Speaking English is vital at school

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From: Bob Crowther, High Street, Crigglestone, Wakefield.

I FOUND your front page headline (Yorkshire Post, September 21) stating that Yorkshire primary schools are bottom of the league in English tests, rather judgemental and rather critical.

Let us be quite honest with ourselves, we know in our heart of hearts the reason for this state of affairs. The first steps to improving the situation is to find the ability to attract competent and skilful teachers to the classrooms. I strongly suspect that the bulk of teaching staff in such schools are on a hiding to nothing, due to the fact that a large percentage of their pupils are unable to speak English as their first language, a fact which is bound to affect the overall performances of the schools in our region.

It is futile to lay blame upon the education system, or the staff of the schools involved, when faced with these surmounting problems. Is this the result of poor teaching methods or does this reflect a more deeper problem?

From: P Armstrong, Hall Bank Drive, Bingley.

IN response to your comment (Yorkshire Post, September 21) I should like to put forward the following.

Instead of suggesting that the primary schools in all of Yorkshire are to blame for poor results perhaps you could look at the following: Where are the poor performances in English?

Probably in inner city schools where it is not unknown to have numerous languages spoken, English is the second language and unfortunately all teaching and testing is done in English.

There are still children of fourth and fifth generations who still do not speak English until they attend school. Families who have no books in the house and show no interest in helping their children with reading because that’s the job of the teacher. Governments who continually alter the curriculum and add new subjects and introduce new theories and methods when the older ones have proved their worth. A concentration on the “Three Rs” might help.

Teaching phonics is a typical example, used for years, went out of fashion, now back in again with the added expense of new books and equipment

From: Iain Morris, Saltaire, Shipley.

SO why, if such a huge and uncompromised event can be so popular in Germany, is there still such a built-in, deep-rooted suspicion of contemporary art in this country?

From: B Davies, The Paddock, Normanton, West Yorkshire.

I REFER to a letter from Alan Carcas “Turn Back Time” (Yorkshire Post, September 24). I am confident some of his facts are not quite correct, inasmuch as to obtain a school certificate at a grammar school in the 40s and 50s one had to pass English Language and at least five other subjects. Fail English language and you failed the exam and had to take the whole exam again.

Not a great number of pupils went to university compared with today, I read some time ago that 15/20 times as many pupils go to university now, as compared with 60 or so years ago. In my day, 1947, the exam was called the Northern Universities School Certificate.

Mansion tax would be unfair

From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

THE flavour of the week seems to be a wealth tax. This has always been a pet idea of left-wingers and radicals in the belief that it would iron out extremes of poverty and affluence. Unfortunately the arithmetic doesn’t add up as there are infinitely more of the former than the latter.

Yes but wouldn’t it swell the Treasury’s coffers? Not to any significant extent. We are dealing with huge numbers here and in any case, tax increase at the top would encourage more tax avoidance and I thought the government was trying to cut down on that. Making the well-off pay more is a populist cry guaranteed to raise a few cheers but it would end up worsening our already bleak economic prospects.

There is of course already a progressive system whereby the proportion of tax you pay increases the more you earn. To single out the wealthy further would be counterproductive.

The fact is society is not fair and such a measure would not make it any fairer.

Conservative thinking

From: Robert Reynolds, Harrogate.

RECENTLY, I watched Michael Portillo’s train journeys on TV.

His greatest insight was at the end: “I’ve pursued a career as a public servant and have now travelled the country meeting many people. I wish I’d done the latter before doing the former.”

He’s learned something.

Far too many politicians make bad decisions, as Thatcher did, and she did them deliberately, ignoring the social cost.

Interest rates soared, the exchange rate soared, capital was allowed to freely exit and manufacturing industry was devastated more by her than the Luftwaffe. The essence of Thatcherism – individual freedom and responsibility – has been ignored, replaced by greed – individual and corporate.

Their God is the free market, which somehow must be allowed to “regulate itself”. If that is not absurd, then where the hell were you in 2008? Modern “New Right” Conservatives have no ideas for creating a healthy vibrant society.

Instead they chastise, calling British workers lazy. Their policies inevitably create social division and poverty. They should return to One Nation Conservatism and exile the “little Englanders” with Ukip. Sadly, there are no big thinkers or visionaries in the Conservative Party today. It is why they fail.