Tit of the Day – Kathy Gyngell
One might have thought that a self- appointed expert and professional bigot with a First Class Degree from an elite University would be able to construct a logical argument but in the article
Michael Gove’s fight to rescue children branded ‘special needs’ is another step towards reform of our education system she provides an exemplary illustration of why the right in the UK is disintegrating.
She starts with one of the few sensible comments made by Michael Gove:
He bemoaned the fact that those in the best jobs and best positions today – including himself, the best part of the cabinet, the top sportsmen and actors – came from the best (private) schools. In many cases from just one of them, Eton.
and draws a conclusion that bears no relation to the statement:
Instead of focussing on the insidious block to meritocracy – to true social mobility – created by the ‘all must have prizes’ doctrine…
She goes on to mention the ‘waste and failure of Sure Start ‘, naturally being a right winger she provides no evidence for this assertion so let’s look at the
1. The Sure Start programme as a whole is one of the most innovative and ambitious Government initiatives of the past two decades. We have heard almost no negative comment about its intentions and principles; it has been solidly based on evidence that the early years are when the greatest difference can be made to a child’s life chances, and in many areas it has successfully cut through the silos that so often bedevil public service delivery. Children’s Centres are a substantial investment with a sound rationale, and it is vital that this investment is allowed to bear fruit over the long term. (Paragraph 16)
She then moves on to the main thrust of her article, SEN reform and she finally produces a figure from an organisation involved in education:
OFSTED admits that 450,000, or over 25 per cent of the children branded as ‘SENS’ need not be ‘statemented’ in this way
Unfortunately she then reverts to type and quotes another professional bigot from the same right wing think tank with which she is associated:
Other experts think this is still a gross underestimate. The number could be nearer 80 per cent. This is what Tom Burkard, Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, whose advice was crucial in shaping the November 2010 Education White Paper (also architect of the Pheonix Free School bid) thinks.
It is also unfortunate that OFSTED seem to have a similar cavalier attitude towards evidence:
Ofsted said that funding could be an “obvious motivation” for schools to inflate SEN figures, but said that in its study it did not find evidence that this was happening.
The founding of a Free School staffed entirely by ex-military will be interesting on various levels, leaving aside that fact that the Admissions procedure cannot be used (in theory) to select certain social groups, although it is amazing how the number of children in receipt of free school meals is below average in the vast majority of such schools, the following observation has been made by Philip Blond of ResPublica:
Enforcement of discipline without an attempt to diagnose and remedy the causes of behavioural misconduct tends not to work
She continues to quote Burkard:
He says that the definition of special educational needs has been extended well beyond genuine physical or mental disabilities.
according to the BBC this is no secret:
What types of SEN are most common?
The largest categories are “moderate learning difficulty” (24.2%), behaviour, emotional and social difficulties (22.7%) and speech, language and communications needs (16.3%). A much smaller proportion of pupils have physical disabilities (3.8%), visual or hearing impairments (3.4%), and autism spectrum disorders (8.1%).
and in Scotland the definition and practice is somewhat different
In Scotland, the concept of special educational needs has been broadened to “additional support needs” and includes factors affecting a child’s learning such as bullying, bereavement, family being in care or being a teenage parent.
Local authorities must provide for all such needs, and a plan must be produced if the child needs support from different agencies – such as health or social services.
She then moves on to the Chris Grayling school of ‘evidence by anecdote’, the typical recourse of the liar, the incompetent or the pig ignorant:
The ‘statemented’ children I know of loathe it.
Maybe she could talk to the parents rather than engage in communal ideological masturbation with her right wing think tankers:
He [Burkard] contends that any child, even the most disadvantaged, can be taught to read; that with the right attitude from the school their parents can be engaged with this. He cites case after case from his own experience.
What a ridiculous load of bull, we are now in the realm of the miracle worker.
the processes involved in getting a child ‘statemented’ to secure the funds for the school to employ more teachers, has only distracted schools from meeting real needs.
The processes involved and their unfitness for are something with which I can agree with the author, this is a typical example of the kinds of problems encountered by parents across the country:
She then moves on to make another assertion that is unsupported by any evidence:
But the fiction of needing ever more teaching assistants will only be solved by winning the battle to return to highly structured teaching. Synthetic phonics is a rare example of such a victory.
In fact if she hadn’t misrepresented the ‘success’ of synthetic phonics she would have destroyed her whole article based, as is so much of her writing, on a bed of half truths and outright lies. Here is a more rounded explanation of the use of synthetic phonics, note the emphasis on child-centred teaching:
The West Dunbartonshire phonics experiment was launched in 1997, at the same time as the Clackmannanshire scheme, with the aim of eradicating pupil illiteracy within a decade. At the time, the area had one of the poorest literacy rates in the UK, with 28% of children leaving primary school at 12 functionally illiterate. In 2007, the council reached its target of full literacy, the first education authority in the world to do so.
Synthetic phonics was at the core of the scheme, but was only one strand in a 10-step programme that included extra time in the curriculum for reading, home support for parents, and the fostering of a “literacy environment” in the community.
“A lot of people came and asked us about what we were doing,” says Nellis. “We said the main thing you must do is adapt it to the children you are working with and the area where you are.”
There is a belief among some within the education sector in Scotland that this message has not been taken on board south of the border, and that synthetic phonics has become an end in itself, rather than a key building block in a more comprehensive literacy strategy.
“People have taken it and used it for their own ends,” says one educationist. “And where it has been more politicised, some of the elements have become lost.”
Robertson, now Clackmannanshire’s education service manager, says they had always taken the view that synthetic phonics in itself was not a magic bullet, and have resisted entreaties to become involved in the debate south of the border. “We would see it as an important component of learning to read, but it is not the only component. “
More Kathy Gyngell bollocks, lies, misrepresentations
Report published by right-of-centre think tank is inaccurate and misleading – http://www.drugscope.org.uk/Media/Press+office/pressreleases/CPS-report
I was asked to talk about the current government’s new attitude to heroin addiction: namely its efforts to do away with proven treatments such as methadone and buprenorphine. Without warning, I found myself debating the issue with Kathy Gyngell, a vocal protagonist of “recovery” from addiction. This proved challenging, as she was not interested in scientific studies showing that substitution or maintenance treatment worked, continuing to pursue the claim that abstinence was a proven alternative.
When I asked for scientific evidence to back up Gyngell’s claims, she made the remarkable statement that her “personal” evidence of efficacy for recovery programs was as valid as the scientific studies I was quoting. I was almost speechless, more because of the complete lack of any sense of insight into the absurdity of her statement than in the substance of her claims. When evidence becomes what is – in the words of the Red Queen, “what I say it is” – then we are really in trouble.