Education Policy

Education policy needs more than just a decrease in tuition fees and a stop to free schools. The coalition has an education policy, its clear, un-diluted and frank; disagree with Gove and co but they know what their ideal vision of an education system is. Every school is an academy, a market place in Higher Education and strict curriculum with academic principles stringently adhered to, and every 16 year old should know how to count to 12 in Latin.

The left have vacated the Education space allowing the right to be radical. This is partly because the current Education policy are continuations of policies began by New Labour in the early 2000’s, just taken to their inevitable end. This said, there needs to be a new intellectual framework used by those on the left to underpin Education and the left needs to dare to be radical on an area of policy which can be a vote winner as well as have economic, social and cultural impact on every person in the country. The left needs to reclaim this space, it has historical precedent, with the two great educational changes of the 20th century implemented by the left, first the introduction of Grammar Schools and Secondary moderns in the 40’s and the Comprehensive revolution in the 60’s both have now been dismantled to a lesser and greater extent.

Governments have obsessed over structure for decades and have often missed the most crucial aspect of education for the majority of parents, teachers and business, the teacher pupil relationship in the classroom and out. With this in mind I have set out an Educationalist manifesto for the 21st century system of education:

1) An integrated system of primary, secondary, FE and Higher Education to best fit all education pathways to the individual.
2) The creation of innovation, vocational, and industry partnered colleges across the UK, to offer alternatives pathways to academic degree, Higher Education.
3) Allow Student Loans to be used at any point in a students life, for whatever level of study, at a fixed rate of interest, at £3,000 per year.
4) Scrap exams at 16 and AS, with the final and only set of external qualifications set at 18 and begin primary education aged 7.
5) Each child must have a secondary language by 18,
6) The curriculum is written by teachers, academics and industry.
7) IT coding, science, English, Maths taught until 18.
8) Education is not the answer to every societal ill, it needs a co-ordinated effort from a variety of agencies, including housing, health, and social services.
9) Teachers are trained on a 3 year course, with the second two years in school on the job, each teacher has to sign a contract to stay as a teacher for at least five years, if there PGCE is paid for and therefore PGCE are all paid for.
10) Education policy is devolved to regions within England.

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WV1 4QR Molineux

Only six more days until Wolves make their come back into the Championship on the first time of asking. Despite last years form and winning League One, Wolves will go in to Sunday’s fixture as marginally underdogs against Norwich, relegated from the Premier League and the parachute payments that come with it. The Championship offers very different challenges to what League One held for Wolves. In every game last season, Wolves were out right favorites and were expected to win by a large margin in every outing. Not something that a Wolves side has been used to in the last three seasons battling relegation. However, last season this new group of players, young and academy driven, the players and the coaching staff, managed expectation and were patient in the first half of the season that included many a scratchy win.

This season expectations still need to be managed, this is still Wolves we are supporting, never is there a day when a fan’s are not demanding more, this is partly what makes it a great club to play for, to support and to admire. Promotion at the first time of asking is a big ask even for a team with the financial clout as Wolves; people compare to Swansea, Southampton, and Norwich but the Championship is stronger these days with nearly over half of the championship clubs relying on parachute payments from the premier league including, to a lesser extent Wolves.

This season is a year of managing expectations for Wolves and using the great platform to propel Wolves to a top six position. Kenny Jackett understands the demands of Wolves fans and has the mentality to control this with his low key interviews and straightforward treatment of the outcasts who are still to find certain futures elsewhere.

This is the first time that a start to a Wolves season, has come with anticipation and excitement. After a great summer of football I can’t wait to take my seat in W2 this Sunday. Lets hope the toaster banner can see the same flowing, passing football that WV1 has so sorely missed over the last five years. With a couple more signings before the transfer window closed and Danny Batth staying put we can hope for a season with goals, wins and a top six finish.

Follow @HousboundCanoe for tweets during the game on Sunday.

Predicted Team:

Ikeme, Golbourne, Ricketts, Batth, Stearman, McDonald, Price, Edwards, Jacobs, Sako, Dicko. Subs: McCarey, Clarke, Van Perra, MacLinden, Evans, Ebanks-Landell., Henry.

Prediction: Wolves 2 v Norwich 1

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The Third American Part One: The Sunday Column

The Third American I met: Part One.

I didn’t decide to go to University to become a better person. I was happy with who I was; an overweight girl from Shropshire who waiting on tables to afford a car to get the hell out of Shropshire.

My parents didn’t go to University. None of my family did. Studying literature and creative writing would be perfect as it’s broadness can lead to a multitude of career prospects I read to my parents from a website. Mum thought I was the cleverest person in the world; Dad wanted me to go to college and learn a productive trade, be a hairdresser or something. But I liked reading books and enjoyed writing fiction, and my grades told me that I was pretty good at it. ‘You didn’t get it from either of us’ she’d say.

Mum cried when they left me in a little room with too many boxes, 50 miles away from home. Dad sniffed and said he’d call me later on. There was a whole new distance between us now; his daughter wasn’t just growing up, but growing further away. 50 miles would become 5000 and the capacity of those boxes would shrink to the size of a 50lb suitcase. It would take another 5 years and a one way flight to Los Angeles before he’d tell me that he loved me.

I remember googling what a seminar was before I attended one. Was I to take notes? My college books was riddled with coloured pens, post it notes and lightly penciled diagrams. Was my pink highlighter unwelcome within the four walls of mahogany book shelves, uncomfortable plastic chairs and handouts in Times New Roman size 10 print? A year later a therapist would tell me that my opt for bright clothing and accessories was a cry for to be loved and for attention from my father. Maybe I just really like those colours? I’d explain.

“So, where’s that exactly?” A guy called Sean asked between the tutor’s pause to catch a breath.
“Oh, um, the Physics building” she replied, caught off guard. “There aren’t enough lecture halls in the English department for all students to be taught in”, she shuffled some papers and looked back at her inquisitive student. His name was Sean because his name tag told me so. Other people in the class sharpied a smiley face next to their names, or even braved a “!”
“Isn’t that what our tuition fees are to pay for?” the guy questioned, staring without a blink. I clenched my notepad further into my chest; comforting myself from the already uncomfortable environment. His accent was different, a little nasal. American? His beaten pair of vans, a megadeath t-shirt, his blue and black striped hoody; weren’t the kind of students who challenged authorities people who carried briefcases and wore brogues?A girl to my left waved her arm in the air and exclaimed she couldn’t attend that lecture because of religious reasons. A guy on the other side of the room asked whether the department preferred the Harvard referencing system. Did the pending American only ask questions? I put my notepad back into my rucksack. I won’t be making any friends today.
Sometime into the seminar our tutor lumped the student closest to her a clump of paper to pass around. “Here’s the groups of people you’ll be working with for your first assignment” our tutor exclaimed. “Put a name to a face quickly. You’ll need to get to know each other pretty well soon.” I selected a sheet of paper and passed it along. Group C- Rebecca Birch: I was used to being at the top of lists, alphabetically. “When are you free for coffee?” a voice said as I glanced over the remaining 5 names: Group C- Sean.

To be continued.

Bec O’Neal

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Federalism Is Not a Dirty Word – Politics Column

Not even Alex Salmond will mention the ‘F’ word in public these days. No the expletive I used earlier to day at work when I stubbed my toe on a protruding piece of furniture this morning but federalism. Federalsim has been getting a bad reputation in the past few weeks, often used as a pejorative towards the new EU president of the commission Jean Claude-Junker. Used by back bench Eurosceptic Tories to imagine a world of complete homogeneity, in a United States of Europe where no national borders exist any more and we all speak a new language that has used been morphed out of EU jargon like ‘Horizon 2020’, and we sing Ode to Joy every morning. It is at this point that I should point out that I am Federalist, but it the vain of the former that I have just described which could quite easily sit in a sketch show, not a great idea in trying to form the largest groupings of countries on the planet.

To me federalism is a kin to local-ism, and devolution, where local people make local decisions about local issues. Federalism is the best and only way of combating nationalism within Wales and Scotland and also challenging the power of London as a cultural, political and especially economic hub of the country with the periphery reviving less funding and leaving many areas of the country relying on call centre and barista jobs. Federalism has to be taken hand in hand with economic growth for the whole country not just for London and the south eastern home counties. federalism has to go further than just pots of money ‘ring-fenced’ for local councils, it has to be proper powers given to local elected politicians who are will to use these powers to better their communities. This is not a Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Island debate this is one that goes even more local than that, this means cities given more power, more powers of building houses, regional banks only able to loan to regions, more powers over tax rates, more powers for infrastructure borrowing, and more powers over health and educational services in their areas. This can only happen through strategic partnerships between civil society, the market/business and the public purse. The private sector has the capacity to innovate and offer risk taking backed up by a willing state that can give the market the space to have risk, but this must always be based on public consent and democratic oversight by local people elected by local people that think the local councils have the power to change and improve their lives.

For too long all parties that have been in power over the last three decades have only paid lip service to localism, and to local agendas leaving areas outside of London lacking in economic growth with high unemployment. In an age of austerity, London being ever more powerful in the political, economic and cultural areas of our lives. These are structural, strategic and big beasts of problems to shift in the coming future but only then will we ever reinvigorate areas that have been neglected by politicians for decades. Federalism is about giving power away, its about empowering regions and giving them the structures to run themselves best for local people. I will say one final thing though, it will take a brave, politician after spending decades reaching one of the most powerful positions in the country to give all that power away again. Can you think of any one who would do that?

Sam Murphy

Editor @HouseboundCanoe



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Re-Imagining Work

Why do we commute? Why do we go into work? Can you re-imagine your work?

Tweet us your pics of how you are revolutionizing where you work?


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The Sunday Column – Meeting Americans

The second time I met an American.

Mrs McKay lifted a wet tampon from a coffee cup and let it drip it’s impregnated tap water. Nine, 11-year-old children looked up in horror. The School Nurse sharpened the words ‘blood’ and ‘vagina’ and as she merrily explained in her risible, American accent that ‘soon you’ll understand’. Stacey Lewinski said she was going to be sick.

Year 6 was the best year at primary school; you’re the eldest, you get to sit on a chair in assembly while other kids got crossed leg cramp and everybody knew you got the sex chat- or so Polly Handcock’s brother Joe had told us. Joe was the Supreme Being of secondary school to the year 6 boys; he gelled his hair, had made the ‘A’ group football team and a girlfriend called Natalie Harrison who wore a padded bra. “She’s called Mrs McKay and she just comes in and takes all of you into the staff room, locks the door and tells you ev-er-y-thing”. The year 6 boys’ leaned closer, soaking in every word with both eyes and ears. “Like how to kiss without clashing your teeth and teaches the girls how to shave their legs”. I ran a finger up my shin and felt the bristles pinging back. “She’s really brash like that because she’s from America. She doesn’t get embarrassed or nuffin’, she just keeping saying ‘ass’ instead of ‘bum’ and it’s really funny.”

There were only 9 of us in Year 6. 5 boys and 4 girls. There used to be 10, but Nigel Hayward got expelled for persistently spitting at teachers when told to do something like, read a book. The nine of us were close without really liking each other. We had to be because we had no choice. You’re friends were decided through a correlation of your parents having sex within the same 11 month window, in the same 10 mile radius  and with the same, sort of, Christian-based belief [10 years later and we have no mutual friends on Facebook]. Except for Stacey and Alex who were further segregated into the Special Needs corner, and who we would only be able to talk to at break times.  

But as Mrs McKay mixed a teaspoon of flour with a dash of water, presented it in a cup and called it ‘semen’, two things became inevitable; none of the boys and girls of Year 6 would ever be able to look at one another in the eye again EVER, and Joe Handcock was a liar. No beauty, sex or kissing tips, just an uncomfortable, shameful hour being told that our childhood was pretty much over: soon we’d all have body issues and have to start wearing deodorant.

A year later and Polly Handcock would run home from school crying that boys in her class make rude hand suggestions when learning her last name. Claire Birch would be the last girl to transition from crop top to bra, Stacey Lewinski would be pregnant by 15 and I’ll be still shaving my legs.

Bec O’Neal


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The Sunday Column – American

I was four years old when I first met an American.

You put stuff in it Dad says, look here in this little pouch. Like what I ask. An-y-thing it’s like a treasure chest. Well I need some treasure and click it around my waist. Dad bought me this bumbag for sitting nicely at dinner; it is a cat’s face a white one and it’s smiling. It has some whiskers and an eye patch just like a pirate, so we called it Pirate Cat. I’m gonna take it on holiday and then I have to do a promise not to lose it.

I’m not really sure what to put in the Pirate Cat in Tunisia because the people who run the shops keep saying to me stop touching things. I pick up the little sweets and they shout don’t touch and give Dad a look like how Mum looks when Dad buys naughty papers. But Dad is great and knows that the best thing to go into the Pirate Cat is jam because it’s my favourite. You can get jam from the hotel at breakfast if you are sneaky he said and that if I was good at it I could fit about four in there. In the morning Dad watches me come back from the breakfast table with a cat full of jam. What did you get he whispered and I whispered back two strawberry a raspberry and a blackcurrant of course. What about apricot he says, apricot is the most horrible I say and he did a belly laugh. We go back to the hotel room and I unzip the Pirate Cat and let the jams fall out on the floor. Mum does that funny look at Dad but I think it’s because she did not go to breakfast so must be very hungry. I ask her if she would like one but she says she is being healthy. Strawberry is my favourite so open that one first and mix my finger in it. Dad calls me a little thief and does another laugh from his belly. I tell him I am not a thief because nobody told me to stop touching the jam.

After lots of morning of putting jams in the Pirate Cat I ask Dad if I could get maybe two jams and a bread piece so I could make a little jam sandwich. He says he doesn’t see why not but I will need to be extra sneaky because the bread is over by the cereal. I say okay i’ll be extra sneaky and think how I can do that. I pick my two favorite jams but there is a man by the bread and he is taking for-ev-er choosing the white bread or the brown bread which isn’t difficult I think because white bread is the best. He is tall but not taller than Dad and he sees me looking at him thinking and says that he likes my fanny pack and keeps smiling. I don’t know what he means and keep quiet because I’m trying to be sneaky. He said it again in his funny voice and think maybe he is a spy and knows about Dad getting the balls out of the pool table with no money. I sneak back to Dad and tell him I don’t want a jam sandwich anymore.

Years later in an English class I will realize I was four years old when I first met an American, not a indecisive bread-choosing pedophile. I do a belly laugh.

Beci O’Neal


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