Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 23 May 2015 11:17:28 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at wappaho JJ re. 10.34am 21 Octsurely a capitalist is anyone who capitalises - so doctors and others earning high income have the ability to invest in e.g. property (I know several university professors who have 'portfolios') whereas lower income 'workers' do not have the ability to invest i.e. capitalise. Even if high earning professionals don't capitalise in their lifetimes but merely enjoy a good life and then bequeath the rest - the fact is that the money has been 'stored' and is available to descendents to invest/capitalise.Plus, for instance, GPs and lawyers usually work as private partnerships - they are therefore businesses even though funds come in from the state for GPs.The ability to capitalise exists at every level - even bulk purchase of groceries - one of the main problems for low income people is having to budget on a week by week basis because the buffer funds are not there to allow economies of time or scale.Being able to control time in this way is a luxury of high income 'workers' and makes a world of difference to the experience of living. Thu 22 Oct 2009 07:53:58 GMT+1 EdwinaTS I agree with Mark Easton's concluding remark - The challenge is to inspire those children: to encourage them to aim high wherever they live."I would extend this to say the challenge is to inspire to aim high, who ever they are (children or adults);Parents, teachers, pupils; they all need to be inspired to do their best to learn to be better every day of their lives. Wed 21 Oct 2009 20:49:30 GMT+1 Ian P #40 and #41 - Your statements agree very closely with my experiences and what I see happening around me.#42 - Absolute liberty does indeed equal anarchy. However, capitalism by its very nature requires rules and laws to exist. No rules means no requirement to purchase, therefore there is no profit to be made as nothing will be sold if you can just take with no repercussions. No-one has the impetus to create a business for the purpose of making profit. Therefore a free market cannot possibly aim towards anarchy. If you cannot see the severe mismatch in your logic, then there is little point in trying to discuss it with you. Tue 20 Oct 2009 19:13:24 GMT+1 stanilic If Message 42 is a bit of education then it is no wonder the country is in such a mess. Rather tendentious, methinks.It possesses an underlying sound not dissimilar to broken glass crunching beneath the boots of the stormtroopers. Tue 20 Oct 2009 16:57:54 GMT+1 JadedJean ianpii (#39) "#32 - I disagree. At the most extreme, big business and capitalist goverments don't want anarchy - that's bad for profit."here's a bit of free education:You don't understand. Anarchism = libertarianism. The Austrian and Chicago Schools of economics (free-market libertarianism) are anarchistic.This is why the Germans forced the Austrian School to flee in the 1930s. It's why Trotsky was expelled fromn the USSR in 1928.Go and look at the Mises site (watch the 'Road To Serfdom' cartoon if need be). Thatcher and Blair (neocons) were anarchists (Trotskyite anti-statists). The state regulates markets, anti-statism, deregulates. Fasicism and National Socialism are left wing, statist movements like the PRC.The brains behind Thtacher was Keith Joseph....... Tue 20 Oct 2009 15:25:22 GMT+1 AJS The problem really comes back to the simple fact that it's very easy to count people with formal qualifications; it's much harder to count people who are good at their jobs (unless the measurement of how good they are at their job is simply the rate at which they accumulate money). It's also very much easier to inflate formal qualifications artificially, than it is to make people look better at their jobs than they really are (unless they can make themselves appear better just by awarding themselves more money).So we have got universities awarding mickey-mouse degrees and privatised matriculation boards making GCSEs and A-levels easier year-on-year, to make it look as though the population are better educated. Meanwhile, real jobs aren't getting easier at the same rate. Precision plastic mouldings have replaced complex assemblies of many separate machined parts, printed circuits have replaced spaghetti-wiring, more jobs are being done with the aid of machines and best practices are improving as people find slightly better ways to do jobs that they have always done, but these "real" advances are coming at a much slower rate than the "fake" academic advances. Which is to be expected. After all, current will always equal voltage divided by resistance; it will always take 70 watt-minutes of heat energy to make a litre of water one degree hotter; extinguishing a fire will always require the removal of one of fuel, heat or oxygen; you will always need a rooster to get baby chicks; a sharp tool will always do a better job than a blunt tool; and the human body will always work the same way. No amount of pieces of paper will ever change these things. Reality is not malleable.Some people are good at the jobs they do, some people aren't, qualifications aren't a good indication and it's no good pretending otherwise. As long as people who can't do their jobs but have pieces of paper to say they are try to tell people who are good at their jobs but don't have pieces of paper how to do them, we are in serious danger of becoming a nation of middlemen. And middlemen can be missed out ..... Tue 20 Oct 2009 13:26:11 GMT+1 Neil Theasby The number one factor in determining future educational achievement is the home. Where there are books and parents who themselves successfully negotiated the various hoops of the education system, every chance exists that the child who is nurtured there will succeed. The converse is also true. It would be salutary to plot a national map indicating the locations of schools that have been deemed "inadequate", "failing" or "National Challenge". What you would most certainly find is that more than 95% are in these "least qualified" areas where ironically teachers have to work doubly hard to provide youngsters with a decent education against the sociological odds which are often largely disregarded by short-sighted watchdogs. Tue 20 Oct 2009 13:12:15 GMT+1 Ian P #32 - I disagree. At the most extreme, big business and capitalist goverments don't want anarchy - that's bad for profit. They want subsurvience, which is the diametric opposite. They want the power to control your lives to their ends.#36 - Possibly the West Midlands is bad example, because the heavy industry was throughout the area. Brierley Hill, Stourbridge and the towns which now make up Sandwell are on the western side of the connurbation, not the East. There are high unemployment and low educational achievement areas throughout all the areas and the lower unemployment, higher educationally achieving areas are merely around the edges, away from where the industry was. I would agree, however, that if you look at the majority of towns and cities, it does seem to be the case. Even within the West Mids connurbation you can still see it to a point. The housing is on the north west of Birmingham, the industry was primarily on the east side. I can but assume that the connurbation just grew to fill the gaps.However this isn't about the importance of vocational training versus education, as I see it. It's about improving the situation for those who find themselves in the low achievement "traps" formed by the almost total loss of low-qualification, mainly manual, labour in this country. Many of those jobs were highly skilled. People who cannot achieve educationally are often very skilled and it is a mistake, in my opinion, to differentiate between learned and honed skills and learned and honed knowledge. We value the latter far more than the former. Should that be the case? Tue 20 Oct 2009 13:07:13 GMT+1 jon112uk The old comment on this issue is:Intelligence - Education - EarningsPick any two and they are correlated. Which ever two you pick you can claim causality either way round. Obviously, all three are inter-related.As Mark suggests, the idea that there is some sinister capitalist plot going on to hold back child prodigies based solely on where they live is fairly ludicrous. (I wouldn't put too much credence in the views of UCU. Even most university lecturers - the people they claim to represent - think of them as a bad joke.) Tue 20 Oct 2009 12:59:06 GMT+1 SSnotbanned Western;Teacher: Ahh! Money goes to money.Pupil: Lend me a tenner.Armenian Proverb;Wherever there's bread,stay there. Tue 20 Oct 2009 12:45:42 GMT+1 Cav Of course plumbers, builders, carpenters etc, etc are just as vital to society as those who have academic qualifications but as Mark says, it's the qualified accountant, barrister or doctor that makes the most money and hence can afford the best postcode. How can a mechanic compete in the earning stakes, with a lawyer?It is interesting about the east\west difference in desirability of towns. I've noticed it in numerous deprivation maps during my work as a health data analyst. Another wind related reason might be the location of industry, which would have an effect long past the middle ages. Tue 20 Oct 2009 12:28:48 GMT+1 Ian P ...and my post also shows that education doesn't necessarily help with proofreading when typing in a hurry. Errors and sarcastic replies accepted. My apologies to those confused by by apparently inability to use a keyboard on Tuesday lunchtime. Tue 20 Oct 2009 12:12:32 GMT+1 JadedJean ianpii (#33) If even educated people can't see that there's been systematic anarchism at work in this country for decades (i.e state-busting in favour of the private sector aka business), then all I can say is that it's grist to my mill that we have a dysgenic population. :-(Yet watch people argue against this whilst Britain 'burns'. Tue 20 Oct 2009 12:08:09 GMT+1 Ian P We were recently discussing this in our office, from the perspective of two comparatively well educated people sitting in an office, who both happen to live in an educatuinally under-achieving area of the West Midlands.The comment I made then is equally valid to this discussion I believe and it echoes the comments of others here about parents and close family being of ciritical employment.The people on my local sink estates used to work for British Steel. They had massive amounts of land, were the region's largest employer by a massive margin. They're gone. Nothing came in to replace them. The steel mills, foundries and treatment sites that employed tens of thousands are now distribution depots employing a few hundred. The cafes, the shops, the infrastructure that supported those tens of thousands have gone. There was no need for them any more.We have houses going up left right and centre on old industrial sites, gentrifying the areas wonderfully, but the people on the local council estates who did manual work for their entire lives until redundancy are hardly the best examples for now their grandchildren and great grandchildren. When your entire family extended family has had nothing but menial work or been living on benefits since the 1980s, what example is there to show how getting good results at school will lead to anything different than "dossing off" and being disruptive in the classroom? Even those that do go to University are coming back and getting "shift manager" jobs at McBurgerFriedPizza which really don't need a degree.Education for education's sake won't work with the majority of these people, because they can see no point in it or result from it. If, on the other hand, they could be doing apprenticeships, learning how to do something practical while bringing money in and clearly improving their lives at the same time, would that not have more effect? Unfortunately politicians, many employers and big money don't see it that way, so I doubt we'll be seeing any shift soon.Incidentally, I spent two years working building computers after leaving thr forces. When I left, the minimum qualification for plugging two circuit boards together and some cables in was a degree. That was in 1992. This isn't a sudden new phenomenon caused by Blair or Brown, it was started well back into the Major and Thatcher years and merely continued by their successors in Government. Tue 20 Oct 2009 10:51:26 GMT+1 JadedJean SPEAKER'S CONFERENCE1) Who is chairing this (see ethnicity)2) What is the context viz hissy fits over BNP?3) Why are there not more women and BME group members in Parliament etc?Assume equality (the Null Hypothesis is the starting point in research).Randomly sample from all ethnic groups, not just in UK, but abroad in their home countries. Use culture fair IQ tests which are logically tests of logical-spatial reasoning, basic to maths etc.Supplement with tests of the best in universities. Do across world. Do so at 15 years of age too. (OECD PISA).This has all been done, for years. Guess what? Dramatic mean international ethnic differences show up. See ETS, OECD, NFER/NAA/QCA and every other testing body across the world. Now, say you encourage immigration. Are you likely to cream off the brightest of the foreign countries or those less able to do well over there? Remember, intelligence is hereditary and TFR and IQ are negatively correlated but IQ and SES/GDP are positive correlated.Now, test male-female IQ too. Note that men come out brighter, especially marked in the upper tail. Twice the number of males as females at IQ 120.Now - start talking about targets in public positions where women and BME members are to be proportional to population frequency (50% and 11%).See a problem? No?If you don't see the problem you are either a) not very bright or b) an anarchist. Either way, endorsing proportional representation of the above sort will damage Public Sector delivery, which is precisely what this is all in aid of I suggest. It is in a word. SUBVERSION.Do I expect anarchists/subversives/free-marketeers to agree. NO! Why? Because it is against their interest/agenda to do so.Wake up to reality.The logic and empirical evidence is sound.Discuss - preferably rationally ;-). Tue 20 Oct 2009 10:17:15 GMT+1 bobbgooduk The premise of scientific "fair testing" would require us to compare like with like in order to achieve statistically representative results. You can only claim that there is educational under-achievement in one area IF the starting points were the same. We have to realise that not all people are equally gifted academically - you are bound to have some people who achieve little or nothing at all in school. Less "educated" people tend to marry and have children with others like themselves and their offspring are often similar to themselves - that is simple genetics. We cannot pretend that every child is born equal, with a life-outcome determined by accidents of opportunity and circumstance.The point has very correctly been made that achievement should not be measured by paper alone - a good mechanic or plumber is as equally important to society as a theoretical mathematician - we should not ignore the achievements of those with more practical skills and aptitudes. My own father was a collier and I studied Medieval Literature at university. I felt no sense of superiority to him from my "educated" viewpoint, and he no sense of inferiority from his "blue-collar" viewpoint.Furthermore, I fail to see the value of all people coming out of an educational system like sausages at the butcher's. An examination system, by its very nature, is intended to highlight differences in attainment and understanding - what would be the point if all children left school with the same paper qualifications? What value an examination that everyone can pass, unless they are failed by their school.Finally, people mature physically and mentally at different rates. We cannot expect everyone to pop out of school at 16 fully rounded and well-educated. There are things I did at school which I could not fathom at all. In later years, with more experience of practical applications, the pieces fell into place and I understood. People have to be "ready" to learn as well as "able" to learn. Tue 20 Oct 2009 09:27:35 GMT+1 JadedJean CommunityCriminal (#21) "the health and safety bunch would have a heart attack"Feminization of society - franchise in the 1920s -> trickle down subversion. It's destroying us all, on a number of fronts, and it's doing so invisibly. Tue 20 Oct 2009 08:01:18 GMT+1 JadedJean BobRocket (#26) "Isn't that just Darwinian natural self-selection - narcissism ? with your TFR of 1.1, doesn't that just lead up an evolutionary dead end ?"Across Liberal-Democracie s(Easta nd West) it seems so, yes. NPD just seems to be part of this to me, and is presumably less tolerated in a socialist society, as, like APD it's pretty much a 'crime' against other people. Eastern European/Russian TFRs are now in the 1.1-1.3 TFR range, and the rest of Europe is well below 2.1, many not much better than the Eastern EU. Narcissism is certainly encouraged in the Liberal-Democracies (think Hollywood) in subtle ways - celebritism, advertising etc, but the clinical disorder itself is probably only in single figures. Is this clever (diabolical) demographic warfare that we're witnesssing? The Muslims are dead against it! (see female dress) Tue 20 Oct 2009 07:53:13 GMT+1 wappaho Lots of comments I agree with.Snobbery is rife regarding manual vs. non-manual occupations. Our cultural conception of intellect vs dexterity for instance can be shown by Googling - Google intellect and it produces references to intelligence; Google dexterity and it produces references to physically disabling diseases - and yet many skilled jobs require above average dexterity, not everyone can do them, but the idea of 'achievement' is geared towards white collar occupations, so we don't recognise positive attributes of manual work (which also requires considerable creative problem-solving aptitude).Re. The wind - in Sheffield, the suburbs were built up-wind of the factories (west of) and the victorian terraced housing was built down-wind of the factories (east of). Isn't David Davis from a Wandsworth high rise, brought up by single mum?The culture of state education is moving towards 'teacher as cool dude, learning by conversation' - it's already used in corporate training and seems to work for the non-academic mind that doesn't like to tabulate or list but enjoys Q&A and team work. That's fine for the majority of kids who don't want to be academic but it will further restrict the ability of intellectual kids from non-aspirational households to move into the professions, so we will continue to need to import ESL doctors etc. Tue 20 Oct 2009 07:34:04 GMT+1 bully_baiter As a Londoner who grew up in underprivileged areas where police patrolled in pairs at all times I have watched my roots become gentrified. The home where I was nurtured into adolescence would now cost in excess of £1.5m; the home where I grew into a young adult would have fetched £3k in 1966; it would now cost in excess of £1.25m. This has nothing to do with education but everything to do with assets and income, as prices leapt up when middle classes fought to get as close to central London as possible.My marriage home cost £11k. At divorce it was valued at over £600k. That had occurred in 20 years. "Ordinary folk" were driven out of areas they simply could not afford any more. Those with more robust introductions to life were more likely to attend university for the "obligatory" degree just to prove their "superiority" and this is still true. But intelligence has NEVER concentrated on the size of your purse or wallet. High IQs are still an elusive puzzle to crack and understand and it is worth remembering that an IQ of 100 is still enough to guarantee you a 2:1 degree if you want it. Tue 20 Oct 2009 06:01:54 GMT+1 BobRocket #25. JJIsn't that just Darwinian natural self-selection - narcissism ?with your TFR of 1.1, doesn't that just lead up an evolutionary dead end ? Tue 20 Oct 2009 02:06:36 GMT+1 JadedJean Genetically not very smart, and genetically smarter people, tend to live in different areas, if they can help it. This has nothing to do with 'underachievement' (unless one is into euphemisms). Mon 19 Oct 2009 20:47:07 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan Education has often underrepresented the importance played by parents. The advantages of parents with education and thus income has been known for a long time. We always concentrate on the few who make it out of poverty and claim that therefore anyone can. Studies also show that those who leave a homeland and relocate in a different country tend to do better than those who remain at home, initiative. Generational poverty and the inability of social programs to change this process is the question that needs to be answered. It is not always about money..but it is usually about money. Of course the postcode of the criminal banking class may alter this if ethical behavior is included as a factor. Mon 19 Oct 2009 20:36:33 GMT+1 JadedJean EXTINCTION XOR CONSUMERISM?"I'm Mark Easton, the BBC's home editor. This is where I discuss the way we live in the ever-changing UK."Why is it ever-changing Mark? It's not condusive to family life, just anarchism. Permanent Revolution drives the birth-rate way below replacement level (TFRs of 1.1 lead to populations halving in 30 years, 1.3 in 60), as well as increasing differential fertility, neither of which is good for the economy or anything else - except chaos and consumerism. The same was done to Russia in 1917 and it persisted throughout most of the 1920s. It ended in tears as it did in Germany. Mon 19 Oct 2009 19:49:43 GMT+1 JadedJean "Addressing educational underachievement"This rather begs an important queston does it not? Which is, what is underachievement? Mon 19 Oct 2009 19:39:40 GMT+1 John Ellis So many post i agree with here skills are not taught anymore.example from my school days........Age 14 taking metal work at CSE we built a guillotine for cutting sheet steel for the metal work room We started with a 1 meter square by 10 mil thick sheet of Iron from this we cut the base the arm the stock. Id like to see a school now that could do such things when you take into account we used forges @ 1000's of degrees to shape the iron and arms oxy acetylene torches to cut the iron and weld it together. the health and safety bunch would have a heart attack... My son made a paper holder out of a peg and led in school in design tech the merging of the skills we were taught individually. wood work was just as much fun saws and power drills chisels so sharp you could split hairs .... Mon 19 Oct 2009 19:15:59 GMT+1 clamdip lobster claws I agree. Secretariat makes a great point. Are children truly educated when their skills are skewed towards academics? There is a part of my brain, still undeveloped that loves tinkering, taking apart, building. These skills were never allowed to develop. I tested very high in mechanical aptitude and yet all of my schooling was opposed to my natural ability. I'd like to see a more balanced approach to education that educates all aspects of the brain. Let's have poetic plumbers and tinkering mathematicians. If a child wants to learn carpentry then teach everything about the building trades including financing,cost estimation etc. We would raise more confident children if they had a working knowledge of many things. They would at least be able to estimate what the water heater should cost to replace without being ripped off. Mon 19 Oct 2009 17:42:59 GMT+1 kew_too I do not have a degree, or even A levels, yet I live in Ricmond Park. I've just worked hard - you don't need a good degree to succeed, although there's no doubt it helps. Mon 19 Oct 2009 16:36:34 GMT+1 steve I do not believe that anything significant has changed in the last 50 years regarding the cycle of well educated, wealthier parents generally producing better educated children than their poorer counterparts. The biggest concern I have is that the less academic pupils have an ever decreasing pool of craft based employment opportunities to enable them to escape the poverty spiral. Britain has no manufacturing base to speak off, financial services are in turmoil, tourism is generally limited to Scotland and the affluent south. Assessing UK PLC in marketing terms it would now be a 'Dog' with no evidence of government input to change the situation. The affluent will be able to migrate wherever opportunity arises, for the underpriviledged Albion will soon be Albania. Mon 19 Oct 2009 15:02:29 GMT+1 FezBig #9 SoUnfairCheers - I had a wee look online and people seem to have perceived the same thing in the US and on the continent as well. The way it was asserted in Mark's piece he sounded pretty confident about it, but all I could see on the internet was rather vague and debatable. You wouldn't think it would be too difficult to see if there was a notable trend of this sort or not, but I couldn't find any actual numbers anywhere. Mon 19 Oct 2009 14:36:36 GMT+1 ecarlin Mark, good that you’re raising the important issue of the influence of structural poverty on educational under-achievement, ignored for too long by New Labour. For New Labour and the Conservatives youth in poor neighbourhoods are to blame for teenage pregnancy, anti-social behaviours, drug misuse…Their parents are to blame for not enforcing strict codes of conducts, feeding or exercising their children properly. The schools, and therefore the individual teachers, in these poor neighbourhoods are to blame for not raising standards of academic achievement and encouraging aspiration. And of course black youth are to blame for being particularly out of control and dangerous.The common theme in hotspots of “anti-social” behaviours, educational under-achievement and unemployment is the existence of structural poverty over a long period of time. Under the Conservatives and Labour the poorest of our young people have become poorer, more isolated and disenfranchised. Unless we tackle long term structural poverty in the poorest communities, rather than demonising the young people who grow up there, the problems are going to get worse.Eric Carlin Mon 19 Oct 2009 14:07:06 GMT+1 Secratariat stanilic wrote:"What is interesting, Mark, is that as a culture we measure ourselves by academic attainment when we actually need good plumbers."I couldn't agree more !The idea that academic results and an academic career are the signs of success has been destroying our education system and industry for years, and it's not just a Labour problem, it began years before they were elected and the Conservatives must bear as much of the blame as Labour.I grew up on a council estate and went to the local comprehensive and we had it drummed into us at an early age that to be successful you had to concentrate on academic subjects and aspire to go to University, vocational training was looked down on as something the thick kids did because they couldn't keep up with the bright kids.When I told our careers advisor I wanted to be a mechanic he laughed at me and told me it would be a waste of my time as I was expected to get good exam results so instead of applying for the mechanical engineering course at the local technical college I ended being talked into doing A-Levels at sixth form college instead. I then went to University and ambled along in several jobs I didn't enjoy & had little interest in pursuing as a career until last year when, by chance, I got a job as a computer engineer.The job I have now is one I probably could have done when I was 18 years old and by now I'd have various useful qualifications and a well paid & rewarding job. While I still have that path open to me I feel I've wasted 12 years of my working life because the advice I was given as a kid was basically a lie.The sooner we get back to the idea that practical courses like mechanics & engineering are valuable to both the individual and the nation, the better we'll all be. Mon 19 Oct 2009 13:57:07 GMT+1 Diversities " That is why the gentrified parts of Hackney where houses go for a million are full of graduates and the neighbouring council estates are not."When I moved to Hackney, 25 years ago, none of it was gentrified. It takes a while for social contacts to deepen, but kids on those Hackney council estates do now have wider horizons and ambitions than they did a generation ago. Mon 19 Oct 2009 13:34:01 GMT+1 barry white In the African appeals we have they go on about the education that is need for the children to give them the ability to avoid famine and to bring wealth into the country the appeal is for.Here the vast majority of children are given the chance and the right of a better quality of education overall to most of Africa and still some people moan that the system is not giving the 'right type' of education.As the rules for teachers are around 10 years after events or changing situations in the country, what do you expect?Oh and children take a time to grow up, don't know if any one noticed that? Mon 19 Oct 2009 13:23:21 GMT+1 wildflower_girl Is it just me who finds it ironic that the area of Sheffield with the fewest academic qualifications is called Brightside...?More seriously, stanilic has a valid point. Degrees do not necessarily make a valuable member of society. Mon 19 Oct 2009 13:19:14 GMT+1 Doctor Bob #6 "Times have changed. Money buys privilege, educational, jobs and prosperity. When the time comes when a politician has been brought up on a sink estate, with a mother on benefits and a father in jail, then I know the pendulum has swung. Of course it’s never going to happen."So true. How can someone like Ed Balls ever begin to imagine the lives and times of kids coming from such backgrounds. Politicians are totally out of touch with "right now". The educational system would be very different if only they could apprise themselves of these issues. It might work out that selection is the better bet all round: able to provide for the bright and moneyed while being inspirational to those of lesser means. "Inclusion" would be out because it drags everyone down. There really is no answer until education is decentralised in all respects other than basic curriculum issues. One wonders if these public-school-oxbridge-grad Ministers with their huge brains can even tie their own shoe-laces. Mon 19 Oct 2009 13:17:42 GMT+1 Doctor Bob "The challenge is to inspire those children: to encourage them to aim high wherever they live."This can only rest with the parents. It has nothing to do with the quality of schooling, surely.But don't suggest this on any political broadcast or next month we'll see the new Ministry of Those Children's Inspiration - there's a vacant office next to the Ministry of Silly Walks Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:54:00 GMT+1 SoUnfair #7 FezBigWhile I can't give you any source I have read that in the UK the western side of cities tend to be more expensive than the eastern side (eg compare the west end and east end of London). The reason given for this is that in the UK the prevailing wind blows from west to east so back in the middle ages when there was a lack of sanitation all the bad smells would get blown onto the eastern side of the city making those areas less desirable. If this is indeed the reason I imagine that the west/east generalisation would be less applicable in modern towns and cities such Milton Keynes and Bracknell. Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:51:09 GMT+1 Brian_NE37 I'm troubled by your implicit assumption, Mark, that the responsibility for changing this state of affairs is primarily the school's. Surely that's a cop-out. Parental influence (or otherwise) must be the main factor.And I do agree with #2 and #3 that there is too much emphasis on formal academic qualifications here. A plumber with no GCSEs but holding down a good job is surely in a different league than an unemployed drug addict also with no GCSEs? Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:23:07 GMT+1 FezBig "It is why the more expensive western sides of towns and cities tend to have a better-educated population than the poorer eastern sides"Do you have a source for the generalisation about east-west? If it is true I would be interested to know why. Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:16:53 GMT+1 newSweetMonkey2 It doesn’t take a genius to work out why some areas do better than others. Again it comes down to the sink estate/poor rundown areas vs. wealthy areas with moneyed parents. If you can afford extra lessons, good schools coupled with lots of encouragement which gives the child confidence, then you are on a winning formula.Get a kid from a rundown estate, no father, mother on benefits with another 5 kids then what are the chances they will get a good education. By the time the kid is 10 he’s in a gang, at 15 probably been up in court a few times and and known to the police – what chances does a kid have coming from this background?Before the flood of comments that say I was brought up on an estate and made something of myself ... of course there are always exceptions, but I’m talking about the majority. I was brought up in a council house with no father but that was years ago. We didn’t have to contend with violent crime and anti-social behaviour which seems to be the norm now. We could travel all over London without fear a 15 year old kid use a gun or knife.Times have changed. Money buys privilege, educational, jobs and prosperity. When the time comes when a politician has been brought up on a sink estate, with a mother on benefits and a father in jail, then I know the pendulum has swung. Of course it’s never going to happen.A kid that comes from a bad start has it all stacked against them from the beginning – family upbringing, bad schooling, pressure to join a gang and lack of resources. The only way is to take them out of their environment – and again I know there are individual cases who have done this, but I’m talking about now, not years ago. Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:16:45 GMT+1 Lazarus The destruction of the education system has been one of NuLabour's most damaging achievements of their era of disaster. Their interference in the curriculum and obsession with league tables has got far more to do with the levels of educational underachievement than post codes ever will. Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:13:01 GMT+1 watriler High academic qualifications means more and stable incomes, means live in 'nicer' areas populated by "PL's" (people like us) hence postcode cohortism (sorry). I am sure there is a better way of measuring the correlation between deprivation and probility of academic success? Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:11:52 GMT+1 John Ellis Define skills I know loads of degree people that are useless outside the letters after their names. If your talking about a slip of paper that says well done your an academic then its all one sided is its not? physical skills are what run the country that build our homes and cars how do you measure these skills? Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:08:00 GMT+1 stanilic What is interesting, Mark, is that as a culture we measure ourselves by academic attainment when we actually need good plumbers.Might I respectfully suggest that we need to amend our measure of educational qualifications to include those of skilled artisans: plumbers, electricians, carpenters, farmers, bakers and gardeners among others.The real measure of attainment for any individual is to survive in a tough employment market. As an economy we need to improve the amount of value-added activity that is going on within our borders. How value-added are the apparatchiks, the lawyers and the city bankers who all occupy the posh neighbourhoods? Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:02:35 GMT+1 CComment Maybe if we had a initial educational system that concentrated on the basics more, like the "3 R's", instead of ignoring sound foundations in favour of raising awareness about equal opportunities, racism awareness, gay marriage and climate change, that would be a start. All these issues can be appended to the curriculum AFTER the basics are mastered. But there's little or no point in being well versed on equal oportunities if you can't write a decent letter of application, compile a CV or read a job specification. Caledonian Comment Mon 19 Oct 2009 12:01:58 GMT+1