Every year, 35,000 children in England - 6% of all 11-year-olds - leave primary school without basic literacy skills. This casts a shadow over their own future and has huge costs for society as a whole. Rapid Response, 'The Guardian', UK, 7 November
[Christopher Monckton] has a degree in classics and a diploma in journalism and, as far as I can tell, no further qualifications. This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong, George Monbiot, 'The Guardian', 14 November
I know even less about education than I do about climate change. But I know that when policy is being made in both areas outcomes are almost irrelevant to the debate. Allegiances are bought and sold, insults are traded, activists use their support as a quid pro quo for more power and deep down, at the very heart, is either personal ambition or - which is very much the same thing - the drive to validate an ideological position. The losers are those of us with no input into policymaking; that is, ordinary members of the public and our children. While the politicians and think-tanks debate local control of schools, literacy standards suffer. While they debate greenhouse gas emissions, the global climate may or may not be changing catastrophically and irreversibly.
Policies and ideologies; ambitions and systems; all should be subordinated to targeted outcomes. It doesn't matter who controls schools, as long as basic educational outcomes are achieved. And it doesn't matter what happens to greenhouse gas emissions, as long as the climate is stabilised. Some sort of humility is called for: the ability of policymakers to say 'I know what I want, but I don't know how to get there. Let the private sector decide: that's what it does best.'