building up to a rant

I don’t have the information, but I’m sure I’m mad about something.

It could be the daft NI systems for changing to secondary school at 11. I’ve complained about that before, when each girl spent Saturday mornings doing ridiculous tests in the hope of getting to the school of choice. Many moons ago children were deemed to have ‘Passed’ or ‘Failed’. An official Failure at 11…

Now the systems are more complicated and nobody ‘fails’, but try telling that to the mum I met on Saturday morning. She was in floods of tears because her daughter’s score was lower than expected. The child had a higher score than Girl2, but her mum was devastated. She didn’t know if the child would get into the school of choice. In contrast, I spoke to a granny later, a granny in tears of joy because the eldest grandchild had a score that would probably get him into his preferred school- his score was 11 points lower than that of the girl. Each school has its own criteria, and there are two totally different types of tests to be mastered if all options are to be open.

Girl 2 did all the tests, and overcame her anxieties to get the grade she wanted to go to the same school as Girl 1. There was relief and joy and ‘Yes you can!’. The grin hasn’t left her face since. That doesn’t make the system fair or right.

I’m missing things. I know there are annoying things happening, but I’ve lost track. Is it the demonstrable callousness of the UK government? Is it the selling off of the National Health Service? Is it the promotion of inequality? It could be the attack on welfare. Is it the laws passed to stifle debate? is it the gradual whittling away of rights? Is it feeling of death by a thousand cuts? There is so much wrong with our society (as well as the floods, flags, arrogance) that it’s hard to feel that I can make any impact at all. There are so many battles to fight and nobody can do it all.

Divide and conquer.

Big business wins.

And we sleepwalk into greater inequality, into greater deprivation, because all we can do is use the systems to do well by our own.

Wooly guilt? Vague nonsense based on misread tweets?


Could be. But I might need to read the papers to be sure, and I can’t read worthy things. I need simple versions of things. A Dummies guide for current politics (lefty version).

Maybe some of the smart kids could make an app for that.


13 thoughts on “building up to a rant

  1. You are articulating something that is going round my mind. There is so much doublespeak in politics. Who is the “We” in “We are all in this together”? The Guardian had a piece on saturday about properties for sale in north London for £73 milion pounds. To me that just says some people have too much money. That houses can be sold for so much seems morally wrong. Think what £73 milion could do for the health service, or invested in business to create jobs that paid real wages.
    The policies that promote extrtemes of haves and have nots are turning us into a very divided country.

    1. It’s getting worse and worse and I can’t keep track of all the ways in which we fail each other. That worries me. We are great minds, Isobel, I linked to that article 🙂

      1. Michael Gove tonight made me despair so much. It was the same old message of private good, state bad. The big difference in education is that private schools can choose what to do while state ones are increasingly controlled.

  2. There seems to be little or no chance of influencing the government on anything at all, even though there’s never been a greater need to challenge all the regressive policies they’re pushing through day after day. Re education, there shouldn’t be any selection by test, you should just be able to progress to another school of your choice. And pigs will fly.

    1. I’m just overwhelmed by it Nick. There’s so much that’s wrong and I have no idea where to start. It doesn’t feel right to put my head in the sand and ignore it all, but no protest/ alternative suggestions appear effective.

    1. It’s designed that way Tom. If you engage with red tape at all, they like to have wrong footed you from the start, just to be clear where power and fault lie.

    1. I feel like I protest randomly and ineffectively, and keep being manipulated to be fluffy and useless. If I had the energy to make sense of it all and be effective, I’d be working and not have the time to do anything anyway 😦 It just feels wrong to go with the flow, but what options are there?

  3. Logical ranting at its best. Ranting isn’t really in my vocabulary, I prefer ‘being concerned’. Ranting is without reason. Your concerns seem reasonable.

    Your educational system is baffling for me. We test here, though the testing of children is to determine the quality of teaching and to see whats working or not working -a simplistic summary. It is compulsory testing, though the burden is not put on the student but rather on the system to prove it’s validity. School boards are mandated to deliver and maintain the quality of education. It is public funding. Public education is public education. Period. Private schools do exist, they receive no public funding and those who send their children to private school boards still are not exempt from public school tax with the except being Catholic School Boards. The later being on the decline , though still well maintained and uses the essential the testing for the same reason.

    Am not saying we have a perfect system, far cry from perfect. But it seems to be heading, perhaps slowing in the right direction. It has to. No society can afford to make huge mistakes with its education. It would seem to me, paramount that all children receive the best effort from those involved in educating them -hate to say it, but it is the sum the parts that make the whole. Children have to love to learn. Teachers have to love to teach. Children have to be taught by teachers trained with all the correct tools. Seems simple. Just common sense.

    Maybe the definition of common sense varies. Am tending to lean towards the notion that two common sense approaches exist. Common sense one that is rooted in the status qua -a dash of the past, against change or prefers to be ignorant hoping the problems will fix themselves.

    Common sense two or you could use ‘to’, seeks changes, knows mistakes will be made but is resolved to moving forward with an eye to the future.

    Keep ranting with reason, it makes good sense to and a component to common sense #2.

    1. Our Education system operates a ‘streamed’ system of grammar and secondary schools. Selection for grammar school is by testing. being sectarian Northern Ireland, there are two systems of testing, essentially ‘protestant’ and ‘catholic’. So we have parallel schools- catholic primaries, secondaries and grammars; protestant primaries, secondaries and grammars. In order to keep all options open, our girls did both types of test. Completely different types of testing.
      Yes, our education system is baffling.
      And it’s not even useful- folk leave school at 18 with great qualifications OR they leave at 16 with problems with literacy & numeracy (I exaggerate the extremes, but not much). Like everything, everywhere it’s about power and preserving the status quo- the most powerful voice in debates about education here is ‘Save our Grammar Schools’. There was no voice of ‘Save our Children’
      Yes, I feel guilt at participating in the system at all.

  4. I think the “death by a thousand cuts” observation is a good one. I can easily become overwhelmed with all that worries me for the future, makes me sad and alternately angry today, and the confusion that comes with trying to understand the facts of anything when there is so much political spin. I try to find one or two areas that I can focus on, and put my effort at understanding those issues that connect there. And then I have an informed advocacy role to support those limited issues. No one can do it all or even understand every issue. It’s very hard to see how poverty is rising and the needs too often overlooked. I can understand where your frustration is coming from. It’s a familiar feeling!

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