August 25: Revolutions fail to help Bradford’s schools

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From: John G Davies, Alma Terrace, East Morton, Keighley.

ONCE again education in Bradford is in the spotlight, and whether improvements to city schools are too slow.

What is it about Bradford that creates such an intransigent problem with its schools? This situation has continued at least since the advent of Ofsted in the early 90s.

None of the drastic attempts, including privatisation and changing from a middle school system, appear to have made any significant difference. Those changes appear to have been made for political and ideological reasons; they have never been evidence-based. Turning one school around is a difficult enough task; the expectation that dozens of school, both primary and secondary, can be turned round quickly and effectively seems unreasonable. Obviously, rapid improvement is highly desirable, but whether it is actually achievable is another matter.

Bradford’s problems seem to be shared with other deprived areas; Humberside, Doncaster, Knowsley. Why is attendance so poor, what can be done to improve it; why are the skill levels inadequate, how can they be raised? Are the problems related to the “post-industrial situation” in these areas, where the raisons d’etre, wool, fishing, coal, have largely vanished?

Surely Sir Dave Brailsford’s “incremental improvement” approach would be more appropriate. Identifying problems and nibbling away at them produces a more satisfying outcome; it is readily achievable, one can see the developments and it encourages one to persist, while the failure of sweeping changes is downheartening, leading to giving up.

A drain on democracy

From: Bob Swallow, Settle.

EXAMING the internet for details of the areas potentially to be affected by fracking (The Yorkshire Post, August 22), I find it striking that none of them are in the Home Counties. Is the reason for this geological or political? Sussex is the nearest with the Isle of Wight also potentially in the firing line. Have I just got a nasty suspicious mind or is there more to this than meets the eye?

My understanding is that fracking will require vast amounts of water. So what happens next time we have a heat wave followed by a water shortage? No prizes for guessing the answer. Stand pipes to the ready. After fracking, there is then the question of dealing with polluted water, perhaps a long pipeline to the Home Counties is the answer to this. Let them deal with the mess

Too many unanswered questions followed by dilution and perhaps abolition of democracy?

Failures of privatisation

From: D Wood, Howden.

RE the question should the railways be re-nationalised? (The Yorkshire Post, August 18).

The railways were de-nationalised by the Tories in 1993 on orders from our masters in the EU. They dictated how this was to be done by fragmenting the system, so that we ended up with a stupid arrangement whereby the tracks, stations, signalling etc were owned by one entity (originally the failed Railtrack),

The trains are owned by three different companies, and they are operated by a number of other companies via franchises. The real criminal tragedy is that while we were told that nationalisation does not work, most of these train operating companies running our trains are foreign state-owned companies, who are fleecing the British traveller in order to subsidise their own railway systems,

The same is or course true with gas, water and electricity, all sold off at about one eighth of their true value by Mrs Thatcher, and now nearly all owned by foreign nationalised companies who are likewise fleecing the British consumer.

While I believe in free enterprise; the fact of the matter is these industries are basically public utilities and should all be nationalised and run for the benefit of the people of this country and not for the benefit of other EU countries. As these industries are all engineering-based, the obvious way to do this efficiently is to get a top notch engineer as the CEO of each enterprise.

Sobering encounter

From: Chris Williams, Morley.

I WAS returning home with my three children on the train from a day out in Scarborough, and had the misfortune to encounter a group of inebriated people who got on at York (The Yorkshire Post, August 24).

From their very loud and expletive-ridden shrieked conversation, we soon learned they had been to the races at York. They were clearly very drunk and were still drinking cans of strong lager on the train.

They were making fellow passengers feel uncomfortable and I had to tell them to tone the language down as there were children present.

Fortunately, they still had enough sense to realise they were behaving inappropriately, so they apologised.

Nevertheless, I would urge anyone attending any event where they will come into contact with sober members of the public to please go easy on the drink.

Fred’s fast delivery of wit

From: Andrew Burnhill, Bridle Stile, Halifax.

THE research about the physical attributes of fast bowlers and your Editorial (The Yorkshire Post, August 22) pondering FS Trueman’s reaction reminded me of a story.

At a prize giving at Whitcliffe Mount (then) Grammar School, Cleckheaton in the 1960s Mr Trueman gave a talk. Someone asked “what makes a great fast bowler?” Fred thought for a moment and replied “bloody hard work and a big arse”. Cue much laughter from the pupils sat at the back.