June 15: Having the authority to run schools

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From: Roger Backhouse, Orchard Road, Upper Poppleton, York.

CONCERNS about schools converting to academies go beyond the university lecturers mentioned in your article and editorial (The Yorkshire Post, June 9) and you are right to remind us that one of David Cameron’s key tenets “is supposed to be localism”.

Academies are a gimmick to end any local authority influence on education and replace it with remote government control. They do not give more power to parents and there is no evidence they raise standards. It is a power play by a central government bureaucracy anxious to extend its role and no doubt provide jobs within.

Some years ago I worked for Newham Council’s education department. With a vigorous intervention programme by the council, school standards, previously low, rose dramatically though the area remains challenging.

The Conservative shadow education minister of the time visited and was impressed. Sadly he was replaced by others more willing to put dogma by centralising civil servants above evidence of effectiveness.

Whilst a more seamless transition from primary to secondary would help some children, it doesn’t need academy transition to bring this about.

Local understanding and local support for schools is crucial and this can be best provided by local authorities. Not for the first time David Cameron’s actions go against his frequent very fine words.

Cut the SNP down to size


From: RGN Webb, Natty Fields Close, Illingworth, Halifax.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Scottish Nationalist Party, their lion has roared! Could this be the political equivalent of pulling down the goalposts at Wembley? Wembley is still there – and so is David Cameron!

No matter how noisy their representatives are in Parliament, the new government will have no need to listen more carefully to them than any other regional interest group. The SNP would do well to heed the prospect of electoral reform in view of Scotland’s population and Gross Domestic Product being similar to those of Yorkshire.

The SNP talk of holding Cameron’s feet to the fire; are they still living the Battle of Bannockburn? When electoral reform finally comes in, it will be the SNP that becomes ‘toast’. With his brand of emotive soundbite politics, I am tempted to ask at what point of the evolutionary scale does Alex Salmond live? Perhaps Scotland needs evolution rather than devolution. The SNP seeks independence; what happened to the Scottish majority who voted against this? Simple emnity with the English Tories in an attempt to build a nation is shameful as is the wasted talent of experienced, but displaced, Member of Parliament.

The SNP succeeded in persuading the Scots that power would flow from an electoral pact with the Labour Party; fortunately the English voters were savvy enough not to allow itself to be wagged by a Scottish tail. It was Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Salmond that won it, but I suggest a pyrrhic victory. Bring on electoral reform and cut these people down to size.

Bringing back memories...

From: Mike Davison, Holmes Road, Bramley, Rotherham.

AS a former resident of Aberford, I was interested to read of the refurbishment of Becca Hall and its restoration to the family of a former owner in The Yorkshire Post magazine. The article reminded me of the times spent as a boy cycling and walking all around the area. I remember peeping through the windows of the unoccupied hall prior to its sale to the Electricity Generating Board admiring the large rooms and their decor in comparison to my home, a small terrace house.

I also remember cycling around the hall after the sale and glancing at the large wall charts which were beyond my comprehension. It also brought back memories of my late father who had worked at the hall for four years in the 1930s as a member of the gardening staff. He had told me of his work helping to tend the grapevine there and he told me Mr Fawcett arranged cricket matches on a pitch at the front of the hall.

In addition, Mr Fawcett offered an additional prize to anyone who hit a six through the circular window high above the main door. I left the village over 45 years ago and this article has revived long forgotten memories.

Let’s focus on reconciliation

From: Coun Tim Mickleburgh (Lab), Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby.

I MUST admit that I’ve struggled with Remembrance Sunday in the past. Not that I’ve disagree with remembering those who’ve given their lives in war, which is why I now attend local services each year. But I dislike the more militaristic aspects that can intrude, and hate the involvement of national politicians. That was particularly noticeable when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and had taken us to wars not in British interests yet which caused loss of life.

However, I don’t see why we need another Armed Forces Day, which can only really duplicate the older traditional act of remembrance. Instead perhaps we should have a day of peace and reconciliation, with the emphasis on working together to avoid all future conflicts.