Marxism 2015 4: Saturday Morning – Getting There and the First Meeting

An account of getting from my accommodation to the event on the Saturday morning and of the first meeting I attended that day – on the subject of Education.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this, the fourth of a series of posts I shall be producing about Marxism 2015, the five-day political festival in Central London organised by the Socialist Workers Party. The three posts that I was able to put out during the event are available here. I hope I am able to strike a good balance between not running this series until too long after the event has finished and not overwhelming people with vast numbers of blog posts all at once.

THE JOURNEY IN

Having arrived late for the first meeting on Friday I was not going to make the same mistake twice and left the house where I was staying considerably earlier. By good fortune having walked to the end of the road on which I was staying I stepped almost straight on to a 123 bus heading in the direction of Blackhorse Road Station. On the journey I was able to snap this picture of an interesting tribute to William Morris…

DSCN8970At Blackhorse Road the good fortune continued as I also stepped pretty well straight on to a southbound Victoria line train (in spite of having declined to join the stampede of those who heard the sound of a train arriving and were apparently unable to control themselves). I was now so far ahead of schedule that I decided to alight at King’s Cross rather than Euston and take a longer but slightly more scenic walk. Although I could not get the whole vast edifice in one shot, I got some good pictures of that most amazing of central London buildings, St Pancras Station…

DSCN8971 DSCN8972 DSCN8973 DSCN8974 DSCN8975

There were two more photo-worthy sights in this short space of time, a pub named in honour of the world’s first steam locomotive, Stephenson’s “Rocket” (Heron of Alexandria devised a primitive steam engine which he used to remotely open temple doors in the first century CE)…

DSCN8976 DSCN8977

…And this building bearing the another famous name…

DSCN8978

THE FIRST MEETING OF THE DAY

A PERFECT CHOICE OF VENUE

I chose to attend a meeting on education, which was to take place in the Nunn Hall, a particularly appropriate venue as this wall painting makes clear…

The feature image for this post.
The feature image for this post.
The plaque telling us about the painting
The plaque telling us about the painting
Ms Branson's own signature
Ms Branson’s own signature

THE MEETING ITSELF

The meeting started with a statistic that is a devastating indictment of current education, as these pictures show…

Although Jacqui Freeman, giving her opening speech made the mistake of standing directly in front of the slide you can still see enough.
Although Jacqui Freeman, giving her opening speech made the mistake of standing directly in front of the slide you can still see enough.
A close up of the really important bit of the slide - a truly horrifying stat.
A close up of the really important bit of the slide – a truly horrifying stat.

The ever increasing and ever narrowing focus on exams has led to some very unpleasant consequences…

  • 200% increase in children calling childline re exam stress in 2013-14
  • Children as young as eight taking up smoking for stress relief

The speaker referred to the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM – given the unpleasant effects of this movement not an inappropriate acronym!)

The drive for uniformity and conformity that is so rigorously enforced in schools for children of ordinary people is signally absent from one type of school – the speaker cited Bancrofts, which is near the crumbling state school in which she teaches. Bancrofts proclaims itself “diverse and inclusive”, makes clear the although they focus on academic results these are not the be all and end all etc. Unfortunately there is one aspect where it fails on inclusivity – to attend this establishment one’s parents need to be able to afford £15,576 per annum.

Before displaying a few more pictures, I will conclude with a couple more quotes from the meeting:

The first quote is attributed to someone involved in running Ofsted and tells you all you need to know about their despicable attitude: “If morale in the staff room is low, headteachers can be assured they are doing something right.”

The other quote that I picked up on was from a would be music teacher who was being assessed and in responding to a question about how they would teach a particular thing expanded their answer to include a supplementary explanation of what they would do differently for a disabled pupil. One might think that extra credit would be given for providing such a full explanation, but the “assessor’s” response to hearing about allowances being made for a disabled person was laughter.

One final vignette, a schoolgirl who spoke from the floor talked about her school trying to funnel people towards Oxford and Cambridge, so that the school would gain kudos – she was the subject of some apparently prolonged efforts to get her to switch from Paleontology which she wanted to study to Archaeology solely because she could do the latter at one of these two universities.

Speaker Jacqui and chair Phil before the meeting
Speaker Jacqui and chair Phil before the meeting
The Hogwarts like Bancrofts School - diverse and inclusive so long as you come from a rich family.
The Hogwarts like Bancrofts School – diverse and inclusive so long as you come from a rich family.
.Jacqui starting her talk.
.Jacqui starting her talk.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s