Monthly Archives: February 2012

More free schools

Having just blogged about the proposed free primary school last week, I have now been made aware of plans to set up a free secondary school in the area as well. Having made the point in my last post that it was at secondary level that a new school was required, I am of course delighted about this development. Some months ago I contacted Nick Driver, the chairman of the Envisage local survey project to ask for his help in identifying individuals who might be interested in taking such a project on. It has taken some time, but those people have now stepped forward and I wish them all possible success in their endeavour.

Choice in education should not be the preserve of those who can afford to pay private school fees. For that reason I can’t agree with Andrew Tulloch, the present head of St Andrew’s Primary, who apparently told the Surrey Advertiser last week that “there is absolutely no need for a free primary school”. There is a legitimate question whether there is sufficient demand in the Cobham / Oxshott / Stoke d’Abernon area to fill another school; but that is not the right question to be asking. The right question is whether the addition of a new player into the local state education scene will improve standards across the board. I am sure that it will and I am sure that all local head teachers would agree with me that in education there is no room for complacency no matter how good the existing schools may be. Competition is good for everyone – for schools, for parents and most importantly for children, as each school strives to match and exceed the achievements of the others.

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Cobham Free School

The Free Schools policy was the best reason to vote Conservative at the last General Election. A step on from Labour’s successful Academies policy, this allows individuals to set up an independent, state funded school in their local area.

A local group have accomplished the first stage of the procedure to set up a free primary school here in Cobham. I have personally been looking to find a means to improve secondary education provision in the southern part of the Borough, and therefore although I would have preferred to see an application for a secondary school I am delighted with the progress so far of the Free School project.

They are holding a meeting at  Cobham Village Hall on Saturday 25 February from 10 am until 12 noon. This will be an opportunity to hear more of the Trustees’ vision for the new school and to meet representatives from the Trust. I would encourage anyone with an interest in local education provision to go along. I would also be delighted to hear, via this blog, from any parents who would like to see this new primary school eventually to expand into a secondary school.

The likely site for the Free School is the old police station – which is sited in my ward. It would be a fantastic addition to the local scene and will I hope provide a great resource for the parents and children in my ward.

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USA 2

Back in April 2010 and newly enthused from a  trip over there I had planned a series of blogposts on the US. Life, and other distractions, choked that one off at birth. Today I’m going to try to take up the thread again, as I have been following the race for the Republican nomination and because we are taking another family holiday there this coming Easter.

On any rational assessment of his record, Obama ought to struggle for re-election come November. The US economy is struggling out of recession and unemployment numbers are high. His healthcare policy is divisive and he has just lost control of the House of Representatives. Yes, he can point to the removal of Osama bin Laden – but no-one is seriously claiming al-Qaeda are finished as a result. But when you look at the Republican candidates one finds it hard to imagine that Obama could lose to any of them.

Conservatives and Republicans historically have enjoyed close ties, from Eisenhower and Churchill through to Thatcher with Reagan and George Bush I. I on the other hand would find it impossible to make common cause with most of the Republican party. I do not support the death penalty. I might wish the abortion limit were lower but I would far rather our compromise to the bombing of clinics seen in the US. Religious belief is a private matter as is sexuality. All of those views would instantly rule me out of any Republican primary. (For the record I would feel no more at home with the Democrats). Presidential candidates need to appeal to the extremes to be selected and then row back to the centre to be elected. No wonder they are called flip floppers.

It loks as though Mitt Romney will win the nomination. He is the moderate option and he will only win because the party will hold its nose and choose someone who can possibly win the presidency over someone who simply cannot win. But Obama will have a field day with Romney’s connection with the banks, his lack of consistency in his expressed opinions, and with the fact that he is a Mormon. Let us not forget that evangelical Christianity sees Mormonism as a sect, and of the Devil.

So the Republicans ought to win, but are in the process of throwing it away, and the Democrats ought to lose, but will probably scrape in by default. It will hardly be a ringing endorsement for whoever will emerge this autumn as the leader of the free world, and this is just at a time when firm international leadership is required.

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