Sean Martin

Take the Maths Challenge

The think-tank Reform has just wired us a copy of their maths challenge – a set of 10 questions designed not only to test the grey-matter, but also to promote a rigorous maths curriculum.  The challenge will be distributed at the party conferences – to see how the politicos fare – but we’ve reproduced it

Poverty of aspiration; not poverty of talent

One of the major educational challenges facing us today is ensuring talented pupils receive the same opportunity to excel. Today’s publication of a Warwick University study shows that low teacher expectations have meant Black Caribbean pupils are less likely to be entered for higher tier testing, apparently highlighting the “institutional racism” in schooling. This attitude

Global warming opens up Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage has been a focal point for both environmentalists and shipping companies for years. The sea route along the North American coast has been blocked for hundreds of years by a pack of Arctic ice. But through climate change the pack is melting away and the waters may soon be available for maritime

Faith schools shouldn’t get special treatment

Since 1997, faith schools have been peddled as a way to deliver high quality education – first by Blair, and now by Cameron and Gove. Sure, they may get impressive results. But to judge them on that basis alone ignores the gross unfairness, elitism and favouritism that lie at their heart.   As a state funded

The higher education charade must stop

A study has shown that 1/3 of graduates receive no financial benefit from having a degree. And there’s been a 12% rise since 1992 in the number of graduates in non – graduate positions five years after leaving university. The worst performers were converted polytechnics and new universities spearheaded by the Labour government. These findings

Timing is everything

Well done George Osborne. Just before Labour launch their economic recovery plan he has demanded corporation tax cuts from Darling. This is a great political move that puts the Chancellor in a difficult position. By proposing these tax cuts Osborne has heightened expectations before Darling’s unveiling. If he fails to promise them then the much

Political correctness is the real failure of stop and search

Laura Richards, a former head of the Met Police homicide prevention unit has claimed stop and search makes gangs stronger not weaker. The method has been used by the Met in stabbing “hotspots” to catch knife carriers. Richards feels the indiscriminate searches are marginalising young men, and suggests that – as 90 percent of knife

How McCain can beat Obama

We’ve just uploaded the latest magazine content, and I’d recommend you check out Reihan Salam’s cover piece on how John McCain can beat Barack Obama in the forthcoming US Presidential Election. Here’s Salam’s thesis: “By all rights, Obama should be crushing McCain. Instead, Obama has seemed defensive and cautious. The selection of Delaware Senator Joe Biden

Zanu PF are still delusional

With the MDC still refusing to sign the unacceptable power sharing deal, Zimbabwe’s future hangs in the balance. The discussions are as farcical as we expected – a fact demonstrated by Mandy Russow’s piece in the South African Mail and Guardian today. In it, she interviews both George Charamba and Tendai Biti, from Zanu PF

Is He too young?

The Beijing Olympics was a chance for China to shine. But despite the brilliance of much of the games, the hosts keep reinforcing the criticism that all isn’t what it seems. At the opening ceremony we had the 9 year old miming because the real singer wasn’t pretty enough. And now we have a gold

School isn’t for everyone

The GCSE results debate today will be full of the usual accusations of grade inflation from critics and celebration of better teaching by the Government. However in the Times Lord Adonis has tried to open a wider debate on education. His most eye-catching point is that pupils leaving school at 16 is unacceptable and that

Time to stand up to the RMT

Standing in a stuffy tube train is unpleasant enough without Bob Crow making your life even harder. Almost 3 million people have been hassled again this week with another bout of RMT strikes. Not only are these pay strikes an immense inconvenience, they are also unfair and risky in the current climate. In the current

The numbers show why Labour should dump Brown

There has been much talk over the past few months about Labour’s catastrophic slump and Cameron’s rise. But is it really that bad for Brown? The answer: an unequivocal yes. A quick look at MORI polling data on whether voters are satisfied or dissatisfied with the job a party leader is doing illustrates what a

Increasing freedom

The number of democracies worldwide has almost doubled in the last twenty years, standing at 123 in 2007. These freer and fairer political systems have dramatically increased people’s happiness, a survey has shown. Out of 52 countries, with ten years of data, well being rose in 40 instances. When we think of development we tend to

Our changing future

English is not the first language of one in eight schoolchildren according to a new government survey. As of January 2007, 85,000 children spoke Urdu and 70,000 Bengali as their preferred tongue. These numbers show that Britain is changing. Our society is becoming more diverse in both face and tongue. However, because English will always

Boston must go

The QCA has at long last pulled the plug on ETS over the SATS marking debacle with the company being forced to pay back the remaining four years of its contract payment. It is good news that the taxpayers won’t have to pay ETS £19.5 million over the next four years but it can’t hide

Tsvangirai must hold strong

As the crucial negotiations in Zimbabwe drag on, Morgan Tsvangirai must hold strong and not accept any deal that leaves Mugabe in charge of the military. The offer of Prime Minster tabled to him this week is neither fair nor what Zimbabwe needs. First, Tsvangirai polled over 180,000 more votes than Mugabe in the first

What’s in a name?

I just stumbled across a site called Anagram Genius, which turns famous names into amusing anagrams. Here are a few of the political ones I found: The New Prime Minister Gordon Brown = Men now noted – wrong British Premier! David Cameron = Dave? Minor cad David Miliband = I’m livid and bad The Deputy

ICC must recognise politics

Western policymakers may be increasingly concerned about the situation in Pakistan, but the International Cricket Council still want to hold the Champions Trophy there in September. Today the ICC task force ruled that there are sufficient security measures in place. But Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa still have massive worries, and are thinking