate steps to improve performance to acceptable levels, before moving to dismissal.

    Additionally, it is difficult to persuade an Industrial Tribunal that a teacher who has (apparently) not been the subject of under-performance procedures for many years, suddenly become subject to them.

    How on earth has poor performance by a number of teachers (that is real), therefore, been tolerated for so long?

    Until devolution, Parliamentary time was never given to reforming a peculiar provision of the Education Acts pre-2000 : that dismissing a teacher required a vote of two-thirds of the Education Committee. This was a hangover from the 19th century School Board structure - elections to which were bitterly contested between the Established and Free Kirks. The measure was introduced because boards with even a slight majority from one Kirk often tried to sack teachers from the other.

    Consequently, every Director of Education knew that there was only hope of sacking a teacher for "gross moral turpitude" - not incompetence. Through most of my career, the best I could hope for was to get a rubbish teacher transferred elsewhere, taken onto the pool of centrally employed teachers, or "persuaded" to resign/retire (I was quite good at all of these!). Immoral, but my job was to get the best for the kids in my school!

    After 2000, the law was changed in the first Act of the Scottish Parliament (don't you understand that there had been huge frustration in education at all levels, that incompetents couldn't be diverted to a job they might actually be able to do?) that archaic rule was ended.

    Since then, teachers have been sacked for incompetence - I've been involved in some cases. However, it is still difficult to deal with those who served 20+ years under the old system when it was pointless for HTs to bother building up a dossier of incompetence, so no evidence exists.

    If Highland Council has not used the 2000 legislation to deal with it's poor teachers, then that's a council problem - not one for the system as a whole (unless you want centralism).

    I'm sorry this post is so long, but I needed to address complex issues on which you were making simplistic (and inaccurate) statements.






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  • 141. At 11:49pm on 25 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #136 northhighlander

    "I am minded of the old adage, ' those who can, do : those who can't, teach'"

    (I've corrected your punctuation - commas, before "do" and after "can't", colon after "do").

    On one of my folders from Teacher Training College (as it was known in those far-off days of the 60s) is inscribed

    "Those who can, do: those who can't, teach : those who can't teach, teach teachers."

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  • 142. At 00:24am on 26 Mar 2009, Tom wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 143. At 00:27am on 26 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    re 140

    Don't think we are disagreeing on too much here.

    I do contend though that Hioghland does not get a fair allocation and this has been brought up by Highland Council. However campaigning will go on until we are sucessful.

    through my years at school I suffered from a few poor teachers who basically just couldn't cope. Staying in a job they couldn't do probably had a devastating effect on them as well.

    In balance I also enjoyed many good teachers.

    However the system where teachers manage teachers does not always produce the performance that is needed. You may well have worked the system for the benefit of your pupils, all credit to you if you did, pity there wern't more like you. However many Head teachers did not, and still don't.

    Your point regarding religious groups are another reason why Scotland in particular needs a secular education system. It is the only way we will rid ourselves of the baggage that has very little to do the reality of contempary Scottish life.

    I also feel that generally the whole position of teachers is advertised as a job for life, which doesn't give the impression of a job where you are given a huge responsibility to educate the earners of the future.

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  • 144. At 00:29am on 26 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 141

    I stand corrected, shouldn't have added that comment.

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  • 145. At 01:00am on 26 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #143 northhighlander

    I'm guessing that you were at school pre 2000?

    It's really important that people don't imagine that they "understand" education because they were at school, or "understand" health because they have been to the doctor.

    You never experienced a system at school where teacher performance was actively monitored. If it's not a different situation for those who are currently pupils, then Highland Council has even more significant inadequacies than I had realised.

    If there are still inadequate Senior Management procedures in some Scottish schools, then that is the responsibility of their employers.

    I have actually analysed the HMIe reports on most Scottish schools. Unfortunately, there is a significant correlation (NB correlation does not equal cause and effect - simply implies a relationship) between weak school leadership and schools in councils dominated by Independent councillors.

    Please don't extrapolate the limited experience that you have observed on education to the system as a whole - unless you conduct the objective analysis that is required.

    Education of our young people is too important to be influenced by casual observation.

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  • 146. At 01:08am on 26 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #144 northhighlander

    I wasn't actually correcting you (I make it pretty obvious when I am!). Henry Ford was not wholly inaccurate in his observation, and your comments on what was the position were accurate).

    The comment on my folder from TC was more an observation on the incompetence of my tutors!

    I have to add that quality assurance procedures in the University Teacher Training Departments have also vastly improved since my day.

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  • 147. At 01:28am on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #105 deanthetory

    "It was never a deliberate intention to seek to dimean your sex/gender but one almost certainly - reading back - realises the implications of what one said rather than what one meant to say. You indeed have full apologise for any sexism, however unintentional it may have been. "

    dean, it's OK, don't worry about it, I've made my point and forgotten about it. I accept your apology, thank you, but I have no desire to humiliate.

    Why did I attack "one's character".

    Imagine you are from New Zealand. You know New Zealand does and can support itself and to a high standard. You come across another NZ blogger who thinks NZ would be better off linked to Australia, because, through evidence provided by biased propaganda, NZ could have a barely measurable increase in the average standard of living. You know though from official documents this is entirely not the case. How do you feel?

    Factor in that to achieve this claimed increase, NZ has to relinquish all sovereignty and be subject to a joint parliament where it is outvoted by 10 to 1. Therefore it no longer has self-determination.

    Then it stops becoming financially autonomous and instead receives a block grant from Australia. So all control for running the economy is revoked. Then it is proposed that the increased standard of living spoken of is entirely to result from Australian subsidy. But why select this strange system over the normal one for a nation, to rely and live off one's neighbour.

    So New Zealand is stripped of being a nation in all but name. And it hasn't done anything (like go bankrupt, like the UK?) to deserve it.

    Add in a new idea that Australia-centrism is best, it's superior internationally, internally, economically, culturally etc.

    See the subconscious subjugation and demoralisation of NZ's peoples over generations. Lack of control leading to lack of confidence leading to lack of self belief leading to lack of self worth leading to lack of aspiration, and a feeling of 'too small, too pretendy, too wee' to cope, resulting in diminished pride - New Zealanders are not the proud nation they once were. Unnoticed but generally acknowledged and accepted. Ethnic brainwashing.

    All supposedly in the name of a increase in the standard of living. But to be a kept nation.

    Why would any New Zealander want that for their children, to trade off all that for a phantom increase in living standards. I should expect all would gladly swap a much lower standard of living to safeguard it all, as would anyone.

    Does it not smack of an excuse to keep New Zealand in the Australian Union. Where are the benefits for New Zealand? They have losses (as detailed above). But the benefits for Australia are more power, more influence and superior status.

    And that's it. You can't show me any kind of papers than I cannot dispute over figures for Scottish GDP etc, etc. And even if it was touch and go dean as to whether the figures showed you were right or I, there is no way we would sacrifice all New Zealand has on the basis of them, so why should we accept that situation for ourselves now.

    Please before dismissing this as the fantasy ravings of a nat, read it through twice. Imagine it from the standpoint that figures show Scotland will not suffer a loss in standard of living - imagine if you believe that and then ask why we need the Union at all. Even imagine, if it will help, that you are not conflicted over your nationality.(I don't know what I am getting out of this Union, if it isn't just that you will not have to apply for dual nationality in future.) Ask, compared to other independent countries, what we are giving up for it.

    I don't want my children to grow up to learn Scottish people cannot run their country themselves, without handouts from their neighbours, and be about the only country in the world where that's the case. I don't want that shame. I don't want my boys to know their vote counts for nothing before they've even had a chance to use it. I don't want them to have to know that about themselves. I seek to avoid it. I seek the normalcy of independence, for the next generation's sake. For that is what matters the most, when all's said and done, that's the point, and there can be no other.

    You don't want that. You would deny my boys. I cannot let you and I must discredit you and you ideas before they take root. That is why I was so nasty, because that your ideas are halted is paramount above all else including you feelings. But I see that you were not in fact acting through callous nature.

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  • 148. At 01:28am on 26 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    Re144

    I went to school pre 2000 but have kids at school post 2000.

    Re HMI reports, I don't disagree Highland reports are not in the top quartile.

    I spent some considerable time looking at these to put my local into a measured context.

    I feel that there is far too patchy a performance across Scotland. In every colour of council there are areas of sustained poor performance. This needs to be challenged against the considerable extra resources that have been put in.

    At some point this question needs to be asked, as it does for health spending.

    However education is the most important issue as our future depends on it. All previous governments have basically accepted second best. We can and must do more to achieve higher performance across a broader area.

    This will require a challenge of some of the established norms.

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  • 149. At 02:26am on 26 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #148 northhighlander

    I'm not sure what you mean by "there are areas of sustained poor performance."

    Are you comparing the performance of schools with similar socio-economic intake across authorities, or simply comparing "middle-class" as opposed to "deprived" schools within the same authority?

    For example, within Highland, are you trying to compare Inverness High with Millburn Academy? They are at the extremes of the socio-economic differences within the Highlands. (Wick Academy serves the 4th lowest socio-economic secondary school community within Highland) Do you expect the average performance of its pupils to be closer to Inverness High or Millburn?

    Actually, despite the appalling buildings, Wick does pretty well what one would expect given its intake.

    Comparative analysis of performance of schools is a highly technical process (and I performed these analyses for national programmes).

    I'm more than happy to provide you with the references, if you need to be reassured about the link between socio-economic status and educational attainment.

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  • 150. At 08:03am on 26 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    re 148

    Using th HMI reports and results there are areas from my limited knowlegde that appear to underperform. Admitedly i was more concerned with primary schools at the time.

    I agree there are obvious dangers with making comparisons on very rough data. and I do not pretend that I offer such analysis.

    However it is also clear that there has not been a step change in performance to match increased funding. Therefore one has to ask what is being done to challenge those responsible for better delivery.

    The link between socio-economic status and attainment is in no doubt, which is precisely my point. If increased resources across theboard hasen't delivered a step change then perhaps removing some of the resources from Schools that are doing well and not really improved with extra help and placing those resources in poorer schools would help pverall attainment.

    Only by ensuring the poorest 20-30% attain all they can will we improve the nation.

    Education is the key to a better Scotland for the future.

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  • 151. At 08:24am on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #150 northhighlander

    You can educate them........and then they see their vote counts not, their country requires subsidy, their nation status means nothing politically and their nationality is ignored internationally. Good for them?

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  • 152. At 10:38am on 26 Mar 2009, Diabloandco wrote:

    Old nat , guess who HRH received after Mr King?
    Non other than Sir Jock Stirrup!

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  • 153. At 10:46am on 26 Mar 2009, Dean MacKinnon-Thomson wrote:

    147. aye_write

    I thank you for the reply. Understood

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  • 154. At 11:05am on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #105 deanthetory

    re my #147 continued

    Can I add something about Britishness (or in my tale, Australia-centricness!). Britishness was invented. It supersedes Scottishness now, politically. Scottishness is a token nationality now.

    Britishness offers some intangible comfortable feeling of 'everything's alright', it feels reliable. Like a religion, it has everything to do with a notion and an ethos. It's very difficult to give up.

    In order to be British you are asked to believe a number of things:
    Britain is better, Britain is stronger, Britain is important, Britain is prestigious.
    It's very enticing to want to adorn your own identity with that.

    If you believe those you cannot also have the same opinions about Scottishness. One requires the other.

    Britishness has been imposed on Scots and little by little we've believed the myth. We seek to be 'big'. Would we not be lesser without our Britishness? How would we cope without religion.

    What I am getting at is it is not rational - it is not rational to think your country of birth needs another country to subsidise it, not rational to be comfortable with the position that your vote counts not towards any national say, not rational to feel unable to be self-governing etc. etc. To be happy with that you have to buy into the belief that you are British not Scottish, and that Scottishness doesn't warrant these things. Britishness is a challenge to Scottisness and Scottishness is a challenge to Britishness. The two compete. If they had even representation then one side would not feel the Union was overdominated by the other.

    It is better not to be Scottish at all than have a nationality that says all lacking things about you. If we don't only feel British, this Union isn't going to work. And as Britishness isn't Scottish culture, but anglo-centric, I don't. Only one nationality can represent this country, or dissent and dissatisfaction will reign on.

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  • 155. At 11:19am on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #105 deanthetory

    re my #147 continued

    PS (sorry!)

    Being British is not being enlightened but brainwashed ;-)

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  • 156. At 11:34am on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    121 Franklysomethingorother

    That's odd...I had no idea that my little barbs were just water off a ducks back. I have missed the light trill of your laughter in the trenchant 1000 word responses to my posts;-)

    You clearly see a future independent Scotland composed of a centralised government, staffed by the technocratic cadre of graduates from specialist schools, bravely constructing tree-lined, arrow straight roads hither and thither helped by draconian compulsory purchase laws. Meanwhile the general populace can abandon the "quick Benson & Hedges in a doorway" and converse on points of fashion and philosophy in a cloud of Gitanes smoke in pavement cafes, blocking the thoroughfare in defiance of the drizzle. Meanwhile, the ugly bits, the forgotten folk can have their ready-made McBanlieux on the outskirts of Edinburgh and Glasgow where they can set fire to cars and not trouble themselves with the precision of the constitution. What a wonderful world this could be!

    Any popular dissatisfaction with the remote government elite can be dealt with by letting farmers/public sector unions/students etc (delete as applicable) stage highly stylised street protests demanding less work/more pay/protected markets/more suppositories/the whole of August off work etc (delete as applicable) to let off some democratic steam.

    Mouldering corner of England eh? I must get to the shower more often. The sad thing is that fragile French self-esteem doesn't seem to be based in the constitutional precision that you adore, but rather in the constantly recycled belief that the perfidious anglo-saxons will simply implode any second now under the weight of constitutional ambiguities and bad cooking. The problem is that you've been waiting for centuries now... it's got to happen soon...any year now...errr...the glory of France will be restored...errr help, an external threat...Vive la Pragmatisme, Vive l'Entente Cordiale!

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  • 157. At 11:59am on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #156. Anglophone

    Anglophone, please do one as scathing about England! (perhaps as McAnglophone?) Just for fairness you understand, not jingoism, zealotism, victim-obsession or the other barmy stuff ;-)

    (Do you have a stand up show planned??)

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  • 158. At 12:06pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    133 Aye Write

    Sorry...didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I didn't imagine for a second that you were not a caring and loving mother. I thought that the accusation was pitched in such a ridiculous way and liberally sprinkled with smilies that you would realise that it was a joke. Absolutely no offence meant. (Having branded myself as such a cynical funster it is difficult to be sincere and be believed)

    I liked the Boys from the Blackstuff bit in 122..."geeza job?" (but please forget the Kirkby Kiss). I don't do so much swanning around foreign countries at the moment. Business is quite slow so I have periods in between when I can have a quick blog. I have nothing to do with IT (until recently I believed it was what people in Yorkshire ate between lunch and supper;-)).

    I am self-employed. I don't have to wear a suit much these days which is lovely. I certainly honed my blethering skills as a 1990s Big Five management consultant but I could never really get the hang of the "mercenary amorality" bit so I left to do something more honest. Before anyone jumps in...I'm not an Estate Agent or a journalist and I've heard all the jokes about broken watches and telling the time.

    Anyway...back to writing a paper on the economic outlook for major European countries, which is enough to worry anyone. It's going to be very tough this year and next year, and decidedly muted for a long time after that as we repay the excesses of Comrade Brown in his bid to go down in history and save the world (again).

    As a former consultant though I know that a pair of Church's brogues can be boiled to make a nourishing broth. It may come to that yet.

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  • 159. At 12:47pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    Aye-Write

    You've written some impassioned pieces about independence from the standpoint of relations over the Tasman Sea (by the way,it takes three hours to fly from Oz to New Zealand...they are neighbours only in the sense that most of the Southern Hemisphere is sea. They do not share a land border).

    Funnily enough, despite being an independent country, New Zealanders have endless gripes about their larger neighbour. About Australian commercial influence, about "arrogant" Australians buying land...even about Australians cheating in sporting contests. Does any of this sound familiar?

    That aside, I respect your argument about "Britishness" and I guess that it depends on your point of view. I've said before that I can be English and British quite separately without too many problems. That's because the British bit is about hard-nosed, up to date practical issues whilst being English is a more romantic notion involving ancient rights, climbing roses and general sense of community.

    The line you seem to promote is common amongst nationalist activists...that of a grinding sense of underachievement, alienation and powerlessness. This is central to garnering support but it is a dangerous illusion that may come home to bite.

    Scots rightly have a very strong sense of national identity and it's hard to see that the current constitutional settlement suppresses this any way. If it got any more pronounced it could end up causing an entirely new set of problems.

    The disparity in population means that Scots will always, despite over-representation in the current system, appear to be swamped democratically. This argument would hold water if one could prove that Scots were essentially different and wished to pursue political and societal models that are not already contained within the UK political debate. Sadly, some of the output on these pages does push this line in the form of the "Scots = communitarian philosophers, English = polarized, illiberal, greedy etc"...an argument that runs about as far as Sir Fred before looking shaky.

    Whilst your position is an honourable one, be careful that you can lead your people out of this pit of despair that you are painting. The gripe could just become a permanent, inescapable feature of life. Just like in NZ!

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  • 160. At 12:50pm on 26 Mar 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #150 northhighlander

    Measuring school performance is notoriously difficult and inaccurate (though I made a good living out of it for a number of years!).

    This is especially true of Primaries. "National Testing" was never intended to be used for comparing schools, and became wholly corrupted when HMIe started using the data for that purpose (this no longer happens). The tests were structured to allow teachers to confirm that their grading of pupils was in line with national standards. As soon as teachers and schools were being compared (and criticised) on the basis of these grades, you will not be surprised to know that "grade creep" (as the Americans call it) occurred. Instead of waiting to ensure that a pupil's skills were solidly embedded at Level C, they would be graded as C the moment that they managed to repeat a test at that level.

    Labour's obsession with measurement and targets actually set the system back.

    The only valid way to measure school and teacher performance is to use some "Value Added" procedure. Clearly if half the pupils in one P3 class can read before they come to school, while in another class none can, you can't compare the improvement in these classes by testing their skills at the end of P3!

    Those of us who have been arguing for years that the only valid system was to use "baseline assessment", then measure the progress of each child from that have been very frustrated over the years!

    Currently, we have no valid system to say whether any school is "under performing", though common sense says that some must be - whether they serve rich or poor catchment areas. Throwing extra money at an under performing school is unlikely to be successful. The chances are that they are not using their current resources properly.

    It is valid, however, to put additional resources into schools serving deprived areas. Consequently, I didn't support the plans of any party to reduce class sizes across the board (in whichever scheme they were proposing).

    Infant classes of 18 in deprived areas is worthwhile (the state intervening to give disadvantaged kids a better start has got to be good). I never saw the point in doing that in the leafy suburbs of Edinburgh - except that the articulate middle-class would shout "unfair", and might not vote for the party concerned.

    There will be little progress, until we "de-politicise" education, make it a strong national priority, fund it properly, and get the political parties to butt out from claiming that all success is theirs while all failure is the fault of the other party.

    If a grateful nation wishes me to run such a system (at an appropriate vast salary), I would of course bow to its request !!!!!!

    ;-)

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  • 161. At 1:09pm on 26 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #156 Anglochap

    My apologies, my dear fellow, for failing to exhibit an English sense of humour. Hint: I have not got one, not being English.

    How one views the composition of a post-independence Scottish government is a matter which is primarily, as it seems to me, between oneself and the ballot box if Scotland becomes independent. For the time being I note what the Scottish National Party is indicating to be its vision for an independent Scotland and am not disposed to dissent from that at this time. This does not in the meantime preclude, of course, discussion of pertinent ideas which may seem to one to be worth raising even if some anglo-chap deep in darkest England may not agree.

    As for the remainder of the content of your post, I may refer to it in my final paragraph, if I feel it warrants my attention.

    To those who unaccountably have only just woken up to the "mean streak" in a certain Blighty-is-all-righty chappie, congratulations. Welcome to the psyche of anglo-dominance, which rests, according to disloyal detractors, upon an illusion of anglo-superiority, whose tolerance of franco-Scottish 'lampooning' is apparently weak for some reason, requiring the guilty detractors to be treated to various varieties of anglo-poltroonery, which are, according to taste, distasteful or merely of some meagre entertainment value, as may be said to be the general quality of what passes for political discourse in England, which, as will not have escaped your attention, not infrequently reveals itself to be on a level with the hurling of rotten tomatoes at a hustings. Or should that be custard pies, or both?

    Fairly puerile antics of this nature include, de rigueur, not taking the subject peoples seriously, to keep them subject to the will of those who are in a position of dominance, who tend, of course, to look down disdainfully upon their subjects to preserve an illusion of superiority, upon which imperial and post-imperial powers contrive to construct a foundation of pseudo-legitimacy for the privileged position that they accord to themselves in the affairs of the world and then desperately strive to hang on to.

    Lampooning of rival dominant powers is, arguably, the other main characteristic of the psyche. Both France and England are past masters at lampooning one another, needless to say. Have you come across, for instance, a certain post card to be found by touristical visitors to Paris, the one depicting a map of Europe which seems not quite right until you realize that England is missing from it. Then, all of a sudden, it seems somehow right. This may remind you of the recent artwork commissioned for the current Czech presidency of the European Union for display in the foyer of the European Parliament, I am given to understand. It was, apparently, yet another representation of Europe with a blank space where England should be. A pattern seems to be emerging.

    A recent article on a Quebec French-language citizen-journalism website reveals that even Quebeckers seem to be conscious of anglo-imperiousness. A generously charitable but acutely observant gentleman writes there of a jolly English businessman of a type that they occasionally encounter. A rough translation of a small segment of the item follows:

    "X is the quintessential English businessman: public school, "upper class", cricket, "We will never surrender" . . . who seems to have had everything handed to him on a platter, simply because he entertains no doubts about his own superiority and allows no one else to entertain any such doubts either.

    "They are quite intolerable, these types, but we don't entirely dislike them, because they are flamboyant and a little eccentric and because their privileged position seems to bore these Phileas Foggs to death."

    Well, I don't know about you, but the whole pathetic tedious phenomenon bores me to death too. Not to my taste. Still, carry on England.

    As my franco-Scottish courtesy in ploughing through quite a lot of rather predictable waffle and responding to your posts at some length is evidently not appreciated by you, I shall refrain from making this one longer than it is. Good day, old boy.

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  • 162. At 4:14pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    161 FranklyFrancophone

    I suspect that fellow users of this blog might be getting a bit fed up with us.

    Another good old fashioned monstering...a mean streak no less? Have you ever wondered if all this angst about "anglo-supremacy" might have a just a tiny bit to do with your sense of inferiority.

    In a small town just outside where I was born, the square contains a statue of General Wolfe. A famous soldier who, incidentally, fought at the Battle of Culloden where he conspicuously refused to obey an order to kill a wounded Highlander. But that aside...his fame lies in his brilliant coup de main against French forces outside Quebec, effectively ending French territorial ambitions in Eastern Canada but losing his own life in the process.

    The fact that a French Quebec journal is still displaying signs of a centuries spanning sulk over this and other events only goes to prove my point and stands little chance of throwing me off my stride.

    I look forward to reading more...and yet more of your "Franco-Scottish courtesy". In the meantime, I agree...this "we will never surrender" stuff can get a bit tedious, but so much more preferable to the alternative don't you think;-)

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  • 163. At 4:33pm on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #159 Anglophone

    Rrrr, you are going to have to get a slight row.

    I know where New Zealand is clever clogs ;-) Having a land border has b. all to do with it. It changes not any of the points I made. Things do not improve, until they become acceptable, the further towards a neighbour you go. How could they! The point is that Aus and NZ are two countries - Scotland and England are two countries. The British thing has been superimposed on them both.

    That NZ grumps about Aus is irrelevant. All neighbours grump about one another, in streets, in villages - in the world. It keeps them happy - what did you expect. As a reason to veer away from independence it's pretty poor. Has unnatural harmony got to reign before we go there? That's a utopian requirement you accuse nats of being sucked up in to.

    Same with your "...a grinding sense of underachievement, alienation and powerlessness. This is central to garnering support but it is a dangerous illusion that may come home to bite." Why?

    The Scottish economy is underachieving (yes, I have evidence), and is doing so because of being in the UK Union (it covers that).
    Alienation - well, when another identity supersedes your own...actually I'm not that alienated except that none of the other international gang are talking to me (Scotland).
    Powerlessness - for a start, we must rely on the Unionist parties to agree to support a referendum on independence!
    To be honest, I didn't know what the hell you meant there, so, perhaps you will elaborate?

    Actually, are you insinuating we will be so disappointed when, post independence, we still underachieve, are alienated and powerless? What a cheek on two levels (it's a bit snobby Anglophone??).

    1. you seem to think utopia waits for Scots who can only believe in independence
    2. the utopia isn't sought, the normal status of being able to do something about those things, instead of having our neighbour do it, is the whole bl**dy point.

    The that we're not doing so well stuff I can assure you is only mentioned to counter the lie that the Union benefits us, as there is so much s*dding propaganda to the contrary. It isn't (of course not) to prove we are on our way to sunny utopia afterwards.

    It's a bit insulting if you think I actually think that. And it's a bit sad if you have been brainwashed to believe the Union financially benefits Scotland. It's all efforts to keep us quiet. Westminster can seem more important on the world stage - there's your hubris, not Scots wanting mere normality.

    You don't seem to recognise the humiliation. Do I need my neighbour to come round to my house and, for example, when I want to phone somebody up, they do it for me? Or I am so crap with money I need my neighbour to work out how much I should need and take it out of the bank for me? It's an embarrassment and not worth selling my democratic say for, no matter how much spin and lies there is about Scotland needing subsidy - it's a joke.
    You would not Anglophone, accept it for England, or if you prefer Britain, if it were to be in a Union with a larger neighbour (Altantis surfaced next door and was much bigger than expected.)

    "Scots rightly have a very strong sense of national identity and it's hard to see that the current constitutional settlement suppresses this any way. If it got any more pronounced it could end up causing an entirely new set of problems."

    You've left the planet here ;-)
    How do you have any national say when 13% of the parliament represents Scotland, and the vast majority of that are Unionist so put Britain first over Scotland, where the two clash, and they have done, do and will, and no it can't all be worked out within Britain, in the British way. Therefore as part of my national identity I must accept I am constitutionally irrelevant - would you not be miffed.

    We have already proved ourselves worthy of deserving our democratic say to the satisfaction of The UN no less (I have this link too). Is it disdainful that you remind me though? Dismissive. We do not have to prove we will follow a different economic model or we won't. We could choose the exact same one as England, but the point is we would be administering it, not our neighbour. That we are a nation that should, if it wishes, have the right to do that, the UN has legitimised. Your quaint views on the matter don't matter (no offence).

    That there are many peoples, who are allegedly similar, who inhabit both sides of a national border and who, if asked for their nationality, would unequivocally say one for one side of the border and one for the other, does deem your argument rather irrelevant. "A nation is made up of those who feel they belong to it."

    Anglophone, we don't need to prove we are a nation deserving of democracy, like every other blooming one - of course we are. The Union must stand up to scrutiny as an unusual alternative to that, and it doesn't. We shouldn't accept it then, just because it's there, if it does not - what deal is that. Would you accept staying dirty just because you already are, when all around you others are taking a shower? The whole Union thing is invented nuttery, perverse insanity. No other country in the world I suspect would put up with it.

    I don't get your entirely new set of problems, unless you are alluding to the break up of the Union or the rise of dreaded English nationalism?

    However your own description of your identities was very telling. You differentiate the serious (British) from the frivolous (English). You've got it and explained it Anglophone. It is the same for Scots of course. You demonstrate my point that English and Scottish must possess less gravitas and less respect than British. You explain clearly why you and many wish to cling on to the Union, because without British you must be "frivolous". You need British for your self image, to feel bigger and better. That's my whole point. That's sad. (Empathetic.)

    What have I to worry about by "leading my people out of this pit of despair."? I cannot do that. Independence does not do that. It merely allows for that process to begin, so Scots themselves can do that. Scots know that. Now if you've already decided we couldn't do it....

    Impashioned by the way! ;-)

    This was a rushed response.

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  • 164. At 4:37pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    161 Franklypredicatable

    PS: Regarding the artwork in the foyer of the EU. I think that it was the whole of Great Britain that was hilariously displayed as not being there. It seems that you have fallen for the French misconception that the whole island is les Anglais which, if I may briefly adopt the character you have mapped out for me, shoots your fox old man!

    The same piece of art depicts France as being on strike and Bulgaria as a toilet. What a hilarious funster that artist must be. Sadly, this time I'm hampered by my English sense of humour and prefer my jokes to be funny.

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  • 165. At 5:11pm on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #158. Anglophone

    Anglophone, poor you, I didn't mean to make you apologise! I knew you must have meant it (mostly!) as a joke, but I could not help but allow myself a petulant strop, as is my want every now and then;-)
    (What would life be without them.)

    It's quite funny that I did. You didn't mean your joke to cut too far. But I've lived with a man who can do that, for seventeen years! (If you two ever meet and start winding each other up, it would be worth getting an audience ;-)

    Anyway, I've heard that line why you do the cooking before - I'd always be a great cook if I didn't feel I have to be :-)
    (It's actually all "your" fault!)

    Suit wearing is a bind I gather. Mr AW is a metallurgist, now managing at an integrity management (for the sub sea oil and gas industry) company. It's a good job, but he could have gone contract and earned another 50K a year, but we felt for the family it was a bit too unstable. Good move!

    I once did self-employed (only childminding) and found I could spend as much time making, amending and completing paperwork as looking after the children. (I'll have to google "Big Five"!)

    You must have just about owned Heathrow with your uranium membership! Mum's been jetsetting visiting Dad and Mr AW gads about somewhat too - they compare BA benefits to out-VIP one another.

    Your paper would make a very interesting read. I can happily check it! ;-)

    PS This was just Darien-free chit chat...

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  • 166. At 5:17pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    157 Aye-Write

    Glad to oblige in the spirit of fun and balance;-)

    You see, despite the Auld Alliance, the very Kings of England who periodically invaded Scotland before being sent homewards to think again (shouldn't there be another verse in which his son comes back a few years later and gets his own back?) were basically French speaking noblemen (Charing Cross in London was named by Edward Longshanks in memory of his late wife...it now being a corruption of the French "Chere Riene" or dear queen).

    As a result of the invasion by the militaristic Normans who displaced the altogether more balanced Anglo-Saxon society in 1066, introducing serfdom and all that, England and France were basically one country for a few hundred years. Wars between the two "countries" were essentially civil wars between the same competing set of aristocrats before genuinely separate national identities emerged. Now suppose that the Hundred Years War had gone the other way. How would France look today, to the horror of FranklyFrancophone.

    France would consume less alcohol, but what it did consume would take place in the street outside La Foxies at 3.00am before being hastily regurgitated into the gutter. Middle class French people would recoil in horror at such behaviour before drinking a bottle of wine in front of the TV. The French would be the worst lovers in the world using such chat up lines as “felicitations cheri…tu a tire” (I think?) and sex would be largely unmentionable except via an eloborate code of euphemisms “retournez-vous chez moi pour la café?” Many French teenagers lacking the necessary crisp packet or clingfilm at the critical moment would become pregnant.

    French society would be dominated by an ethos of not complaining in public but whining bitterly in private. Food in restaurants and elsewhere would be dominated by pale imitations of the dishes of surrounding European nations and perhaps further away, to include La SpagBol or the faintly exotic Poulet Tikka Massala. Seventy percent of Frenchmen would have a weight problem.

    France would have invented a whole series of global sports including le football, le cricket, le rugby, but would have pinched tennis from the English and changed the rules. In all of these sports the French would be consumed with a grinding sense of failure, borne out by a failure to excel at any, except for brief blip in 1966 when they would have won the World Cup thanks to a home draw and a Russian linesman. A sense of misplaced sporting superiority would make each event a torment…doing well would not be sufficient…failure to win would be taken as yet another sign if inexorable national decline.

    France would be connected by winding roads circumventing the ancient boundaries to fields held by those same barons who lost the 100 Years War. Areas would have names rather than numbers. Paris would be a global city, sucking the life out of the wider national economy. Parisiens would be more polite but would stare at the ceiling of the Metro to avoid eye-contact. Oil would be discovered in Brittany. Renault and Peugeot would have collapsed during the 1980s. Tricky constitutional issues would be placed in a box with a label stating “DO NOT OPEN FOR 300 YEARS”

    It’s almost worth a book. Now let’s not talk about this anymore.

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  • 167. At 5:30pm on 26 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    163 Ay-Write

    "The whole Union thing is invented nuttery, perverse insanity. No other country in the world I suspect would put up with it."

    Most modern nations in the world, if not the creations of European colonial powers are de-facto unions. In most cases they have been created by larger entities simply swallowing up smaller entities never to be seen again. I would say that Scotland's position in the Union is separate, clearly identifiable and unchallenged. You are trying to portray yourself as McTibet. It doesn't really hold water...no offence!

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  • 168. At 5:49pm on 26 Mar 2009, frankly_francophone wrote:

    #162 Anglochap

    "I suspect that fellow users of this blog might be getting a bit fed up with us."

    Agreed. I have no inclination to be engaged in an endless dialogue with you, with respect. We should agree to bury the hatchet, I suppose, if only we could agree on a suitable place to bury it.

    I wondered when you would resort to the "sense of inferiority" tactic that is so frequently deployed against independentist Scots and indeed other Scots, but only by anglo-unionists, so far as I am aware. It won't work, old chap, as I know England too well and France better and am exceedingly comfortable in my franco-Scottish skin. To cut a long story short, the anglo-way does not bother me. I simply do not relate to it.

    The fact that the anglo-way is not the only way and that rational consideration of relevant aspects of alternatives to it (from the French way, for instance), where and when appropriate, for the sake of facilitating analysis of Scottish affairs, should not trouble an anglo-chap, one might reasonably conjecture, if it appeared that he was confident that the anglo-way can withstand such comparative scrutiny without running the risk of proving to be not necessarily in all respects in all cases the best way forward.

    Of course, the problem for anglo-chaps in the face of such presumptuous impertinence within what they take to be their own back yard has nothing to do with the essential character of the French way or any other way and has indeed nothing to do with anyone alluding to it. It is the fact that Scotland needs, from an anglo-unionist perspective, to be persuaded, or rather badgered into accepting, that the anglo-way is the only way that sensible chaps should take seriously so that the claimed wisdom of adhering to it within the anglo-union may not be credibly challenged. Ergo, chaps who seem not entirely persuaded of the supreme wisdom of the anglo-way are dealt with in the manner which has been demonstrated.

    Well, that is understandable if not wholly admirable. Still, I doubt whether I can continue to exercise my right to freedom of expression without doing so from a franco-Scottish perspective, and so I shall continue in my usual vein, if the BBC does not mind too much.

    In case you haven't noticed, by the way, the caravan has moved on, old boy. Don't forget to turn the light out in here when you leave, if you ever do.

    #164 I picked up no sense of 'sulking' in the Quebec webspace article that I referred to. As for the europarliamentary artwork, I confess that I knew precisely what it represented so far as the element of it that I commented on is concerned, but UK Scotland is tarred with the same brush as England, I am afraid, having no substantial international profile of its own. My fox is fine, thanks. How's yours? No, don't answer. Let's take that as read out of consideration for other posters. Have a pleasant evening in your no doubt charming corner of England's green and pleasant land.

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  • 169. At 5:58pm on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #166 Anglophone

    . LAUGH OUT LOUD! :-)

    . Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious!
    . Absolutely, stunningly hilarious :-)

    (And not because of who it parodied, I add hastily.)

    Thank you!

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  • 170. At 6:39pm on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #166 Anglophone

    Anglophone! You made a glorious glaring error! Allow me to point it out for you :-)

    You mention all the preamble...fine......you pop almost right up to date....OK...then you slip in "Oil is discovered in Brittany".

    Anglophone! That's in France! (i.e England). I don't recall you mentioning in your sparkling spoof anything of the Treaty of Union?

    Interesting, "Scotland" doesn't exist in your story but oil does....?

    And England means Britain means England means Britain....

    Therefore thank you for highlighting that I don't exist....

    I'm only teasing, but I suppose I have a great big Nationalist chip on my shoulder? Actually, it doesn't make me feel very significant, just swallowed up by England....

    Swap places, what say you.....?

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  • 171. At 7:01pm on 26 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #167. Anglophone

    Rubbish Anglophone. (No offence!)

    Historical amalgamations aren't the same are they if they become one nation/country. Britain is a construct of four nations, one of which holds all the power. Stop picking and choosing daft historical similes ;-) Why prove Scotland isn't a nation that is like every other bar sovereignty? It is. Why do you seek to deny or counter it? What satisfaction is there in it for you?

    I don't know why you ridicule.
    (I was a bit hard with my description of Britain but it wasn't to insult you. Were you in fact insulted? If so, I apologise. I'll be less over the top, I know you are allergic to it.)

    I'm not a vegetarian - you can take the pi$$.
    I'm not a hippy - you can take the pi$$.
    I'm not a flat earther - you can take the pi$$.
    I'm not an anglo-supremacist - you can take the pi$$!

    What is it about Scotland not seeking got be in a dominated Union that is ridiculous to you?

    We haven't fallen out, I just want to ask.... I assume you know.

    PS "I would say that Scotland's position in the Union is separate, clearly identifiable and unchallenged."

    Yes, it's clearly politically, economically and internationally mute. How swell to have that nicely defined.

    It's a dogs dinner of a halfway house. Perhaps better to have been swallowed up.
    A de facto Union is one without defined rights? Scotland is in a pretend non de facto one then - our rights are seen, but the imbalance of power as would have been remains. How sh!t.

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  • 172. At 8:53pm on 26 Mar 2009, northhighlander wrote:

    re 160

    I would agree with most of what you say.

    It must however be possible to measure the effect of pre school education which is expensive and I doubt does all that much good.

    The first kids to have universal provision of this service are now leaving school. it must be possible to ascertain what affect if any this has had.

    I do however agree with your point, there are no simple measures. I also agree that Education would benefit from a clear vision.

    One intersting point, though. Given that the SNP and Labour are so close on many of the issues, lets face it the class size pledge was mainly done to differentiate the SNP from labour for perfectly understandnable political reasons. It should be perfectly possible for the two main parties to agree a way forward for Health and education, agree a funding package and take the silly politics out of these important areas. Surely there would still be enough political areas to fight about.

    Imagine what could be achieved if we had a clear medium and long term vision.

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  • 173. At 00:32am on 27 Mar 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #172 northhighlander

    There is evidence for the "Early Start" programme, which suggests that the additional spend makes a difference and more deprived kids get off to a better start, but as children progress through schools, the advantages from that early investment tail off. One supposition is that societal pressures from the community increasingly disassociate these kids from learning - no real evidence, however.

    On the issue of (pretty stupid) inter-party squabbling. You have probably noticed Brownedov's occasional comments on the Swiss system. There's a poster on Mark Mardell's blog posting similar ideas on Direct Democracy which I'm finding both interesting and challenging.

    I think you might like his ideas. They simultaneously support localised democracy, less corrupt politics, and a democracy that doesn't involve tyranny by the parties. You might want to check it out.

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  • 174. At 08:26am on 27 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #172. northhighlander

    Nh, you would get a very big row from my sister (head of BookStart in Scotland). She's been on the telly telling of the proven benefits of reading to very young babies etc. etc. These children are ahead of their peers at key developmental stages (I forget the actual language she used, but you get the jist.)

    Having had involvement in pre-school groups, the range of activities, dedication of staff and most of all, seeing how much the children 'lap it all up' makes me think perhaps it out ranks primary in its valueableness (!). Not to knock primary, but it seems to have been reformed so that it's stripped too much of the enjoyment away from learning, with relenting pressure of all that homework and marching along with the class and not at the child's ability level, that I've seen anyway...

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  • 175. At 08:30am on 27 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #173 oldnat

    Thanks for reminder that I'm not alone in thinking that Switzerland's system works rather more fairly than most. I hadn't been following the Mardell threads closely of late, but agree that democracythreat usually makes a lot of sense. I particularly recommend reading his #94 re 'Fred the Shred' on Mardell's Who's running the EU? thread.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 176. At 09:45am on 27 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #159 Anglophone

    "Whilst your position is an honourable one..."

    Thank you, I know you could mercilessly "rib me to shreds"...

    (I shouldn't have been so gruff in my replies yesterday! I had the less serious ones all worked out, but, you know, when you can crusade...you get those days... ;-)

    You are exceedingly funny, frustratingly elusive and inescapably likeable regardless. There's quite a chance you won't read this even. Then there's your reluctance to quite believe what I'm saying. I blame your Britishness of course! Is Scotland wanting to leave (the relationship) for a Brit like hearing they're no good at sex/have a small one? (We still love you, but we just want to be "friends".... ;-)

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  • 177. At 11:22am on 27 Mar 2009, Anglophone wrote:

    176 Aye-Write

    I thought that the reason that Scotland wanted to leave the Union was precisely because ours is bigger than yours;-) Nothing may be worn under the kilt but a sense of Presbyterian guilt works just as well at wilting the old "national pride"

    An independent Scotland would have to find someone or something new to hate...although based on the obsessions of the Braveheart types there should be a good few hundred years of unreasoning visceral dread still to tap into. Let's hope that you don't end up hating the EU when they interfere with your oil industry or carve up what's left of your fishing.

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  • 178. At 12:57pm on 27 Mar 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #177 Anglophone

    "An independent Scotland would have to find someone or something new to hate"

    What a sad thing to say something like that as your parting words.

    Stereotyping doesn't suit you nearly as well as humour.

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  • 179. At 1:08pm on 27 Mar 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #177 Anglophone

    Why do continually insist wanting self-governance has anything to do with hate? My what an ego, you're not all that...!! (I'm too lazy to hate, for much more than maybe half an hour or so...)
    And if it was true I would've hated you from the start.... remember I don't.

    That's all I've left you with to counter independence. It's a wee bit pathetic Anglophone ;-)
    On Europe we needn't join the EU, EEA etc. might serve better. No doubt you know about that, but you're more interested in painting me as some foolish, hate-filled emotionally challenged Scotocripple! And you imagine some on here do not afford you enough respect. Well.

    Hilarious you're so happy with the UK but less so with the EU - blind, blunt hypocrisy I'm afraid. The fishing was wrecked BECAUSE we were in the UK (and possibly the EU, we can't know as we were relying on the UK to fight our corner - another joke!)

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  • 180. At 4:58pm on 30 Mar 2009, bluelaw wrote:

    I think some of the remarks made by Anglophone were humourous. Some however were off the mark and I applaud F-F for his moderation when responding to what was said.

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