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Empire? What Empire?

Empire? What Empire?  One of my regrets in recent years is not being able to get to the Chalke Valley History Festival which for some years now has been a wonderful celebration of Britain’s history. Of course, I have always realised that such festivals are commonly used to flog books or wares and that the […]

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The Class Divide

We sometimes forget just how polarised British society is. Class underpins everything that we think and do, however subconsciously. Whereas in most of the world, the mere presence of loadsamoney is enough to open doors and define your social status, in England that only nudges the door ajar. Class – the division of society by […]

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Repairing the Damage

Repairing the Damage ‘And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People […]

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Wairoa – Hometown Blues

Before the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, ‘The Independent’ newspaper ran a story telling their British readers that there was a violent underbelly to New Zealand society, citing gang troubles in the northern Hawkes Bay town of Wairoa as evidence. The examples they used were graphic, including gang shootings and a culture of […]

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Making a Difference

Making a Difference As a society, we spend an inordinate amount of time, resources and money looking at how to improve the quality of education in our schools. The questions we ask ourselves are always the same. How do we improve the quality of teaching and learning? (and its corollary, our examination results?) How do […]

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Do I Miss Inset Days? Not likely!

Do I Miss Inset Days? Not Likely! Since 1988, state schools in the United Kingdom have been required to offer their staff a total of five inset days each year – often called ‘Baker’ Days after the then Conservative Education Secretary, Kenneth Baker who introduced the measure. In state schools, these days can be scattered […]

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The Lower You Are, The Harder You Fall

The Lower You Are, The Harder You Fall.  If there is anything that gets people’s backs up and causes deep anger and resentment, it is the actions and attitude of wealthy institutions and individuals and their avoidance of paying their dues to society. This was fuelled this month by the corporate filings of Reuters, JP […]

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It’s Ugly Out There.

It’s Ugly Out There. Why is everyone so damned angry? What is it these last few years that has made people so aggressive and impatient and ready to have a go at anyone with whom they disagree. Why the coiled spring? Why the poison pen and acid tongue? What happened to the old dictum that […]

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Clive James: Dying by Inches

Clive James: Dying by Inches Over recent months, I have been spending time in the company of Clive James, the writer, critic and poet. After a lifetime of heavy smoking and intemperate drinking, James was diagnosed with emphysema and kidney failure in 2010 as well as chronic leukemia and by June 2012 admitted on Radio […]

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Thomas Hardy and Education

Thomas Hardy and Education:   “Ah, there’s too much of that sending to school in these days! It only does harm. Every gatepost and barn’s door you come to is sure to have some bad word or other chalked upon it by the young rascals: a woman can hardly pass for shame some times. If […]

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