Schoolgirls’annual from the 1950s – Published by Dean and Son

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Cover of a popular 1950s Schoolgirls’ Annual published by Dean and Son of London in the 1950s. Anthony Sargeant bought a box of books at auction to donate to OXFAM and this vintage annual was among them.

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Fragmentation of and Disintegration of the UK school system – comment by Anthony Sargeant

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Allowing free schools and academies has resulted in a terrible fragmentation of the UK State Education system. Those based on religious ideology of any persuasion are a particular problem, Evangelical Christian, Protestant, Church of England (Cof E), Roman Catholic (RC), Jewish, Islamic Schools, and others.

The great mistake was to allow Religious schools to continue when the 1944 Education Act was implemented. Although it could be argued that this was necessary because in a time of immense austerity the implementation of the 1944 act had to be ‘affordable’. RC and CofE already supported a large number of schools and it would have been difficult to take them all into the State system at that time. Moreover there was a sense of indebtedness for the important role that the churches had played in creating the elementary school system from which the new post 1944 Act primary and secondary schools were to be developed.

The problem arises generations later because having allowed RC and CofE schools to continue to exist (but now almost entirely with running costs funded by the state) how can you refuse any other religious group the same possibility? The difficulty became acute when Academies were allowed to be set up by whoever wanted to invest money outside of the Local Education Authority system.

Then this was compounded by ‘Free Schools’. Again set up outside of the control of the Local Education Authority. Perhaps the only solution is to make the State education system secular and return it to Local Education Authority control, oversight and regional planning. (This does not even touch upon the terrible consequence of the school system in Northern Ireland which is still to a large extent divided between RC and Protestant schools).

Of course it is claimed that all this ‘diversity’ is good because it allows “parental choice”. But in rural areas there is almost no choice and in urban areas it becomes a free-for-all fight to get children into a school perceived as good. Having to apply separately to a number of independently run Free Schools or Academies can mean getting your child into no local school. The best chance of success is to move next door to the school of your choice so that you are in the catchment area of that ‘lovely’ Primary or Secondary Academy in Hampstead. Who can afford to do that? Why the affluent middle class of course, or as they might say PLU (People Like Us).

The fragmentation and disintegration of the State Education system was begun by the Labour Government ofTony Blair and has continued apace under the Tories.

UK and EU and Brexit – EU Negotiator Verhofstadt likens it to rats leaving a sinking ship

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In response to the Ex-Prime Minister of Belgian and now EU Parliament negotiator for Brexit talks, Guy Verhofstadt, likening the UK leaving the EU to “rats leaving a sinking ship”. Anthony Sargeant says that there are two interesting points about the comment; (1) the Belgian Europhile seems to think the EU is sinking (which it probably is) and (2) rats are an extremely successful species which thrives around the world (which may well turn out to be how the UK fares in terms of global trade post-Brexit). But as a Belgian you can imagine the dismay at the very thought of the collapse of the EU infrastructure and consequent redundancy of all of those vanity-project buildings in Brussels – what will Belgium do with them? And what will it do as an economy no longer propped up by the income generated by over 50,000 well paid EU civil servants in Brussels, plus ancillary staff. If you think that closure of the Port Talbot Steelworks would be bad for Wales then the collapse of EU would be a disaster for Belgium which is economically challenged, not least by the internal schisms of its society on language and religious grounds (this leads to duplication not just of language in government documentation but also of whole institutions. So in Brussels for example, you have the Universite Libre of Brussels but also the Vrije Universiteit of Brussels and so on down the educational system in towns and Villages across the country.

Simba – curled up contented cat

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Simba the pet cat bought by Anthony J Sargeant for his children curled up asleep on the sofa in 2011. He died in 2015 having lived for nearly 20 years despite being attacked when very young by a fox who broke his back leg which had to pinned.

via Simba – cat curled up on sofa — tonysargeantshropshire

Hot slow cooked mutton served for supper

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A half a shoulder of mutton (blade half) was covered in baking paper and foil and slow cooked in a low oven at 100 degrees Celsius for 18 hours by Anthony Sargeant. The result is that the meat is still pink but beautifully tender and has that deeper flavour of good mutton compared with younger lamb. Here it is shown plated up with some vegetables Beautifully tender it hardly needs carving as after the long slow cook it falls off the bone. Mutton is still underappreciated and difficult to find in most supermarkets. This excellent mutton was bought from Ludlow Food Centre in Shropshire. The next post shows what the Mutton looked like when it came out of the oven and after having rested for 20 minutes.