Thursday, 26 April 2012

The influence of China and School Funding

Parliamentary debates are rarely the high point of oratory, but I wanted to highlight the debate on school funding that is set out in detail here:

Given that Ponteland High School is now teaching Mandarin and taking school trips to Beijing I enjoyed this exchange with my Foreign Office Colleague the MP for Gloucester, Richard Graham:

GO: "We know that this is a debate about schools because everybody has started quoting famous names. By my account, we have had Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, and Reagan snuck in at the end. I prefer to take the Minister back to the ancient Chinese proverb of Lao Tzu who—as our eminent Education Minister will know—was the founder of Taoism and said that the longest journey begins with a single step. Is not the essence of this debate that we are all seeking that first step? It is not a large step; it could be a short step."

RG: Since my hon. Friend introduced Lao Tzu, he will no doubt also be aware of the more recent Chinese philosopher and statesman Deng Xiaoping’s great remark, “Yi bu yi bu”—one step at a time. Does my hon. Friend think that that is appropriate for the way in which we might resolve the issue of fair funding for schools?

GO: I do, and I will reply with words from Sun Tzu who, when he talked about the art of war, said, “Know your enemy.” That is interesting given that there is no enemy present today, but does not the absence of Opposition Members—save for the shadow Minister, Ms Buck, who will no doubt act robustly in defending the 13 years during which we all endured a funding gap—speak volumes?
I will move on from the happy badinage in which I and my hon. Friend have been engaged to say that like other hon. Members, I represent schools in Northumberland that look enviously at counties and cities that have a greater degree of funding. To put it simply, no change is not an option.

I would recommend the debate to anyone interested in the school funding issue: the Journal also has a piece today on the amazing Headteacher at Prudhoe Castle First School