Cameron’s Housing Benefit proposal is a nasty attack on the young

6th April, 2012 10:46 am

It’s been a tough fortnight for the prime minister. The disastrous budget, the ‘cash for access’ scandal and ‘pastygate’ have blown a gaping hole in David Cameron’s credibility, with his party plunging to 32% in the polls.

So in the light of this crisis, Cameron has fought back with the politics of divide and rule. Launching the Conservative’s Welsh local election campaign, he announced plans for young people on housing benefit to be denied support and forced to live with their parents. In his speech he claimed he is prepared to “rub people up the wrong way” and ready for a “flat-out, full-throttle fight”.

The problem is that David Cameron is picking the wrong fight. Instead of fighting for responsibility at the top he’s decided to relaunch his crusade to hit those at the bottom, in a desperate populist popularity drive. His proposal, like much of the Coalition’s welfare agenda, is painfully unfair.  It is yet another example of this government hammering young people into the ground for a crisis caused by those at the top.

Downing Street has floated the idea of banning all under 25s from claiming Housing Benefit because it wants younger people to return home if they are out of work, supposedly like many people working in entry level jobs.

Yet the government is again failing to recognise that Housing Benefit is widely claimed by people who are in employment. You do not have to be unemployed to be eligible for Housing Benefit, and so the Coalition is again misfiring and hitting the very people they claim to support. Cameron’s plans came on the same day as previous tax and benefit changes took effect, with up to 212,000 working couples earning less than £17,000 a year losing all of their working tax credit. The government is hitting the very ‘hard working families’ it claims to support.

The reality is that a policy already exists to discourage young people from a Housing Benefit-funded move out of the family home – it’s called the Shared Accommodation Rate. This restricts single, childless claimants under 35 (raised from 25 in January) to only enough Housing Benefit to rent a room in a shared house. This policy is bad enough, as a piece of legislation it discriminates ferociously against the young, but the new proposals are not only far worse but totally unnecessary.

As a country, we already discriminate against the young far too much in our welfare system as it is, but Cameron’s proposals will only serve to intensify the problem. Benefits should be based on need, not on age. Why should a 23 year old not be able to claim housing benefit when a 40 year old in the same circumstances can?

“There is no morally justifiable case for paying the under 25s less housing benefit.” Ed Miliband? Ed Balls? Rachel Reeves? No, this was Danny Alexander speaking when in opposition. He was right then, so what’s changed? Yet again we see the hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats propping up yet another proposal to hammer the very people they once claimed to protect, after their failure to stand up for young people on tuition fees and EMA.

Young people deserve so much better than this sham of a government , and they’re beginning to recognise it. The latest YouGov poll for The Sun showed 52% of young people now say they back Labour, compared with just 27% for the Tories (and a meagre 7% for the Lib Dems).

Ed Miliband must unequivocally oppose this nasty and discriminatory policy, and recognise it for the opportunistic and desperate proposal that it is. Labour shouldn’t ‘support in principle’, we should totally oppose if we’re to continue to convince young people that we’re on their side.

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  • Jeff_Harvey

    Unreconstructed unalloyed undiluted barking madness. The assumption underlying this insanity is, I suppose, that every family can accommodate every son or daughter, under 25, who ends up denied housing benefit as a member of their household. This is utter nonsense. The nuclear family is an ideal not an actuality. Parents separate, divorce, move (sometimes abroad), die, and change their circumstances in an infinite number of ways that comprehensively discount this crazy idea instantly. For example where are under 25 orphans, working or unemployed, supposed to live if they are denied sufficient housing benefit to meet their rent? What happens to young people who are estranged from their families? Or to young people whose parents (or parent) simply do not have sufficient space in their homes to enable them to accommodate more guests? I could spend the rest of the day listing reasons why such a cruel and unusual policy would lead to catastrophe.

    What an extraordinarily wicked and pernicious idea.

    • trotters57

      Cameron thinks the children should be living in the West Wing or the Coach House.

      • treborc

        And labour believed the young did not need the full Min wage, after all they are all living at home was the argument labour put forward for this, most people do not leave home until the are thirty two.

        I  stated then the min wage should end when your eighteen, if you can fight and die for your country, vote, buy a home, they you should be on the full wage, but labour said nope.

        So rents wages seem the young are hammered.

    • treborc

      where is Ed what is his feeling on this, nope nothing

      • Jeff_Harvey

        Doubtless Miliband is waiting for the latest batch of poll data to arrive before he can decide what is the best thing to think about this issue.

        • treborc

          That’s all they have left is the Polls

    • AlanGiles

      You’ve said it all really Jeff. Plainly Cameron thinks that everybody is an heir to a wallpaper factory or a country estate, or dad gives speeches at £50,000 a time…..

      • Jeff_Harvey

        Obviously denying Housing Benefit to the under 25s isn’t really going to happen, Alan. Even as bad a Prime Minister as David Cameron won’t be able to get this one to fly. We get insane nonsense like this injected into the public area from time to time only to fall by the wayside and be forgotten later. Examples include Cameron’s noisome rant about stripping benefits from drunks, drug addicts and the obese because “these people” should be “in work” not seeming to realise that many members of said groups are the least people imaginable that could work for a living or that employers would want to hire people to do any kind of work for them.

        David Cameron claims drunks, drug addicts and the overweight don’t deserve benefits

        This arrant nonsense died the death and received a burial at sea.

        A similar load of doggy do-dos was Wandworth Council’s knee-jerk plan to evict innocent families from social housing if any member of such a family was suspected of participating in the London riots:

        First rioter given eviction notice

        After receiving legal advice to the effect that they had not one hope in hell of carrying out such a cruel and unjust action Wandsworth backed down and recanted.

        Wandsworth Council Backs Down Over Rioter Eviction

        The world is full of absolutely lousy politicians, local and national, and too many of them inhabit the highest echelons of what passes for the Labour Party these days.

        Cameron’s latest “brainwave” will soon be forgotten.

        I hope his nastiness, vindictiveness and crass stupidity won’t be.

    • GuyM

      Some sympathy with waht you say, but also I am sick to death of certain underclass families who seem to think having kids is someone elses financial problem not the parents. 

      • Brumanuensis

        It’s a bit hard to take your complaints about the ‘underclass’ when your previous statements on this website strongly imply that you consider about 90% of the population to belong to this category. Or at least anyone who isn’t a middle-class southerner, living in the Home Counties and paying the 40% income tax rate. Which I would say is about 10% of the population at most and probably less. I mean, it’s potentially true that we are drowning in human scum, but when I see lower-income households in my area, Guy, I generally see people trying to bring up their kids as best they can and deal with circumstances that are invariably beyond their control. A number of them have problems, but the idea that Britain has a vast ‘underclass’ is just rubbish. I don’t recognise these people you’re talking about. I’ve been into schools with a large proportion of students from low-attainment backgrounds and these kids aren’t stupid or lazy or un-motivated. They just don’t have the connections and support to go as far as they could. That’s a tragedy. Some of them may be a bit ‘uncouth’ or have slightly dubious social lives, but calling them an ‘underclass’ is just stereotyping.

        You’re effectively labelling people as sub-human, without having had any significant contact with them outside of what you read in the newspapers, I’ll bet. And yet you seem surprised when people on this website react badly to your comments.

        • GuyM

          I don’t think I’ve ever implied 90% of the UK population is “underclass”.

          I see quite clear distinctions between working class and underclass, but I don’t like either group as a group for their own individual traits.

          I certainly have never said Britain has a “vast underclass”, in fact I think the majority of the UK is probably now middle class.

          As for the comment that some lower class kids can be a “bit uncouth”, I do disagree with that, my experience is that most of them are capable of being very uncouth and as such I avoid them like the plague.

          I don’t like the working class for my own reasons and the same applies to the underclass….. either way I have no time for unintelligent people, the stock vote of the Labour party.

          But does it matter? My impact on things is minute in the scheme of things, more so as I actively avoid even coming into contact with any of them or their offspring. Not employing them or letting my daughters mix with them has little or no macro effect.

          You should be concerned that the UK is f**cked financially and as such the badly educated oiks with no transferable skills are both screwed jobs wise and screwed benefits wise. My views in comparison are irrelevant in the scheme of things.

          • Brumanuensis

            I would reply more fully, but when I read things like:

            ‘I don’t like the working class’; ‘I have no time for unintelligent people, the stock vote of the Labour party’; ‘not employing them or letting my daughters mix with any of them’.

            I give up. I’m sorry you have such vitriolic views about your fellow human beings, especially about people who you appear to have little actual knowledge of, a deliberate choice of yours based on what you’ve written. 

            And your views do matter, Guy, because unfortunately there are quite a few people with similar views. Some of them are in government and business, and it’s attitudes like yours that make solving our country’s problems harder. 

          • GuyM

            Well I hold an executive position in “business” but I can’t see the big problem. I impact on very few others and I base my choices on who to employ on experience, which tells me no to the under 25s and oiks.

            But that means an effect on very few people in the scheme of things, so live and let live. I’ll hold my views and keep to myself, they can think what they want if they keep well away from me.

            I wish them all well in their own lives, I simply see no benefit to me or them from mixing. They will be happier not mixing with me and I by not mixing with them.

          • AlanGiles

            Guy: It’ll better for yourself and the rest of us on LL if you stopped mixing with us.

            Frankly Guy you just come on here on a daily basis to rehearse your ridiculous snobbery.

            You said in this latest diatribe “I’ll hold my views and keep to myself”

            PLease do that. We all know what you “think” about us. We ave heard all about your fantastic position in life. Whether your assessm,ent of yourself is true or not is something we are all perfectly entitled to question.

            Go off and shae your views with Conservative Home or the BNP website – or even CBeebees, e have heard them so often that those of us who are not amused, or disgusted must be now be throughly bored by their constant repitition

          • GuyM

            And the stalker troll returns.

            Personally I want to hear more about your love of the common people and the vitriol you reserve for anyone “New Labour”.

            Go on Alan, write another sentence or two about Blair, or Purnell, or Byrne?

            So funny to see you complaining about the views others hold about your pet socio-demographic groups when you without cease vent your own vitriol on your own pet hates.

            Hypocrisy is soooo you.

          • AlanGiles

            “Hypocrisy is soooo you.”

            Rather a camp remark Guy (“soooo”) . If we were doing a production of “Oliver” I would have had you down for Fagin. I had no idea you would be Nancy).

            Now shove off, duckie.

          • GuyM

            Ahh you got the panto type level of response.

            It seemed entirely appropriate for the level of hypocrisy you had dropped to.

            Being you love the Blairites so much, part of your own party even and yet you seem to expect others to sympathise with your own interested parties.

            No thanks.

      • Jeff_Harvey

        My advice to every LabourList contributor in respect to comments like the above is: Don’t feed the trolls. Let them comment to their heart’s content but ignore them. Completely. Utterly. Starve them to death by denying them the attention they obviously and quite desperately crave on a daily basis for whatever complex reason. That has become my policy. Why not give it a try yourselves?

        • GuyM

          Excellent, always good to see an out and out socialist return to the shadows with tail firmly tucked between legs.

          • Jeff_Harvey

            Did someone just break wind? Ah, no. It was but a creaking door.

          • GuyM

            So much for your “advice” lmao.

            It seems your “policy” of advice to others but ignoring it yourself makes you favourite for the Ken Livingstone Hypocrite of the week award.

            Congratualations 🙂

          • AlanGiles

            I sometimes wonder if Mark Ferguson, nice as he is, ever bothers to read what gets posted by some people on these articles. If he did, he would see that they have virtually no connection, sympathy or understanding of the Lefts point of view.

            I know the little critters will cry “censorship” but I am certain that Conservative blogs would not allow so many anti-Tory rants on their sites, and frankly, would any of us on the left really want to go onto their sites?

            Some people here remind me of the late Mary Whitehouse and Lord Long-for-it: both were anti-smut but made it a practice to watch every late night play so they could “complain” about it. Longford, to prove how much he detested porn was famously photographed in the front row of a striptease show in Copenhagen, with a rictus grin on his face and glasses well polished as the artiste prepared to drop the  lot. In the end you began to feel they did protest too much and they got a kick out of what they pretended to hate so much – they loved to be seen to be as pure as TCP. But were they?. Same applies to a copule of raving Tories on LL

          • Jeff_Harvey

            For me it isn’t a question of left and right these days, Alan, but a question of humanity and inhumanity, compassion and cruelty, right and wrong.

            In not one single post I have read that you have made have I seen you complain about your lot, or moan how much tax you pay or have paid in the past, or boast how much better off you are after a Tory budget, or crow how comfortably off you are, or express relish for hardship inflicted upon some guiltless minority. All I have ever seen reflected in your comments is solidarity with and sympathy for the needy, sick, disabled, elderly, young, struggling, homeless, and the dispossessed coupled sometimes with bitter condemnation and criticism of individuals, organisations and institutions – left, right and centre – who deliberately engineered or sought to engineer circumstances leading directly to exponentially increased misery, injustice, exploitation, and suffering amongst large, totally innocent, groups in society. 

            All the people you mention in your post do is to talk ceaselessly and completely selfishly about their lives, good fortune, and security, never pausing to express one solitary concern in respect to the fate of another human being be they man, woman, boy, girl, or blameless suckling infant still in arms.  

            Which I think is spectacularly sad.

            What a terrible thing it must be to be like that.

            That said I reckon it’s best to ignore them and allow them to continue to play with their own faeces.

          • AlanGiles

            I never felt hard-done-by Jeff. My family circumstances were that I was bought up from birth by my maternal grandparents, who were very poor but very honest. If it hadn’t been for them I would have ended up in a childrens home. The fact my grandad worked for a low wage in a factory, and suffered a severe heart attack just a few months prior to retirement (which reduced his pension) made me aware from a  very young age that you can take nothing for granted and that misfortune can hit anybody at any time.

            Despite that, I remember as a kid being out with my grandparents and my gran found a half crown in the street – nonetheless, as she couldn’t give it back to whoever lost it, she put it in the first charity collection box she saw, saying that it wasn’t hers and should go somewhere where it would do a bit of good. Their sole income was a joint (reduced) pension. My grandad read the “Daily Herald”  every day and was a staunch Labour supporter. I shudder to think what he would have thought of New Labour!

            That was what they were like and it rubbed off on me. When I was 15, it was plain I was never going to be able to go and sit for a PPE at Oxford, so a few weeks after my 15th birthday I left school and went to work. I was lucky never to  lose or be sacked from  a job (though it became a close run thing in 1973 thanks to Ted Heath’s 3 day week, where we only had power for 6 hours for each of the 3 days).

            Thanks to luck, by the early 80s I was well paid, and I never grudged paying tax and I would never have sought to reduce my tax bill, and the thought would never have crossed my mind. My feeling has always been that those who earn more should pay more – and be grateful that we are in that fortunate position. When I was in a position to be able to employ youngsters, I remembered the kindness my early employers showed to me, and tried to pay it back.

            Now I am retired I do a little voluntary work which is why I get so angry with people who try to pretend that there are no genuine cases of hardship or misfortune, and it can affect anybody at any age.

            So much of life is down to luck, I think, good or bad as the case may be. I think I am very lucky, I genuinely feel concern for the unlucky, because things could have been so much different for me. Or anybody – including a certain gentleman basking in self-importance on the North Downs 🙂

          • smcconnell

            Lol dont hurt yourselves patting each other on the back about how morally superior you are guys!

            The fact is if either of you had even the slightest grasp on reality or a bit of common sense you wouldnt be quite so horrified. Instead you imagine you live in this sanatised wonderland where people are happy to work themselves to the bone to pay people to sit at home feeling sorry for themselves like it was a perfectly reasonable life choice.

            We arent.

            The way people live their life (even when young) has far reaching consequences for their future careers and happyness. If you make no effort when your younger dont expect those who did to bail you out when you fall flat on your face.

          • AlanGiles

            You really are an idiot are’nt you?. Where are all the jobs? We have the highest unemployment figures for 17 years and one of your fellow right wing cretins on this site forever says he wouldn’t employ anybody under 25. If you are sympathetic to this view you have to accept the fact that you are going to have even more under 25s on JSA.

            You really should think before you post

  • Gilliannerys Jones

    Where and when is Cameron going to stop with his trail of devastation? As a prime minister he is totally out of touch with humanity let alone those who are less well of in society. In total agreement with Jeff Harvey’s comments below and wondering what Ed and the shadow cabinet will do about this crazy idea? Somebody, somewhere, somehow has got to satnd up to this man and shambolic excuse for a governement and start fighting for the people of this country!

  • GuyM

    The welfare benefit has to be drastically cut back.

    A lot of people are going to get hurt through no real fault of their own as a result.

    Perhaps when  you return to government eventually, you might try to live within your means?

    • treborc

      Totally agree, we spent to much on the poor in this country over the years, it’s time people realized the rich cannot keep on paying out money for scum.

      All for it myself.

      Heil who ever comes along.

      • GuyM

        Not the spending on the “poor” that was the problem so much as the benefits paid out to people on £20k to £50k who simply should not have received a penny in benefits.

        • treborc

          Blow it I just thought seeing as most are now Tories on here I’d join them.

    • Mike Murray

      The present deficit was caused because greedy, irresponsible bankers refused to live within their means and every member of the british public had to bail them out.  The public know this and know how grossly unfair it is that their paltry benefits are being axed by public schoolboys to pay for the egregious gambling of the bankers and wealthy capitalists. That’s why UK polling report are projecting a majority of 86 for Labour based on our lead in all the polls.  Go on “Call me Dave” — keep digging!

      • GuyM

        Labour were running deficits from 2002 onwards, despite record tax receipts, selling of gold, increased borrowing and raiding of pension funds.

        If we ignore the retarded “no return to boom and bust” statement and assume eventually there would be a cyclical downturn whoever was in or for whatever reason then:

        Talk us through how keynesian economic policy works when you run deficits in both growth and contraction phases?

        Or alternatively you can go on showing your stupidity and talking about bankers etc.

        • aracataca

          Is that why the Tory party endorsed Labour’s 2007 budget and said that they would match Labour’s spending should they win office?
          It was the banks who bought collateralised debt obligations without bothering to check what they were buying and who then had to be bailed out by the government that caused the sovereign debt crisis- not excessive spending on the poor.

          • GuyM

            The Tories said what they had to in order to nullify the Labour gibe of “Tory cuts”, basically Brown forced both parties into an idiocy over economic policy. Much as Blair promised not to increase income tax to nullify Tory attacks (then raised indirect taxation)

            I don’t remember saying the banks weren’t damn stupid, but I’m afraid your party ran a deficit in the middle of a boom, so perhaps I can ask you:

            How does running deificit in growth and contraction phases fit Keynesian economics?

            Spending is going to be slashed whether now or if Labour win in 2015, there simply isn’t the money and if you think otherwise you are going to be horribly upset with Milliband and Balls in 2016 if you win.

            Why I’m looking after me and me only from now on, the victims of your parties financial mismanagement will have to do the same in ever larger numbers.

          • aracataca

            I think I get it. The Tories told lies in 2007 not because they are by nature and temperament venal liars or because they wanted to garner votes by telling fibs but because Brown made them do it. Wonderful logic.

          • GuyM

            Much as Brown told horrible lies about there being no need for any cuts even when Darling was making it clear there had to be.

            If you want to get partisan over the truthfullness of political parties you only end up looking an idiot given the prevalence of both sides to tell fibs.

          • aracataca

            Yes. But the difference here is that you’re saying the Tories told lies in 2007 because Brown made them tell lies. That’s obviously crap, no?

          • GuyM

            Nope, Brown set the terms of the debate (along with left overs from the last Tory government), hence the Tories had no option but to commit not to cuts.

            Much as Blair pre 1997 committed to no income tax increases to nullify the problems Labour had in 1992.

            But it’s all rather irrelevant, whether Labour or Tories believed they had to cut spending prior to 2008 as they are going to have to now and for years to come.

            The welfare state is going to be heavily culled back in real terms whether you or anyone else likes it or not.

          • Mike Murray

            Well said, Aracataca

        • Alexwilliamz

          And during the 1980s despite selling off huge chunks of nationalised industry what was the deficit like then? All governments have failed in dealing with this issue, if an issue it is since the war, often for very good reasons. This sudden use of it against one particular government is opportunistic and in the longer term may prove damaging as we find ourselves unable to invest in infrastructure or services as this may beyond present revenue. If the terms of what is poltically acceptable or even enshrined in some kind of legislative instrument is changed by the present narrative it may spell difficulties in the future. Or do you believe gvts should never borrow?

      • aracataca

        Nice one Mike.

      • GuyM

        Oh dear… ok lets all troll through polling in mid term of government in the last 40 years and read lots of silly outcomes into it.

        Either way I don’t care, there won’t be the money whoever is in power in 2015, so your beloved high spending welfare state started on a long slow death in 2008 and isn’t going to change no matter if you do win in 2015.

        Austerity is the new colour Mike and you can deal with the nasty consequences the same as everyone else. Every man for himself from now on.

        • Mike Murray

          I don’t know why you are so frightened. I thought captains of industry were supposed to show some spine and were intellectually superior to the rest of we plebs. That’s why they are paid shedloads of money and allowed to exploit the rest of us.

          Fact.  Britain is the 7th richest country in the world (Yes. That’s right SEVENTH) With a GDP of 2,173,000,000,000 dollars.

          Fact. The deficit that Blair inherited from Major was greater than the deficit Brown left Cameron.

          Fact. Brown  was paying off Britain’s debts and had reduced them to their lowest level for years  until the bankers decided to bet the farm and had to be bailed out with billions of our money.

          Fact.  The Tories and their Lib Dem stooges are using the deficit as a justification to complete  the unfinished Thatcherite, Neo Liberal agenda  for the  destruction of public ownership and the welfare state.  They have plundered the Health service and are set to rob the people of their ownership of the Post Office and hand it over to a greedy few.  It is an outrage defended only by predatory capitalists.

          • GuyM

            The fact Mike is a huge deficit that will take years to get under control and then a residual massive national debt.

            Throw in an economy growing much slower than in the first decade of the century and no chance of returning to the level of spend you’d like.

            Public ownership is simply leftspeak for horribly inefficient and union dominated public sector services in certain areas.

            Hopefully we never go back to the days of the 1970s with ill educated Union leaders determining economic policy.

          • Alexwilliamz

            What we are seemingly doing is getting under control a residual massive national debt accrued over decades not one administration. Why we are trying to do this while in the middle of a recession is deeply questionable, if it was such an issue then perhaps the opposition should have been highlighting this issue and calling the gvt to account long before 2010.

          • madasafish

            Fact. Brown  was paying off Britain’s debts and had reduced them to their lowest level for yea

              Sorry… but I have read some inaccurate rubbish over the years but that is one of the most misleading. (which says a lot)

            Anyone who bothered to do any research would see Brown ran surpluses until 2001 by  (his words not mine) following Tory spending plans. After that he ran deficits..  and a deficit means more borrowing.

            See the attached facts from the Guardian:

            The chart at the top shows it all.

            There is no further need to discuss what is basically a travesty of the FACTS..

          • Mike Murray

            Fact. When Labour came to power in 1997 the national debt was 42% of GDP. By 2002 Brown had reduced it to 30%. Between 2002 and 2008 the debt increased to 36% — still far less than under Thatcher or Major! Then the bankers trashed their businesses and we had to bail them out. The Tories and their Lib Dem stooges then used the debt as a justification to hammer the Welfare State  and introduce an ideological “austerity”. They then presented a travesty of the FACTS to blame Labour for the banking crisis.…

          • GuyM

            If decreasing the welfare state is “ideological”, then equally a policy to increase it is also “ideological”.

            So Labour are involved just as much in setting welfare policy due to ideological positions and therefore “ideological” is no more a valid insult or criticism for one side than the other.

    • Slakah

      As long as the minimum wage is increased to a level so we can stop subsidising business’s of which don’t pay enough to allow their workers to live and support their families in dignity, then we may have an accord. However I suspect you might be suggesting ‘live within your means’ may be code for ‘We need to increase homelessness, child poverty and overall social deprivation’.

      • GuyM

        If increasing the minimum wage doesnt reduce my household income or remove jobs in general then I couldn’t care less if you put it up.

        Of course the other side to the coin is an end to welfarism at the level Labour let develop over 10 years. Either that or the UK doesn’t survive in the global market that is developing.

        I take comfort in “I’m alright Jack” for my wife and I, as we have our tradable skills, but the treachury of churning out a horribly underskilled youth with a massive state welfare bill to pay is going to cause a lot of people a lot of pain in decades to come.

        Labour in that respect were and are totally and utterly irresponsible once more.

  • GuyM

    Love reading these threads, the total inability of the left to comprehend the basic fact that the UK is well and truly f**cked in terms of ever returning to the levels of spend you all want.

    I hoped in a small way you won in 2010 as you’d be left clearing the mess up and culling spending left right and centre.

    From now on, anyone with any sense will be looking after their own finances and not placing any reliance on the state going forward. Get used to years of tight funding for the public sector and deceasing welfare spending.

    I’ve come to the conclusion all politicians are hapless when it comes to national finances, so nows the time to protect one’s own wealth and let you lefties wring hands about your core vote’s problems rather than worry about it myself.

    • Alexwilliamz

      I wouldn’t put to much stock (pardon the pun) in your own finances, if the gvts continue to run things badly then they will not be worth much either. Makes you think how entwined all these things are.

  • smcconnell

    Only in england does this notion exist that you must go and live away from your parents whether you can afford it or not, the moment you turn 16!

    Look at countries like china, india or ireland. Amazingly enough staying “at home” a little longer isnt fatal!

    • AlanGiles

      IT may be physically impossible for the under 25s to stay at home with mum and dad, if mum and dad are still alive, they may not be able to afford to support them. People have for decades been having children later, so it is quite possible for a 23 year old to have retired parents

      The last time I looked the UK was not China or India. That seems a ridiculous point to make. But the whole of your post seems wooly, if you will allow me to say so.

      Most 16 years olds BTW ARE still living at home, and when the school leaving age is raised to 18 (which will lead to even more social problems in my view) most will be at home till they are 18, but please remember not all parents live in a nice home on the North Downs, or can afford to buy their kids £500,000 flats in Regents Park (as the Goulds did as a consolation prize when 22 year old daughter Gorgia failed to be parachuted into Erith & Thamesmead) or have the income of Osborne or Cameron.

      • smcconnell

        Well thats why i didnt say it was possible in all cases alan.

        As for the parents supporting them they will still need to get a job of some discription at some point even if its minimum wage doing sonethingthey feel is beneath them like working in a takeaway etc. But as rent is such a large part of most peoples living expenses then its one less burden for them.

        And a 23 yearold living at home with retired parents could actually help them pay their bills with whatever money they did bring in.

        How the school leaving age being raised could lead to more social problems then the current barely literate hoards of sixteen year old school leavers who from education straight to the dole queue with nothing to offer an employer

        • treborc

           Where would they get a job….

          • smcconnell

            The same places everyone else had to at that age:

            Shops, restaurants, fastfood joints, super markets, building sites etc

            People from all over the world come to the uk to work but young people born here cant find jobs? Why? Well mostly because the jobs people are taking the average achieving 16 year old school leaver wouldnt touch with a ten foot pole. For some reason these kids have been deluded into thinking that they are some how entitled to a job they like and enjoy whether they have made the effort to get good grades or not. Ask the average 16 year old underachiever with barely a gcse to their name

          • smcconnell

            To work in mcdonalds or be at a building site at 5am on the off chance there might be work for them and you will most likely get a four letter response. And yet you get people from countries like poland working in these places with first class uni degrees and no complaining.

            Maybe the extra two years should be spent giving these kids a reality check. Not your not going to be a famous rapper or a wag or a footballer your just going to have to work like the rest of us, starting with a crappy starter job an then swapping upwards over time

          • treborc

             Building sites do not start work until 8am, and nobody goes to a building site for work, nearly all employees at a building site are sub contracted and many building companies use sub contract  teams who have worked for them for years, the problem with Poland they co0me here under cut out jobs, knowing they do not have to pay tax or NI, because at the end of the year they are gone.

            But jobs at this time even for builders have gone as companies are holding back for the price of a house to rise.

        • AlanGiles

          “How the school leaving age being raised could lead to more social problems ”

          You will have a lot of very resentful young men and women – for that is what 16/18 year olds are these days – who don’t like school, more truancy

          Wait and see

          • smcconnell

            As opposed to all the shiny happy young scholars leaving school at 16 now to start a fulfilling life scrounging benefits whilst complaining that they arent qualified to do anything else?

          • derek

            Those who find your posts repulsive sit down next to me.

          • Jeff_Harvey

            Shift up, Derek, and make room for the multitude.

          • derek

            OK, Jeff! can all Londoners please sit down tomorrow in protest of a careless government. 

          • GuyM

            Germany has a minimum school leaving age of 18 and yet their youth seems to be able to deal with it easily enough.

          • derek

            Technical colleges for some at 14 and by the time their 18 and time served their a better plus for the nation and better paid.

          • treborc

            The difference in Germany they will look at the pupil and if the pupil has no interest in education they will go a different route, giving the pupil out ward bound or college training in things like building trades, something we should do, because a number of children hate school and the set regime.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Not all from what some of my teaching colleagues in Germany tell me.

    • Dave Postles

       Have you checked employment at FoxConn and Wintek recently?  The young people live in dorms on the factory campus – thousands of them.

    • Alexwilliamz

      Except those young people, who have been abused by their parents, or whose relationship has completely broken down, or have been thrown out by their parents etc. Although I expect this gvt would still expect them to go back and live at that home. Dickensian.

  • For the first time that I know of since I have been alive the three major parties are all equally unpopular but there is no other choice.

    The conservatives will always back their rich party backers and they appear to be doing exactly the same things they did last time to get themselves thrown out of office which includes destroying the NHS, upsetting students, picking fights with the unions and a healthy dollop of sleaze (cash for questions style).

    The liberal democrats have crawled into bed with the devil and cannot be forgiven for what they did to the students.

    And labour…. well it is just too soon isn’t it. Most voters who voted away from Labour last time did so because of the economy. I don’t see it being a quick decision for them to change that opinion and suddenly trust Labour.

    Ed Milliband is certainly not the right leader, especially in opposition.

  • smcconnell

    To work a 12 hour shift in mcdonalds for minimum wage or wake up at 5am to go an wait on a building site to see if they have any jobs and no doubt you would get a four letter response.

    But if you leave school at 16 with no real gsces what exactly fo they think they are qualified to do? You have people from countries like poland working in a restaurant with first class degrees but an english 16 year old thinks they should be given their dream job or allowed to sit at home on benefits for years! Its just bonkers

    • GuyM


      • smcconnell

        That the welfare system will bail them out.

        • derek

          Wow! just because you’ve had your backside wiped clean for you all your life and spoon fed from the cradle to your job doesn’t mean everyone can expect the silverspoon service of life.  

          • smcconnell

            Have I?

            Please elaborate del boy. You obviously think you know something?

            How exactly have i had my backside wiped, silver spoon blah blah blah? Or is this more of the typical “anyone who disagrees with the herd is a rich tory whos never worked in their life” bs?

            Your comment is even more stupid considering i am advocating the exact opposite of a silverspoon lifestyle. But hay dont let that get in the way eh del

          • derek

            Well Steph! rumour has would know a hand blister from hand job (practical of course) 

          • derek

            Damn! wouldn’t, I missed my n’t above

          • smcconnell

            You know even crude innuendo is supposed to make some sense. You cant just shoehorn the word handjob into a sentence…. Sigh

          • derek

            I didn’t try to shoehorn anything, just gave an expressed term! it’s working class so I’m not surprised it fooled you. 

          • smcconnell

            So im not working class? Lol you dot even know what i do for a living derek, or what i earn but you still feel informed enough to make tese comments 🙂 do you want to have a stab at my starsign as well? Lol

          • derek

            Civil servant?  isn’t it? with a degree in IT which you used to make a cash saving for your departmental workers, soft hands and soft speaks make Steph humdrum!

          • derek

            O’  Aries? the lamb?  

          • smcconnell

            Good to know that labour lovers dont consider civil servants to be working class anymore?

          • derek

            well, not the A4Etype?

    • Alexwilliamz

      Are you suggesting that you should have a first class degree to work in a restaurant?

      • smcconnell


        Heres the point alex. And there that little dot on the horizon so far away? Thats you missing it.

        To clarify, as amazingly enough you seem confused as to my meaning, why is it that a foreign national working in england with actual qualifications such as a degree is content to work in places like takeaways, restaurants and building sites but the uk’s over privileged, barely literate, qualification and experience free youths think they are too good to work there? What is it that they imagine they possess that makes them over qualified to do these types of jobs? Nothing but a rather ridiculous sense of entitlement an the knowledge

        • Alexwilliamz

          I’m still struggling as to work out how you come to your amazing conclusion about young people believing they are too good for jobs. The truth is if they are competing with people with first class degrees who is going to get the job? As you yourself say it is bonkers. If jobs are going to over qualified people, what are those without qualifications meant to do?

          I have yet to meet a young person who believes themselves above jobs, sure they may joke about them, and sure some of them may not have the aptitude to holed them down (arriving late etc). In my experience they are all to willing to take those jobs. I have also noticed that in reality many of these lower skilled jobs are being filled with students. Again where are tose less academically gifted going to turn?

          If your point is some unsubstantiated lazy generalisation then I guess I have failed to spot it. I thought you may have been making a point about the impact of immigration upon the job opportunities of young people without good academic qualifications, instead you were just stereotyping.

          • smcconnell

            Ask any site manager on a building site or manager of a restaurant if they value an arts or sciences degree and they will laugh their ### off.

            They hire the foreign national rather than the over entitled youth because they work longer and harder for less money. And turning up on time for work isnt an aptitude its basic common sense i you dont want to get fired. You dont need to have been a student you just need to have a decent work ethic.

          • Alexwilliamz

            OK so it is not that they are unwilling to do the job, just they do not have adequate skills. The late thing is a trait in many young people, which they tend to grow out of once they have lost a job due to it and realise there are consequences.

          • smcconnell

            They have the same skills as the people who end up gettingthe job. What they dont have is the work ethic. Are you really saying that a school leaver doesnt have the skills to hand a burger to a customer or wait a table.

            And being unwilling to turn up on time is the same a being unwilling to dothe job.

          • derek

            Your moving the goal post Steph?? so the person that hands the burger can also work the till! visual knowledge! lovely. 

          • Alexwilliamz

            But how do we know whether they have the work ethic if they can’t get the job because some older well qualified person has already got it? I’m trying to work out if you are saying they don’t have the skills. Are you really happy that over qualified people are handing out hamburgers at the expense of school leavers who are more than capable of doing this?

          • GuyM

            Actually the child government advisor (I forget her name, she wears those incredibly colourful outfits) has said very bluntly that part of the problem with youth is that some of them do feel certain jobs are beneath them.

            A friend (through politics) in the public sector who works at a Job Centre has said there is a real problem with a percentage  of 16-21 year olds not even trying to find work or giving up very early on. Anecdotal to be sure, but from the coal face.

            Business groups and leaders, including some I’ve talked to, all say the same as well.

            Too much evidence and opinion from too many sources.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Yet I know and have anecdotal evidence of young people not getting a chance, of applying for realistic jobs but not getting past the interview, or simply that there were hundreds of people applying for the same job.

            Let’s be clear, I agree there are some young people who need a kick up the backside and some who really need to get a grip. However I object this being used to describe all young people, or even a specific percentage (those without 5 ‘good’ GCSEs) in the same way. Until we can quantify how many of the ‘bad’ uns there really are, we will be trapped in a cycle of disgareement. I hold that it is probably a smallish number and you seem to want to suggest it is the vast majority. Until someons can provide some quantitive data we may as well drop this one.

          • GuyM

            I’m sure many quaified dont get past interview.

            I’m honest to admit I won’t hire anyone below 25, partly as I have no need to with good quality older applicants.

            Throw in the awful atitude and lack of soft skills of too many of their generation and I see no need to take a risk.

          • MonkeyBot5000

            I’m honest to admit I won’t hire anyone below 25, partly as I have no need to with good quality older applicants.

            Can you see how that might be part of the problem?

            If I was 18 and every job I applied for wrote me off like that, I’d probably develop something of an attitude as well. It doesn’t help when they then go into the job centre and see the all the surly, lazy over-25s “working” there.

            After a few years of that, even the best and brightest will start to lose their aspirations and resolve themselves to their fate.

            As an employer you may be making a rational decision, but the cumulative effect of lot’s of employers doing the same creates a problem.

            If the under-25s are spending longer out of work than they used to, the quality of 25yr-olds you get applying for a position is going to decline in the future.

          • AlanGiles

            Britain should be very grateful that “Guy” isn’t a football manager.

            Imagine if his apprentice players had to be 25 – they would have professional careers of about 7 years maximum.

            Either that or Manchester United (nothing but the best for our Guy) would have middle-aged men in Brylcreem and  shorts down to their boots running around the field, replicating a pre-war cup final team!

          • GuyM

            Footballers (and I’d know as I wanted to turn pro as a teen) careers last 15 years on average at best.

            Therefore equate 1 year to 3 to round up with normal office work.

            So my refusal to hire 18-25 equates to 18-20 in football terms.

            How many under 20s are playing in the premier league?

          • AlanGiles

            “Footballers (and I’d know as I wanted to turn pro as a teen) ”

            Dear God, but of course. You really do inhabit a dream world Guy don’t you?. Nothing you can’t turn your hand to. If we needed a brain surgeon or beauty queen no doubt they are also subjects you have studied closely.

            I can just see Guy the footballer – the skill of Beckham, the grace of Crouch and the manigerial excellence of Ramsey and Ferguson combined.

            If only, Guy, if only. How sad the war came along to stop your ambitions….. then the general strike.

            Honestly your vainglorious posturing gets a bigger joke with each day that passes.

            I bet you wer Yuri Gagarin’s co-pilot back in ’61 as well, were’nt you?

          • GuyM

            You’re probably right, but my responsibility is to my organisation and my departments, not to the greater “good”.

            My decision is rational and results in less aggravation for me and also more free time in my life as I don’t need to mentor any teenager.

            I see no reason therefore to change.

          • AlanGiles

            Agree with all you say Alex – also of course, if all employers were like one rancorous old fart on LL they wouldn’t even get an interview till they were 25!.

            I found a lot of the lads I employed (not being sexist but it was the sort of work girls didn’t apply for), who came from broken homes or lived on those terrible council housing estates so despised by a couple of LL posters were the best workers – keen to learn, polite and intelligent. They may never have joined MENSA but they had good qualities of decency and honesty.  On the (I have to say rare occassions) when I got a bad timekeeper, I usually found a firm but friendly word solved the problem. It is too easy to forget we were all 16 once.

            I always found you got better results by treating at 16 year old with the same courtesy you would treat a 36 year old, and they appreciate it and respond in kind. As a matter of fact I am still in contact with some of the school-leavers I took on back in the late 70s, so they are now 50 or approaching it, still working hard and an assett to their employers. It is nice to think they regard me as a friend, and don’t look back on me as some sort of martinet.

            I would never compare a human being with an animal, but on this one occassion, I would just say that quite often youngsters and dogs have something in common: treat them with kindness, firmness when it is needed and the puppy grows into a well behaved dog – treat it aggressivly and it will behave aggressively.

  • AlanGiles

    As opposed to all the shiny happy young scholars leaving school at 16 now to start a fulfilling life scrounging benefits”

    You tar all 16 year olds with the same brush. Many want to work, and learn a trade. They don’t necessarily want to be “schoolboys” at 18 followed by a course in Media Studies. The point is if you force young men and women to stay at school till they are 18 they will, many of them, just rebel, refuse to learn, refuse to turn up etc – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.
    I am sickened by people like you who think all 16 year olds are workshy or just want to scrounge benefits – there are even a few MPs who don’t want to scrounge “expenses”.
    I had to leave school at 15, I think it helped me grow up quicker, quite frankly and it was economically necessary for me to start to earn a living. The thing is, though, in those days however grown-up you tried to look at 15 (a Woodbine on occassions), you still looked like a kid. These days there are 15/16 year olds who have beards and are virtually adult – they wantg to be treated as adults, and if you do treat them in that way they respond.

    One of the causes of the problems with the generations are people like you who make absurd generalisations, and have no consideration or respect for somebody who is young. If you tgreat them with contempt, don’t be too surprised if they treat you the same way. 

    • GuyM

      You leave school at 16 with few qualifications, semi literate and having a skewed view on your value in the jobs marketplace and what exactly is it you think employers can do with you?

      I’ve had college leavers at 18 send in cvs with terrible spelling, grammar and virtually no “selling” of themselves with mediocre educational attainment at best.

      What exactly am I or other hiring managers expected to do with these people Alan?

      If you can’t read, write, add up, communicate and be IT literate in the 21st century you rule out a large chunk of the UK jobs market. With the best will in the world we can’t soak up all the semi-literate 16 year old school leavers as car mechanics and other trade skill positions.

      Good electricians, plumbers, builders etc. HAVE to be literate. Even if a kid at 16 with no basic skills manages to get a basic trade position where is he or she going to go?

      It simply is not a business responsibility to get new employees up to speed in reading, writing, maths, communucation and IT skills etc.

      When I and others hire people I want them productive from day 1. Business is not interested in giving people basic literacy skills when they failed to take advantage of 13 years of education designed to teach them those basic skills and a lot more.

      If you are that bothered about those 16 year olds, start demanding why the teaching profession sends so many out at 16 without even the basic skills to make a go of life in the 21st century.

      Not being employable as a semi-literate badly educated 16 year old is a problem government and the teaching profession needs to deal with, not business.

      • AlanGiles

        The majority of 16/18 year olds who are working in supermarkets, factories etc probably work a bloody sight harder than you Guy, with your backside glued to your computer chair while you spew out the same few threadbare arguments each day.

        I have  employed young people Guy, by your own admission you have not, so I think I am entitled to speak about this with a little more knowledge than you

        • derek

          That resonates well @Alan, most 16 to 19 year old’s are keen to learn job skills, problems tends to arise from the 24 to the 30 odd years when low pay and poor management have taking there toll..

          • GuyM

            And yet unemployment figures clearly show otherwise.

            Plus there really isn’t a problem with endemic poor management in the UK, that’s simply a leftwing slant on a demographic who isn’t your core vote.

          • derek

            C’mon Guy? even you in your senior role seem locked in more disagreement than agreement on a peoples site. 

          • GuyM

            I’m not paid to agree with people Derek. I’m paid to lead and manage.

            That means listening for sure, but if i disagree I go with my own judgement. My staff understand this very well, I’ll consult and listen, but I don’t run decisions by democracy.

          • derek

            And the buck stop where when there’s a corrective action?

          • GuyM

            Corrective action on whom?

            If I fail in my responsibilities I fully expect the CEO to hold me to account.

            In my area if something goes right then the relevant staff get the praise, something goes wrong and I take the flak.

            That arrangement though means no one does anything I disagree with.

            Lead and manage, not hold hands and seek concensus.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Indeed part of the problem is that these young people have been alienated from the education system, would thrive in the world of work and then might well come back to their studies recognising why they are doing it. Part of their failure at school is often linked to a failure to perform arcane or abstract academic skills, this leads to low self esteem and a detachment from study often leading to hostility. Even more scandalous is that often this can be down to a failure to have learnt to read to the correct standard expected by a certain age. Rather than ensuring they can read first our age base system shovels them into classes where reading is often a prerequisite to succeed.

          • derek

            Absolutely, apprenticeship at colleges for 14 years could indeed involve educational attainment requirements, different horses for different courses often make better results.

          • AlanGiles

            Alex and Derek. One of the best ideas the American government had was the G.I. Bill where everyone who was conscripted into the US Army in the 40s and 50s were granted free access to an educational course of their choice. Somebody I knew years ago, now sadly dead, had no academic qualifications but after leaving the US Army studied electronic engineering at Cal-Tech University California.

            Over here in the fifties and sixties we had marvellous technical colleges where disreputable under-educated oiks like me, as Guy would no doubt put it, could learn skills and we also worked part-time. I was not illiterate or innumerate, but I don’t recall anyone who was, and I think Guy is so out of touch with reality he just IMAGINES todays youngsters are illiterate because he doesn’t approve of their reading material. Planet Guy is a very wierd place –  and who knows what dreams may come when we shuffle off to it, to paraphrase the Bard.

            If I had ever aspired to high office and reached the top, my main priorities would have been social housing and making sure “ordinary” kids got the chance of technical college education, so that however much snobs like Guy might disparage it, they learned practical (and interesting) skills and got a chance to improve their lot.

          • derek

            Hear! Hear! @Alan, I’d never wish a life of poverty nor name calling on any one, especially the young.   

          • Alexwilliamz

            I think it depressing how many kids will leave school at 16 without having had the opportunity to make something, or take something apart, or just generally had much opportunity to use their hands. The state of Design and Technology education in this country is absolutely deplorable. This is not the fault of the teachers of those subjects but the way in which practical skills of all kinds have been squeezed out of the curriculum, for being expensive (relatively speaking) and not garnering the qualifications idiots like Gove fawn over in their Ebacc utopia.

          • GuyM

            I tend to base my views on illiteracy by official figures.

            The figures on functional illiteracy are verified by the NUT amongst other groups.

            This is supported by the numbers failing to get C grades in English and Maths at GCSE, let alone 5 passes.

            You can go on all you like Alan, the fact remains employer groups and teraching unions both accept there is a rump who do not have basic skills.

            This is supported by the NEET rate being so high. My views of not hiring under 25s on my own couldnt lead to NEET rates in the 20% plus mark. That means there are millions of hiring managers avoiding that age group and the lowly qualified in particular.

            I suppose on Planet Alan you know every 16-21 year old and can vouch how bloody skilled they are. However in reality, those tasked with teaching them and hiring them aren’t convinced. I’ll go with the figures, not your anecdotal love in with the neets.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Argghhh a grade D and to a lesser extent a grade E even, does not mean someone cannot do maths or english. A grade D demonstrates a perfectly adequate competency and pretty  much all the maths most people will ever need in life. The obsession with grdae C is partly a throw back to the two tier O level CSE qualifications and just some line drawn in the sand for dividing young people into two groups, based upon a couple of examinations they take when their hormones are having their most disruptive effect. Fair enough you want to distinguish between young people to aid in large scale employment (not that there seems to be that much going on at the moment) but please can we stop putting so much emphasis upon it, as if it is the judgement of Osiris.

          • GuyM

            In my opinion an inability to get a grade C in GCSE English and then leaving school at 16 means I put their cv in the bin 99 times out of 100 at least.

            If that means hiring from outside the UK or even outside the EU so be it.

          • AlanGiles

            “I tend to base my views on illiteracy by official figures.”

            There are lies, damned lies… and statsitics. A very wise man once said that, I won’t tell you who, because it would no doubt bring out more Guy-bile.

            Official figures can prove or disprove anything. A bit like the Bible.

            You know something Guy, I think under 25s are very lucky not to be employed by a supercilious berk like you. BUT – if all employers (if you really are one) felt that way, just think how many 16/24 year olds would be on JSA and you would be complaining about that

            You will go to your grave complaining about something – and you will probably give St Peter a hard time because he hadn’t washed the Pearly Gates the day you arrive 🙂

          • GuyM

            I doubt I’ll ahve much to complain about, as I have little to complain about at the moment.

            I pretty happy, household income is good, career at a stage where I don’t get crap from bad management.

            No debt, home owner in Surrey (house value hasn’t fallen over the last 4 years either), final salary pension funds.

            Wife has all the same, daughters will have all left school within a couple of years, but parents still not mid way through careers.

            I’d not go back to being a teenager under any circumstances Alan, not a chance.

            All that personal information given for a purpose…  I HAVE VERY LITTLE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. Hence I’m happy to continue as is, in situ and not give a damn.

            However that means not giving any jobs to your pet socio-demographics and I’m exceptionally happy to say that there is f all you can do about it 🙂

            I’m all right jack… my only concern is idiots like yourself trying to undermine my comfortable existence.

          • AlanGiles

            “I’m all right jack… my only concern is idiots like yourself trying to undermine my comfortable existence.”

            We all know that, because you come on here all day every day to tell us so, and if I am an “idiot” at least I am not scum like you, so I have even more to be grateful for.

            I have interviewed a lot of the generation you despise, and I have to tell you I have never come across one as objectionable, boastful and crass as you. You are so far up your own backside one of these days you are going to have to get BUPA to operate to get your head back on top of your body.

          • GuyM

            Not BUPA, try AXA PPP.

            So you’ve given up on the troll about “things to complain about”?

            Yes I’m quite comfortable in my early 40s thanks, so long as no nutty hard leftwingers get into power I should remain that way until I stop breathing.

            And with what little influence I have I’ll keep to my views thanks, bad luck to your pets isn’t it?

        • GuyM

          Actually I have emplyed 18 -21 year olds in the past, now though I have no need or desire to.

          I started behind a bar at 17 Alan, then spent 3 years as barstaff and silver service as an undergraduate.

          My first job post graduation was in a post room.

          I certainly now after years of commercial experience and training work as physically as hard as i did behind a bar. However my work is now much “harder” than simply serving a few beers or delivering internal mail.

          16-18 year olds with little qualifications and low skills are basically ill equipped for the 21st century and are simply ill equipped to compete with others who are. Even if I wanted to employ them I’d have no reason to do so when older workers with better basic skills are readily available.

          No one wants a 16 year old school leaver who can’t read, write, add up or communicate properly. No matter how much you whine about it Alan, few are going to employ them.

          • GuyM

            Should read: “I certainly DON’T now … work as physically hard…”

      • derek

        Bollocks! we have a railway system that’s never been renewed in 100 years, we have motorway issue that need addressed by new wider roads, we have a housing shortage, we have a water shortage because we don’t store it in the correct manner, give me a kid with all the communications skills or a kid with all the practical  actions and I’ll take the practical kid ever day of the week, a little less conversation and a little more action Guy. 

        • GuyM

          What “practical” skills?

          Construction has more than enough older workers (late 20s upwards) to fill vacancies.

          Plus there isn’t the money for this mass of infratructure work you think we can magic up.

          A 16 year old with little education and few skills is basically near unemployable.

          End of story.

          • derek

            Do you just want to carry on as normal, stuck in the status quo years of no action or do you want to see a nation working together for all without waiting for some sleazy individual to roll the dice of monopoly to gain a few more self assets, we can raise substantial amount through taxation, we don’t have to do it all on the private plastic card con way, lets be bold lets be human lets do it now for all and not for the few lets tax correctly and invest.

          • GuyM

            Teaching 16 year olds basic skills is not my problem Derek. It’s not my job, I don’t get paid for it and I’m not trained for it.

            So either the state improves the educational outcomes or I hire either older workers or from outside the UK if I have to.

            As to taxation you can raise all you like but if teaching outcomes didn’t improve with the billinos Blair chucked at it then more money wont change anything.

          • derek

            Given a young person an apprenticeship chance will improve those skills? for talking sake a painter and decorator apprenticeship given to someone with under average maths, within tow months of the course they’d be able to tell you how much paint you’d require to paint a 10 by 10 meter squared wall, as the course progressed that mental ability would sharpen.

            I think Blair’s approach was wrong and smacked of private involvement, asking schools to opt out LEA’s for sponsor backed initiatives wasn’t tackling the problem.

          • GuyM

            No idea Derek, I’ve hired a lot in the last few years.

            The role I’m likely to move to in the next few weeks will almost certainly involve hiring many many more.

            Those who are semi literate at best haven’t a hope in hell of me hiring them.

            My responsibility is to the organisation that employs me, not bailing out a failing education system.

    • GuyM

      A quick addition, in 2010:

      22% of 16 to 19 year olds in England were functionally innumerate

      17% of 16 to 19 year olds in England were functionally illiterate

      In the 21st century this bottom 20%, who invariably are the kids who do leave school at 16, are basically unemployable in a competitive jobs market.

      • Alexwilliamz

        I’m still trying to work out what functionally innumerate and functionally illiterate means. Why does this deny them access to work? Is it just that we are giving jobs suitable for the innumerate and illiterate to those with higher skills. If so it might suggest why so many basic services are not done with pride or a sense of vocation: namely the employees are bored and over qualified. Perhaps the real issue is that rather than trying to make an economy based around increasing production and wealth through the generation of enough jobs and identifying the right people for the right jobs, we have a system aimed at rewarding the few through exploitation and turning human beings into commodities.

        • smcconnell

          Its a simple equation.

          If you cant read, write and do math you cant work in an office or even a shop. Basically your only good for manual labour.

          If you refuse to do manual labor jobs then effectively you are unable / unwilling to work.

          Its that simple.

          • derek

            The till does the maths you just have to press the buttons!

            IT skills…..easy!

          • smcconnell

            Thats a damn good till you have there. So when i hand this indivdual a handfull of notes and coins that they cant add up and then i wait fifteen minutes for them to work out my change…. The tills gonna jump up and count it all for them is it? Doh

            Not to mention them having to read labels and instructions, be able to follow training guide etc. you might as well advocate hiring chimps to work in retail derek.

          • derek

            I think if you register the amount handed over the till tells you the change AMOUNT to give back after the deduction. IT! iT’S EASY!

          • derek

            Then again so few use cash in nowadays!

          • smcconnell

            But if you cant count the amount handed over then how do you know what to put into the till!!! If my shopping comes to £51.30 and i hand them two £20 notes a £10 note and a £5 note then I expect them to be able to add up the total and then enter that into the till. They then have to count out my change in coins (its not a magic till derek it gives you the change amount but it doesnt count it out for you!).

            And you do know that shop staff have to balance their tills at te end of the day right del? That mean counting. Seriously if you dont know what your on about why keep digging?

          • derek

            Just put them on a card only till then but in all seriousness Steph, everyone has potential everyone can learn they just need the proper methods and a more confident place to do it. 

          • GuyM

            Honestly Derek you are out of touch. No one is going to place anyone on a till when they have no maths skill at all.

            Also as no maths skill often goes with illiteracy as well there really is no chance.

            We are not going to go back to a situation where kids leaving school with no education of note have options. This is the 21st century not 1925.

          • derek

            I blazing an awareness of the 20% and saying that a new concept of teaching is needed, we might approach puzzle solving in different ways but our answer might be the same?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            They should have the proper methods by the time they leave primary school.  Mental mathematics in all four operands is basic.  Head mathematics should be fully ingrained by GCSEs. Appreciations of the inter-relationships of π to calculations of volume and spheres as well.  The ability to work out compound interest of odd numbers of periods as well, or people won’t know if the loan they take out is good or bad value, or whether to set their mortgage for 14 or 19 or 25 years.

            Basic stuff, at which our country is failing.  Why do I need to sit my daughter down aged 12 to get her up to speed on basic mathematics when she won her school’s annual mathematics prize with everyone clapping?  It is because the expectations are so low, which your rather horrifying example of acceptance of “the till will do the sums” completely exemplifies.

          • derek

            No, it’s not an acceptance, it a yell for different methods. 

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            What’s wrong with the methods that have worked for centuries?

            And actually I do believe that the system right now does accept grossly inadequate standards.

          • derek

            Not sure evryone understandit? a bitlike the rosette stone, have maybe readable while the other halfwas not.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Why have you picked those particular things over any other. Obsession with doing calculations misses the point, it does not mater what the content is provided thinking and problem solving skills happe. A focus on the content and assessment is the real killer. This is what politicians and dofe spend there time doing. It is meaningless. our country does not fail to do these things, it is a bigger problem culturally many people are ignorant of mathematics especially in the media and parliament. Combine this with the way in which science and engineering is looked down upon in ‘social circles’ and you will begin to get it.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I pick them out as that is how the real world operates,and one of the functions of education is to equip young people for the real world.

          • derek

            I’ll play, so the till tells them it’s £51.30 and you’ve handed over £55, the till say’s after the maths deduction it’s £3.70, so just by visual action rather than mental maths, that’s three gold ones a silver 50p and a silver 20p return, all by visual knowledge. IT and visual knowledge, it’s EASY!!! 

          • smcconnell

            Dear god!

            Its not about identifying the coins derek! If you cant count and add up how do you know three of the gold ones add up to £3? And how do you know the fifty pence and twenty pence add up to seventy pence?

            Its like saying that a deaf person can identify a song by listening to the lyrics! If you cant add up or count you cant work on a till! And they still have to balance the till at the end of the day.

            What shop is going to scare off customers by

          • smcconnell

            Refusing cash payments just so they can hire staff that cant count! Its bonkers logic.

          • derek

            A deaf person will lip read the lyrics, identifying the coinage is a reasonable manner for one that can’t count, thousands of years ago a hunter would put a notch on his weapon, they probably had no concept of arithmetic just a visual display knowledge of notching. 

          • smcconnell

            Yep your still not getting it.

            You can identify what each coin is the same way i can identify a word in a foreign language. Howeer combining those coins to make a specific total requires the ability to add them together to make that amount. Just like i cant add together foreign word in a language i dont know to make a legible paragraph, if you can not add up you cant add together the coins to make a specific amount.

            I really cant make it any simpler then that derek.

            And you have conveniently ignored the balancin of the till.

          • Alexwilliamz

            I am still trying to qualify what ‘functional innumeracy/illiteracy’ is so I can qualify it. From your post I presume it means a total inability to read, write or do math (sic).

          • GuyM

            Functionally innumerate = “maths skills are limited to basic arithmetic” i.e. numeracy at or below that of an average 11 year old

            Functionally illiterate = “cannot handle much more than straight forward questions. Unlikey or even impossible they will understand allusion or irony” i.e. reading standard is at or below an average 11 year olds.

            It is regarded that these levels means individuals cannot take aprt in every day life fully in areas like employment, family life and citizenship.

            They are basically unemployable in an office setting and will be consigned to low paid manual jobs at best or benefits.

            When you immediately have to write off 20% due to awful basic educational attainment, there is not many options for them.

          • Alexwilliamz

            So we are talking of KS Level 4. Which means they can perform basic arithmetic, identify fractions of amounts, work out basic percentages and averages (possibly requiring a calculator). They can identify the property of shapes and describe simple transformations. They can solve basic number problems. In English they won;t understand Shakespeare or engage in more sophisticated textual analysis. They are not going to transform society but are more than capable of being part of society, they may be unemployable in a office environment but there should be plenty of service and retail jobs they can perform, especially when supported by modern technology. This represents about 20% of school leavers, probably similar to previous generations, so what we need to do is find useful economic activity for those with lower skills base. Possibly begin by giving them a more suitable education focussed on skills, not ongoing paper assessments. No wait we must also force these young people through an set of academic courses such as those listed in the English Bacc.

            Surely this is the role of government, to support the economy in providing meaningful economic engagement for all. Clearly pseudo free market capitalism on its own does not do this, time to work out how we can engage the state to ensure no one is left behind. I’d far rather see a growth in public sector service jobs than millions on benefits, if that means big gvt, count me in.

          • GuyM

            It means they are at the age of an 11 year old OR BELOW.

            I’m afraid KS4 does not enable you to work in an office environment. Therefore they are already limited significantly in the jobs market.

            Unable to understand the written word well enough, or add up is not going to cut it in retail either.

            Especially when there is a EU single market with free movement of labour. There is no need to employ semi-literate over other literate candidates.

          • Alexwilliamz

            My point is the level being talked about is not as much of a cut off as you may think. There will always be a number of people who will be unable to do many jobs, but you are conflating those not hitting a certain academic measure with being unable to read, write or add up. This is not the case for many people who’s assessment puts them in that zone. The average level at the end of primary school is probably adequate as a STARTING point for most jobs, believe or not people continue to learn and pick up skills as they work so many of these young people will turn out to be effective and successful employees even if they never get on to the much vaunted ‘career’ gravy train.

          • There are a lot less of these sort of jobs around than there once was

          • AlanGiles

            I take it you are American?  “math” not “maths” , “labor” not “labour”.

            That isn’t meant to be faceitous, but just to suggest that the Britrish and American scenes may well be different. I worked with lads who came from secondary modern schools (I did myself) and comprehensives, and I can assure you there was not the degree of being unable to read and write that you are suggesting is commonplace.

            BTW, I once was able to employ a lad with learning difficulties, who did have problems with reading, and I give you my word, he made up for this by being very quick to learn practical hings – you only had to show him once (a bit like the compensation the deaf have in being able to see better than many, that sort of thing). And he was an excellent timekeeper, never late, and never took time off because he had a cold etc.

            Everyone should be treated as an individual. You do yourself or your argument no favours by pretending everybody is the same.

          • treborc

            I think I’d hate to be like many on here who think our young is as lazy as you think, one job on a building site for a young person to make tea , as part of a youth jobs trial had 300 people going for it.

            Another was for a council cleaner for the town centre, the job centre had to bring in extra staff to cope with the numbers, people want to work they are desperate to work, yet the fact is these two jobs were the only jobs for three months

    • We don’t do vocational education at all well here – unlike, say, Germany, or the Netherlands

  • Dave Postles

    1 I’ve just received a letter and a magazine from Youth Fight for Jobs and Education.  These young people walked from Jarrow to London to hand in a petition.
    2 I’ve just come back from Blackburn where I stayed in a Premier Inn and patronized Costa.  The young people were delightfully helpful: courteous and efficient.
    3 Young people rely on retail for their first jobs, obtain experience there, and then try to advance.  F-T retail jobs are being eroded as aggregate domestic demand collapses. 
    4 The poor sods below 21 years of age have received no increase on the minimum wage for 2012-13.
    5 NIESR predicts GDP increase of 0.1% for Q1 2012 (inflated by petrol price increase, panic buying of petrol, and inventory restocking) – in other words, whilst GDP is expected to stagger, there are no opportunities for f-t employment.
    To be young these days is to be penalized.

    • GuyM

      Get the education and skills to compete in the 21st century in a single market across the whole EU or really you have little or no chance.

      Jobs don’t get given out of sympathy, either there is a need you as an individual can meet else you stay jobless.

      • Dave Postles

        Strangely, I’ve just had the same experience as Jeff – hearing a fart in the wind.

      • Alexwilliamz

        And how will they ‘get this education’ more importantly how will they get the skills when no on will employ them. They might not all have middle class parents who ensure their children have access to these things and as importantly the upbringing to suggest they are important and what they might be needed.

        • GuyM

          13 years of free state education, use it or dont complain

          • Alexwilliamz

            But you yourself have decried the education system in this country, so surely you recognise the in built disadvantage many face?

          • GuyM

            In places the system is appalling, however anyone who leaves after over a decade of full time education unable to master the basic is either an idiot or simply didn’t bother.

            At every school there is at least a few pupils who do ok, so there is no excuse for the dusruptive behaviour and badge of honour some kids have for not learning.

            The education system is awful in places due to left wing teaching unions and crappy “let them find their own way” trendy lefty crap teaching methods.

    • Bill Lockhart

      Most of the latter-day Jarrow marchers packed it in well before they got to London. Most of those who did turn up in London had been having lifts in minibuses. Save your awed respect for someone who’s done something impressive.

      • Dave Postles

        @ Bill Lockhart
        You know what, I still have respect for them and their organization.  Since your comment is ad homines and ad feminas, how much of your work depends on funding through the Arts Council?  I’d be interested to know.  

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Here you go Derek,  something completely different from the head mathematics.  It’s Easter Sunday now, so not a time for arguing.

    I’ve got the San Quentin concert running from a DVD in another window.  I think it is the best concert any man or woman has ever given in human history.  It is also a concert that Labour should love to support – there’s some good social commentary and empathy, beyond that any performer would try to put on.  He really did care.

    The fun one:

    The best one with the driving guitar:  How he gets that sound from a cheap acoustic is beyond me.  I can’t get that sort of sound from a decent 62 Strat with a Blues Junior and any amount of modern processing.  I think it is called talent.

    And finally, a bittersweet one for me, but not from the San Quentin concert.  My own wife is a nearly complete image of June Carter Cash if updated a bit in hairstyle, which makes June the second best looking woman in the world.  But this is June at the age of 70, which one day, God willing we all reach, and we have to accept age takes its’ toll:

    • derek

      Nice touch Jaime, good stuff, I lost my Farther when he was 56 lung cancer, I held his hand as he took his last breath, home wasn’t the same without dad around and my mother would often play Foster and Allan tunes, here’s one of my mothers favourites my mother is no longer with us neither, I miss them both so much! Mum was a McGovern from Tranent, a good bit of local history there from the McGovern’s, my mothers father and mother where once the longest married couple in Scotland and their old home in Tranent is a local museum.  

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        I’m sorry to hear that Derek.  I know that when my time comes to lose my parents it will be completely crushing.

        I offer you this, as it is Easter Sunday.   Don’t let your circle be broken.  Perhaps put some tunes down with your sons?

        (Although God knows how June thought she was signing tenor – she should have let Helen on the right sing those lines.  But June was always the star, lime green dress and all)

        • derek

          Thanks 4 that Jaime, we can be civil sometimes? my health up date, I’ve had several blood test done, I never asked many questions! don’t know why, Doctor asked if I had any other complaints, only a sore throat and problems with swallowing and a very strange feeling when I touch my throat, it feels a bit like sunburn, you know when you touch sunburn you get that stinging feeling, anyway enough of that I’m sure I’m just fine.

          The boys are out with Pitlochry again this season coming, Dougie McClean supports the band and Eve Muirhead was once a player and comes along often, she’s a cracking piper as well as a curling skip and Dougie is very musical indeed and famous. The boys have penned some tunes already.

          I like those lyrics don’t let the circle be broken………….. 

  • The point is that there have always been people who left school with little in the way of qualifications and poor reading skills. Look at the number of adult literacy schemes which exist today!

    The main difference is that the number of manual jobs available has declined enormously . Many people who were not academic did these jobs perfectly well.

    I recall class sizes when I was at school getting larger and larger. It was all too easy for those who didn’t shine to sit at the back and be ignored

  • Jeff_Harvey

    I really wish that the people bleating about poorly educated youngsters showed more evidence of literacy in their bilious comments. For example: sentences should normally begin with capital letters and terminate with full-stops, the pronoun “I” is normally always be capitalised (unless you’re E. E. Cummings), contractions like “can’t” and “don’t” include apostrophes – and so on and so forth – and I won’t even begin to enumerate the countless spelling mistakes and grammatical errors littering the comments of people bemoaning illiteracy in the young while shamelessly exhibiting exactly the same shortcoming in every other sentence they commit to LabourList .

    I blame the parents myself.

    • AlanGiles

      I’m as guilty as anyone of typos – my only defence is that I battle with a small netbook with a very small screen (never buy an Eesus, gentlemen!), but I have noticed those that have the most pejorative things to say against young people don’t – let  us say – lead by example. Our great businessman, for example is not innocent of such mistakes and last night – perhaps he was tired and emoitional at the time – used the word [email protected]:disqus p twice in one short sentence.

      I do wonder if some of our more jaundiced posters remember they too were young once (unless they emerged from the womb in a charcoal gray suit, with rolled up umbrella and Financial Times tucked under the arm – I can imagine this scenario in at least one case, his first word wasn’t “mummy” or “daddy” but “my CEO” 🙂

      I also wish they would remember they are talking about human beings, not stray cats, and they are at a very vulnerable period of their lives, and rejections and disappointments hit them just as hard – if not harder- than when you are middle aged (or beyond) – perhaps more so?

      • AlanGiles

        I don’t know why “Dave Postles” came up when I put an asterisk between the “r” and “”p” in a certain word. I’d like to apologise to Dave unreservedly – I promise this was not a deliberate thing – it is probably this damned computer!

        • Dave Postles

           No apology required, Alan.  I saw the funny side of it.  I’ve been called worse, here and elsewhere. 

      • Jeff_Harvey

        My point real point, Alan, had less to do with the English language than trying to point out that sinners should be the last people to ever cast stones. The few commenters railing about the shortcomings of young people while displaying the same shortcomings in most of their posts themselves are pretty darn daft as far as I’m concerned. What people say is far more important than the way they say it, but if you want to attack the younger generation in respect to their literacy – or supposed lack of it – you really ought to make an effort to be scrupulously literate yourself if only for those posts. 

        Otherwise what’s the point?

        Pots calling kettles black is pretty pointless all things considered.

  • Alexwilliamz

    In response to Jaime:
    ” pick them out as that is how the real world operates,and one of the functions of education is to equip young people for the real world. The other function appears to be to employ a vast army of poor quality “teachers” who themselves appear to be pig ignorant of life and the basic skills needed for young people to make their way in the world, but hugely consumed with PC nuttiness.
    That may be an inconvenient truth for Labour, but truth it is.”

    You miss my point. Why should knowing the relationship between pi and volumes of spheres or even compound interest (which you could get an app for isntance to work out), be considered more important than any opther part of the syllabus. I am pretty sure that finding the volume of a sphere is unlikely to be a real life skill for the vast vast majority of people. My point if you reread my post was that the content is secondary to the acquisition of certain kinds of problem skills and the ability to relate your results to real life. With modern technology the process has become less important in comparison with the application and interpretation. Of course basic arithmetic remains important, but what is the differennce between young people who can do long division proficiently but have no idea what they are doing or why they have to do it over using a calculator? The learning of performing processes we may deem valuable but whether that is long division or some other algebraic techniques remains a moot point. Of course you have to have content but if you believe picking some content over any other content is the solution you are missing the real skills and value of mathematics. If you want real life maths I could probably teach that in about 2 terms, what do you suggest we do with the rest of the time, constantly practise doing it over and over again?

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      @ Alexwilliamz,

      perhaps we are not so far apart, but I have my own perspective.

      At one level life is about numbers.  I’m not talking about the law of co-tangents or the ability to work out laminar flow rates, which are specialist disciplines needed in only a few fields.  I am talking about the basics of life that everyone has to acquire.

      The ability to calculate the cost of the weekly shopping trip as you fill your trolley, to work out compound interest rates for your mortgage or credit card bill, how many tins of paint are needed to paint your kitchen, or how many minutes per month you should buy for your mobile phone.  The relationship between numbers is also crucial:  how long will it take you to drive from Cambridge to Tiverton at a given speed over a set distance, and how much fuel will it take for your car at the average consumption, and is it better to take the M3 or M4 or even the A34, trading the distances against expected traffic patterns.  A plumber should understand about length of pipe runs and pipe and radiator volumes, and boiler flow rates per minute in order to choose the best combination of half inch and three quarter inch pipes when installing a new central heating system.

      Take another profession.  You may not associate nurses much with mathematics, but I do (as well as other skills and motivations).  Taking blood pressure, tracking temperature over time, dosages, dilution rates, and setting flow rates of oxygen equipment based on body mass.  Even calculating waiting patient numbers against standard treatment times and adjusting priorities for clinical admission to ensure target times are met, all on the fly and in the head.  There is nothing exotic about any of that, it is everyday mathematics.

      My problem is with the delegation of these simple tasks to calculators, which seems clear to be official policy in the syllabus, and which both Derek and you appear to advocate.  My judgement is that children will never learn to understand the fundamental relationship of numbers if they are always allowed to use a calculator, and when they grow to adulthood will never again do things in their head if a calculator is nearby (or “an app”) – numbers will become remote.

      My daughter won the maths prize at her school, and of course I was delighted.  However, what she actually knows at age 11 is far below what I would expect an 11 year old to know, and already the insidious desire to use a calculator was being instilled by the educational system.  It is a total nonsense.  I have to sit with her for an hour each week to show her how numbers are inter-related, why division and multiplication are the same thing but expressed differently, why factors are a short cut without sacrificing precision.  When we do long drives in the car we do “Maths 10” – 10 questions such as 345 divided by 17, answer to be worked out in the head.  Schools do not do this.

      Worse, the schools appear to consider this acceptable.  I have made it my business to meet all of the teachers who teach my children, and to ask them about their approach to learning, and also their own academic background.  If I had my way, 80% of them would be sacked as being inadequate, but I accept that the standards I seek in teachers are perhaps higher than would be mainstream.  

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        …and one that really grieves me:  the National Lottery.  Why people queue up in the supermarket to spend their money on this is beyond me, as it is simple to work out the odds and once you have done so, to keep your money in your pocket.  My wife calls the queue “paying the poor tax”, and she is right. While the National Lottery pays for all sorts of good things, it is disproportionately funded by the poorer in our society. The very opposite of progressive.

        • Alexwilliamz

          It’s called a forlorn hope. For some its a bit of fun, for other think about how low their life is that the only way they can see of getting out of it is to play the national lottery. They are aware that they ahve little chance of winning, but then the life changing consequences of winning is too much. I would love to see the national lottery disappear through a lack of interest, but I doubt this will be through better mathematical understanding but more of a change in the basic lot of people. Rich people can scoff at the ‘poor tax’ but it is because their lives are pretty good without the need to win a million that they can be so smug.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I see the psychology, but I wish that people had enough self-awareness to behave differently.

            The odds of winning £10 on the National Lottery are 56:1.  So on average, you would need to spend £56 in tickets to win £10, thus making the lottery effectively a voluntary tax payable at a marginal rate of 460%.  When my wife calls this “the poor tax”, this is not scoffing at the people, it is judging a system in which people do not have the basic education to know that.

            Many on here accuse me of being a tory, which is not really the case but I do not mind.  My wife really is a tory (she votes for them, quite happily), but she also is compassionate and I know what she means when she says “poor tax”.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Jaime you are not up to date if you think that the official policy of the syllabus is to delegate simple tasks to calculators, when 40-50% assessment is non calculator. The point is that after a point we cannot spend all our time bogged down doing arithmetic, instead we need to get calculation quickly so as to focus on more demanding problems. A more important skill is to be able to estimate what sort of result you should expect so you can tell when you have made a mistake with the calculator. The problem with talking about ‘teaching’ everyday maths is that it would provide a thin curriculum. Personally I think one thing that should change is that there should be two Maths GCSEs (and therefore components on teaching) one focussed upon numeracy and practical application and the other on more advanced abstract mathematical content. Where statistics fits into that I have no idea. The ‘left wing’ educationalists that Guy is so fond of, have for years been trying to push for a focus on context and problem solving. We have had functional skills, which had its power reduced when gvt realised how the original mandatory aspect would hit pass rates. We are also looking at piloting double GCSE but sadly the second compenent of abstract maths will remain mandatory. Children should have learnt most of the basic maths and relationship before they leave primary school, the gain a second insight when they begin doing algebra. The ability to perform mental calculations often turns into a mechanistic or memory based process and as such rarely develops an understanding of connections, although I agree that an emphasis on underlying concepts like place value and proportionality should remain throughout their time in a mathematics classroom.

        I am surprised that your daughters school does not do some of things you talk about as they should be standard elements of maths education, how do you know they are not done, remember young people often mistake tasks for skills. So if you ask her if she does x y and z she may not recognise them as being the same as a, b and c. How you can assess teachers from brief conversations I am amazed. there is a crisis in Mathematics teaching but statements like yours just help put people off. So 80% of teachers have been sacked based upon an as yet undetermined criteria you have set up and not revealed. Who then would replace them? I suggest you might want to spend some time experiencing the average day in the life of a teacher before being too judgemental. I often feel the same way about many GPs and doctors, I’ve met, well that they are not worth the huge salaries they command. The truth is there are simply not enough exceptional professionals out there to fill all the positions, our task then is to help the less exceptional to perform their task to a decent level. Personally I am starting to feel that expectations of teachers is becoming detached from reality, especially if you also continue to wipe out the perks of the job (pensions), and constantly denigrate them.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          @ Alexwilliamz,

          firstly I do appreciate your insight (I think I recall that your are a teacher), so I’ll accept your expertise.  However, I do believe that it is OK for a layman to look at a wider context (ie beyond the current syllabus or background thinking).

          On a point of detail, you have confirmed what I felt to be true – there is a substantial (>50%) element of GCSE syllabus that is calculator aided.  That is horrifying. I accept your view that once mental and paper calculation is instinctive and proven in a pupil, then we should move on an explore more complex areas in which using a calculator means there is more time for studying the meat of the problem.  However, I do not accept this ever happens before GCSE, except in prodigy cases.

          On the “rote” learning, you raise a danger that I have noticed.  Many children in England seem to learn “times tables”, as opposed to calculating results in their heads.  It is like learning a poem, except the poem only goes to 12 x 12.  That is useless if the calculation is 15.3 x 74, except by the very slow method of “chunking” which seems to be the preferred method.  Why do we not teach our children to actually calculate numbers, instead of learn mathematical poetry?  I never learned times tables, and am very glad of it.

          My daughter has now taken control of my old slide rule.  Now that she knows how to use it she is loving testing me on the head maths.  The best thing is that she can now see the relationship between scalar numbers and inverses, because it is completely obvious and laid out on the rule.  She understands why π is fundamental to radii and circumference, because it is clearly traceable on the ruler.  She is actually getting to know her numbers, and liking them, and being able to play around with numbers, to do “what if” in her head.  Frankly, that is what her mathematics teacher should be doing, but demonstrably is not.

          I like your idea for the two-tone syllabus.  I studied a blended course called Sciencias for my matriculation (sort of like A levels).  There were 5 elements:  Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering Mathematics.  The last two were taught by the same teacher, and in fact were theoretical mathematics, and then practical mathematics applied to specific problems.  We were allowed no help for Mathematics, but were allowed slide rules for Engineering Mathematics.

          On the wider points you make about teacher “quality”, I am sure to admit to having very high expectations, but these are my children, and also the children of the country whose future is also our future.  It does not seem unreasonable to demand very high standards.  I would like to see teachers paid substantially more than they are to recognise their importance, but equally to have substantial expectations placed upon them.  At the moment, as a parent it seems to me that low pay and low expectations combine to employ many who should not be teaching at all.

          On the 80% point, that is my experience.  Of my daughter’s teachers in her state school, I do not have confidence in eight out of ten.  I do not trust them to educate my daughter to the standards I expect.  It is a mixture of reasons across the eight.  A couple seem to lack basic knowledge themselves, the majority do not have the attitude and perseverance I expect.  5 of them do not have a degree in the main subject they teach, which is completely shocking.  Among the ten are some who clearly have a great love for education, which is good, but there are a couple who appear to regard it as a normal job, and who might as well be office administrators.

          • Trudge74 as alexwilliamz

            You would have to include me in that shocking statistics, if you can fault in my teaching content, theory, desire to provide underpinning concepts to serve young people well beyond the time in my classroom. Or for setting foundations and insight into mathematics beyond the specifications you are welcome. Teaching is about more than subject knowledge but since many trainees with Mathis degrees come to me to solve problems I’m guessing my lack of a degree in this subject has not affected my subject knowledge. Of course the key is whether you know how to learn and then transfer that knowledge I’m sure there may be people who teach subjects which they show no interest or additional interest in beyond the specification, I would suggest that often a degree in that subject is no better advantage.

            Sure having a degree in a subject may be an advantage especially when it comes to science based subject but what is more important is their understanding of pedagogy and worker ping up to date and interested in the subject. Personally I’d like to see a longer more rigorous training period with a much greater focus on real continuous development even after completion. Too few teachers have a very deep understanding of educational theory or have time to keep abreast of the latest ideas in teaching. Instead we adopt a sink or swim approach with too many teachers left to flounder and ultimately end up slapped with an inadequate label

          • Trudge74 as alexwilliamz

            The bottom line is you are still responsible for filling in the gaps in your child’s education, which I am glad that you are doing. State education provides a certain standard of education which is pretty much value for money. I am trying to approach this from a pragmatic stance within the current structure I am not sure we can expect a huge amount more from a system so enthral to examinations, an unsupportive and unconstructive inspection regime. When I see resources actually going directly into teaching and learning, a recognition that merely labelling teaching according to a very narrow criteria and then expecting these same teachers to transform themselves without adequate guidance or knowledge. When one also considers the conditions they are working with where many of the students are apathetic at best and hostile at worst. Where a conspiracy of silence about bullying management, fears of self inadequacy and judgement it is not surprising we find a profession struggling to improve itself. Something radical is needed and I have barely heard a politician discuss the real issues yet let alone come up with solutions.

  • It has been a little longer than a fortnight since their approval ratings have been higher than the early 30s, but policies like this won’t help them in the polls.

    I agree with some of the commenters on here. This will not get anywhere near the Royal Assent stage. It’s a bad idea.

    • Jeff_Harvey

      It’s an impossible sell: a five percent reduction in the top rate of tax giving millionaires an extra £40,000 per year while denying housing benefit to EVERY under 25-year-old leading to thousands, possibly even hundreds of thousands, of the nation’s youngest citizens being made actually, physically homeless through no fault of their own.

      Of course it won’t happen.

      The fact Cameron could even speak about such an idea is extraordinary.

      Herod Anitipas would probably have blushed at such a notion.

      George Osborne is already, probably, busily washing his hands.

  • Claresheldon

    Have the Tories completely lost the plot?  I am starting seriously to believe David Cameron is either mentally ill or from another planet.  As far as I am aware, parents have no legal obligation to maintain their children after they reach 18, so how on earth can the government require them to house 18-25 year olds, just because their children can’t afford to pay for their own accommodation?  Also, I’d have thought that this proposal would fall foul of age discrimination laws – or does age discrimination only apply to the over 50s?

  • M Johnston123

    Addressing socio-inequalities for the deprived especially for the younger generation has allways been top of the agenda within any goverment ideology but MR CAMERON you really need to live in the real world what’s happened to EQUALITY within your party obviously you have no conception whats so ever of the state of affairs the youth of today face. There is nothing quite like kicking individuals when there down and YOU are an expert …Its well seeing your from an affluent area and have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth!!!!!! 


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