Friday, 27 May 2011

Everton Jury May 26

'THE Dying Swan' was a ballet from Le Carnaval des Animaux a piece d'ocassion first performed in St Petersburg in 1905.

Yet none of the 4,000 appearances by Miss Anna Pavlova in the role could have eclipsed the performance by Jon Obi Mikel on Sunday.

The game epitomised our season as we finally triumphed over adversity.

Seventh place after being left on the grid at the start of the season was a commendable achievement. At Everton we cling on to some of the old traditions – so we might play in a scruffy old stadium, but we still know how to treat people the right way. Sacking the manager in the corridor after the game? It just showed a lack of class, lack of dignity.

Finally, what do Man United, Arsenal and Everton all have in common?

During the last season they're the only top flight clubs where the owners didn't invest any money. The Glazer Brothers loaded Man United down with debt and Arsenal made a mint out of selling Highbury.

Over to you, Mr Kenwright..

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Academies Letter in The Guardian

Gove's theory is that competition will improve the education system, like in the US. They've experimented with magnet schools, small schools and charter schools (the model for academies). The latter have "brands" like Edison and KIPP now running schools as "chains".

There is, of course, an alternative. In Finland they have a fully comprehensive education system, private education is minimal, and schools co-operate and don't view other schools as rivals in the market for consumers (children) and stakeholders (parents).

So where has this marketisation model left the US? Underfunded, the grim legacy of testing with the No Child Left Behind Act and an education system that is chronically divided according to wealth.


Friday, 20 May 2011

Everton Jury May 19

OUR last away game of 2010-11 ended with a whimper at West Brom.

I felt sorry for Bily – under pressure to get some tackles in; by the standard of his red card Nigel de Jong would never last 90 minutes.

It’s been the ‘what if’ season. But go back to 2004 and after the era of ‘Agent Johnson’ we were the laughing stock of the top flight, the club in free-fall, Rooney gone, favourites for relegation, we couldn’t even sign a player on a loan deal.

Between them, Kenwright and Moyes rescued the club and on a minimal budget we’ve over-achieved.

‘Evertonians for Change’ have been selling amber and gold scarves outside Goodison; it’s not on the scale of the Newton Heath revolt and Kenwright is not the Glazer Brothers.

However, there are some un-answered questions on investment.


Teachers' pensions

Pensions are part of the unique, unwritten contract with government that is taken on trust by teachers. When significant changes were made in 2008 we were promised they were "once in a lifetime" and the pension scheme was secure and viable. So what is to stop every government from gouging chunks out of teachers' pensions?

As for our generous, "gold-plated" pensions, we can now join our colleagues in the private sector in the race to the bottom as final-salary pensions are jettisoned (except of course for the chief executives, and there is no sign of MPs abandoning their platinum-plated pensions, courtesy of the tax-payer).

As a graduate profession, teachers are considerably under-paid when compared to law, medicine or finance. Pensions represent deferred wages and at an average of £10,000 per annum aren't exactly a king's ransom.

So now we are hit with Mr Gove's triple whammy - pay more, retire later and receive less. The danger is that NQTs facing the financial pressure of student loans, paying for housing and 9 per cent of their salary in pension contributions will just decide to opt out - who thinks of pensions when they are in their twenties? This will inevitably lead to the total collapse of the teachers' pension scheme.

After three decades of being dumped on from a great height by successive governments, being branded as total, useless incompetents by the media and hounded by Ofsted inspectors, maybe, finally, finally, the outrageous attack on our pensions will be the proverbial straw that breaks the proverbial camel's proverbial back.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Public Schools

Millions badly spent

How did public schools acquire charitable status (Opinion, 10 May)? Some were established in the Middle Ages by generous benefactors, their aim not to educate the poor, but the "sons of dec'yed gentlemen". In Victorian times, case law established a highly questionable interpretation of "public benefit".

Through claiming "charitable" status public schools are able to garner millions in tax exemptions. If this tax could be reclaimed by the state it could be spent on the 93% of pupils in the state sector.

Letter in Guardian Education

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Everton Jury

UNLESS you were hiding behind an 18 foot brick wall you couldn’t have missed that global spectacle – extravagant wealth; some participants acting like spoilt children; over-hyped PR; sycophantic, oleaginous commentators and hysterical spectators.

Yes, apart from the Royal Wedding, we also saw the worst and the best of the ‘beautiful game’ in the UEFA Champions League.

Everton might not be in the top 20 of the world’s richest clubs (Manchester City have climbed from 20th to 11th place) but our success is due to honest endeavour, not some quick money fix from a billionaire or sheikh.

Another disturbing trend in football is the cult of the manager – Wenger, Ferguson and Mourinho.

Contrast them with the understated David Moyes who just gets on with the task of getting the best out of his players. No whining, no mind games, no excuses.