Jane Bassett

Simmering anger at teachers’ conference

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The new National Education Union held its first conference last month, and delegates met amid much prior speculation and some trepidation. Would the merger of the NUT and the ATL prove a block on moves to action, and how would the turn out in our pay and funding ballot affect teachers and support staff’s commitment to taking on government cuts? Would the commitments of National Union of Teachers to international solidarity, to social justice and the fight for an equal society be side-lined in favour of a narrow agenda? How would we continue our work on curriculum and pedagogy?

SATs - now end testing at 11

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When education secretary Ed Balls announced the abolition of Key Stage 3 SATs examinations for 14 year olds this month virtually no one came to their defence.

One teacher quoted in the Times Educational Supplement| described "tears of happiness", while a headteacher told his English teachers to "let them enjoy Romeo and Juliet" rather than focusing obsessively on the set scenes.

IQ

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Stephen Murdoch, Duckworth Press, £20

IQ: The Brilliant Idea That Failed illuminates many of the issues surrounding the idea of intelligence testing. Stephen Murdoch writes about the impact of eugenics in the US and, in its most horrific manifestation, in Nazi Germany. This is epitomised by the story of Carrie Buck, who was sterilised with the authorisation of the US Supreme Court but without her own consent because of her "feeble mindedness".

A Common Language

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Review of ’The Adventure of English‘, Melvyn Bragg, Hodder & Stoughton £20

For a good, highly readable overview of how English developed and where it may be going, Melvyn Bragg‘s book, based on the TV series of the same name, does the job. Bragg traces the roots of English back to the Frisian and other Germanic languages of those who invaded Britain from the 5th century onwards - the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes.

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