By Howard Green
Tony Blair, upon his election into government in 1997, famously declared that his top three priorities were “Education, education and education”. At the other end of the century, Vladimir Lenin proclaimed that education that didn’t teach about life and politics was indeed a “hypocrisy”. Education has been a central focus of politics for over a hundred years, and today is no different. As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted conventional ways of learning for many, the modern British educational system needs short term and long term reform if it is to adapt to the issues of the 21st century. With the advent of Zoom lessons and online assessments, now is the time to explore the full potential of digital technology as the new frontier of education.
by Joe Rutter
Last week a fishy deal was struck, as Facebook donated £4.5 million to the National Council for the Training of Journalists. It’ll fund some 80 traineeships with local newspaper publishers that will last two years. Fantastic, on the face of it. On the face of it (the mantra on which Facebook was built) a rainbows-and-flowers deal, an altruistic gesture on behalf of the almighty Facebook to rescue the vulnerable and decrepit print journalism industry from destitution. A good cause, I’m sure we can agree, for the Zuckerberg zillions: better than nuclear weapons or propping-up dictatorships. So let’s leave it at that, shall we? Except then there’s this lingering feeling that something more, something insidious, is happening.Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
A new project to count the number of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers in London was recently launched by London Gypsies & Travellers and Mapping for Change. Their goal is to provide an accurate estimate of the numbers and distribution of GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) people across the city.
Official census statistics on Romani and Traveller people in the UK are famously inaccurate (only 58,000 in the 2011 census). This is partly because neither group are traditionally very fond of official registers, particularly those which record ethnicity.
And why should we be?Continue Reading
by Alex Powell
Not too long ago, a series of news stories began emerging. These stories documented the fact that the government’s estimates for the number of international students who outstay their visas were greatly exaggerated. Despite this, the government has continued to push two convictions. Firstly, that it is appropriate for international students to be included within wider immigration figures, and secondly, that immigration is too high and needs to be cut. These dual premises are having a hugely detrimental impact on the experience of international students, so it is important that other students do all we can to show solidarity with our fellow students and push for changes to this policy.Continue Reading
by Robyn Banks
Last week, yet another of Theresa May’s lies was revealed: the number of international students staying in the UK after their visas expire isn’t anywhere near as high as she has frequently claimed. The idea that international students frequently stay in this country illegally was a touchstone of her policy whilst she sat as the Home Office Minister and has continually been backed up by her cabinet colleagues, including her successor to that ministry Amber Rudd.
However, on Thursday 24th August, the Office for National Statistics released new migration data showing that only 4600 international students have overstayed their visas. Not quite the hundreds of thousands that May, Rudd et al keep harping on about.Continue Reading
by Eli Lambe
Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.
There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading
by Against Borders for Children
“…this proposal has all the hallmarks of racism…Children are children, and to use their personal information for immigration enforcement is disingenuous, irresponsible, and not the hallmark of a tolerant, open and caring society”
– Lord Storey
Against Borders for Children (ABC) is a coalition of parents, teachers, schools and campaigners. Our aim is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy to collect country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children in England in order to ‘create a hostile environment’ for migrant children in schools, primarily by encouraging a mass boycott of the School Census.
by Zoe Harding
(Note: The below is based on an actual statement released by the Home Office, which can be found in its unadulterated version here. The adulterator takes no responsibility for the government seeing that you’ve visited this web page, even though they will)
Dear Concerned Citizen
The Investigatory Powers Act dramatically increases transparency around the use of investigatory powers by making it so we can see everything. It protects both privacy and security for MPs only and underwent an unprecedentedly low level of scrutiny before becoming law because everyone was distracted with Brexit.
The Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat (Current threat level: Be Very Afraid, Trust Us. We Won’t Tell You Why), it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe. And the powers they need to see what you’ve been doing on the internet even if you aren’t a criminal. Maybe you’re buying them Christmas presents but they hate surprises. Have you thought of that?Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Just a heads-up: The government knows you’re reading this.
Literally. Amidst the endless torrents of nonsense spewing from the ongoing Brexit negotiations (update: Theresa May throws up hands, announces ‘Fuck it all, God will sort it out’) and the dawn of a new chapter in the great story of democracy, the government the British people did not elect and didn’t really ask for passed some of the most intrusive legislation a British government has ever passed. The Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, is due to be signed into law in a couple of weeks, and it manages what can only be called a very British Government feat in being both poorly-worded and terrifying.
By Gunnar Eigener
Data is a commodity. It is a digital blueprint of our lives that we leave behind wherever we go on the internet and in life. Many of us consider it to be of little interest. After all, what does it matter where or what we shop for? Who cares about the sites we search for via Google and what pages we like on Facebook? Well, it turns out that our governments and private companies do.