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‘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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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,

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

Notes on...

Sicily – notes from a large island

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Sicily is anything like the Isle of Wight: it’s 70 times the size, and mountainous. Despite some beautifully engineered roads, it always takes longer to get around than one expects. Even my Sicilian friend has to stop to ask the way. Autostrade are closed, bridges under repair. It