The Pupil Premium and Oxfordshire County Council

The ‘pupil premium’ is a fund created by the government which is distributed via local authorities to schools. It is linked to the number of disadvantaged students in each local authority area and is supposed to be used to give these students an ‘extra’ boost. It is specifically linked to numbers of young people in care or receiving free schools meals.

It was heralded by the leader of the Liberal Democrat party as a major initiative for social inclusion. Nick Clegg said:

Get this right and we make good on education’s progressive promise. To give every child the chance to go as far as their abilities and effort can carry them

How is it being used in Oxfordshire? Extra lessons or provisions for these disadvantaged groups? The equivalent of private tuition that other young people enjoy? No. In Oxfordshire what they are doing is taking these disadvantaged young people out of classes such as art and P.E and giving them extra lessons in maths and English instead. (I know this because I applied for a job on the programme and was told this by one of the programme managers). The point of this is obvious: to increase the figures in the various league tables and SATS scores etc. Art and P.E are not scored for national measures. English and maths are.

So. A policy sold by a politician as a major initiative for ‘equality’ and social justice is being implemented in a wholly cynical way by Oxfordshire County Council to boost some league tables. To make the Council look good. Nick Clegg has said that the policy would be monitored to check that local authorities were implementing it properly. Clearly they are not checking or Nick Clegg regards this kind of manipulation of the figures as an acceptable use.

Many young people who do not do so well at school will tell you that the only lessons they enjoy are P.E and art or music. (Mostly just P.E). So, Oxfordshire is taking these young people out of the one lesson they enjoy, making sure that their experience of school is totally unsatisfactory. And doing this in order to boost school performance figures. Central government appears to be conniving.

In addition this of course makes it clear to everyone in the school who are the young people in care / on free school meals, thus working to promote division rather than inclusion.

This is a typical example of manipulation for outcomes. This is what local authorities and government do with your money. They spend it on making themselves look relevant. With no thought of what is really good for people.


Regime change – a few thoughts about power in the light of Syria

So. Cameron is considering arming the opposition in Syria. This would be a logical sequitor to the breach and abuse of UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 on Libya by France and the UK.

The purpose of these interventions is to get in with what they think will be the new regime. So that they can ‘do business’ with the new regime. The opposition in Libya spelled this out during their uprising; whoever armed them would come to the top of the queue for oil and weapons deals.

It is nothing to do with ‘democracy’. Britain works with undemocratic regimes all over the world all the time.

It is nothing to do with humanitarian reasons. Britain did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda for example. Many of the non-democratic regimes with whom Britain does business have appalling human rights records.

The motive is to develop and support markets for UK corporate business, especially oil and arms. The ‘personal motive’ for politicians is that they get kick-backs from these corporations in the form of directorships etc. when they leave office.

There is no popular call for the UK to send arms to the gangs in Syria whose human rights abuses are well-documented.

How do politicians get away with it? With this transition from being democratically elected by the people to represent the interests of the people to representing the interests of a small nucleus of power and capital, and their own personal interests? Part of the answer is that they lie to the people that these interventions are about democracy and humanitarian reasons (or protecting the people from non-existent threats). Some in the population believe them. The large media companies are owned and controlled by people who have links to these centres of power. They broadcast the lies. There is a campaign of disinformation.

The underlying problem is that most human beings when they see power have the craven reaction that they align themselves with it.

The long-term solution is not revolution. In a revolution the majority of people cravenly align themselves with whoever looks like they are going to seize power. Power just changes face. The long-term solution is to cure human beings of their lust for material power and their craven willingness to allow themselves to be subject to power. Is this possible?

Arguably the lust for material power is a feature of the species. It is what has allowed us to become top animal. Now; it is the biggest danger to the human species and all life on earth. Again, the question; can human beings consciously and deliberately transcend the lust for material power and their willingness to be subject to it?

Review: Chemistry at the Old Fire Station, Oxford


This is an exhibition of photographs by Dulcy Lott and Imran Uppal. They have worked with a dance troupe, Joe Lott Dance.

The exhibition is quite small, less than 15 photographs, and a small video piece. Some of the photographs are by Imran Uppal who is a professional photographer. Some are by Dulcy Lott, a fine art photographer. The photographs are of the dancers.

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