Tuesday, 14 December 2010

If we’re so poor, why are we spending another £25Bn on a failed initiative?

Labour spent an extra £25 billion of our hard-earned cash to improve numeracy and literacy amongst under-5s - in particular, those from poor families. The measures included a new curriculum for pre-schoolers (a contradiction in terms, one might have thought, given they’re not at school yet) and a host of Sure Start centres (you can tell by their very name they’d be utterly pointless).

We paid for our son’s education before he went to prep school (having – and this isn’t a joke – found a lesson in Jamaican patois on the blackboard when we checked out the local state equivalent). But of course I’m delighted that my taxes were spent to lend a helping hand to the offspring of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay: I’m sure that didn’t stop many of the state charity recipients from buying flat-screen TVs, going on foreign holidays , acquiring decent motors and filling their council flats with electronic toys and squandering whatever was left over on fags and booze and gambling – always delighted to subsidize the social habits of the lower orders while going without myself. Besides, I’m sure they were very grateful for our generosity.

Common sense suggests that having a literate, numerate population is “a good thing”, as it should result in a steady stream of employable youngsters entering the job market, and it could free up universities to do what they’re meant to do rather than having to teach state school undergraduates how to rite and spel propah, innit.

But, as a survey of 117,000 kiddle-winkles by Durham University over an eight year period has shown, the TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND MILLION extra pounds of our money spent by a socialist government to level the playing field by disadvantaging private school pupils has had absolutely no effect whatsoever.

No, tell a lie – standards actually fell.

I was six years old before I set foot in a classroom, or received a single lesson from a teacher. (Norwegian kids didn’t go to school until they were seven back then – I only went at six because I moved to London at that age).

Educationally, I was a tabula rasa: I couldn’t read or write either Norwegian or English and I’d never done a sum in my life. After exactly one year of formal learning under the watchful gaze and capacious bosom of Miss Perkins, I was third in a large class of bright middle class English pupils: not because I was terribly bright (I wasn’t) but because kids at that age are sponges. If disadvantaged children can’t learn at that sort of rate, then either (a) they’ve got dumb parents draining the will to learn out of them, (b) their teachers are useless, (c) their teachers’ political leanings have made them more interested in reinforcing the children’s victim status rather than helping them transcend it, or (d) the children are just too dumb to learn.

Given that Sure Start’s poor results amongst the poor have been blamed on their parents’ failure to take advantage of what’s on offer, then lack of parental interest in their children’s education must be a major factor. If their teachers simply aren’t up to the job (and judging by some of those who get interviewed on TV, I wouldn’t be at all surprised) sack them. If left-wing teachers and their “habit of malign compassion” is to blame – sack them as well. For those children who are simply too thick to learn, tough – life’s a bitch.

Given that Sure Start has proved itself to be nothing more than yet another means of transferring wealth from one section of the middle class (i.e. you and me) to another (i.e. teachers and civil servants) it should, of course, be scrapped instantly. If it hasn’t worked in the years of plenty, it certainly isn’t going to suddenly take off now.

But, naturally, because this increasingly ridiculous Coalition government has to keep making its LibDem members feel good about themselves (it evidently doesn’t see the need to expend the same energy on doing the same for right-wing Tory backbenchers, I notice), the scheme is to be kept going. A government source has said: “We will ensure that Sure Start is targeted at those who need it most." That’ll be teachers, then.

Let’s all meet up when another 25 thousand million pounds of our money has been pissed away on yet another failed attempt to improve state school results without actually improving teaching standards and decide whether, in hindsight, that fortune might not more usefully have been spent on defending our country from its external and internal enemies, and on protecting law-abiding citizens from the conscienceless Calibans churned out by our disgusting “fill your boots” benefits system.   


  1. Sure Start makes some sense.

    After all, suppose you could read. Imagine what you might discover! It could be awful.

    You might discover something like this [1], for example:

    The 'black hole' in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) has grown by more than 100 per cent from £42bn to £100bn over the last three years – equivalent to 7 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product – according to research by independent pension consultant John Ralfe.

    Or this [2]:

    The amount of money borrowed by the government to support UK banks has risen by £7bn since December 2009 to £124bn and the Treasury should understand that it will probably be paying for the support it provided to UK banks for years to come, a National Audit Office report has said ...

    At the same time, the NAO found that the scale of the support currently provided to the banks had fallen from its peak of £955bn to £512bn as at 1 December 2010

    A £100 billion pension deficit? A £512 billion cash injection into the banks?

    £25 billion pounds is well-spent on Sure Start, you may find, ensuring that people can't read these reports, and thus alleviating stress.


    1. http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=15013

    2. http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=15010
    Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - 10:44 AM

  2. Terrifying stuff, DM.

    The thing that worries me about this pallid centrist Coalition government isn’t how much it’s cutting – but how little, and how little it’s doing about long-term horrors like the public sector pensions deficit you mention. I know they don’t want to kill the economy stone dead, but I have no idea why they’re leaving the grotesquely overspending NHS alone (apart from having made a stupid election pledge). As for our financial liabilities for saving the Euro – which isn’t even our currency – wouldn’t this be a wonderful opportunity to sever all ties? (Not with Europhiles like Clegg and Cameron in charge, obviously.) I sometimes wonder why all have to scrimp and save and watch the pennies while the government doesn’t.
    Pickles for PM! It’s the only way!
    Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 02:43 PM