06/09/2014
6 Sep 2014

The great Tory split

6 Sep 2014

The great Tory split

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Abbot Aidan
Keeping the flame alive

Most of our independent schools in Great Britain have a religious origin and the campuses of many are dominated by school chapels. The earliest surviving foundations, including Eton and Winchester, contain vestiges of their religious inspiration in their statutes and constitutions. Some of the older grammar schools began life as training places for developing Protestantism, while the older Catholic schools were staffed by the religious orders notably Jesuits and Benedictines.

Keeping the flame alive
Alex Massie
The surprise winners from the referendum? Scotland. Politics. Big ideas are back at last

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_4_Sept_2014_v4.mp3" title="Isabel Hardman, Fraser Nelson and Hamish Macdonell discuss the referendum" startat=700] Listen [/audioplayer]Let us take a trip to America in 1976. The unelected incumbent president, Gerald Ford, is being challenged for the Republican party’s nomination by Ronald Reagan — and does not take it seriously. Sure, Reagan may have served as governor of California but, still, come on, is this Grand Old Party really going to choose a two-bit B-movie actor as its standard-bearer? And isn’t he the candidate of fruitcakes and loonies? Say what you will about Gerry Ford but you know where you stand with him.

The surprise winners from the referendum? Scotland. Politics. Big ideas are back at last
John Newton
Pipe dreams

The two great regrets of middle age are: ‘I never learnt a language’ and ‘I never learnt an instrument’. One of my regrets is that, because I was a happy-go-lucky sort of chap at school, my music teachers kept giving me heavier and heavier cases to carry. They started me on the trumpet. That was fine; I could hide away in the brass section and camouflage my errors among the better players. But then they moved me to the euphonium.

Pipe dreams
Harry Mount
Hard times | 4 September 2014

When the late, great Ronald Searle and Geoffrey Willans conspired to create St Trinian’s and Nigel Molesworth, the archetypal English prep school boy, they wanted to evoke an air of -austere, post-war gloom. Molesworth’s school, St Custard’s, was, in his own words, ‘built by a madman in 1836’. For both St Custard’s and St Trinian’s, Searle plumped for a grim, early Gothic Revival style, all inky, glowering crockets and pinnacles.

Hard times | 4 September 2014
Mark Milling
More than just paying the bills

Earlier this year I attended my first Independent Schools Bursars Association conference. Perhaps it was because it was in Harrogate, Herriot Country — but I couldn’t help noticing a severe case of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Bursars certainly come in a bewildering variety of breeds — some are preened, some are plumped and some are rather more unkempt; some are starting to creak a little around the edges and some are spring chickens, while sizes vary from Chihuahua to Saint Bernard (complete with flask of brandy).

More than just paying the bills
Johnnie Kerr
It is easy being green

The problem with going green, I’m told, is that it often means spending a great deal of money on lots of equipment that could at any moment be rendered obsolete. When it comes to renewable energy, scepticism abounds. But the outcome of this cynicism is that our efforts to be greener have been incremental at best, and symbolic at worst. Just before I left school seven years ago we were told that all bedrooms were to be fitted with low-energy light bulbs.

It is easy being green
Lara Prendergast
History of art needn’t be a subject just for posh public-school girls

When I think back to history lessons at school, the predominant focus was always on war. From the Battle of Hastings to the Battle of Agincourt, the Crusades to Nazi Germany, the curriculum seemed jammed full of stories about aggressive military affairs. Fascinating, but it was a relief to reach sixth form and discover another way to study the past — through a cultural lens, via the history of art.

History of art needn’t be a subject just for posh public-school girls
Ysenda Maxtone-Graham
Decline and rise again

Verb says to noun, ‘Would you like to conjugate?’ Noun replies, ‘No, I decline.’ A nice witticism for Latin-lovers brought up on L.A. Wilding’s Latin Course for Schools; but do today’s prep-school Latin pupils have any idea what a conjugation or a declension is? Some do and some don’t, is the answer, and it all depends on which textbook your teacher uses and how much he or she believes in the importance of grammar over the importance of enjoying a story.

Decline and rise again
Mark Palmer
Great masters

Frankly, I wasn’t a great success at school — although I like to think it was more a case of peaking at prep school, where I was captain of football, a prefect and even managed to pass Common Entrance, thank you very much. And then it all went downhill. No excuses (plenty actually), but one reason for failing to dazzle at Eton was because my classical tutor cast such a long, dark shadow over me that by the age of 16 all my energies went into disliking him as much as he clearly disliked me.

Great masters
Molly Guinness
Escape from the hothouse

South Korea’s education system puts us to shame. Last year the BBC tested a group of 15- and 16-year-olds with some questions from a GCSE maths paper; they all finished in half the time allowed, four scored 100 per cent and the other two dropped one mark. It’s the kind of performance most British teachers and parents can only dream of, so at first it’s surprising that a London girls’ school has opened up a branch in South Korea.

Escape from the hothouse
Rhiannon Williams
Pushing the right buttons

My first memory of a computer is of a hulking Acorn PC that dominated a corner of my primary school classroom. I remember crafting a story about ghosts on the beige keyboard before saving it to a floppy disk, which was filed away by the teacher for safekeeping. That was in 1995, and washing machines now easily outpower that Acorn. Yet it’s not only the gadgets in our schools and colleges that have advanced as tablets, interactive whiteboards and internal mail systems make relics of blackboards and personal planners.

Pushing the right buttons
Emily Rhodes
Early editions

‘The bath is still stained pink,’ said Anna, laughing as we reminisced about those halcyon days, now over a decade ago, when she started a school magazine. Anna and I went to Westminster School for sixth form. We’d both come from St Paul’s Girls’ School, where magazines proliferated, and were surprised to discover that Westminster had none except for a rather grand annual put together by the development office, aimed more at Old Westminsters than current pupils.

Early editions
Tim Wigmore
Tough luck, old boys

For a centre-right political party, the Conservatives are oddly obsessed with where people went to school. Michael Gove and Lady Warsi both lamented the number of Old Etonians in influential positions earlier this year. It may not have been coincidence that, within five months, both had moved posts: there remains a potent undercurrent of class tension in today’s Conservative party. The charge sheet is simple.

Tough luck, old boys
Paul Redhead
An education revolution in seven bullet points

 • In practice most of the changes are designed to make exams tougher. From a student’s perspective, the most challenging reform is the abolition of modular examining. All exams will be done at the end of the course, and retaking bits of the exam to improve overall grades just won’t be possible.  • AS exams will continue but will not count towards A-level marks. Some schools will continue to use the exam as a useful target for students (in the ‘old days’ when A-level was ‘linear’ — that is, with exams at the end, rather than ‘modular’ with tests at regular intervals — students often took it pretty easy in lower sixth).

An education revolution in seven bullet points
Sophia Martelli
Exams: the great leap forward

GCSEs have already begun to change, and the A-level revolution comes next year. Sophia Martelli considers who benefits from the new rules – and who doesn’t A year from now, the new A-level curriculum will hit sixth-form classrooms; changes to GSCE have already been partly implemented. The exam reforms initiated by Michael Gove are hailed either as ‘much-needed’ or ‘carnage’ depending on who you talk to.

Exams: the great leap forward
Isabel Hardman
How Eurosceptics will squeeze Cameron

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_4_Sept_2014_v4.mp3" title="Isabel Hardman, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth discuss the Tory civil war" startat=60] Listen [/audioplayer]Tory backbenchers, who have been happy for months, are once more sunk in gloom, sitting in dejected huddles in the Commons tearoom. William Hague went to gauge the morale of the troops there this week and was told by one MP that the atmosphere was akin to the tail end of 1996; a party waiting for what feels like inevitable defeat.

How Eurosceptics will squeeze Cameron
James Forsyth
The Tories are in civil war. If that doesn’t change, they’ll lose

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_4_Sept_2014_v4.mp3" title="Isabel Hardman, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth discuss the Tory civil war" startat=60] Listen [/audioplayer]The general election is now Ed Miliband’s to lose. This is not a controversial statement: the polls say it, the bookmakers say it and in the last week several of David Cameron’s own ministers have come to believe it.

The Tories are in civil war. If that doesn’t change, they’ll lose
Pavel Stroilov
Revealed: the Kremlin files which prove that Nato never betrayed Russia

Nato is taken more seriously in Russia than in the West. Here, Nato is largely seen as yet another international bureaucracy, as useless as the rest of them. But to a former KGB officer like Vladimir Putin, the Cold War has never really ended, and Nato is an exceptionally dangerous and perfidious enemy. You may not criticise corruption in Russia, he says, as that would play into Nato’s hands. Putin had no choice but to invade Ukraine — in the Ukrainians’ own interests, to protect them against a Natotakeover.

Revealed: the Kremlin files which prove that Nato never betrayed Russia
Melissa Kite
Justine Greening interview: ‘It’s about understanding what it’s like to start from scratch’

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_4_Sept_2014_v4.mp3" title="Isabel Hardman, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth discuss the Tory civil war" startat=60] Listen [/audioplayer]Justine Greening wants to talk about social mobility. If it is not immediately obvious why the Secretary of State for International Development wants to talk about this issue, it becomes clear. Growing up the daughter of a steel worker gave her an insight into what it’s like to struggle, she tells me, when we meet in a conference room overlooking Parliament Square.

Justine Greening interview: ‘It’s about understanding what it’s like to start from scratch’
Simon Barnes
I know that Richard Dawkins is wrong about Down’s syndrome, because I know my son

No household that contains a 13-year-old boy is eternally tranquil. There had been a bit of temperament that evening, an outright refusal to go to bed, hard words for his mother and his father, and trickiest of all, an attitude that seemed to deny not only our parenthood but our humanity. Then the dam broke, and that was better but more exhausting. Still, at last he was in bed and at peace and the world was easy again.

I know that Richard Dawkins is wrong about Down’s syndrome, because I know my son
Nicholas Farrell
Italy is killing refugees with kindness

The next time you eat a fish from the Mediterranean, just remember that it may well have eaten a corpse. As the Italian author Aldo Busi told the press just the other day: ‘I don’t buy fish from the Mediterranean any more for fear of eating Libyans, Somalis, Syrians and Iraqis. I’m not a cannibal and so now I stick with farmed fish, or else Atlantic cod.’ Personally, I prefer my fish natural, fattened on drowned human flesh, but there you go.

Italy is killing refugees with kindness
Damian Thompson
Is Britain hardening its heart against Muslims?

British public opinion has never really turned against Muslims. According to Pew’s 2014 Global Attitudes survey, 26 per cent of us have ‘unfavourable’ attitudes towards Muslims in this country; compare that to 46 per cent in Spain, 53 per cent in Greece and 63 per cent in Italy. Our national tolerance has, so far, proved robust. Even after the 7/7 London bombings, favourable attitudes towards Muslims in Britain dipped by only a couple of points.

Is Britain hardening its heart against Muslims?
Ross Clark
A new way over the wall

Want your sprog to be toughened up on the playing fields of Eton but can’t afford the fees? From September there is an intriguing alternative. You can send him instead to Holyport College, a free school which is opening in the shell of an old special school six miles away. Though the chairman of governors, Simon Dudley, insists his new school is not ‘Eton Lite’, the website offers more than a hint that here is an opportunity to obtain an Eton-standard education for a third of the price, if your child boards, or nothing at all if he doesn’t.

A new way over the wall
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