Friday, July 10, 2009

Back to School

I can't tell you what a weird feeling this is. I have just been speaking to the sixth form at Saffron Walden County High School. It's the first time I have been back here since I left after my 'A' Levels 29 years ago. My old history teacher Bob Crossan had invited me and after the session he showed me round. The changes are astonishing. When I was there the school had about 1200 pupils on the roll. There are now more than 2000. The facilities are excellent and there was a really good atmosphere. I was however slightly disconcerted by the fact that half the sixth form were dressed in shorts and flip flops. That wouldn't have happened in 1980!

Bob was one of those teachers who really make a difference. He retires next year after 33 years at the school. It was great to see him again and rekindle some old memories.

Right, back to politics and the 90 minute drive to Norwich North!

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

You look old for your age, Iain. You should embrace seaweed wraps or cucumbers on the eyes. Or possibly huge quantities of plastic surgery. Seriously. You look ten years older than your actual age.

Lord Snooty said...

Now that my children have started school, I too have been really amazed at the level of facilities they have these days. Nice one, New Labour!

I understand that Cameron is saying education will not be protected from cuts under a Tory government - perhaps you should consider voting Labour for the benefit of the next generation?

Friend of the Earth said...

Why don't you use public transport more, Iain? I am forever reading about you driving all over the country, not to mention flying off to the States etc. Your carbon footprint must be obscene (maybe nearly as big as Prince Charles')! Don't you care?

Chris Morris said...

Saffron Walden - Norwich - Tonbridge Wells. A triangle worthy of Alan Partridge.

Simon The Bluesman said...

This comment is not political unless you are Kevin Pietersen or one of KP's many fans of which I am one I may add. KP could you please bat like Ricky Ponting - thank you.

Confused Conservative said...

@ Snooty

It pains me to say it but you have a point. I can see that in most other areas, NuLab have wasted vast amounts of our money (especially in the black hole of the NHS) but my own experience of schools over the last 10 or so years is like yours. Massive improvements in infrastructure, books, resources, basically everything. As my kids will still be in the school system for most of the next two parliaments, it makes me feel a bit queasy about voting Conservative. I'm not convinced that Cameron with his background actually understands this properly.

Anonymous said...

"perhaps you should consider voting Labour for the benefit of the next generation?"

I'd consider banning Labour for the benefit of the next generation. Don't know if I should execute their leadership or just exile them to Mars though.

Constantly Cretinous said...

I'm bewildered that you see visiting a school and remarking on the fine facilities they have these days to be non-political - 'back to politics' indeed! Is this not the battleground for the next GE - who can we trust to keep up the improvements in our schools?

canvas said...

The cinema is pretty groovy too. It's doing really well.

David Anthony said...

Is this your endorsement of Labour's school rebuilding programme?

canvas said...

Oh no... Iain, I hope you're not thinking that Saffron Walden needs a new MP! oh noooooo please don't even think about it. I want Haselhurst to retire - but please don't go there!! :) NOOOOOO!

golden_balls said...

any news of a statment by coulson today iain ? did he know that wade was being bugged as editor he should have ??

or have you had your orders by tory hq to ignore this like the plague ?

the questions won't go away and i find your lack of courage to blog on this story very disappointing. I thought you were made of sterner stuff my friend.

James Higham said...

Careful - they're murdering kids in school these days.

DominicJ said...

"Massive improvements in infrastructure, books, resources, basically everything. "

Except Standards of course, which are through the floor.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I was taught politics by Mr Crossan - he is responsible for me going onto a politics degree and career. Although I'm not sure whether that's altogether a good thing!

killaunty said...

@snooty
Now that my children have started school, I too have been really amazed at the level of facilities they have these days. Nice one, New Labour!

Most of them still come out at the end as thick as pigshit though, unable to read write or add up properly.
Nice one,New labour !

spark up said...

1:16 PM

agreed. guido and commentators seem extremely loath to investigate the technicalities of telephone-bugging and old holborn has completely lost his tongue. pitiful. what are you all hiding? is this a messagespace directive?

spark up said...

yes, mr spark up, certain high profile bloggers are up to the same dirty tricks and have cosier relationships with their political godfathers' and the mainstream press than they care to admit to.

spark up said...

1:16 PM

do bloggers and the main sewage-pipe use the same private investigators?

Anonymous said...

sparkup 1:16pm

Only Labour trolls and the BBC are obsessed by the NoTW issue. With 5 young lads 'repatriated' in boxes today some find that story unworthy of much attention.

Anonymous said...

I attend a sixth form, and the facilities are good. The problem is that we have to many computers, although that may not be a bad thing. I also heard from a teacher that huge amounts of money is spent on technology that is never used, such as apple macs which cant be set up and projectors in ever classroom that are scarcely used. I can't compare standards to what they used to be, but I recently did a politics AS-level, and the grade boundaries were: 42/80 to achieve an A. Through a statistical process it would be converted to 80%, making it impossible not to get an A.

Anonymous said...

If Labour have done so much for the education of the young, Snooty and Confused Conservative, can you please explain why Russell Group universities are having to teach remedial courses in reading and writing to first year undergraduates?

Labour has done a fine job applying paint and gloss to schools. If your idea of an effective school is a school with lots of bells and whistles and chrome, then Labour have certainly delivered on their campaign promises of Education, Education, Education. Unfortunately for the rest of us - the idiots who actually think that literacy, numeracy, a grasp history and the sciences and a knowledge of foreign language is the measure of an effective school - it looks like Labour has taken a steaming great dump all over the education system.

But don't let objective reality, or the fact that your children are now amongst the least educated in the developed world, get in the way of your appreciation of The Shiny Things.

spark up said...

3:25 PM

oh right on time. afghan families have been getting a regular slicing from western forces day-in day-out for several years now - but i don't see guido, old holborn or iain dale getting too bothered about it. check their current posts. young afghan civilian fruit is being pressed by the man from honolulu - the american and british forces just take the contracts. these particular bloggers are part of the problem.

golden_balls said...

if this was a labour spin doctor involved in bugging senior mps or celebs the rightwing blogesphere would be up in arms.

It just shows that once the tories are elected what will you actually do ? will you hold DC to account will you be critical friends ?

none of the above i'm afraid.

Rexel No 56 said...

@Snooty and others

Yes, school infrastructure is greatly improved. No doubt about it.

And you know what, I'd be very good at spending money too. It's easy. You just buy stuff and pay people and get stuff done.

What's hard, really hard, is earning the money to be able to spend. And that's where Gordon has got it wrong. He has spent hundreds of millions of pounds that hasn't been earned yet.

All that money that has gone on schools and hospitals and surestarts and numeracy strategies and regional development agencies. All money that will have to be earned in the future.

So well done Lord Snooty and friends. You've spent brilliantly. Now, move aside and let's give Prudence a chance.

R56

Anonymous said...

Iain

Love to hear your views on Afganistan. A quiet subject for you.

I just read TrueBlueBlood and he makes some interesting points. As does John Redwood.

Would love to hear your views

Mirtha Tidville said...

Aaah Saffron Walden..a fine town,went through it last Monday. Seems the local useless council dont believe in putting up road direction signs. Once you are on the Main Street its Guess where you are going!!!!no signs at all....shall not visit it again your welcome to it....

As for NuLab improvements in education, grow up, its all PFI and your kids will be paying for long after they have left School..Another reason NOT to vote NuLab

Matt said...

I regularly have bad dreams about being back in school. No wonder really, in the bad dreams I'm always of an age when the Tories were last in government!

Anonymous said...

Brings me back to the day's I was taught by Mr Crossan, an absolute inspiration of a teacher. Never thought twice about politics, until I had him for history. Chose the A level (politics) because he was teaching it and ultimately he was also responsible for me taking it to degree level and beyond. If only there were more teachers like Bob around, his politics class is legendary!

Fidel X Penses said...

golden_balls, old son, the way this blogging business works is that Iain posts something and we comment on the post. We don't hijack every thread to bang on about our personal hobby horse.

Writing your posts might make you feel better but it's bad manners to always try to take over conversations. You will find that no-one will listen to you or take you seriously.

Really, if you have a drum to bang you'd be better off doing it on your own blog and not boring the pants off rest of us.

Dominic said...

@Friend of the Earth - Iain does refer to using trains quite often actually, but it is mostly in the context of having a bad experience, which I'm sure is not atypical of many of us. It's obvious that because of the nature of his work he has to travel a lot. But it's good that Iain is a keen motorist and apparently something of a car fan too - many of us are!

Dominic said...

And to the first anonymous comment, please don't be such a bitch, it's pathetic when people use the internet to make stupid and irrelevant comments they would never dare say face-to-face.