Find me the 2012 Olympic medallist who owes their sporting success to wet afternoons on an English school playing field and I’ll get worked up about selling off school playing fields. The fact is, like so many stories from inside the Westminster village, the row over school sports fields is a red herring; great for… (3 comments)

I never had any doubt that Danny Boyle’s Olympic celebration of proud, multi-cultural, contrarian Britain was spot on.  I loved every minute of the opening ceremony’s anarchic creativity. It even prompted my first ever act of patriotism. Incensed by the cynical tweets of a critical American, I clicked “unfollow” and banished him from my Twitter stream… (1 comment)

 Long before globalisation, there was Bush House. Home to the BBC World Service – grand in parts, beautiful in its own labyrinthine way, Bush House nurtured multiple languages and cultures for more than seventy years. That is now over. On Friday the last of the language services left for the purpose-built news centre in new… (8 comments)

If, as Mahatma Ghandi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members,” then I might move to Spain.  True, Spain is going through unprecedented economic turmoil. The $36bn in spending cuts planned this year probably won’t be enough to get its budget deficit under control. Unemployment is at a record… (0 comment)

Why is Education Secretary Michael Gove setting children up to fail? His highly prescriptive, not to say idiosyncratic approach to what’s learned in schools (to be formally announced later this week) amounts to a random list of musts and shoulds that have little relevance to real children’s lives – nor to how they learn. Of… (0 comment)

Who’s in charge of Britain these days? I don’t mean who’s in power, or who has the most MPs. I mean who is looking at the country’s complex economic and social problems and saying, “Here’s how we’re going to fix this.” A few years ago, under Labour, the answer would have been, “The State, that’s… (0 comment)

The excited Year 3 children began by introducing themselves to each other. They’d already changed out of their school uniforms and into their very best clothes. Maisie had a brand new dress, there was discussion about Joe’s shirt and speculation about his shoes. Everyone agreed they looked good enough for Posh Lunch. Posh Lunch is… (6 comments)

The phone rang about an hour after I’d completed my online order. The woman on the other end – northern accent, friendly tone – sounded a little anxious. Had I just booked a ticket for a play at the New Vic Theatre?  Yes, I said, I certainly had. “You do know we’re in Newcastle-Under-Lyme,” she… (0 comment)

I have seen a future for the public library – in the centre of Stoke-on-Trent. I’ll admit, until now I’ve taken no interest in the campaigns to save Britain’s libraries from closure. Supporters say hundreds are threatened because of cuts in local council budgets. 115 disappeared in the last financial year alone. But the library-loving rhetoric… (1 comment)

Why can’t teachers and school inspectors play nicely together? In theory they share the same goal: The best possible education for all children in England and Wales. In practice, they’ve been descending into the kind of name calling that should get them sent to the head teacher’s office for a stern telling off.   The… (0 comment)