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Francis Beckett

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About Francis Beckett

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  1. He admired Maxton but never wanted to be like him. Maxton never budged on his ideals. Brown considers himself a practical politician. It’s clear from the book he wrote that the lesson he learned was: if you insist on demanding everything, you will achieve nothing.
  2. Yes, there is something left, but it is hard to say how much. I noticed the other day that, speaking on education, he praised his own Kirkcaldy school and the pressurized fast-tracking that wernt on there, which resulted in him going to university two years early. At the time he hated it, thought it caused untold human misery, and it turned him against selection in schools.
  3. So anxious is Lord Adonis to bring the fee-charging schools on board that he is allowing them in without paying a penny. Dulwich College, the very expensive and very rich south London public school, is sponsoring the Isle of Sheppey academy, and is putting up no money at all. All the money is coming from Kent Councty Council – that is, from kent ratepayers. Dulwich College is contributing “help in kind” – time and expertise, apparently. What expertise this school, which educates only the sons of the rich, has to offer a school in the deprived Isle of Sheppey, I have no idea.
  4. The reason had nothing to do with the money the sponsors provided. This money always was a drop in the ocean, and has now been reduced to the point where it is irrelevant. The real reason seems to have been a conviction that there was nothing the public sector can do which the private sector can’t do better. So at first the government hoped that academies would be sponsored entirely by business and by churches – the only organisations in whose hands it seems to believe our education system is safe. Of course this fell apart quite quickly. Churches were anxious for control, but did not want to
  5. Here's a revolutionary idea from the education secretary. Get private sponsors - anyone with £2m to spare - to own, run and operate schools. Appeal for "potential sponsors in the business community, churches and existing educational trusts". The government will pay all running costs and most of the capital costs. Sponsors will contribute to the initial capital required. City academies? No, this was an announcement made exactly 20 years ago, at the 1986 Conservative party conference, by the then education secretary, Kenneth Baker. And he called his bright idea city technology colleges (CTCs).
  6. Just before Christmas 1945, as William Joyce, better known as Lord Haw Haw, awaited execution for treason because of his wartime broadcasts from Germany for Hitler, my father wrote to him. "Our children will grow up", John Beckett told his friend, "to think of you as an honest and courageous martyr in the fight against alien control of our country ... That is how we shall remember you, and what we will tell our people." Joyce replied that he was "deeply touched by what you say of the manner in which your children will be taught to regard me". It was a promise my father did his best to keep.
  7. Francis Beckett is a writer and journalist, writing regularly for the New Statesman and The Guardian and for several other publications. He has published several science fiction short stories (in the Young Oxford series from OUP) and his first play, The Sons of Catholic Gentlemen, was broadcast in 1997. He is a former president of the National Union of Journalists and a former Labour Party and trade union press officer. Books by Francis Beckett include Clem Attlee (1997), Enemy Within - the Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party (1998), The Rebel who lost his Cause - the Tragedy of John
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