I was educated in the state sector, which was good then even if I wasn’t! I don’t blame it for not recognising my dyslexia but I felt state education had become so bad that I worked all hours to educate my children privately. One of them went to a truly great, small school, Northease Manor at Rodmell, near Lewes, in Sussex. The Headmaster, Roger Dennion, was phenomenal. The school was suited for those with dyslexia, it also took in some statemented children from Brighton, paid for by the local authority. I know as a society we can’t afford private education for everyone but Roger changed the lives of many kids from all backgrounds, and with that he gave them hope.
I am delighted to read that Kingham Hill School set in 100 acres of the Cotswolds is providing a private education to kids who might otherwise have to be in care (a basic £200,000 pa before education), absorbing a third of the cost itself. That’s £14,388 a year with the remainder of the costs being equally split between the council and the children’s charity, Buttle UK. They are not kite flying, they have proved this works.
The current Head Boy, Julien Andre, is 17 and has been at Kingham Hill School for 7 years, after being chosen to be sponsored by both Buttle and Kingham Hill. Having a troubled past, Julien had lived on the streets of London with his mother; who at the time was suffering from mental health issues, shared a home with a drug dealer and at 5’3”, he weighed 15 stone as the result of a poor diet. Now fit and a keen sportsman, and thanks to Kingham Hill, he is off to Brasenose College in Oxford. When looking back at his time at Kingham Hill, Julian found it frustrating initially, but never gave in to the temptations to lash out.
One day Brexit will be history, promise guv! I have sung often and loudly the praises of those great creators of jobs in the UK, the SMEs who are responsible for 60% of the jobs in this country. But despite all the uncertainty, Britain has moved up one place from 9th to 8th in the World Bank rankings of the best countries in the world to do business. Within the G7, Britain was second. And number one in the rankings? New Zealand. Well, we won the cricket and the rugby! The World Bank said higher ranked countries, “tend to benefit from higher levels of entrepreneurial activity and lower levels of corruption.”
I don’t think there’s any doubt that our levels of self-control have fallen each decade for 50 years. We have all been too indulged, told often how good we are when we’re not. And of course, all sorts of things are blamed. But do we ever look at ourselves? Our ancestors had far more to contend with in daily life than we do today, but they were far more self-controlled than we ever could be.
Road rage is a new phenomenon, maybe because there are more cars on the road than ever before, but I don’t really buy into that. It is symptomatic of something much bigger. It is not accepting responsibility for the things we do and say, and that has reached a new level, a new low, denying that we should accept responsibility for our own actions.
Apparently a third of drivers have witnessed an incident between motorists and half have seen verbal abuse. My instinct was to say that I’m in the other portion of drivers who haven’t witnessed an incident or verbal abuse, but realise I’m not. Earlier this week I saw someone gesticulating at another car, no idea why, but what good did it do? I doubt it made him feel better, it didn’t resolve whatever the perceived problem was and in doing so possibly escalated the situation further.
Apparently, children are spending hundreds of pounds “gambling” on online games. Wow, does this raise a variety of questions! The first being where do they get the money from and the second being how are they funding it? I floated the question in the pub on Sunday lunch time with my papers, pie and pint and there was a consensus that the answer might have been PayPal or something similar. But whilst that might be the mechanism by paying into it first, that still begs the question where does the money that fund these addictions come from?
It is all part of what is called “Keeping up with the Jones’.” I’m not a protectionist by nature but prefer, where possible, to teach and help people solve problems, and addiction is a problem. There is some value from online games but we are creating a zombie culture. With a high majority of 10 to 14 year olds playing online games for at least three hours a day. I remember 40 years ago becoming hooked on playing the “tennis game” on a table screen in the pub. After some months I asked myself, why? But I was an adult, and much less prone to the influence that online gaming now has on children. Support for children has to start with their parents to ensure that they are able to overcome these online gaming addictions. Peer pressure has always been there. Is this simply a reflection on the children of today who feel pressured to make sure they have the best items when playing online games to ensure they remain popular?
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, which like many other councils, is hard up and short of cash. It has recently sacked its £150,000 a year Chief Executive to save money, but has chosen to spend £28,000 re-arranging the chairs! By doing so, the civic chamber can be flat like an ordinary room or tiered like a theatre. Ah, but the council are worried that untrained staff could risk injury if they undertook the task of changing the set up and moving the chairs, so they have decided to pay a specialist firm £800 every time it needs to be changed. Presumably, it is being hired out but I can’t see the hire charge covering the basic costs of the building, let alone the cost of the specialists! Am I back to my old mate Common Sense? Let me be generous and accept you need training to work the physical change to the “fabric” of the floor, but this could simply be a couple of people, with a much lower one-off cost. The council cited “heaving” seats about as a risk. What happens when people move seats in other rooms? Is that heaving seats about? Madness.
Wasn’t sure where to put this. But can’t let it pass unmentioned!
We’ve all got the message, well almost all, on climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases. We have always been told by the experts that marshes, wetland and peat bogs soaked up greenhouse gases and so were a good thing, an environmental plus. So they were on the positive side of the equation when it comes to climate change.
However, it has recently come to light that peat bogs are actually on the negative side of the equation! It turns out that peat bogs are releasing 22m tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year! 12% of the UK is peat soil but when you cultivate it, it releases CO2. How much of that 12% is cultivated? 78%! So, since 1990, that means instead of a 45% fall in UK emissions, it has only been 7%. Ok, it’s still a start and the UK are setting world-beating targets, but how mad is it that something so basic could be so fundamentally wrong? Try as I may to avoid it, I end on a major plank of my concerns for life today. Sloppiness.