HEALTH SECRETARY ANDREW LANSLEY SHRUGS OFF CALL TO QUIT
HEALTH Secretary Andrew Lansley last night fought off demands that he should sacrifice himself to ensure the survival of the Coalition’s under-fire NHS reforms.
Mr Lansley was forced to hit back amid a Tory bust-up over the changes to Britain’s healthcare.
Asked if it was time to resign, he replied: “No, it is not. Because we, as a government, have committed to supporting the NHS. “This legislation has been supported by the House of Commons, by the House of Lords. It is because the NHS matters so much, because we believe in the values of the NHS, we have to be prepared to reform.”
The speculation over Mr Lansley’s future was sparked when Tory grassroots site ConservativeHome claimed three Cabinet ministers had privately “rung the alarm bell” about the shake-up.
One apparently called for the Health Secretary to be replaced, another said the Bill should be dropped, and a third had likened the NHS reforms to the poll tax.
Editor Tim Montgomerie wrote: “David Cameron’s greatest political achievement as leader of the opposition was to neutralise health as an issue. The greatest mistake of his time as Prime Minister has been to put it back at the centre of political debate.”
Labour has tabled a motion demanding the publication of the register of any risks to the NHS caused by the reforms.
Mathematics ‘too hard for students and dons’: British universities drop subject from science courses
Competition from the Far East is a standard boogeyman in education debates but in this case it is real. There is huge mathematical talent in China and Chinese mathematicians are already to be found in universities just about everywhere
It’s not an entirely new problem either. My mathematical talents are slim to the point of invisibility but in the large Sociology Dept. where I worked during my academic career it usually fell to me to teach statistical analysis! Nobody else was willing or able to do it. Yet statistical analysis is an integral part of sociological research
Universities are dropping maths from degree courses because students – and their lecturers – cannot cope with it, a report warns today. Decades of substandard maths education in schools has led to a ‘crisis’ in England’s number skills, threatening the future of the economy, it says.
Universities are being forced to dumb down degree courses requiring the use of maths, including sciences, economics, psychology and social sciences. Students are unable to tackle complex problems and their lecturers struggle to teach them anyway, it is claimed.
The reputation of the country’s universities and graduates is now under threat, according to the report, ‘Solving the Maths Problem’, published by the education lobby group RSA.
After looking at maths education in other countries, the authors found that lessons and qualifications in English schools were ‘not fit for purpose’.
They say that classes fail to stretch the brightest while leaving weaker pupils ill-equipped to use maths for work and family budgeting, and warn of a growing knock-on effect on universities.
‘English universities are sidelining quantitative and mathematical content because students and staff lack the requisite confidence and ability,’ the report says, adding that English universities are ‘not keeping pace’ with international standards.
Some universities are no longer advertising the level of maths needed to study particular subjects for fear of putting off applicants, the report warns.
It adds: ‘Recent research suggests that universities are marginalising mathematical content in the delivery of degree courses because English students are not capable of studying it.’
The report by the RSA – formally called the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – suggests that all students should be required to study maths until the age of 18, with the introduction of sixth-form qualifications such as ‘Maths for Citizenship’. England is just one of a handful of developed nations that fail to educate pupils in maths until that age, it says.
Only 15 per cent of youngsters study the subject past 16, aside from GCSE candidates taking resits to boost their grades.
The report also backs the introduction of a ‘double award’ maths GCSE, with one section concentrating on maths for everyday life and the other covering formal maths such as algebra and geometry.
‘Mathematics knowledge and qualifications are increasingly important gateways to further and higher education, for crucial life-skills and in order to respond to economic change,’ it says. ‘But the way mathematics is taught and assessed in England has not always kept pace with these changes or with the needs of learners and has left one in four adults functionally innumerate.’
A British prophet sacrificed to appease the mob
The great Irish writer C.S. Lewis once said that ‘of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive’. That is a perfect description of the bullying authoritarianism bred by the dogma of political correctness.
In the name of promoting tolerance, race-fixated zealots exercise the most extreme intolerance, suppressing free debate and indulging in witch-hunts against anyone who dissents from their creed of multi-cultural diversity.
Nothing ever exemplified this pattern of behaviour more graphically than the downfall of former Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford, who died yesterday, aged 77.
A mild-mannered, popular teacher who devoted his career to the education of disadvantaged children, Honeyford was hounded from his job in the mid-1980s for daring to challenge some of the fashionable orthodoxies of race relations.
Like a character in George Orwell’s 1984, he was deemed to have committed a crime for expressing his views. Branded a racist, he was turned into a figure of national notoriety by a noisy alliance of Left-wingers, municipal ideologues and professional grievance-mongers. The atmosphere of synthetic outrage ensured his reputation was shattered and his career left in ruins.
Yet Honeyford was the victim of a gross injustice. The portrayal of him as a racial bigot could not be further from the truth. As the headmaster of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, he spent most of his time working with ethnic minority pupils, since 95 per cent of Drummond’s intake was of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin.
It was a measure of his success that the school was heavily oversubscribed, with the greatest demand for places coming from Muslim parents. Nor was Honeyford anything like the reactionary that his enemies painted. In fact, he hailed from an unprivileged working-class background in Manchester, one reason that he had such a passion for education as a force for social mobility.
Honeyford’s father was a labourer who had been badly wounded in World War I and his mother was the daughter of penniless Irish immigrants. Honeyford himself failed the 11-plus and had to leave technical school at 15 to support his family, though he was so determined to become a teacher that he completed a degree through night classes.
Having qualified, he taught in a variety of inner-city schools before taking over at Drummond in 1981. Honeyford’s experience of running a largely Asian school gave him a special insight into the iniquities of multiculturalism, the official doctrine that had held sway in state education since the 1970s.
According to this policy, ethnic minority children were encouraged to cling on to their cultures, customs, even languages, while the concept of a shared British identity was treated with contempt. Honeyford thought this approach was deeply damaging. He feared that it promoted division, hindered integration and undermined pupils’ opportunities to succeed in wider British society.
He voiced his concerns by writing an article in the obscure conservative political magazine The Salisbury Review, which was then edited by the distinguished philosopher Roger Scruton.
In it, Honeyford stated that white children constituted the ‘ethnic minority’ in many urban schools: ‘It is very difficult to write honestly and openly of my experiences and the reflections they evoke,’ he wrote, ‘since the race lobby is extremely powerful in the State education service. ‘The term racism functions not as a word with which to create insight, but as a slogan designed to suppress constructive thought.’
The race lobby had become so powerful, he added, that ‘decent people are not only afraid of voicing certain thoughts, they are even uncertain of their right to think those thoughts.’
Among the points that Honeyford made was a criticism of ‘the large number of Asians whose aim is to preserve intact the values and attitudes of the Indian sub-continent’, while he also condemned certain black intellectuals ‘of aggressive disposition who know little of the traditions of understatement, civilised discourse and respect for reason.’
Despite the journal’s tiny circulation, the article sparked a huge outcry in Bradford. A mood of hysteria seemed to grip the city. The mayor Mohammed Ajeeb stoked the flames of anger by calling on Honeyford to be sacked for demonstrating ‘prejudice against certain sections of our community’.
Honeyford had to be given police protection after a number of death threats, picket lines formed outside the school and subjected him to constant abuse, while pupils were given badges proclaiming ‘Hate Your Headmaster’ along with a ‘Pupils’ Charter’ advocating open disobedience.
When one Sikh shopkeeper privately expressed his support, Honeyford urged him to speak out. The Sikh said he could not, because he feared that his shop would be burnt down.
Soon Honeyford was suspended by the local education authority, and though he was subsequently reinstated by the Court of Appeal, a group of aggrieved, politicised parents ensured that it was impossible for him to do his job. In December 1985, he accepted a financial settlement and retired from Drummond Middle.
A broken man, he never returned to teaching. Instead he dabbled in political journalism and policy-making, as well as serving for a spell as a Tory councillor in Bury.
He wrote of how the episode had made his wife Angela, who was also a teacher, suffer acute anxiety. ‘I was daily watching her grow more and more depressed,’ he said after he finally accepted his settlement. ‘I am relieved the conflict is over. It is a reasonable settlement, but no amount of money can compensate for the loss of one’s career or the anguish which Angela and myself have suffered.’
Ray Honeyford should have been able to give so much more.
When I interviewed him in recent years, he was as courteous as ever, but he remained rightly embittered at what happened to him.
Yet he also derived a degree of satisfaction about having been so prescient in that explosive article. Despite all the abuse he endured at the time, many of his warnings about multiculturalism proved correct. He predicted that, without a unifying sense of national identity, we would become an ever-more divided country, which is exactly what has occurred.
Large parts of urban Britain are increasingly split along racial lines, with many Britons now feeling like aliens in their own land. In London, only six per cent of primary schools have a significant white majority.
Even Trevor Phillips, the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recently warned that ‘some districts are on their way to becoming fully fledged ghettoes — black holes into which no one goes without fear or trepidation.’ Phillips went on, using words that could have come from Honeyford, that Britain ‘is sleep-walking into segregation’.
When Mr Phillips first began to publicly question the dogma of multiculturalism at the Tory Conference in 2005 — a dogma, incidentally his commission had been enforcing rigorously for many years — Honeyford wrote in the Daily Mail of his surprise and relief.
‘What is so galling,’ he wrote, ‘is that what Trevor Phillips has been saying this week is what I was saying 20 years ago as the headmaster of a predominantly Asian school in Yorkshire. Trevor Phillips calls for integration, the teaching of English and the inculcation of British values, precisely as I did in the mid-1980s.’
The passing of time has shown that Honeyford was equally justified in his warning about Muslim separatism, which has dramatically accelerated in the 28 years since his Salisbury Review article. That process is reflected in the growth of Muslim faith schools and the informal official acceptance of sharia courts. The Department for Work and Pensions even turns a blind eye towards polygamy in its lax distribution of benefits.
We have also seen the rise of Islamic extremism and domestic terrorism, as well as disturbing cases of practices such as honour killings and ethnic gang warfare.
When Honeyford wrote his article, he was branded a heretic. His words had to be suppressed, his influence crushed. But that did not stop him being right.
Clarkson in trouble again
Because of his popularity, Clarkson is about the only man in Britain who can say what he thinks
“A disfigurement charity has called for Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC to apologise after the Top Gear presenter compared the shape of a new car to “people with growths on their faces”.
In an episode of the BBC motoring show broadcast last Sunday, Mr Clarkson likened a Japanese car with a large bulge on the back to a “really ugly” growth.
He suggested that people “wouldn’t talk to [the car] at a party” and did an impression of the elephant man, the disfigured Victorian character, after fellow presenter Richard Hammond dubbed the vehicle “the elephant car”.
James Partridge, the chief executive of charity Changing Faces, said that Mr Clarkson’s comments “create a culture of ridicule and bullying” against people who are ill, disabled or have unusual features.
The charity has written a letter of complaint to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, and the BBC, which has received 55 complaints about the broadcast.