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- Arts + Ents
Monday 16 July 2012
I would dread a return to class
How true it is that teachers' attitudes change towards their charges as they get older (letters, 13 July).
One example I witnessed in my career was how many of my female colleagues' view of their job changed subtly when they returned from maternity leave (as they invariably did from the 1980s onwards) and quite rightly so.
With the best will in the world, your priorities would of course be different when you had a family of your own!
As regards expecting teachers to work longer, I have to say that, from my experience of 34 years at the chalk-face, most teachers tended to retire early, with very few reaching the official retirement age.
Indeed, of the few male colleagues I knew who did carry on to 65, two sadly were dead by 67. When I taught in Germany in the mid-1970s, it was accepted that the older a teacher was the fewer lessons he or she had to teach.
Modern teaching requires fit and energetic people for the most part. Do we really want students to be taught by people as old as, if not older than, their grandparents?
Perhaps if we could eradicate most of the so-called "challenging" behaviour from our classrooms, the idea of working until your late 60s might be more attractive.
The thought of having to go back into the classroom (I retired early in 1999) would have filled me with dread.
North Hykeham, Lincolnshire
I was intrigued to read that you feel teachers must do more (11 July). I will ensure that your views are communicated to the teachers at my daughter's school who are at present running a residential trip under canvas in Wales for more than 100 Year 7 students.
I will also pass your opinions on to those teachers who run lunchtime clubs five days a week and to those who organise after-school and weekend sports teams, term concerts, major drama productions and after-school homework clubs. Which, in fact, adds up to most of the teaching staff.
I am sure that they will all be able to do just a bit more, without adversely affecting their own quality of life to satisfy the demands of Wilshaw and Gove.
We must be told how much care will cost
This White Paper is more a political Elastoplast than a solution to the crisis in social care we face (letters, 13 July).
The plan to enable pensioners to borrow money to pay for their care may result in many homes remaining empty while someone is in a care home. The homes could fall into disrepair, although this is unlikely. It is more probable the property would be sold anyway, rather than left empty, giving rise to the question about whether those proceeds would have to be used to fund the care in any event.
If these proposals go ahead, local authorities will have to wait longer for loans to the elderly to be repaid. The shortfall in revenue will have to be funded from somewhere, so perhaps we should prepare for further budget cuts and increases in council tax to be announced shortly.
What will happen if the loan for residential care exceeds the value of the house? What rate of interest will be levied? It would also be far easier for people to understand the scheme if they could be given an idea of final cost, through capping the loans.
The White Paper also does not encourage people to get domiciliary care while still at home, to help alleviate the pressure on care homes, as in Scotland.
As a pensioner for almost 20 years, I am in the happy position of having an income adequate for my needs, the result of a combination of choosing to work for a company that offered a good pension scheme and building up capital by prudent savings.
I, too, believe winter fuel and TV licence benefits should become taxable. And with some increase in basic allowances, why should not the national insurance payments be merged with income tax?
The latter is reasonably progressive, certainly more so than NI, and thus a merger not only simplifies the tax system but makes it fairer. Simplification might also reduce HMRC's workload on collection and allow more time to deal with people who are dodging their tax responsibilities.
The scrapping of the 10 percent tax rate was a regrettable and regressive move. It would have been better to have multiple bands of income on which small increments in percentages were levied on successive bands.
The White Paper on social care is a huge disappointment. True, it contained many things that could potentially be of benefit to social care delivery, but it lacked the vital ingredient of how the Government plans to fund long-overdue reform of how we care for older and vulnerable people. A year ago, the Dilnot Commission suggested a cap of £35,000 on how much anyone should be expected to pay for their own care and also a threshold of £100,000 before they began to pay at all.
But all the White Paper does is promise to look at the principle of capping care fees rather than addressing the introduction of such a scheme and how it might be funded.
Are we going to sit back and let this ride? I say, as a country, we should speak up more loudly for social care on behalf of all the people who need quality support. This Government has shown that it will change its mind as a result of "listening", on fuel duty, static caravans, even on pasties. It isn't too late to listen over social care as well.
Chair, United Kingdom Homecare Association, Sutton, Surrey
There's no need to bring in even more people to our over-crowded island just because my generation is disproportionately large and needs looking after in its old age.
If the care providers bought empty property in Spain and Greece where it's dirt cheap, and employed the locals, who are desperate for work, on local wages, it would save the taxpayer billions. I'll happily sit in the sun and communicate with the rellies on Skype.
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire
My husband and I, like many an older couple, have no kids. We will have no hesitation in selling our house for any future care required. Why should couples with children be treated differently?
Bowness on Windermere
Game on for the greed Olympics
Barefaced greed by corporations is clearly the driving force behind the London 2012 Olympics. So why not make it an actual event?
The winner would be the Olympic sponsor which fleeces the most money from the Games. Extra points should be added to the corporation which most violates the Olympic spirit in pursuit of profit and also to the company which makes the most money even as it delivers the worst service.
Playing by those rules, G4S would be a strong contender for the gold. Initially contracted in 2010 by Games organiser LOCOG to provide 2,000 security staff for a mere £86m, their role has increased so that they are now responsible for hiring 10,400 personnel for the stupendous sum of nearly £300m.
G4S has spectacularly failed to meet its contractual obligations and the state has had to fall back on the army to meet the security shortfall. As a result, G4S stands to lose between £35m and £50m. Which still leaves them with £250m.
A great start to the greed Olympics for them but it's early days yet with a strong field of potential winners including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Cadbury's, Nike, Adidas, Dow Chemicals, Heineken, Lloyds TSB, Samsung and The Intercontinental Hotels Group all in the running.
Greed Olympics? Game on.
Immigration is no solution
Nothing better illustrates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of this Government's economic thinking than the OBR's suggestion that we boost immigration to solve the current deficit ("OBR: bring immigrants", 13 July).
Never mind the effects of such a move on a social system already coming apart at the seams, what happens when the new "saviour" generation of immigrants grows old in turn?
As long as the Government continues to confuse capital mobility with freedom of trade, the frantic activity of an unregulated financial services sector will lock us into an unstable and illusory cycle. Immigration is neither an economic tool nor a solution .
The need for higher levels of immigration is required not just for Britain but for the European Union as a whole.
EU Home Affiars Commissioner Cecelia Malstron has said: "In just three years time, in the field of technology, the EU will be short of as many as 700.000 workers. By 2020, Europe could be short of two million doctors, nurses and other health professionals."
Immigration should be seen not as a problem but as an opportunity, not as a liability, but as an asset.
Tara Kumar Mukherjee
Chairman, European Multicultural Foundation, Brentwood, Essex
Here, bin-liner rolls last a year
Carolyn Lincoln (letters, 13 July) questions whether we Welsh are now buying rolls of plastic bin-liners. We have separate recycling for paper, cardboard, plastic, tins, bottles and food waste, all in re-usable bags or boxes provided by the local authority, so hardly anything goes into the bin. Yes, although we do need to buy rolls of plastic bin-liners, one small roll would probably last a year.
David J Williams
Rhos-on-Sea, Colwyn Bay
Off on holiday for 13 weeks
I trust all those MPs who declared that there were far more important things to be discussing in the limited time available to the Commons than reform of the Lords will enjoy their 13 weeks' holiday starting on 17 July, broken only by a fortnight back at work in September before the conference season. We're all in this together, folks.
One event you missed out
Nice one from John Walsh (14 July), and I'm sure Seb will be comforted. But among the list of events which John helpfully gave us, he did miss the 24-hour Disgusted Vomit, sponsored by Dow Chemical. Remember napalm? Remember Agent Orange? Remember what they did to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians? Remember who made them? Of course we remember Bhopal, but there are other very strong medal contenders.
So 37.9 per cent of students at Trinity College Cambridge achieved first-class degrees this year (report, 11 July). Rather than being "delighted with this result", Professor Worster, the college's senior tutor, should be reassuring us that Trinity is not guilty of grade inflation, of dumbing down, or of encouraging a race to the bottom, all accusations we level at schools and their exam boards every time they achieve impressive results.
Oh, dear. Yet again, a story about Trinity's triumph in the Cambridge degrees league table is topped with a picture of King's College.
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