Socialist Worker

Education: Tomlinson report will reinforce divisions

Issue No. 1925

LAST WEEK’S Tomlinson report into education for 14-19 year olds claims to tackle the problem of working class children who fail to achieve basic academic qualifications.

Its proposals include more vocational subjects in secondary schools and replacing GCSEs with new diploma qualifications.

The report responds to an education system in crisis, pulled apart by contradictory pressures.

On one side are employers and the government, who want education to put the needs of corporate Britain first. On the other are parents, students and teachers, with mounting criticisms of the system.

Many teachers will welcome the Tomlinson proposal to scale down external examinations. But the report still fails to address the problems in our education system, because it refuses to recognise their real causes.

No one from the state education sector was on the 15-member committee that drew up the Tomlinson report. This speaks volumes about the real agenda—finishing off comprehensive education and returning to the days of selection.

Comprehensive education was a vital step forward that benefited millions of working class children. Grammar schools and secondary moderns stifled our children’s creative talents and pigeonholed them from a very early age.

We should not accept Tomlinson’s false polarisation between vocational and academic education.


ASBOs mean more watered down justice

LORD FALCONER, the minister in charge of courts, announced new measures last week to allow witnesses to remain anonymous in Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) cases.

Yet ASBOs are already dished out on evidence that would be thrown out of criminal court—hearsay, rumours and second-hand evidence are all acceptable.

ASBOs are being used as a backdoor method of imprisoning people with little or no evidence.

There are clear links between this latest attack on civil liberties and the “anti-terrorism” laws brought in after 11 September 2001.

The government’s 2001 legislation allowed foreign nationals to be imprisoned indefinitely without charge. This is now being mirrored with people being imprisoned for breaking ASBO rules on lower standards of evidence than would be acceptable in a criminal court.

ASBOs are presented as a necessary device to stop vandalism, racist attacks and burglary. But there are laws and courts in place that are meant to deal with such crimes. The real aim of the ASBO initiative is to crack down on and criminalise a whole layer of society.


So long—no thanks for all the writs

FRANK CHAPPLE, the electricians’ union leader who died last week, wasn’t the only trade union official to sue Socialist Worker.

But he was the only one who did it four times. On the last occasion he contacted paper sellers around the country who hadn’t sent in their paper money in a wasted effort to collect the cash a judge had awarded him.

There wasn’t a moist eye here when the news of Frank’s passing reached us.

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Sat 30 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1925
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