Archive for August, 2020

Blog Holiday

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

This Blog will be closed for a while for a holiday break and to allow me more time to work on a fiction project. Stay safe.

Sunday Blog 29: Exams Fiasco

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

This is yet another disaster  for a fumbling government which collectively believes itself to be rather good. The plain fact is that by setting up an algorithm based upon  past performance of schools as institutions and applying the statistical outcome to individual students is crude and  grossly unfair. Not only that, it is mathematically flawed.  OFQUAL, another quango whose reputation is now shredded, responsible for overseeing the whole process, requires that teachers rank all students in order of ability, even if the evidence shows their attainment identical. In other words somebody comes out top and somebody comes out bottom even if they are equal.

Put simply, in a 50 student cohort in a school with historic low standards now achieving much improved results, the top ranked student in the subject could end up with an A, while the lowest and E, even though they are equal in attainment. This has happened. It is ridiculous and cruel. It discriminates against schools in poor areas and greatly favours the top fee paying schools. It has to be abandoned.

Reverting to teacher assessment may mean some grade inflation, but that is the price to pay for the extraordinary Covid dominated situation in which we find ourselves. The government has already backed down on the scope for appeals. Now it has made them free. But it needs to show the humility of the Scottish government and make them unnecessary. Teacher assessments are the only useable option in a pretty bad situation, made worse by the entanglement of weak ministers, powerful quangos and vested interests in which the elite wins at the expense of the mass.

Moreover children from the better off backgrounds will do well anyway but those from the underprivileged neighbourhoods get their life changing moment snatched from them. That is an injustice which cannot be allowed to stand.

Sunday Blog 28: Test Track and Trace

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

This government has a lot of problems piling up. There are pressing issues with the economy, Brexit and above all, still, Covid.

There is now a mounting anxiety at worst of a second wave and at best a series of regional, local and sectional lock downs. There are high hopes for a vaccine and reports are good, but even the optimists warn this will not be tomorrow. Maybe not the day after either.

So the return of a restricted normality and a semi-functioning economy depends above all upon the success of the test track and trace system, which Boris, in one of his idiot one liners, described as world beating. It works, but not well and according to almost all the epidemiologists and public health professionals not under the control of the Cummings Downing St machine, not nearly well enough.

If I had  been in government and someone had come to me and said the solution to track and trace was to outsource it to Centrica and put Dido Harding in charge, I would have upbraided them for an unfunny joke on a deadly issue in very poor taste.

But I am not in government. And those who are, with a few exceptions, are simply not up to the challenge. Especially Boris. He is always talking of the ‘right thing at the right time’. To the misfortune of us all it is now very clear he is the wrong person at the worst time. To be in charge of anything. Especially our country.

Sunday Blog 27: Covid Crisis: Confidence Falters

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Suddenly the back to normal by Christmas theme has vanished. While yet far from a wave, there is certainly a Covid surge in parts of Europe and in England, mainly in the North. Boris, minus some of his bounce, cancels at little more than a moment’s notice, most of the extra restrictions which were to be rolled back yesterday. This caused confusion, upset and hurt as plans at every level had to be cancelled, including the reopening of businesses on the edge of survival without revenue. The Chief Medical Officer warns that we may now be at the edge of how far we can go in reversing lockdown until an effective virus is universally available. There is even talk that pubs might have to close in order to guarantee schools can reopen as planned.

At the heart of this mess lies the Boris machine of government of unsuitable people, who most of the time barely know what they are doing. They locked down far too late but opened up too early. Now they are caught in a maelstrom of rising R-rate, regional and local spikes, mounting economic pressure and fear of a no deal Brexit. The trumpeted track and trace, inexplicably led by someone with well known form on failure, is exasperating local political and health leaders for its delays and being slow to share meaningful data. Moreover instead of building a programme on the excellent foundation of the local and regional public health structures, for whom tack and trace is part of their daily agenda in normal times, the government has gone down the crony road to the outsourcing conglomerates, whose ability to deliver quality outcomes on time and on budget is tantamount to nil.

Boris is now in trouble. It is his own fault. People have stopped believing him. Starma stalks him down the political corridors. Too many of the public, especially the young, are now ignoring him. The vagaries of his presentations and their lack of critical detail are beginning to jar. Putting his friends in the House of Lords, including his brother and a Russian Oligarch, has hardly helped. Boris may once again bounce back. But then again he might not. If you observe him closely, most of the bounce has gone.