Gove misses the change to metric

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From: JW Slack, Swinston Hill Road, Dinnington, Sheffield.

WHILE reflecting on the column by John Roberts (Yorkshire Post, June 12) on the launch of the back-to-basics curriculum for primary schools, I pictured a young boy (me) sitting his 11 plus examination in 1945 and being confronted with 40 arithmetic questions involving all the imperial measures in use at the time plus fractions and decimals with 60 mental arithmetic calculations – each part to be completed in 20 minutes.

My training for this task involved a daily dose of tables chanting plus a test of memory and further instruction into how to identify quick ways of problem-solving by spotting important information in questions.

Sadly, many children could not understand the relationship between numbers but many picked it up whilst learning a trade upon leaving school or playing darts at the club? I began my teaching career in the above system. Education Secretary Michael Gove has resurrected the old 11 plus curriculum but has overlooked the fact that we are now all metric with everything revolving round base 10 and there being little use in knowing that 12 x 12 = one gross.

Following the demise of the 11 plus schools, we were asked at primary level to broaden the curriculum to give a more practical use of mathematics to assist in recording and explaining data in science, history, and geographical experiences.

It is in the way that language experiences grow because new words are introduced (eg concave, convex, plane, image and reflection in a study of light/murals) where the word can be learned both regarding spelling and meaning. This principle applies across the whole of the curriculum – especially to the less able where the pace is slower and the topic selected for study needs to be appropriate.

Memorising is important – but rote learning is inefficient – true learning involves physical and mental activities to experience the word in context to give meaning. Teachers are there to help children understand how to deal with life and develop all the skills of which they are capable.

These may be limited. For Ministers to “expect children to know” is unreasonable – unfair to the children concerned who have many difficulties and completely inappropriate for teachers helping children.

Wellington to dodge boot?

From: RC Curry, Adel Grange Close, Leeds.

THE numbers have been crunched by the back room bureaucracy and the politicians are about to speak, but as usual the cracks to allow news to creep out have been left to do their worst.

The outcome of the defence review is rumoured to be that the most famous soldier in British history is about to lose his name from a British Army Regiment in the forthcoming cuts. Nelson and Victory will be remembered, but Wellington will go at the stroke of a pen, yet it was the Duke who finally settled the Napoleonic fate. Obviously loss of names in military reviews is a sensitive matter, albeit some of them have been honorary only or county titles, but in this case we are talking about the definitive soldier, even above Marlborough, of all British military history; a justifiable cause for concern.

Of course, nowadays soldiers are cross-posted between units and there are those from Lancashire serving in Yorkshire regiments. That is understandable and it is nothing new. However, if these number crunchers and their political masters are so adamant, perhaps they might care to consider this simple suggestion.

Rename the Yorkshire Regiment as The Duke of Wellington’s Yorkshire Regiment, then any battalions can be sub titled with their own traditional names, such as Green Howards, Prince of Wales Own, just as they are now. After all, the Duke’s crest is already incorporated in the Yorkshire Regiment badge, together with the Yorkshire Rose.

Signs of tradition

From: Geoffrey Bayley, Chairman of Saddleworth White Rose Society, Delph, Saddleworth, West Riding.

MAY I add to the correspondence from Dennis Cairns relating to historic county boundary signs (Yorkshire Post, June 16).

Firstly, there are similar signs on the A682 near Blacko.

Around two years ago, Saddleworth White Rose Society (SWRS), in collaboration with Friends of Real Lancashire (FoRL) erected a pair of signs on the A672 at Grains between Oldham and Denshaw. The “Yorkshire” sign is mounted on an original West Riding County Council (WRCC) stone plinth, whilst the “Lancashire” sign is attached to a garden wall.

Early in May this year, SWRS attached a “Yorkshire” sign to an existing WRCC stone plinth on the A640 Rochdale Road at Denshaw. A corresponding “Lancashire” sign will be erected when a suitable location has been identified.

On May 19, “Lancashire” and “Yorkshire” signs, each of which were mounted on new purpose-built stone plinths, were unveiled by the Mayor of Oldham Metropolitan Borough, Richard Knowles. These are situated on the A669 between Lees and Springhead, at a place known locally as County End.

SWRS & FoRL adopted the form of words for the signs, as referred to in the earlier letter, ie “Historic West Riding of Yorkshire” and “Lancashire the County Palatine.” My understanding is that several years ago the wording was agreed with Lancashire County Council, to avoid any confusion with the Highway Authority. The signs of course each have the appropriate county rose’ and ours are the correct way up!