How to kill the English language

Probably, most of you will have only the dimmest idea what a ‘fronted adverbial’ is. I used one in the last sentence. Can you spot it? Very good. Those among you who did are either a) professional linguists, b) seven-year-olds, or c) are, like me, recovering from several long months of home-schooling a seven-year-old. Forgive me if in mentioning it I retraumatise members of category c). ‘Fronted adverbials’ have become something of a cause célèbre among the parents of primary school children. They even occasioned a prime ministerial joke, interpreted in some quarters as a dig at a certain former education secretary, about ‘every detail of the syllabus, from fronted

What Britain could learn from New Zealand about home-schooling

If ever there was a moment to address the issue of home-schooling, it is now. The pandemic has disrupted teaching, school life and examinations in catastrophic ways. Many children will now never get the education they would have had. But every crisis is an opportunity — and this crisis offers the chance to reform education in radical ways for the better. Britain could learn a lot from New Zealand. Since 1922, the Kiwis have run a state-funded national correspondence school, known now in Maori as Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura for short). In Western Australia, a similar school has existed since 1918 and is known as the

Home advantage: not going to school was the making of me

At last, school’s out for summer — although this might be a strange concept for children who have not set foot in a classroom for months. If social media is anything to go by, home-schooling is hell. Since March, the internet has been awash with panicked parents sharing mock timetables with slots for ‘mum quits’ and ‘dad starts drinking’. And who’s to say the madness will end after the summer? A recent survey showed that a quarter of parents don’t intend to send their children back to the classroom in September, and one in ten of those plans to home-school permanently — which at least offers certainty. It can also

Plato knew that home-schooling can have benefits

Education is cumulative. The idea that it will be lost on a generation because, for one out of 42 terms of schooling, pupils will have to take more responsibility for their own learning, is obvious tosh. Indeed that term may yield considerable benefits for all, especially older, pupils, whatever their future plans. Let Plato explain. Plato’s Seventh Letter (its authenticity has been doubted) deals with his failed efforts to turn Sicily into a Platonic state. Greeks had settled there from about 750 bc, and in the 4th century bc Plato was invited to help turn the apparently willing tyrant Dionysius II into a philosopher king. Plato went over there, but