Tuesday, 15 November 2011

What The Internet is For

Schoolduggery is a blog brought to my attention in the last 24 hours. According to the Guardian it is the work of a primary school governor in Suffolk. There's a rather impressive post up on the site which collates data showing that the new wave of so called Free Schools have systematically admitted lower percentages of children on Free School Meals (FSM) - the standard deprivation measure used in education - and children with Special Needs than the schools which surround them. If you have any interest in education policy I encourage you to go read it.

The real joy, however, is not to be found in the hugely competent technical posting itself, but in the comments underneath. Toby Young, high profile Chair of West London Free School,  springs into action and starts off with the entirely-reasonable-and-not-in-any-way-confrontational statements that the posting is 'utter balls' and the blogger '..resort[s] to these lies to discredit the free schools policy.'

Schoolduggery then reproduces an email from one of the West London Free School's staff  which confirms the figures she has used came from the school itself.

But our hero returns to the fray, referring to the sender of the email as 'an administrative assistant' (she was the Head's PA, so  presumably answering on the school leadership's behalf) and gamely blustering on shooting from the hip about how FSM and SEN numbers are calculated.

He then gets shot to pieces again by folk who know what they're talking about.

This has everything I want from the 'net: detailed information about technical subjects; rapid exposure of unsustainable claims and a permanent record of a key member of the right-wing chatterati making a total arse of themselves. If there was a God, I'd be giving thanks to her- in the absence of one, I can only bow  in admiration to to Schooduggery .


  1. Schoolduggery (and the internet): doing the sort of investigative journalism and offering the sort of sound analysis that I once naively believed the mainstream media were committed to.

    I seldom look to mainstream sources of news for anything other than headlines. If I want detail, analysis and debate I go on-line and check-out a variety of bloggers whose comments and judgement I respect more and find more trustworthy than the BBC - and I used to be a rather staunch defender of that institution - any of the other crap news providers.

  2. Great post, thanks. I suppose this is old hat for Web 2.0 early adopters but it's good to step back once in a while and pause in admiration for this amazing technology. It is thrilling.

    I'm nervous that my idea of thrilling might be thought to be the online presence of Toby Young, but I think that what makes the comments thread special is that it is Toby Young in there mixing it, with the experts chipping in and the facts being established and something actually happening in real time. I imagine TV & radio interviews might have been like that at the dawn of that technology, before safety first took over. Actually the format closely resembles parliament (or Hansard) at its best.

    Anyway, thanks for the post, not least so that I don't have to look at Toby Young's naked body everytime I log into the site to borrow your blogroll!

    PS Embedded videos - about which I was initially sceptical (wrong again!) - are nowadays also what the internet is for. Here's one that cheered me up, courtesy of Lenin's Tomb. Can you persuade this guy Todd Chretien to come & get your own campus fired up, Rab? http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/11/socialist-pedagogy.html

  3. Thanks chaps.

    Rab, well, yes - but the beeb has some bloody good bloggers itself, doesn't it? All the economics folks - Steph and Pesto as well as the incomparable Mason- are pretty good, and a lot of the people who do foreign coverage are also impressive.

    Strategist, I almost never watch embedded videos - or, to be more accurate, I click on them to check their length and if they're longer than 30 seconds I never watch them. I can somehow justify to myself 2-3 minutes reading a blog post rather than working, but actually devoting 5 minutes to watching a video would somehow seem like out and out skiving. I know this is not logical.....