Posts Tagged ‘downing st’

Kids march for more school

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Whatever is wrong with modern children? I just cannot imagine myself at primary school protesting at getting an extra half-day off school. We would have cheered.

Of course parents are likely to be upset. Having to find some way to look after their offspring on a Friday afternoon when in most families both parents will be at work. It must be bad enough having to make arrangements for the school holidays without this extra burden,

While I was teaching we did get the occasional day where school closed and we were sent home early, and I think we were generally rather pleased, particularly if it was a day when we were down to teach 3G last period. Though I suppose we might have got a little concerned if it were happening on a regular basis, and particularly for some of the classes who were nearing their GCSE or A level exams – and I think there were some times when these exam classes remained for lessons when others left early.

But now of course we have exams at every level, the dreaded SATs, starting in the May of Year 2, when children are only 7. Some schools add to the training in terror by making them take ‘optional SATs’ at the end of every year there isn’t a real SAT test (the next one comes for 11 year olds in Year 6.)

And teachers, particularly head teachers, are of course concerned about the results, as they place their school in the league tables. So concerned that although they only take place for a short period the SATs have come to dominate the whole year’s work in most of our schools. Schools that want to be seen as successful have had to change their whole ethos to “teach for the tests.” It shouldn’t be so.

It was of course a fiction that children were not tested before the SATs. At secondary level children came to us with the results of properly standarised tests from the NFER, tests that were adminstered with none of the anguish and stress of the SATs, which were used to diagnose a pupil’s needs and not to judge schools and which were considerably more useful and reliable, and were not the tail wagging the dog of the school.

As parents, we sent our children to the local schools. The primary school they both went to was a happy school and well run. It tried to continue that way when the SATs came in (fortunately after our children had gone on to the local secondary) but the results of the first year were miserable compared to the other local schools that had drilled their children for the exams from the start, and they were forced to change.

This protest, though I think driven by exam pressures, was not about getting rid of the exams but about funding. Schools have suffered under austerity, and those in the more difficult areas have suffered more than those with wealthier parents, though even those have problems. Parents associations which used to raise funds for extras are now having to do so for essentials, and parents in many schools are now asked for ‘voluntary contributions’ to our free education system. Though with various reforms by both New Labour and Tories we hardly have a system, more a mess.

This protest, like so many schools, was also funded by voluntary contributions, crowdfunding led by Labour MP Jess Phillips who also led the children along Whitehall to Downing St.

Give Me Five days


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Blood of Our Children

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Extinction Rebellion had hoped that police would make arrests when they poured fake blood onto Whitehall, but the police just watched (and doubtless videod and photographed) the event. It was after all doing no real damage and the next shower of rain would wash the street clean if it had not already been hosed down.

It did seem a remarkably sensible approach by the police, though one that will have infuriated some of our politicians, with many on the right feeling the police are being too soft on protesters. But we enjoy a right to protest and it is something that the police often tell us they protect and facilitate, though sometimes I rather feel with a codicil “so long as you do it in a way that nobody much notices” with protest areas being designated at some distance from where protesters want to protest.

Many events in London disrupt traffic, including the many wreath-laying ceremonies just a few yards down Whitehall, as well as major events such as the Trooping of the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament, Royal weddings and the like. Many sporting events also have a major impact, with the London Marathon virtually shutting down the city for a day.

I’ve long thought and suggested that much of central London be pedestrianised and that all through routes should be removed. There have been a few minor improvements to areas such as Trafalgar Square, where traffic no longer flows beside the National Gallery, but I think the city could be much improved by more dramatic restrictions on traffic.

Whitehall could be restricted to emergency vehicles, pedestrians, buses and bikes, along with Westminster Bridge and an end put to though traffic in Parliament Square, which could then benefit from some much-neede landscaping – which could also provide adequiate security without t he current ugly tank traps.

Visually I found the pouring of blood just a little disappointing, one of those ideas that sounds good on paper but didn’t quite deliver in practice, at least for still photographers. It was perhaps too spread out and we were kept too far away and as always there were too many people taking photographs and finding various sometimes ingenious ways to get in the way. I’ve not seen any really interesting still pictures from it, though it looks better on some videos.

It was perhaps an event designed with video in mind, and I’ve sometimes thought I should go back to my roots and work (I did my first serious visual work as a student behind TV cameras, video cameras and a tiny bit of film) with video rather than persist with still photography. But I find making still images much more interesting and challenging.

More about the protest: Blood of Our Children – XR


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images