The YP comment (August 21): Beheaded in pursuit of truth

THE FEARLESS freelance journalist James Foley was executed by a British-speaking member of the self-proclaimed Islamic State for one very fundamental reason: he was prepared to put his life on the line to expose the crimes against humanity being committed by jihadists in Syria and across the wider Middle East.

The civilised world is in debt to Mr Foley and all those heroic foreign correspondents who are facing extraordinary risks as they attempt to chronicle the torture and slaughter being carried out by fanatical extremists with blood-thirsty beliefs that have become a grave threat to human decency.

This barbaric beheading is also another bloody reminder to David Cameron, if one was needed, about the security threat posed by young Muslims who are being radicalised by extremist groups whose poison, made more toxic by the West’s intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, is spreading at an alarming rate.

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This was not reflected by Philip Hammond’s low-key response when the Foreign Secretary asserted that the gruesome video did not change anything – even though he conceded that there are now “significant numbers of British nationals involved in terrible crimes...making jihad with IS and other extremist organisations”.

If this execution is not going to change “anything”, Mr Hammond’s own word, what will it take for the Government to accept that the ruthlessness of IS extremists needs to be checked at the earliest opportunity? These jihadists are not interested in nation-building – they simply want to extend their frontiers across the Middle East to create a caliphate and the weakness of the West’s position will allow them to do so unless world leaders can show some resolve as the wars waged by Tony Blair and George W Bush enter a dangerous new phase.

Making the grade

THE YORKSHIRE Post would like to be the first to congratulate each and every student who has matched – or even exceeded – their personal expectations in this year’s GCSE exams. These individual success stories, and the professionalism of teachers across Yorkshire who helped their students to make the grade, should not be overshadowed by the inevitable debate nationally about whether these results are a vindication of the standards-led approach which was pursued by the dogmatic Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary.

For many youngsters, the transition to A-levels – and then university – will be a smooth one, helped by the confidence that they have accrued from today’s results. For others, however, the future is an uncertain one. This is not to belittle all those who did not achieve five core GCSE subjects at Grade C or better – they could be the first members of their family to have achieved any passes and they will need all the encouragement in the world if they’re to find training and work so they do not become a lifelong burden to the state.

That said, these results are a reminder hat education is a three-way partnership between pupils, parents and teachers and how the Government needs to ensure that primary schools have the expertise and resources to help youngsters to acquire the most rudimentary of skills. Put simply, pupils – and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – will struggle to rise to the challenge of more rigorous GCSE exams unless they grasp the priceless three Rs from an early age. This is one lesson that Nicky Morgan, the new Education Secretary, needs to learn.