Archives for category: Education

Political Concern comments on Druids Heath and the role of the modern council

The presenter of this BBC radio programme, Adrian Goldberg, grew up on the Druids Heath council estate in Birmingham, the home of the ‘municipalism’ pioneered by Joseph Chamberlain when he was Mayor of Birmingham – summarised by Walsall MP John McShane in the Commons in 1930:

“A young person today lives in a municipal house, and he washes himself … in municipal water. He rides on a municipal tram or omnibus, and I have no doubt that before long he will be riding in a municipal aeroplane. He walks on a municipal road; he is educated in a municipal school. He reads in a municipal library and he has his sport on a municipal recreation ground. When he is ill he is doctored and nursed in a municipal hospital and when he dies he is buried in a municipal cemetery.”

Adrian is described as being an ideal candidate to judge the changing nature of the local council, because when he and his family moved there the local authority provided a range of services. He comments, “Today the situation is much more complex”- follow the link to read more.

Political Concern adds:

Inside Housing reports the housing minister’s description of sprinkler systems for high rise blocks as “additional rather than essential”, refusing a council’s request for funding offered after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

And comments: “Strangely, the conservative Prime Minister expresses admiration for Joseph Chamberlain”.

Mayor of Birmingham in 1873, city MP in 1876, Joseph Chamberlain directed the construction of good housing for the poorest, libraries, municipal swimming pools and schools. Unlike Ms May and colleagues, he was not in favour of a market economy, arguing for tariffs on goods from countries outside the British Empire. He was also an ‘economic interventionist’ (see Lewis Goodall, Newsnight), described as a “gas and water socialist”. He took profit-making private enterprises into public hands, declaring that “profit was irrelevant”.

In no way is she following the example of her hero. Ms May’s government continues to implement a series of cuts affecting the lives of the country’s poorest and most disabled with might and main. Ironically the contemporary politician sharing Chamberlain’s principles is the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, whose policies she echoes but does not implement.

 

 

 

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A new venture in Stirchley calls families to enjoy ‘good, old-fashioned fun

 

Annaliese Griffin of America’s Quartz Media writes:

“I’m not saying that starting a board-game group in every town and village will put us all on the path to world peace. But in a society where the most common answer to the question “How many confidantes do you have?” is zero, it’s clear that a lot of people are hungry for connection and civilized conversation. Inviting the neighbors over for game night is a good place to start.”

A Childwise survey of 2000 children aged 5-16 in schools across the UK reported that children in all age groups are spending ever-longer periods online. The internet overtook television as the top media pastime for British children last year, according to the media regulator Ofcom. Children aged five to 15 are spending 15 hours a week online.

Following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, government acted on Lord Laming’s advice and set up the office of children’s commissioner. It has four aims: one is headed ‘Digital’ (left)

In an interview with the Observer the commissioner, Anne Longfield, criticised the way social media giants draw children into spending more time and said that parents – though most are seen in public using their phones to chat of view – should stop their children from ‘bingeing’ on the internet.

Parents often don’t have a valued activity to offer in place of online activities

A paper published in Psychological Science, based on research into ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ found that moderate use of devices by teenagers may be beneficial. Co-author Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford) said: “It’s not so much that it’s bad for a kid to play Minecraft for 12 hours on a Sunday, it’s that as parents we often don’t have a valued activity that we put in place of that”.

Ben Parkinson, co-founder of the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network, a charity, has just visited Gulu for its latest ‘boardgame extravaganza’ (Facebook picture). Gamechangers is a new project from Chrysalis born from its recent Village Boardgames Convention in Koro, Northern Uganda.

He writes: “Children from villages have been clamouring to play the games and, of course, there is no place for them to play or even buy boardgames, were they able to afford them.

However, we see a future time when boardgames will be more readily available in Uganda and believe that there is much change that can take place through giving access to a range of boardgames”.

Ben Parkinson comments: “Here the boardgames are less needed for social reasons, as Ugandans are very social people.  Where they score is on providing variety of entertainment and building confidence, though the kids also enjoy the social aspect.

Via Youtube visit Uganda to hear the young people talking about the games with brief shots of them playing – the prizes are school books.

In England a new profession is proliferating – community building; I met my first community builder last week and visited a community group in a Gloucestershire council estate which was clearly working well.  A search revealed five pages of items relating to England and thereafter many accounts of community building in other countries.

Will most of these efforts rebuild what has been lost in England?

 

 

 

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“DEBT AND ECONOMICS: EDUCATION FOR ACTION” WORKSHOP

The Jubilee Debt Campaign invites all to an interactive, informative, educational day-long workshop from 11 – 16.30 on Saturday 7th October at the Islamic Relief Academy, 22-24 Sampson Road North, Birmingham B11 1BL.

The registration page for this long awaited debt workshop now live. For further details click here  – (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/debt-economics-education-for-action-tickets-36539325105 – or call Clare Walden, JDC on 0207 324 4729.

Most of the buses going towards Solihull and Shirley from the city centre (particularly numbers 37, 6 and 2) stop at the beginning of Stratford Road which is a few minutes’ walk from the IR Academy (below).

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This day-long workshop is totally FREE and is part of a series taking place in cities across the UK, to be delivered by debt expert and facilitator Fanny Malinen.

Inequality and debt are on the rise – eight men now own as much wealth as half the world’s population. The debt payments of impoverished countries are increasing rapidly and are at the highest level for a decade. Closer to home, PFI debt is having a huge impact on NHS finances and students leaving UK universities now face higher average debts than American students, with the average student graduating with more than £44,000 debt.

Come and discuss whether debts should always be paid and understand more about the historical and current connections between debt and inequality. Learn about why Ghana’s debt is higher now than it was in 2005 – even after a large write-off – and how NHS debt is linked to global south debt through Public Private Partnerships. Importantly, come and hear about debt resistance, positive alternatives and how you can be a part of a global and national movement for debt justice!

There will be a one-hour lunchbreak, and smaller breaks during the day. We will provide refreshments throughout the day but please bring your own lunch or money to buy lunch.

If you have any accessibility needs you would like to discuss please get in touch with clare@jubileedebt.org.uk. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

 

 

 

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West Midlands New Economics Group meeting:

5-7pm on Thursday 31st August at the John Lewis Community Hub, available to community groups.

It is located on the 4th floor of the John Lewis store over New Street station (lift and escalator). The hub is immediately off the area where television sets are being sold.

A draft of the presentation, LOCALISM & REGIONALISM, opens:

“With the gradual yielding of a collective to an individualist social ethos; with the hollowing out of local government power; with the weakening of trade union influence; with the decline of local and community newspapers … both individuals and nuclear families feel powerless before the Westminster run state . . .

“Meanwhile, modern states feel constrained before the imperatives of the neoliberal market. We are told that there is no alternative to ‘growing the economy’ – even though local jobs continue to be lost and goods once produced locally are imported over great distances . . .” 

‘Woody’ Woods, the author, has sent known contacts the draft of the intended presentation. He suggests that a fuller title would be: “Exploring Localism and Regionalism as roads to our empowerment.”  

 

Details of his earlier essay and book are given on the Planet Centred Forum website.

 

 

 

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Another post will bring board game news from Ben, a resident of Kings Heath for some years, now in Uganda

 

 

 

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At the BMI recently it was a pleasure to meet Fiona Joseph from Acocks Green (right), who wrote BEATRICE The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune (2012) and Comforts For The Troops (2015). I wanted to hear more about her forthcoming book, focussing on the life and work of Godric Bader, remembering a visit to the company’s headquarters some years later and in particular his ad hoc hand account of thoughtful ethical/environmental decisions as we strolled round the grounds – and a reassurance about the nature of the chemicals used.

The title of Fiona’s book will be HELD IN TRUST: The Life of Godric Bader and the Scott Bader Commonwealth. It will describe the lifelong struggle of a socially-responsible CEO to defeat harmful capitalist practices and transform the business world into a fairer, peaceful and more just environment.

Part social history, part business primer, HELD IN TRUST will also be a manifesto for the ‘Common Trusteeship’ model, a bold alternative to unethical business practices which, all too often, place shareholder values over true social responsibility to the people and the planet.

Until 1951, Scott Bader Ltd was a traditional family-owned chemical company, specialising in polymers for plastics and paints, and competing ruthlessly against its rivals like Bakelite. But Godric Bader’s father Ernest decided the capitalist model of industry promoted greed and selfishness and set about transferring the ownership of Scott Bader to the workforce so the company could be run collectively as a Commonwealth (wealth-in-common).

Shortly afterwards Godric Bader was appointed as MD and Chairman of this new experiment in industrial democracy. So began his struggle to transform Scott Bader into a viable, profitable company, whilst trying to defeat the forces that threatened to undermine the values and vision of the Scott Bader Commonwealth.

Keeping the flame alive for future generations was never easy but Godric Bader has somehow managed it.

HELD IN TRUST is the frank and compelling account of this lifelong battle.

 “For me, there are no heroes in business – other than Scott Bader”. Anita Roddick, late founder of The Body Shop

“Godric Bader has clung with barnacle tenacity to the notion that one can be fair, moral, widely informed and behave with propriety – and still be successful – in the frequently ruthless groves of big business.” John Swinfield, former Business Columnist Evening Standard.

 

 

 

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WMNEG meeting:

Thursday 27 July, 5-7 pm

 

A discussion on a book by

Green Party MEP, Molly Scott Cato;

Green Economics: An Introduction to Theory, Policy and Practice

introduced by Robert Kornreich, Kings Heath 

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

 

All welcome. 

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire

 

 

 

 

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Young people in the West Midlands considering a manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship and their parents are invited to attend an open day at the EEF’s manufacturing and engineering at the Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham.

From aerospace to automotive to robotics, EEF will connect best in class employers with young people to discuss a range of apprenticeships in a wide range of sectors. As well as getting a tour of the multi-million pound facility, the open day will offer people the opportunity to talk to trainers and current apprentices to find out what the training offers.

EEF currently trains 300 apprentices at the centre and is aiming to increase this to 400. Christine Chapman, centre manager, said: “Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships provide a highly-skilled career in a sector which is thriving right across the West Midlands and beyond. Employers have a strong demand for skills of this type and this day presents an ideal opportunity for young people and their parents to see the training centre in action and to discuss career options with a variety of employers.”

Check EEF’s apprenticeship vacancies database to keep an eye on available positions or ring 0121 331 3930

EEF was formed in 1896 as the Engineering Employers’ Federation and merged in 1918 with the National Employers’ Federation. In November 2003 the EEF rebranded itself from the ‘Engineering Employers’ Federation’ to ‘EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation’.

 

 

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Learn more about renowned botanist world traveller Ernest Wilson, trained at Edgbaston Botanical Gardens, next Monday evening, at 7.30.pm at Earlswood Village Hall, Valley Rd, Earlswood, Solihull B94 6BZ

Ann Turner will give a lively account of her extensive research into the life of plant collector Ernest Wilson, who lived in Shirley and was educated at Birmingham Municipal Technical School (now Aston University).

Her search began when she wondered Dove Tree Court retirement apartments in Shirley got its name.  Ernest Wilson who was sent to China to track down the rare Dove Tree, sometimes known as the Handkerchief Tree (below).

It took two years for Wilson to find one, and that was hanging over a cliff edge. When he was returning to England, with his specimens his boat was wrecked, but he managed to save this precious plant.

Finding that no-one she knew locally had heard of this remarkable man, she and her husband Malcolm embarked on a ‘wonderful journey’, completed only a couple of weeks ago after travelling to London and finding the house where Ernest Wilson lived with his family, while he was working at Kew Gardens.

A wide range of contacts made included contacts with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston USA (where all his records are kept), and Mount Royal cemetery, Montreal Canada (where he and his wife are buried).

 

 

 

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The Birmingham Socialist Discussion Group public meeting at 7 pm 12th June committee room 1, Council House

There will be two speakers:

  1. John Rees a leading figure in the Stop the War Coalition and author of a new book entitled the Levellers Revolution will speak on Putin’s foreign policy and other policies
  2. Olga Pyshkina, a Russian student based in Birmingham, will speak on Putin’s repressive policy on the press and the opposition

There has been little discussion on the socialist left on Putin despite the major impact he has made on world politics especially in Syria recently. The Trump Putin relationship will be examined in the meeting as well.

Everyone is welcome and there will be plenty of time for discussion.

Stuart 0777 156 7496 or ser14@btinternet.com

Secretary Birmingham Socialist Discussion Group