Bigger problems than Brexit?

“Lord Mervyn King calls for general election to provide mandate for either Leave or Remain.

Brexit is stopping Britain from addressing deep problems with its economy, a former Bank of England governor has warned.

Mervyn King called for an election and a new parliament to resolve the current impasse, claiming that “most people think that this has gone on for far too long and just have the view – ‘just do it’”.

He added that it did not matter whether people voted to remain or leave the European Union.

Lord King was speaking after MPs voted to delay a meaningful vote on the prime minister’s deal, forcing Boris Johnson to write to the EU to ask for a further extension to the Brexit process.

“It’s frustrating parliament can’t make up its mind and hasn’t been able to vote but let’s hope they do,” Lord King told Sky News after his speech at the International Monterary Fund’s annual meetings in Washington.

He warned the all-consuming nature of Brexit meant politicians were not looking at the UK’s underlying economic challenges.

“We have one of the lowest savings rates in the British economy of any country in the G20 save perhaps for Argentina. We’re not saving enough to finance our pensions or care for the elderly, or to finance infrastructure.

“These are the big challenges. What do we do about the education of 50 per cent of people who don’t go to college or university? It’s a great shame [Brexit] has dragged on so long.”

Although he claimed that Britain was “in the middle of the worst political and constitutional crisis for arguably several hundred years”, Lord King downplayed the impact Brexit could have on the UK and world economies.

“The decision to leave the EU is not likely to have a major impact on the UK economy in any way… I think there’s an awful lot of bogus quantification going on to justify positions held for other reasons,” he said. “I don’t honestly believe that Brexit has any great significance even for the rest of Europe, let alone the rest of the world. I don’t think the long-run economic consequences of the UK leaving the EU are particularly large.”

But he warned the global economy was in “great stagnation”, having grown more slowly and for a longer period than before the Great Depression of the 1930s, with levels of debt higher than they were before the 2008 financial crash.

Lord King, who governed the UK’s central bank for a decade until 2013, asserted the global economy would not be likely to suffer another financial crisis in the next 12 months.

But he warned of a global low-growth problem that wouldn’t be solved by another cut in interest rates, exacerbated by “extraordinary uncertainty”, and admitted “no one knows” whether another financial crisis is on the cards.

“We need a much wider set of policies to get out of this,” Lord King said.

The UK economy unexpectedly shrank 0.2 per cent in this year’s second financial quarter – its first contraction since 2012.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-economy-mervyn-king-bank-england-election-recession-debt-a9163531.html

“To save on teaching costs, school heads are increasingly busting the 30-child limit — illegal for pupils under seven” [including Broadclyst]

“Broadclyst school [photograph from article above]in Devon has a specially built classroom where 67 children are taught simultaneously. Though unions say such class sizes are detrimental to learning, the school’s head teacher insists pupils are offered an “excellent education”.

It looks more like a lecture theatre than a primary school classroom. Welcome to Broadclyst Community Primary School in Devon, where year 6 pupils are taught in a class of 67 — sometimes with just one teacher.

A Sunday Times investigation has found that cash-strapped primary schools are packing pupils into giant classes to boost their budgets. A school receives between £3,500 and £5,000 a year for each child. More than 559,000 primary pupils were taught in “super-size classes” averaging more than 30 children last year, compared with 501,000 five years earlier, according to our analysis of official data.

In parts of northwest England — including Oldham, Bury, Trafford and Tameside — a quarter of primary children are being taught in such big classes, as per-pupil funding encourages heads to fill their classrooms.

It is illegal to teach children under the age of seven in classes of more than 30 pupils, but there are no such rules for older children. But we have found that nearly 5% of pupils aged 5-7, roughly 73,000 children, were taught in classes of more than 30 last year. Some heads use just one teacher for occasional classes of more than 60 pupils. Broadclyst has one of the highest average class sizes, 42, and at times teaches 67 older children together in a specially built room.

Teaching unions and experts have always warned that such big class sizes damage children’s education. But this weekend Jonathan Bishop, Broadclyst’s head teacher, defended the policy, insisting that the school, about five miles northeast of Exeter, offered an excellent education, and class size “was not the big factor” in a good-quality education.

The school is rated as “outstanding” by the regulator Ofsted.

Bishop said: “I do not think 30 is a magic number to get better-quality education. It is not class size that dictates the quality of education. Our year 6 classroom has got 67 children in one room. There are times when one teacher teaches those 67 children. Is that wrong? Of course it is not wrong.

“Our year 6 classroom is designed like a lecture theatre: I can seat 67 children in there. I know I will be public enemy No 1 by saying this.”

Experts warned that the UK was moving inexorably towards the giant classes found in parts of Asia.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

“One in 10 pupils removed from school rolls ‘to boost GCSE results’ “

“Research into “off-rolling” from schools in England has found the scale of the problem may be worse than previously thought, with one in 10 secondary pupils removed from the rolls without explanation.

Researchers from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that more than 61,000 pupils out of the national cohort who sat their GCSEs in 2017 experienced an “unexplained exit” at some point during their secondary school career. Of these, two out of five never returned to school again.

The overwhelming majority of those affected were from the most vulnerable groups, including pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those receiving free school meals or those in the care of the local authority.

According to the EPI, while a proportion of those unexplained exits will be legitimate decisions made in the interests of the child, others are the result of schools – under pressure from government and amid increased scrutiny of league tables – deliberately gaming the system by offloading challenging students to boost GCSE results. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/oct/11/one-in-10-pupils-removed-from-school-rolls-to-boost-gcse-results?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

That “outstanding” school could be a complete failure

“Analysis of official data revealed 24 schools had gone without inspection for more than 13 years.

There are 1,010 “outstanding” schools that have not had a visit from Ofsted in a decade – up from 296 in 2017.

The Department for Education (DfE) plans to lift an exemption on routine inspections for outstanding schools.

It has been in place since 2012 but watchdog Ofsted called for it to end amid concerns about falling standards.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said inspecting all schools would ensure they were not “failing or at risk of decline”.

It said parents would find it harder to compare schools without recent reports available.

Meanwhile, the Labour party has said it would scrap Ofsted if it won the next general election.

There were 24 schools that had not had an inspection since September 2006, all of them graded “outstanding”.

Chart showing how long since outstanding schools were last inspected by Ofsted. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49579520

“Funding for poorest pupils ‘cut by more than £220m’ in real terms since Tories came to power, figures reveal”

“Funding for the poorest children in England’s schools has been cut by more than £220m in real terms since the Conservatives came to power, analysis suggests.

Pupil premium money, which is given to schools to help support the most disadvantaged pupils, will have declined by 8.4 per cent in real terms by 2020, figures shared with The Independent show. …

The pupil premium, which is handed to schools for each child eligible for free school meals (FSM), will be worth £220m less by the end of this school year than in 2015, figures show. …”

It comes despite a manifesto commitment from the Conservatives to protect the pupil premium.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/pupil-premium-funding-schools-poorer-pupils-conservatives-austerity-a9113936.html

3 mile walk on unlit tracks and through farmyard safe for East Devon kids says DCC

“Parents in East Devon say they fear for the safety of their children after being told they have to walk nearly three miles to school on an unlit country track going through farm yards.

They say the route is dangerous and transport should be provided for the journey from Black Horse to Clyst Vale Community College near Exeter.

Devon County Council maintains the route is safe.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-49494877