Dorothy Lawrence: the man that never was

The Izbicki Report: News From The Front Line of Education

Lest we forget

Today we commemorate another anniversary - Armistice Day 1918. The First World War ("the war to end wars" as it had the misfortune to be dubbed) resulted in the waste of nearly 14 million lives, many of them young men not long out of school. They died for their respective countries and the least one can do is to remember them in our prayers. It was a war that gave us some remarkable poetry and amazing accounts of heroism. See for yourself.

What started as an extended homework project when John Simkin taught at Sackville School, East Grinstead, has turned into a colossal piece of research into modern history. The Encyclopaedia of the First World War recounts truly remarkable stories and is freely accessible - 30,000 pages daily are accessed by Internet users from all over the world. Simply tap in: www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWW.htm and you will find such gems as the story of Dorothy Lawrence who, disguised as a man, joined the British Army and served on the Western Front for 10 days before being "unmasked". She was made to swear not to reveal how she had fooled the authorities.

Then there's the tale of Maria Bochkareva, who joined the Russian Army in 1914 and eventually formed a women's battalion numbering 2,000. She was twice wounded and thrice decorated for bravery. Her unit suffered terrible losses on the Eastern Front in 1917 and was called the Women's Death Battalion. A pitiful 250 retreated to Petrograd and, during the October Revolution, they tried to protect Alexander Kerensky's fledgling government as it took shelter in the Winter Palace. The Bolsheviks disbanded what was left of the battalion on 21 November 1917. So there's another anniversary coming up soon.

Wall scholars

Still on anniversaries, 10 years ago this week Europe's ugliest monument, the Berlin Wall, was dismantled, stone-by-stone, by young Berliners. To mark that historic event, the Committee of Directors of Polytechnics under its chairman, the late Gerry Fowler (higher education minister under both Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan), asked CDP members to offer scholarships to graduates from universities in the so-called German Democratic Republic. Margaret Thatcher, then still in power, heard of the proposal and ordered the Foreign Office to help fund it. Each of 32 polys provided a scholarship for young men and women from East German universities. They continued to do so annually for various Eastern-Bloc states, still with the help of the FO, until the polys became universities. Most of those scholars today hold responsible positions in industry and commerce, within Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. They all look back to Britain and the polys with affection for allowing them that early glimpse of real academic freedom. Such gestures pay dividends. We need more of them. Charlie was their darling: On Tuesday night, the Prince of Wales joined a packed Royal Albert Hall in the Mexican wave, flourished a Union flag and stood to sing Land of Hope and Glory. The occasion was the Schools Prom, an evening of musical magic and yet one more feather in the cap of Larry Westland, the man who launched Music for Youth 25 years ago. The great thing about this event is that although it displays a wealth of true talent, no one competes. There are no winners and certainly no losers, only sheer blissful enjoyment all round.

It is therefore difficult to pick out any one performance, but a deserved standing ovation went to the 650 youngsters of the Surrey Massed Choir and County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Keith Willis, for their rendering of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, probably the most exciting Latin choral work ever composed. Scott Joplin's Ragtime was skilfully done, with accompanying actions by the Coombs Quartet from Sheffield (hard to believe they were only 12 and 13). But, for me, the lasting memory will be of Jean Price, from the Paddock School, in Wandsworth, south London, conducting pupils with severe and multiple learning difficulties in their own composition, Black & Yellow.

More equal than others?

The Government, says Professor Muhammad Anwar, is "following double standards within the same country". Professor Anwar, of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations (CRER) at the University of Warwick, believes that religious groups in Northern Ireland are covered by the Fair Employment Act, while on "the Mainland" religious groups are denied such protection. Claims that the Race Relations Act 1976 is rapidly losing credibility, particularly among ethnic minority groups, are made in a new report entitled From Legislation to Integration: Race Relations in Britain. The report, from Professor Anwar, and Patrick Roach of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and Ranjit Sondhi, of Westhill College, calls on the Government to apply Ulster's anti-discrimination across the UK.

Warwick's CRER opened some 30 years ago, at Bristol. Nine years later it moved to Aston University and, in 1984, moved again to Warwick where it is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It is now among Europe's leading bodies dealing with racism, migration and ethnic partnerships. Now the University of Bristol has opened its own Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship. There's clearly a need. Schools and universities are unquestionably the best starting points for stamping out racism.

Picture perfect

A few surprises are in store for those lucky enough to see an art exhibition to be unveiled at the London School of Economics next Wednesday. Though called Private Painters in Public Life, it also contains some work from two photographers. One is Lord (Denis) Healey, a former chancellor and deputy leader of the Labour party; the other is Fred Jarvis, a former president of the TUC and general secretary of the National Union of Teachers for some 14 years.

However, the LSE exhibition won't feature Fred's latest project. He has managed to get round to the schools of each of the 14 winners of the 1999 Teaching Awards and pictured them in action. These photographs, many of them still in the developing tray, are likely to be shown at Sanctuary House, HQ of the Department for Education and Employment.

And finally...

They must be seeing double at the University of Reading. On 30 November, Sir Peter Hall is delivering one of a series of Millennium Lectures. It deals with urban planning. Then, on 29 February 2000, Sir Peter Hall is to deliver another Millennium Lecture, this time on the creative arts. Versatile chap. Ah, but wait. The first Sir Peter is the professor of planning at University College London; the second is the famous film producer and theatre director. And, as well as sharing a name, both are honorary Reading graduates.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery Nurse

£6 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Newcastle: Level 3 Nursery Nurse - Newcas...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Welsh Spe...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on