Constance Watson

Is a degree worth the debt? | 17 August 2018

You’ll never get into a good university if you carry on like this.’ A haunting threat from school days past, but since the coalition trebled university tuition fees in 2010, the question is — do you really want to? The decision to increase fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year was met with anger

Join the club

I’m bored.’ ‘Read a book.’ This sequence more or less summarises my childhood (along with ‘I’m hungry.’ ‘Eat some fruit.’) At the time, such instruction was loathsome and it never ceased to amaze me that the grown-ups didn’t seem to grasp the fact that I had obviously considered, and rejected, the idea of picking up


It is rare nowadays to see someone pull out a half-finished tapestry from their handbag and get on with their stitching. In fact, tapestry is becoming increasingly unfashionable; ‘nomadic murals’ (as architect Le Corbusier described them) are often relics of the distant past. So much so that they have plummeted in price. ‘People are streaming

Pssst… wanna get your kid into Eton?

British education has never been so competitive. Our system, particularly the private sector, is a constant source of fascination and is renowned the world over — even though it educates only 7 per cent of UK children. But the current competition for places has borne a new industry, usually labelled ‘education consultancy.’ Consider education consultants

Thank goodness ‘Marmitegate’ is over

Back in the halcyon days of EU membership, a case for ‘Remain’ was presented upon these very pages. It explored the potentially disastrous consequences of Brexit on our meals. We toyed with the threat of turning our backs on claret, kissing confit de canard goodbye, and bidding farewell to champagne after 23 June. But in

Is a degree worth the debt?

You’ll never get into a good university if you carry on like this.’ A haunting threat from school days past, but since the coalition trebled university tuition fees in 2010, the question is — do you really want to? The decision to increase fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year was met with anger

Could you survive a boycott of French goods?

Last week French minister Emmanuel Macron emerged at the forefront of the Brexit debate, warning that if Britain leaves the EU, it would seriously threaten Anglo-French relations. In particular, he was referring to the Touquet agreement, which allows Britain to carry out border controls – and therefore keep migrants away – on the French side of the Channel. ‘The

The office party should not be hard work

Is anything worse than the office Christmas party? It is almost always a horror show. Colleagues who are cheerful all year round turn into angry drunks. Usually benign bosses become second-rate pimps. The interesting become boring and the boring become interminable. The average office Christmas do tends to leave you wishing you didn’t have to

Customs of the country

There are some things that will always be in competition. The Capulets and the Montagues; William Brown and Hubert Lane; the NHS and Bupa. They thrive on the tension, and there is always a story to be told. Such is the case with schooling in this country. The education system, and the battle between private

The pros and cons of a computerised education

Is internet technology turning our brains to mush? For those born after 1990, it is a constant fear. Most of us struggle to read a poster, let alone a book. We’ve overstimulated our prefrontal cortexes to near death through incessant multi-screening. Our brains aren’t wired to do anything except be wired. But technology fans tell

Spectator Event report: Will artificial intelligence put my job at risk?

Will computers make humans redundant? It might be the biggest question of our time. Last night Spectator Events, in partnership with Microsoft, hosted a panel discussion to answer the question ‘Will Artificial Intelligence put my job at risk?’ A fascinating and wide-ranging conversation about the technological revolution ensued. The Spectator’s chairman Andrew Neil was joined by

What’s the best way to prepare young people for employment?

Britain’s skills crisis was addressed by the country’s leading educationalists today at The Spectator’s half-day conference, Giving Britain the skills it needs. Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills and Enterprise, delivered the key note speech. In it he outlined his plans for better preparing young people for employment. ‘I’m determined that apprenticeships  become the established route for

Online etiquette must be taught in classrooms

Can we protect children from the darker aspects of the internet? That was the question put to the panel last night, when the Spectator hosted a feisty discussion about the effects of technology on childhood. Child abuse, pornography and online dating were discussed, as was the idea that children have become self-centered and socially inept.

Fracking debate: ‘Let’s peek into this pandora’s box’

At last night’s Spectator debate, the audience voted dramatically in favour of the motion Let’s Get Fracking! Despite impassioned speeches from Green party leader Natalie Bennett, Greenpeace’s Joss Garman, and Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth, the crowd sided with Conservative MPs Peter Lilley and John Redwood and the energy consultant Nick Grealy, who said that it’s

The way to build Tech UK: ‘Think big. Start small. Move fast’

The panel discussion entitled ‘Can the UK produce the next Facebook?’ carried The Spectator audience on a stimulating journey from Scotland to Silicon Valley, before dropping them back in London. Mike Tobin, from Telecity, opened the discussion with a measured speech. He explained that Britain’s technological status has stagnated, and blamed this on a a mixture

Damian Thompson: ‘Addiction is a messy and frightening reality’

The motion ‘Addiction is not a Disease’ received overwhelming support from a lively crowd at last night’s Spectator debate. Despite moving speeches from recovering addicts, Dominic Ruffy (of the Amy Winehouse Foundation) and fashion designer Trinny Woodall, the audience came out strongly in favour of Damian Thompson’s insistence that addicts are fundamentally people who ‘like something too much for