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Ruth Kelly

Eddie Mair | 17:14 UK time, Monday, 8 January 2007

Your thoughts?


  1. At 05:24 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    With one very important caveat I support her right to have her child educated how she feels best.

    The important caveat is that, as a senior cabinet minister with recent responsibility for education, she should give a detailed explanation of why the state provision would not meet her child's specific needs and what changes would be neccessary to ensure any other child with similar needs WOULD get those needs met within state provision.

    Sadly over the years politicians have voted themselves outside of regular life by pay rises and pension provisions - those unable to afford private education should be assured that this "gap" in education provision is being actively addressed and rectified promptly.

  2. At 05:28 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Mrs Osborne wrote:

    How MPs choose to educate their children is none of our business. This is an example of the media shamelessly trying to manufacture a story out of thin air. She is a parent trying to do the best thing by her child, and I think the media should leave her alone.

  3. At 05:28 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I have first hand experience of Hackney and Tower Hamlets provision for children with additional needs, and both boroughs may offer a great deal, but I would be very surprised if either could meet the needs of a child with complex learning difficulties.

    Most parents of children with additional needs have to fight their local authority as far as the court room to obtain funding for schools outside the state sector, I have not yet seen a local authority who will accept the arguments until they reach a court, and they always take it as far as a court. My cynical thought is that this is in the hope that parents will cave in through stress or run out of money.

    This MP is lucky that she doesn't have to trouble Tower Hamlets, because it is extraordinarily stressful, and they should be grateful that she is saving them the court costs. While they procrastinate, the fees needed to pay the lawyers and educational psychologists all have to be met by the parents, which is self selecting in terms of parents who have the resources, both financially and mentally.

    It is already stressful to have a child with special needs, and to find a school where they will thrive, as well as the logistics of transport for a school which is often some distance away.

    I wish there was more available for everyone, but in the meantime, it is time we were more realistic about the services local authorities can provide, and to improve the state sector for everyone, but to stop punishing those who have the wherewithal to provide for their children what the state just isn't.

  4. At 05:30 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I don't think anyone could blame a parent for wanting the best for their child - It's what good parenting is partly about.

    I'm not a fan of Ms. Kelly, but on this point I cannot disagree with what she is doing. I do, of course, understand the points made by others in Tower Hamlets who would like similar opportunities for their children, but I don't think she should sacrifice the wellbeing of her child on that account.

  5. At 05:30 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Mike Sweeney wrote:

    Ruth Kelly had, apparently, independant advice on the needs of her child. I believe independant advice indicated that Pinochet had dementia, millionaires were entitled to legal aid, Italian politicians are too ill to appear in court and Britain was right to go to war in Iraq! It seems wealth and/or influence can get always get convenient advice.

    A cynic

  6. At 05:31 PM on 08 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Ruth Kelly should have the choice.

    If she has been advised that it's in the interest of her child and she is prepared to pay Fifteen thousand a year then good on her!

  7. At 05:33 PM on 08 Jan 2007, KateH wrote:

    Ruth Kelly's statement that she is just doing what is best for her child has revealled the (obvious) flaw in labour's policy of trying to standardise all our schools. If private education is best for Ruth Kelly's child's dislexia, surely there is a need for schools for children of all abilities for those parents who don't have the option of sending their children to private schools. Every parent will to do the best they can for their child, we can't criticise Ruth Kelly for doing so. Labour should acknowledge this but also provide more options for those who can't afford private education - a wider variety of schools, grammar, "special" and otherwise, so that having a choice isn't just the domain of the rich.

  8. At 05:34 PM on 08 Jan 2007, David Reece wrote:

    If, for not only the interests of the child, but for the whole family, the main requirement was for boarding facilities, then, with virtually no State funded primary boarding education in the country, I can understand why Ms Kelly was forced to go private.

  9. At 05:36 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Jenny Okore wrote:

    Ruth Kelly's hypocracy lies not in her choice of a change of school (who knows whether the child will do better or worse after the move anyway) but in her and her government's failure to acknowledge that inadequate funding and piecemeal policies leave many parents in a similar situation. Some mainstream classes now have up to half the children on the Special Needs Register with classteachers expected to plan for a huge range of ability and complexity of need. Most do an unbelievably good job. LEAs and schools are cash starved and need a far higher level of provision (such as extra Teaching Assistants) to make the system work. Able children usually cope well and achieve expected levels.For some, like my own son, whilst we can afford to finance war in Iraq we cannot provide sufficient resources to adequately educate our children with additional needs. And as for returning to the 'comprehensive' system, with the emergence of 'academies' with their own selection procedures, I don't think there is one.

    J. Okore
    Mainstream teacher/Special Needs Coordinator/parent

  10. At 05:42 PM on 08 Jan 2007, pam roberts wrote:

    If articulate, middle class parents (with so-called principles?) leave the state system then who remains to defend those trapped who might not be able to argue for a more decent schooling for everyone?

  11. At 05:46 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I agree with that though Jason;
    What a great opportunity to identify and improve provision for children with additional needs, a phrase I prefer because there is little special about the fight parents have on their hands (even to get their children statemented) and all children are special regardless of their needs.

  12. At 05:46 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Thank goodness she put her child before her Party Politics. For all we know, her child may have a rare,highly-specific disorder which couldn't be adequately catered for in her local state school. The private school may be a centre of excellence covering a large catchment area but serving only a relatively small number of children. It has been suggested that the local Authority could have paid for the child to attend this school, which is probably more economical than setting up its own resources in order to meet the needs of such children, especially when the provision is already there. The question should be: is this provision open to all who need it wherever they live, and if it is will all Local Authorites fund their ''own'' children to attend? The issue of Post-code Lotteries is of more significance to me than a mother who avails herself of any provision which will best help her child.

  13. At 05:54 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Her other children are at State schools.
    As soon as this child has had a chance to catch up, it's off to join them at State school.

    To me, that demonstrates confidence in the State system, with a realistic appreciation that it's not perfect.

    (Believe me, it's not my style to stand up for politicians of any flavour!!)


  14. At 05:55 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Anne Kangley wrote:

    As a teacher I have opted to send my child to an excellent local catholic school as opposed to the very good non-catholic secondary I teach at-I am in effect saying a lot about my place of employment, but feel I reserve the right to decide what is the best for my child- Ruth Kelly should have the same freedom to choose.

  15. At 06:05 PM on 08 Jan 2007, G Martin wrote:

    Interesting to listen to the parent tonight talking about the fight she had with an LEA to get her child into an independent special school for autism.
    It is worth mentioning that unlike Ruth Kelly's reported £15000 per year some of these independent residential special schools charge £3000 per week, i.e. £150000 per year which perhaps explains LEA's atitudes. A few children like this means that millions of pounds are removed from the overall education budget

  16. At 06:13 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Young(ish)Phil wrote:

    I dislike The Labour Party in general, and Ruth Kelly in particular.

    However, any argument of hypocrisy must be negated by a parent's natural instinct to do what is best for their child. Surely Ruth Kelly can hold strong principles but make a pragmatic decision that meets her son's needs?

    More alarming is the frenzied media intrusion into a private family matter. Imagine, if concerned about such intrusion, a politician made a decision contrary to their child's best interests?

    I believe Ruth Kelly did what any right-minded person would.

  17. At 06:14 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Mavis Davies wrote:

    The media yet again is out of control on this issue. If Ruth Kelly had chosen to use the education system she would then have been accused of using the tax payer's money needlessly when she could pay for private tuition. By securing private education for her child she is leaving a vacancy for those with less funds. Well done Ruth Kelly. This is obviously a "Catch 22" situation.

  18. At 06:16 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Jonathan Holloway wrote:

    I do not support Ruth Kelly in her decision to take her child out of the state sector. What has gone wrong with ten years of New Labour government that means Tower Hamlet's educational provision isn't good enough for Ruth Kelly's boy? Much is being made of his 'substantial disability', but we don't know what it is. Is he dyslexic or does he have severe learning difficulties, or what? It's like Tony Blair and the MMR fuss, and his refusal to reveal whether or not his baby boy was given it. If these people have nothing to hide, why are they so silent? There's no getting around it - one of the main reasons people put their children through private schools is that they want to keep them away from our children. This government was elected on the expectation it would preside over the decline of private education. The only way to ensure improvement is to offer middle-class parents no choice. The government's failure to address this issue of issues shows how decadent they are.

  19. At 06:20 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    This is a thorny issue, with points on both sides, I think. It's a little difficult for me (a single man with no children) to understand what parents of those with special needs go through. That said, I think it is right for Ruth Kelly to put her childs' needs first. Of that, I don't think there can be any doubt. What it does make me question is whether the current governments' policy of inclusion is the best way for those with special needs to be taught. Whilst it's not clear the exact situation of the Kellys, I do think that inclusion for those with special needs is a very good idea, there are cases where it is not pratical or in the best interest of the child. There should be a credible alternative in those cases. I think this is a case where it should not be up to each individual LEA to provide this, as it leads to the inevitable Postcode lottery. Rather, the national government needs to set up a national network of special needs establishments that cover a number of LEA catchment areas. Then, cases like this can still be accomodated...

  20. At 06:36 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    FFred (16): I have connections with an "enhanced resource" school that is a kind of halfway house between full inclusion and seperated teaching. For some (probably most) of the children it is fantastic. For some they are not getting their needs adequately met imvho. For yet others (especially those with very challenging behaviour) it is, again imvho, unfair on other children who's lessons repeatedly get disrupted by the same things day in, day out.

    I feel that "Inclusion" was a very good idea used as an excuse to run down provision for those children that it does not work for. Much like "Care in the Community" was used as a way of cutting mental health budgets.

  21. At 06:54 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Jenny Okore has brought up a point upon which I'd also like to comment.

    It is extremely difficult, in a mainstream class, to provide for a large number of pupils with special, and varying, needs. In my last teaching post I found myself teaching a class of 32, with no assistance whatsoever, the class containing within it 12 children who had been statemented and the vast majority of the balance having behavioural problems. The school, a church school and therefore having a degree of additional autonomy, did not meet its requirements on the SEN front and the statemented children were only receiving support in English and Maths. This left me, as a languages teacher, with an enormous problem.

    I do not say that this was the worst experience of my teaching career, but it was a situation that quite simply should not have arisen. My regret is that these 32 children were unable to gain as much benefit as I would have wished from their classes with me, although I devised ways in which to engage them in the learning process which were, overall, successful.

    I taught that class for two years. It was exhausting and very, very challenging, but the children became very dear to me as, once their confidence in me was won, they tried their very best. And every bit of progress they made felt like a gold medal for both them and me.

  22. At 06:54 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Andrzej wrote:

    Just wanted to say that I thought that the PM reporting of this story was informative and well balanced. Keep digging.

  23. At 06:55 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    After reading the whole thread so far, I find Jason said it all, and succinctly besides. Thanks also, Helen, for your direct experience and felt comments,

    Monday January 08, 2007 at 18:59:04 GMT

  24. At 07:05 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Belinda wrote:

    We are lucky enough to live in a country which has the choice of private and state education, and it absolutely Ruth Kelly's right to give her son the education which suits him best - just like thousands of other parents have done.

    To say that private education is a betrayal of the Labour Party seems to me to be a trifle laughable, given that Labour have done very little over the past 10 years which have adhered to their former principles. I would much rather a politician put their family above their job any day - again, like so many other parents have done. That she is saving the LEA of Tower Hamlets money and freeing up a space for a special-needs child whose parents cannot afford private education can only be a good thing in my view.

  25. At 07:16 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    And Sis, you made me cry.

  26. At 07:30 PM on 08 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    I have a huge amount of sympathy for Ruth Kelly wanting the best for her child. What I do think is ironic though is the fact that the State couldn't provide the education. Why not? It's her government's fault if the state cannot and her choice is an indictment over the goverment and over the department she has been connected with.

    My brother had special education funded by the State some 30 or so years ago. It wasn't ideal, he had to board out and at special schools, but he had a better education than I did at a grammar school and was very happy (apart from being away from home during term times). He finally came back to the mainstream for his A levels where his education sufferred because there wasn't the provision for meeting his needs.

    I don't blame her for sending her child to the school of her choice, but I do blame her and her colleague for having to.


  27. At 07:51 PM on 08 Jan 2007, lynn hatcher wrote:

    I teach in a local comp. We simply cannot cope with the number of "included" children. It's just not possible to cater for special needs in mainstream education - especially those who have behavioural difficulties. It is simply unfair on all of the other students in a class. If the majority of parents of the children without special neds could see how their children's education is affected they would be horrified!

  28. At 08:55 PM on 08 Jan 2007, panspodel wrote:

    Good for her.

  29. At 09:02 PM on 08 Jan 2007, David Jones wrote:

    I live in San Francisco and would like to send my daughter to a state school. However it is way too much of a lottery in the city with some state schools being good and totally overscribed while others being let's say not the best. My wife and I have the resources to send her to private school so regardless of what my principles might be that is where she will go.

    As for the state providing the money? Well like the NHS there is not an endless pot of money so sadly things have to be balanced. Perhaps more money could be provided for special education by maybe stopping lung cancer treatment on the NHS?

  30. At 09:14 PM on 08 Jan 2007, David Jones wrote:

    opps I mean "stopping lung cancer treatment on the NHS for people who refuse to quit smoking".

  31. At 09:46 PM on 08 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: (30) David Jones, or never smoked at all, like for example, Roy Castle.

    Re: (1) Jason. Yes an explanation of why the education system cannot provide the special needs education would be welcome from Ruth.

    Perhaps Patricia Hewitt may also like to explain to my Auntie, why The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) has ruled that the bone cancer drug Velcade should not be offered for National Health Service patients ? although it has been approved in Scotland since 1994.

  32. At 09:52 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Inclusion is an issue, both for children with additional needs, & those who don't but who share a classroom with them. It should never be a blanket policy, which just lets the government of the hook for providing appropriate educational settings for all, and should always be a decision based on the needs of the individual. That is after all what all these choices are all about isn't it?!

    Big Sister, I am so glad those children had you.

  33. At 09:59 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Molly wrote:

    I can understand how Ruth Kelly wants to ensure the smoothest passage in the education of her son-all credit to her for that. However,she must realise that her actions can only confuse and alienate those parents who have been assured that Government policies are working.
    Her actions,and those of other members of the government who have no faith in the State schools,speak far louder than any words.
    Thank goodness that my own children have now left school.Both have done extremely well in spite of the inclusion policies which so often make teaching and learning so difficult
    No-one should use their chid as a political 'battering ram' of course.
    you have to make that decision before you take on the job......

  34. At 10:11 PM on 08 Jan 2007, madmary wrote:

    I've had further thoughts. It's heartwarming that Ruth Kelly can affort 30K for two years of private education for her son. Many people in Tower Hamlets couldn't afford a fraction of that money to get their child with special needs that sort of education. So whilst people think it's for her to decide where her childs needs are best met, give some thought to those who don't have a choice. Then we need to ask why they don't have that choice, and whether this government thinks they should.


  35. At 10:26 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Twinkletoes wrote:

    Just how 'substantial' are this child's special needs if going to a special school for a couple of years can sort them out?

  36. At 10:33 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    My mother taught at a Secondary Modern school that had the lowest ability kids in a separate class. The kids that had passed the 11+ had already been separated out and were also, probably split in to levels of abilty at Grammar school. The rest were sent to the seconadry modern and from age 11 were assumed that they would never acheive great things academically.
    I was a Comprehsive taught child and again we were split into different abilities.

    Now as a parent I want the best for my Children and if they need special needs I will fight for that to be provided in the local schools but also realise that the chances are that if I want the best I will have to try and fund Private School or private tuition.
    I also think that the education problem would be there what ever party was in power as well as the Health Problem.

  37. At 11:00 PM on 08 Jan 2007, bev wrote:

    Wouldn't we all like to provide our children with an education that we think, is the best for them? Isn't that the whole point?
    But do the majority of the people that Ruth Kelly represents have £15,000 to spend ?Of course not. It sickens me that as the Secretary for Education, she acknowledges that the system is failing her son, but expects it to be perfectly adequate for those that she represents. What a hypocrite!

    As a Primary School Teacher, I have many pupils that not only have 'special needs' but unfortunately no provision within mainstream schooling that can accomodate them. Inclusion is a joke! They may attend mainstream school but they are isolated and alienated from a curriculum that only serves the majority.

  38. At 11:03 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Jill Davies wrote:

    I understand Ruth Kelly's decision - who would not want to do the very best they could for their child? Nevertheless, how lucky she was to be able to sidestep the lengthy and traumatic process that many parents have to go through to get their child's Special Educational Needs similarly met. She will never have to know the frustration of trying to convince the LEA to take her child's needs seriously and order an assessment; the expense of obtaining independent professional advice in support of this; the difficulty of getting the right provision written into the statement; the despair of having her choice of school refused. Not to mention the fear, stress, money and work involved in appealing to the SEN Tribunal, sometimes more than once, at any stage of the process. For most parents unable to buy a better education when the state system fails them, doing the right thing for their child is only achieved at great emotional cost.

  39. At 11:04 PM on 08 Jan 2007, paul m cooke wrote:


    what a con

    came back to this

    comment gone


    will stop paying licence fee


  40. At 11:25 PM on 08 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    I do of course agree mary, & while I think it is ok for her to decide where her childs needs are best met, it is not at all ok for those don't have a choice. Did New Labour mean ditching the ALL the social justice? Oh it was just busy giving choices to those who can already choose...

    I am currently feeling heartbroken for all those in Tower Hamlets who would like their child's needs met but don't have the funds, or the mental resiliance to withstand the battle they might need to undertake to take on their local authority.

    I just hope that this highlights the issue.

  41. At 11:40 PM on 08 Jan 2007, ian wrote:

    1. Isn't Ruth Kelly supposed to be the MP for Bolton, not Tower Hamlets?

    2. It's all very well her "doing the best for her son", but when the lack of provision in the state system for those of us don't earn 15 grand, let alone can spare it for education, is because of her own actions, then she shouldn't be allowed to escape the consequences.

    Although why anyone assumes that anyone who believes in the Opus Dei regime of self abuse is at all sane is another question altogether.

  42. At 12:02 AM on 09 Jan 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: (39) paul m cooke

    Well according to these files:


    400,000 were caught last year!

    But did you see how much a licence detector van costs !?

  43. At 01:14 AM on 09 Jan 2007, Broderick Anglaise wrote:

    Mavis Davies (17)

    If Ruth Kelly had chosen to use the education system she would then have been accused of using the tax payer's money

    I'm sure you're right (apart from the arguable use of the apostrophe).
    It's another case of the devil finding work for idle ... minds.

    My compliments to your parents for your splendid name, or to you for your choice of husband-type thing; assuming it's your real name, like what mine is.

  44. At 09:33 AM on 09 Jan 2007, vyle hernia wrote:

    Good - Jason's and others' comments.

    Also good to see many "New" contributors.

    Bad - excessive amount of time allocated to this topic in evening news bulletins. 5 minutes would have been more than enough, allowing coverage of some real news. Or perhaps there wasn't any.

    Fair - Eddie's interview last night with Respect councillor. I thought the councillor had some good points but appeared to be reading from a script, resulting in poor communication and having to be switched off.

    Jonnie (42)

    TV Licence Detector Vans? Technology is getting clever!

  45. At 09:48 AM on 09 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:


    While rolling back through postings (in an endeavour to find the thread where the Fifi discussion began - and, btw, do you know where it is, 'cos I couldn't find it ...)
    I came across your request for tips to keep alien cats from leaving unwanted presents in gardens.

    You said you'd let us know if any of the suggestions worked. Did they?

    BTW, not sure if this was suggested before, but as it's this time of the year I'll point (!) out that holly leaves scattered over garden beds are a very effective deterrent, and are more effective the older they get. Unlike us humans.

  46. At 10:45 AM on 09 Jan 2007, Member of the Public wrote:

    Good day Mr Mair,

    Ms Kelly is not the first Labour politician – and nor is she likely to be the last – to face accusations of hypocrisy over the schooling of their children.

    The vexed issue of private schooling remains one of the last great taboos within the Labour movement, especially when the individual concerned is the most recent Education Secretary.

    Yet, while its perhaps entirely proper for Ms Kelly to request that her family's privacy is respected, I think many disturbing issues are raised by her decision to send her son to a £15,000-a-year private boarding school that specialises in special needs education.

    It must be remembered that we are informed that it was Ms Kelly who presided over the closure of many special needs schools, arguing that the needs of pupils with learning difficulties could be best served in mainstream state system.

    I think its also risible for Ruth Kelly to suggest that this decision was taken with the support of her family's local education authority. For there are thousands of young people with dyslexia, the very condition to afflict Ms Kelly's child, who are being taught in the state sector without the one-to-one tuition, and other attention, that is available in private schools.

    Ms Kelly's decision, therefore, does not send out a message of confidence to the parents of dyslexic children who are at the mercy of the comprehensive system, those who simply cannot afford private education or those long-suffering teachers left to pick up the pieces of the Government's muddled thinking.

    As such, I think this is another breathtaking example of New Labour's "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. It's sad.

  47. At 10:49 AM on 09 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    I dislike Labour and am jealous that Ms. Kelly has a voice two octaves lower than mine... but she has done thr right thing.

    Fifi (13) as always is right on the money. Kelly's other three are all attending state schools. She might well be entitled to have her LEA pay for the costs of this special schooling by right. The fact that she has chosen to fund it herself is saving her LEA a lot of money, which can be spent on another child instead.

    John Holloway (18);
    You're wrong, wrong, wrong. If the state sector was giving every single child the most amazing education, tailored right down to their needs and enabling them to realise their full potential, then I'd agree with you. And there would be no need for a private sector in education.

    Take-up of private education has expanded at a rapid rate in the last few years, oddly enough it coincides to about the time that 'New' Labour were first elected.

    My two (girls aged 10 and 7) live with their Mum, down in Cornwall. I haven't seen them for nearly a year, through a messy divorce. Despite that I'm voluntarily paying for them to attend a small private school. It isn't Millfield or Eton, but the quality of the education, the exam results and the pastoral care are of the highest quality. I know the Head as a personal friend. His standards are of the highest order, and he expects that same standard from all his staff and pupils. And he gets it.

    The local primaries and secondaries down there are hopelessly inadequate and languishing in the lower half of the local LEA's league tables in pretty much every respect. Parents I know who send there kids to them wish they didn't have to. I'm NOT sending them there to "keep them away from your kids". The idea is repugnant and you ought to be ashamed of it. I'm doing it for their futures, to give them the best education that I can possibly afford.

    This government was elected not on the sole manifesto of destroying private schooling, but on a broad range of new ideas. Take away the choice and those who want something better will leave the country to find it. And the country will be reduced to the lowest common denominator. And I cannot see what's decadent about failing to force private schools to close down. This is the old rhetoric about the class struggle writ large. Only that battle was lost when the USSR imploded and Eastern Europe embraced liberal democracy.

    BigSis (21);
    12 out of 32 were 'statemented' (and how about that word for an example of the jargonisation of the English language)! Is every class like this? Does no-one think to question why it is that such an enormous proportion of children seem to have problems?


  48. At 12:40 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Otter wrote:

    Considering that we do not know, nor should we know, the details of the childs difficulties or the advice given to Ruth Kelly, I think we shouldn't judge her on the personnel decisions she makes regarding her children.

    The debate relating to whether state education is failing children with learning difficulties in general, is still a worthwhile one to have however.

  49. At 12:58 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Otter wrote:

    oops, meant 'personal' not 'personnel' in my last post (48). Need more coffee!

  50. At 01:07 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I'm sure you know my tongue was well-cheeked on the matter of subsets, and it's also with a wry smile that I recall how broke you are - parents in France, kids in private education, etc. Let's face it - we're all twenty percenters. We should all be pretty thankful we aren't REALLY poor.

    A note from my mentor on modern education.


    "If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, keeping all the existing human ratios the same, there would be: 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south, 8 Africans, 52 would be female, 48 would be male, 70 would be non-white, 30 would be white, 70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian, 80 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be unable to read, 50 would suffer from malnutrition, 1 would be near death, 1 would be near birth, 1 (yes, only 1) would be a university graduate, 1 would own a computer. 6 people (all from the USA) would posses 59% of the world's wealth. These six would be in control of the village."
  51. At 01:33 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    MOP (46): Dyslexia does, however, cover a very broad spectrum of difficulty. Without knowing more about Ms Kelly's child's problems, can we truly comment on this accurately?

    The website below puts it succinctly:

    "Dyslexia varies in severity and often occurs alongside other specific learning difficulties, such as Dyspraxia or Attention Deficit Disorder, resulting in variation in the degree and nature of individuals’ strengths and weaknesses."


    Any teacher who has dealt with dyslexia would fully endorse this.

  52. At 01:39 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:


    No, it was an extreme case, and I would think pretty rare. Most schools couldn't get away with it, but this was a Catholic school in the state system. These schools appear to be much more able to set their own terms.

    I'd like to add, though, that I'm not trying to make a point about faith schools. However, I was pretty horrified at the lack of accountability in the school where I taught. It was, by modern standards, a fairly small school (Roll c.800) which did set constraints upon setting, etc.

    I totally agree with you about jargon. However, that is the term used in the educational world.

  53. At 02:31 PM on 09 Jan 2007, hippie wrote:

    I'm no fan of private education, but I think what Ruth Kelly has done reflects more on the government's education policies than anything else.

    It is a damning indictment of her own party, and her own previous position, that kids in her area with learning disabilities apparently can't get decent education as a right not a privilege.

  54. At 02:43 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (50);
    You just crossed the line.

    My parents bought in France back in 1992, because they came close to bankruptcy, lost their home and couldn't afford a house in this country. Over there they got a large 4-bedroomed ex-farmhouse, fully renovated and furnished on 2 acres of land for the equivalent of £40k at 1992 prices. And even then I had to give them a sum to help them close the deal. They still live and work over here, in tied accomodation. Both hit 65 last year and continue to work, because they have no savings or private pensions, etc.

    One-third of my gross disposable income goes on those school fees, and it is not a world-renowned top-flight place, as noted previously. Just a small local school, mostly farmers sons and daughters. The education of my children occupies first place in my own little world. As it obviously does for Ruth Kelly.

    Since you wish to accuse me of hypocrisy regarding my income a little corrective information is in order. I actually have around £300 a month to live on, once I've paid for the school, the child maintenance and debt repayment. That's around $7k a year, well below your $20k limit. And for this I work a forty hour week and spend another fifteen hours driving. And I am trying to build a photography business on top of that, so I can get out of I.T.

    Out of that £300 I give some to SO, to pay my share of the household outgoings and towards the food bill. Add that onto the usual clothes, blah, blah, blah and there is nothing left. I struggle most months to make ends meet. I don't buy personal luxuries. If I have anything left over I buy her some flowers to brighten her life a little. But somehow I manage. And I still place my childrens education at the top of my list.

    Believe me, on financial grounds I'd rather they went to state school. But the standards of education there are so poor that I'd go a long way to avoid that.

    I live in Stockport, but work in Surrey, because jobs in I.T. are hard to come by these days in Britain and I have to take work where it's available. I'm hypermobile from necessity, and it's a car because public transport doesn't get me from A to B when I need to be there. I'd be better off on the dole, but my kids wouldn't get that education and they wouldn't eat or live as well as they do without the maintenance money I pay to my ex.

    As also noted previously my debts grossly exceed my assets, by a factor of around 10 or 15 to 1, thanks to my divorce. It's going to take me around five years to escape from debt, and that's without having my own home and a mortgage to pay.

    Now I'll agree that £300 is a fortune to one of your average Palestinians (although not to the late Yasser Arafat, who embezzled his own people for a sum between $300 million and $1.3 billion, depending on who you listen to). But not in modern Britain it isn't. In contemporary British terms I am poor. But I'll pay off those debts in time and walk away with my head up, having not let anyone down by defaulting on my commitments.

    Walk a mile in my shoes before you even dare to criticise me of hypocrisy, especially when you condemn big business but own shares.

    And never do it again.


  55. At 03:05 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I knew it was dangerous for an American to try deploying irony, but as witnessed by history, we never seem to learn much.

    I'm truly sorry to have given offence. Truly.

    "Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them... you are a mile away AND you have their shoes."

  56. At 05:20 PM on 09 Jan 2007, admin annie wrote:

    Si, you can't imagine how truly impressed I am that you are so open on the blog and I doubly applaud your determination to give your children a decent education. It will be worth every penny, as you obviously know, but it must be so hard. And when you compare your situation to that of some fathers who won't pay anything towards the upkeep of their children I really do admire you for the way you are living.

    And I think it also shows the danger of us making assumptions about other froggers lifestyles and incomes etc. from passing comments they have made on the frog.

  57. At 07:54 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Simon - spooky- I've just realised we are neighbours! (Give or take a couple of miles) We may have even been to some of the same weddings - now wouldn't that be a laugh! Now I know what you look like, & you can find out what I look like (the harp is a big clue too, though it's not same one now as in the photos) I'll look out for you in future.

    Well done for your response above, btw. You are doing so well to place your children's education at the top of your priorities, and I hope in years to come when they are have their own children they will appreciate your sacrifice, andwhat a caring Dad they have.

  58. At 11:07 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Si: Undying admiration. I'll say no more.

    It's a very dangerous thing to jump to conclusions about others and there's a lesson here for us all.

  59. At 11:33 PM on 09 Jan 2007, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Si, I too thank you for your honesty, and how did you justify owning those shares Ed? I'd forgotten about that. We may not always agree Si, in fact that's a rare beast, but you are such a pleasure to have here with your well expressed views, that I always imagine how pleasant it would be to be having supper garnished with a well heated debate. I would have said dinner party, but such things inspire fear in me, & calling it supper somehow conjures up images of a casserole & rioja for me...

    Divorce is a messy business all round & excuse me Si if I verge on the personal, but I have long felt sad about the number of fathers who lose touch with their children after divorce. I just hope you have explored the avenues you felt you could. I hope that is a tactful enough comment, diplomacy is not my strength, but there are sometimes routes which don't involve solicitors, legalities and expense. You have rights and by paying those school fees you have made clear your wish to provide for the welfare of your children in a way which anyone would take into consideration. Perhaps it is your choice, but my heart often bleeds at the pain involved for men, but I am somehow sure you brighten the life of your SO without the flowers!

    Your website is brilliant & I am sure that you will make a success of the photography.

  60. At 09:50 AM on 10 Jan 2007, Molly wrote:


    I have to say that I really admire your response to Ed.
    You have not tried to 'score points' and your dignified reply is admirable.

    One of the stimulating features of the Blog,for me, is that aspect that we do not really know peoples' circumstances.Assumptions should
    never be made

    I love reading your beautifully written contributions-your intro to the Beach is a gem!

    On a lighter note,the soup(called' French Onion soup' in her 'Veggie" book for we plebs!) was


  61. At 12:34 PM on 10 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well, that's me tellt! I had no intention to criticise beyond the ironic observation that WE're all compromised. Truly sorry to cause offence.

    As to share ownership (if one is fortunate to be solvent), the only way to avoid it is to bury cash in a tin in the garden. I am indeed fortunate to have assets exceeding my liabilities, but I don't expect an invitation to Bilderberg any time soon, and would only attend if there was a possibility to be disruptive.

    Bank deposits enrich the banks. Building Societies and other mutualist institutions have mostly gone for the cash with the enthusiastic participation of their 'members'. Mutual funds, unit trusts, etc., simply hide your investment in enterprises you wouldn't back (BAe, Lockheed, etc.) Government securities (bonds, gilts, Ernie) simply finance governments warlike behaviour.

    Part-ownership in ethical (as much as can be determined) enterprises is my preferred route. As noted some time ago, I hope to be able to back a local cooperative effort for our village shop, should it ever come to that. I also engage in voluntary/charitable work, but, as with 'investing', I'm pretty small beer.

    I am not proud of being a twentypercenter,
    and, once again, I'm sorry to have caused offence, but I'm American.....


  62. At 02:40 PM on 10 Jan 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A note applicable to both Simon and myself, and perhaps all of us.

    "I understand that it is impossible to make an adequate public defense of one's private life, and so l will only point out that there are a number of kinder possibilities that my critics have disdained to imagine:"

    From Wendell Berry's amusing essay, "Why I am not Going to Buy a Computer", Ironically (?) the most visited page on my website, with over 50,000 visits from computers.


  63. At 05:08 PM on 10 Jan 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Simon, you have my respect. Like a lot of people, you have a complicated life and have had difficult choices to make. And you handled an awkward situation with good grace. I couldn't have done that.

    Please, all froggers, let's remember NOT to make assumptions about people's personal lives. It always leads to trouble, and in the end stifles debate.

    Not what we do, really, is it?


  64. At 01:34 AM on 14 Nov 2007, trickyflyingdave wrote:

    So all parents would do the same? Not all parents can do the same. Us and them.

    Why can't she just be honest and say she is a two-faced turn-coat-noolabour-government-culty hypocrite?

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