The Sunday Times and Croissants – UK schools stuck at the back of the class

The Sunday Times and Croissants, UK schools stuck at the back of the class

There is something special about Sunday morning, the Sunday Times, hot croissants with honey and butter, excellent.

Headlines “UK schools stuck at back of the class” makes the headlines this week. Britain’s pupils are lagging far behind key international competitors despite the billions of pounds spent to improve performance. UK teenagers are falling far behind the top nations of China, South Korea and Singapore, in maths, reading and science, according to an OECD survey to be released next week.

The results reveal the UK has “simply stagnated” since the poor showing in the last rankings four years ago. In 2009, the UK appeared to fall behind poor countries such as Poland and Estonia in key subject areas. Tristram Hunt, shadow education minister blames, “frenetic attention seeking” changes of the last three years, including multiple curriculum rewrites and changes to assessment criteria.

Michael Gove, the education secretary claims the results are a “judgement of the past and not on the present”. Gove points out the 15 year olds taking the most recent test had been educated for nine years under a Labour Government and only two years under the coalition. Excellent, nothing wrong with “maths in the ministry” at least. Or is there? I thought they started school at five.

There is something wrong with “Home Economics” education in the Saatchi household, according to reports on the fraud trial of two “assistants” in the Nigella universe. A small team of assistants were able to spend £1.2m in 2012 without any real scrutiny. Francesca Grillo one of the assistants, raised the limit on her company credit card to £100,000 per month without question. “I didn’t spend my days fussing about money” said Saatchi, “It’s not that I am rich, I would rather not look at a bit of paper with money on it”. Could this be another government education legacy problem? Poor maths literacy, a result of invoices submitted to the 80s Tory government for advertising services, without query or question, perhaps?

In The Saturday Economist this week, no surprises in the updates for the GDP data for Q3. Growth is on track for 1.3% this year and 2.4% next. Figures we expect to be confirmed in the OBR review due next week. The Bank of England is slightly concerned about the coalition Help to Buy scheme, FLS, the Funding for Lending scheme to be modified slightly as a result. Check out The Saturday Economist plus we release our “modeling GDP(O)” process and forecasts. Output the more easily forecast using conventional business forecasting tools, without the need for much theory in the process.

David Smith, highlights his Christmas book list, including the excellent, Rediscovering Growth: After the Crisis by Andrew Sentance. Businesses and policymakers need to adjust to the new reality post recession. The quicker they do so, the more likely it is that economic prospects will eventually improve. A must read for policy makers and businesses alike.

Back to the day Jobs – Highlights of the week

Monday – team meetings in the morning and in the afternoon to prep the week.

Tuesday, largely internal sessions and a chance to prepare the economics updates for the Chamber of Commerce including the monthly economics updates.

Wednesday, Darrell Matthews is in the office. Darrell is now  the head of EEF North West, the Engineering Employers Federation having recently relinquished a similar role with the IOD.

Thursday, The Chamber research team are presenting the excellent Construction Sector Pipeline analysis of projects in Greater Manchester. It is also the date for the PwC challenge of change presentations plus the Deloitte Retail Dinner in the evening.

Friday, day at home, complete the GDP(O) forecasts then play doubles in the afternoon. 6-3, 6-3 home side romp.

Saturday, the day starts as usual with tea, the FT, and the Economist app. In the afternoon, tennis – a 6 – 8 loss. As always, great technique hampered by an inability to get to the ball.

That’s all for now, hope all is well, more news next week, watch out for details of our Financial Directors Forum. The call for content starts soon with launch planned in 2014.

© John Ashcroft 2013.

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