Thursday, November 30, 2006


The BBC is reporting that the government is going to encourage more schools to offer the International Baccalaureate - amidst concerns that amongst other things, so many students are getting top grades the good universities are have issues distinguishing the top students. This has been condemned by one teaching union as "elitist".

The suggestion is that A Levels have been made easier to facilitate higher pass rates. Perhaps the unions are worried that if more kids start doing the IB, the much vaunted increase in pass rates will slip.

In any case, if it's elitist to want our brightest children to be challenged and stretched during their education, then I'm proud to be elitist.

(I should note that one of the 46 state schools already offering the IB is the Anglo European School in Ingatestone - always nice to get a local spin on a national story).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Train companies and tickets

As both the regular readers of my blog know, I work in the City and commute from Ingatestone to Liverpool Street. I decided to take advantage of One Railway's Season Direct scheme - mostly because it actually saves me money on buying a monthly ticket.

As I pulled into Liverpool Street yesterday morning, someone asked if it was true that the tickets gave free travel at the weekend and Bank Holidays - I answered yes.

Only odd thing about this is that the guy asking the question was a ticket inspector. Now, personally, I question the sense of doing ticket inspections on a train that's about to pull into a gated at Liverpool Street station. But it's even more dubious if the guy doing the inspections isn't sure if it's valid or not. Perhaps One should consider briefing their staff on the features of new tickets.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Live longer, live in Brentwood

The Telegraph is reporting that Brentwood has the nineth highest life expectancy in the country for men.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Academics and Bishops

There's been quite a strong reaction in both the media and the blogosphere to the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent remarks on women's ordination. The impression is given that he's had second thoughts on the issue, and that the Church of England might even need to rethink it.

A few things do need to be born in mind when considering this though. Firstly, the Archbishop made the comments to the Catholic Herald in the run up to his visit to the Pope in Rome next week. Secondly, the comments were made in the context of a wide ranging discussion about the prospects for future Anglican-Catholic dialogue. Thirdly, what he actually said was on reconsidering the matter was "I don’t see how there can be. I could just about envisage a situation in which over a very long period the Anglican Church thought again about it, but I would need to see what the theological reason for that would be and I don’t see it at the moment."

At no stage during the interview did Archbishop Williams suggest that it had been the wrong thing to do, though he did acknowledge that the divisions caused within the Anglican Communion had tested the decision. Further, in the wider of context of the discussion, the "just about" situation could appears to be the point at which the only outstanding issue between Rome and Canterbury was the existence of women priests - in other words, the much more significant issues dividing the two Churches concerning the Eucharist, the role of the Papacy, authority within the Church, etc had all been resolved to a mutually satisfactory level. In other words, in the context of a situation that is pretty unlikely.

Part of the problem here would appear to be that Archbishop Williams is an academic - he's regarded as a pretty good theologian (Archbishop Cramner on his blog remarks that "both the Archbishop and the Pope are (whether one agrees with them or not) highly accomplished academics and renowned theologians." While I disagree with him far more than I agree with him, its clear there's a pretty good mind behind that blog - and he's hinted on Conservative Home he himself is a theology lecturer).

But academics have a habit of making speeches or giving interviews where quotes are pulled slightly out of context and then made into the story. Indeed, Archbishop Williams will be meeting with a man next week who knows all about that - given the recent fuss over comments Pope Benedict made on his recent tour to Germany.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More on Yarmouth

Conservative Home is reporting that Brandon Lewis is now the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Great Yarmouth. Does this mean he'll be moving to Yarmouth (which I seem to recall is a requirement for A list candidates who have been adopted) and if so, will that have any impact on the party in Brentwood (yes I am a member, but to quote Manuel, "I know nothing").

In other news, the Hutton and Shenfield Choral Society are doing a performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday evening. Do try and make it!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Parliamentary seats

I was a little surprised to see that Brandon Lewis, the local Council leader who is on the Tory Party's A List wasn't on the "extended" short list for Witham, given that it's just down the road. The answer to that appears to be partly because he's on the short short list for Yarmouth. All I can say is "Good Luck".