The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
Sunday Telegraph
Posted Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 10:38

The Sunday Telegraph has printed a quote I gave to them on the front page today, amazingly, in full. It’s about the on-going grammar school debate, and the announcement by David Willetts, that there will be no more new grammar schools. What I said to the Telegraph was:

 One member of the group, Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, said: "What was the point of establishing the commission, which has worked hard and intensively for over a year, with some of the best brains in the country who have given their time and expertise, if we are going to simply ignore their findings?

"There was no need for this to happen. Nobody was asking what our policy on education was.

"It is a fact that standards need to be raised in thousands of comprehensive schools, but that cannot be achieved with a blanket policy of no selection. The juries are out on city academies.

"We are the party of localism: that means letting local education authorities decide for themselves whether or not they want grammar schools. We should be bold enough to say that there is nothing wrong with allowing our brightest kids to aspire to attend a grammar school. We don't make the weak strong by making the strong weaker."

The public policy commission, of which I am a member, has an education sub group, which has dedicated itself to nothing other than an in depth analysis of the state of education in our schools today.

As a result of that analysis, the group will be about to report to the front bench with their findings. What I, and many of my colleagues cannot understand, is why David Willetts made the announcement he did, before the reports were published.

Was it because he knew what was in the report and wanted to pre-empt the findings?

I have not seen the report; however, I had hoped that the education sub group would be looking at the way the independent system operates.

I have never been able to understand why we cannot deliver the same quality of education in the state system as is delivered in the independent sector. I write this as a mother whose child attends a state comprehensive school.

Nice buildings and beautiful grounds do not make a child pass exams.

In the independent sector children sit the common entrance exam at age thirteen, and that’s when the serious work begins. We should look at that. We should look at the way education is delivered within the existing grammar schools which all perform outstandingly well, and the way it is delivered within the best independent schools and ask, how can the state deliver this in all schools?

I cannot understand why, when the jury is so comprehensively out on city academies, we have decided to support the academy concept. Academies are the most selective form of education we have in the UK. Academies are exempt from taking children with special needs. Big issue.

We are now competing with countries like China and India on the global economic stage. I can guarantee you this; they will have no doubts, no prissy ideas about what kind of education to offer their brightest brains from whatever background.

 

I walked into a surprise birthday party last night. As my friends had told me one by one why they couldn’t be with me this weekend, I was beginning to feel very un-loved.

It was a classic, I was so shocked, I am such a lucky person. I have the best daughters and friends in the world – and they are too good at keeping secrets!

 

UPDATE: Having to do this blog and walk the dogs and feed hung over left overs this morning, I didn't have a chance to read the Telegraph article in full, I have now. Having read the article, it was indeed the case that the ed sub group had reported to endorse selection at thirteen in the interim report. As this report has been written by educational experts, shouldn't we be listening to what they have to say? Or is it a case that because we have been elected as MP's, we know better?

 

 
 
 
The real Dave said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
Was there a cake?
 
 
Matt said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
We reap what we sow in this life. I guess luck has nothing to do with it.
 
 
Rosemary said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
Was it your birthday, you never said ..A very Happy Birthday and you are much loved throughout the Constituency. Keep up the good work
 
 
TomTom said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
City Academies are PFI. Banks and Property Developers make a fortune out of accessing public assets. The Conservatives represent City interests and as such there is a head of steam behind the bonanza that Blair unleashed to privatise schools through PFI Academies but they are then hamstrung by Brown controlling the budgets for schools, so the head has to fire teachers to pay the PFI lease. Acadmies represent business and Allianz SE the German insurer tried to buy John Laing Construction to get control of its PFI portfolio I think Academies are simply too lucrative to let education stand in the way of making money
 
 
Man in a Shed said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
Happy Birthday ! Thank you for voicing what so many of us have been shouting at our TV sets and radios this week.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
You say: 'We should look at the way education is delivered within the existing grammar schools which all perform outstandingly well, and the way it is delivered within the best independent schools and ask, how can the state deliver this in all schools?' This is the key point. 'all schools' I'm fascinated to know if you do get large numbers of constituents demanding more Grammar Schools.
 
 
martin said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
i think its fair to say this blew up in DC's face, he didnt think about it, or maybe he did. But he left himself no room to move, and now we look stupid. Why not just say: we're not going to build any new grammars, but rather keep the existing one's open and continue looking at academies? Not that difficult. Unless this was a PR stunt. WHo knows...
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Sunday, 20 May 2007
Hasn’t the policy just got the Hilton fingerprint on it? Surely it’s a mistake to think support of grammar schools is the preserve of traditional Tory voters. If that were true, grammar schools would not be so over-subscribed (and the highest-ranking Labour politicians wouldn’t send their children to them).
 
 
Dave said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
So the big day has finally arrived.See! it isn't that bad after all.May you drown in a sea of happiness today and not the dread sea as you feared.You still look one hot momma to me, but this pales compared to the warmth you show from within.Oh! if only cloning were legal!A very happy **th birthday, and throw the Saga card away!
 
 
John said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Now that sounds like you've been playing Fleetwood Mac or Genesis, Dave? Hope you don't mind Nadine, but I've come back to wish you a very happy day today, and I too reckon you're hot. hot,hot.(haven't been near the Cutty Sark by any chance).Happy Birthday!
 
 
Mike H said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Hmmmmm..... strange..... I posted this comment yesterday a little after noon. Since then other comments have appeared on your blog, so maybe it got lost. I'll have another go.... The Labour Party PR machine must think all it's birthdays and Christmases have come at once. At a time when the focus needs to be maintained on Gordon Brown's shortcomings as the future Prime Minister of this country, the Conservatives are busy self-destructing over the Grammar School issue. Why would anyone aspiring to beat Labour in the next general election want to give them reason to claim that the Conservatives are split down the middle on a fundamental policy issue? Isn't it a given that we should be striving for an education system that provides the very best opportunities for ALL children to reach their full potential, irrespective of their academic capabilities? Instead, this debate about Grammar Schools is focussing on just a small proportion of the nations children. Of course we need some sort of split into ability-based groups so that each child can be taught at a pace to suit his or her capabilities. We need to ensure that the more able children are stimulated and stretched mentally; equally we need to ensure that the less able kids don't get completely left behind. In that sense some sort of selection is inevitable and, indeed, highly desireable. But while our education system is in such a mess we need to stay focussed on the needs of all children and not just debate what's best for a small percentage of them. I'm not advocating abandoning the few Grammar Schools that remain - I just think we need to look at the wider picture. How can we get so distracted by the way in which a small proportion of children of 11+ are educated when there are kids in primary school already displaying behavioral problems that will only get worse as they move into secondary education? How can we be so distracted when the 'off the peg' education option that's offered to the majority of the population manages to turn out so many illiterate and inumerate young adults? This narrow debate about Grammar Schools makes absolutely no sense to me. It's the whole approach to education and classroom discipline that needs to be the subject of the discussion - not just this one small aspect of it that relates to Grammar Schools. While you're dealing with 'Conservatives shoot self in foot' subjects, how about some thoughts on David Maclean's disasterous FOI Bill? I'm afraid that it's another completely avoidable Conservative own-goal as far as this particular member of the public is concerned. By the way, Nadine, Happy Birthday! :-)
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Dave, John, Mike Thank you. It's not bad at all acually! I am only one day older than yesterday!! Share one of my presents with me - look up Paolo Nutini, these streets, I haven't taken it of the CD player since I opened it. Don't like track 1 much, but the rest is great. Dave, there was a cake, a gorgeous chocolate one with my name in sparklers as candles,a bit of a tear jerker!!!
 
 
Dave said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
No, John, straight from the pumphouse(heart).Speaking of Genesis, in my younger days I was fortunate enough to work in quite a few celebs houses. I went to West London, just off the A40 to do work in a Ms. Speake's house. An elderly guy opened the door to let us in. All around the hall walls were these framed discs.Loads of them.The gentleman explained that we were in Phil Collin's mum's house and because she was so proud of him the gold,platignum, whatever, discs were proudly displayed so they were the first thing seen as the door opened.I lived with my parents at the time and the first thing seen hanging up in the house was my coat on a peg.
 
 
James said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Hi Nadine, Just tuned in to wish you a happy birthday today.Your blog full of common sense as usual.It is a pity your party's front benchers aren't as sensible as yourself, but as they are mostly of my gender it is not surprising.They say the best things come in small packages, you are therefore the Tardis of all things good. Best Wishes.
 
 
John said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Hey lads, almost an invitation to a musical evenning in with the lady herself and maybe even a slice of cake thrown in! Almost. Do you think your parents were trying to tell you something Dave? Any more revelations like that, or do we have to wait for the book?
 
 
Angela (Cornwall) said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Happy Birthday to the best MP there is. I can't add much comment to your blog as you and Mike H have said it all. Your party really needs to connect with the majority of those who have become disenchanted with politicians over the past years. You, personally, work so hard and talk in a way that us commonfolk understand, it is such a shame that those few above you could wipe all that effort out in an instant.
 
 
Tony and Cherie said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Hey Nadine, sweetie, it's us two old pros! Just a last special message to wish a special lady a happy birthday and at least 50 more of them. Bye darling! Back in the cellar we go, never to bother mankind again!
 
 
All of Mankind said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
I wish!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let's all hope and pray the cellar floods!!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Mike H said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
There's an excellent piece in today's Independent by Bruce Anderson titled 'you cannot build an education system on eloquence and righteous indignation'. In the article Bruce draws an interesting analogy with food shops in which an area is served by four stores. Three of them provide food that just about allows the consumer to avoid food poisoning while the fourth is a Fortnum and Mason store. It's worth a read. You'll find it if you Google for independent bruce anderson education system. Thanks for the CD recommendation, Nadine. That was very nearly two in less than a week - life with your blog could get expensive! Fortunately I managed to resist the temptation this time, although I did like the title track and 'new shoes'. I see what you mean about the first track... It reminded me a bit of one of Sting's songs - but I can't remember the title....
 
 
Ian said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Amen to that. It does not really matter how serious or zany the comments made are, it proves that you are connecting with the people.No nasties,no insults and a bit of fun, a perfect recipe. Happy birthday by the way.
 
 
James said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
Hi John, Wouldn't have minded a musical soiree round at Nadines, could have bought the bagpipes.It's a pity that Nadine hasn't posted some photos of herself through the ages so to speak.On a more serious note, why is it that when someone like Nadine tells it straight, she is automatically classed as a rebel? It least this lady has the backbone to tell it the way it is.She is a dead straight MP, works dam hard and gives the job her all! I can remember our past representatives and not one of them could match this lady's dedication. You keep going Nadine.
 
 
Sweeper said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
I realise it's a bit late in the day, but happy birthday Nadine, at least I sincerely hope you've had a great day.
 
 
Paul said:
Responded: Monday, 21 May 2007
I started school in the late 1950's. I didn't pass the 11 plus, in fact very few did. Went on to sec. modern school. The discipline was very strict but you learnt respect very quickly. I went on to be Head Boy, achieved good GCE Grades, went on to college to study A levels. A previous Head Boy at the school was Head of Mathematics at Winchester College last time I contacted him. I eventually set up my own business and made enough to retire on when I reached the age of 48.My schooling was OK, we had good strict teachers who taught us well.It is, as all things in life, upto the individual to determine their goals and achievements.I wonder if you,Nadine ever dreamed when you were at school that you would become an MP.
 
 
Anon said:
Responded: Tuesday, 22 May 2007
When is your party going to stop shooting itself in the feet. It's even providing the amunition for Brown to fire at you. Sort them out Nadine before they self destruct!
 
 
Snafu said:
Responded: Tuesday, 22 May 2007
I fail to see why anyone should ever bother voting Conservative again! As a party ostensibly in favour of City academies rather than Grammar schools, opposes the "aspirational middle classes" - to quote David Willetts, opposes tax cuts and opposes welfare reform, you might as well vote Labour and get the same policies!
 
 
Nadine said:
Responded: Tuesday, 22 May 2007
No Paul, never in a million years. However, I did dream the un-dreamable, which I suppose is the definition of aspiration.
 
 
Paul said:
Responded: Tuesday, 22 May 2007
If I may be allowed to make the following points Nadine,I learnt early in life it is who you know not what you know that determines status. Life is a game of snakes and ladders.Rub shoulders with the right people and your up the ladder of power or fortune, annoy them and down you go.That is a sad fact of life.As long as your face fits,you have the gift of the gab, you say yes in agreement, your in the club.Twenty five years ago this week TB stood in the Beaconsfield election and came a miserable third. I wonder how he would have started his climb to power if it was not for father in law Booth knowing a prominent member of the Labour Party. You could almost make up a family tree for parliamentarians. All cronies together, some with very little skill or proper judgement.I admire your standing, if we had more down to earth and decent truthful people as yourself in the structures of power I think we would all live in a better society.I can see why us ords. respond to you.
 
 
akiv said:
Responded: Tuesday, 22 May 2007
From the BBC website, speaks volumes I think. Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I lead. I don't follow my party; I lead them." Sounds like he's been taking lessons from TB, scary. I suggest all Conservative MP's nip this attitude in the bud before they live to regret it.
 
 
Anonymous said:
Responded: Wednesday, 23 May 2007
And if a leader doesn't lead, what exactly does he do?
 
 
akiv said:
Responded: Wednesday, 23 May 2007
In a democracy a leader will lead their party in the direction that reflects the wishes of the majority of the followers.(Just as MP's have a responsibility to reflect the wishes of their electorate) It is extremely arrogant of a leader to presume they know better and think that to lead means ignoring the wishes of those who put them in place, or to use their position to achieve their personal aims. If for whatever reason they do not feel they can do that then they should stand down.
 
 
 
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
via e-mail at: nadine.dorries.mp@parliament.uk
or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

 
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