David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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Archive for November, 2011

Setting higher standards in Education

Posted by davidburbage on November 20, 2011

 One of the rising stars of the new Conservative intake is Elizabeth Truss, the Member for South West Norfolk. A particular hobby horse we share is the rigour that we should demand of our education system.

Writing in the Sunday Times today, she highlights how Labour showered money on buildings and equipment, but failed to improve education. It is because buildings and equipment don’t actually educate, it is passionate teachers and a challenging curriculum that delivers improvement.

The column (in the 21st Century Think Tank) talks not only about the prevalence of calculators, but also about the feeble IT curriculum.

The worry is that we are using our learning brainpower merely to understand how to use software, rather than understand how it works or how it is created and operates.

As a software engineer by training myself, I know how possible it is to get started in creating algorithms that sort numbers, solve mazes or draw ellipses on a screen. That knowledge can be further developed with the vast libraries of application building functionality that exist for all the portable devices we have today.

Where does one learn how to write an iPhone application? Or to store and use the information typed in on an input form? This is not so complex that it needs to be reserved to colleges and universities, we should be getting our bright schoolchildren to create brilliant and useful things for themselves and their communities at a far earlier age….

Posted in Education, Labour failings | 2 Comments »

The Yes Minister Miscellany – a Whitehall handbook?

Posted by davidburbage on November 9, 2011

I was amused to see that one of the pieces of advice given by Sir Humphrey in the Yes Minister Miscellany, for any particular problem, is to get the hard part out of the way “in the title”.

The object of his focus in Yes Minister was “Open Government” (which he was of course against).

Nick Clegg said, on publication of the current consultation “We will localise the retention of business rates”.

Getting the tough bit out of the way achieved, the detail actually lays out that the plan (some point at the Treasury) is to basically not give any meaningful control to local authorities at all.

The current proposal may allow some councils to keep some of any increase in rates over a period of time, the measurement of which will be – up to Whitehall. We have responded to the consultation to the effect that the complexity and small effect of the proposals will actually do very little for local government retention of business rates. In fact, if one or two large businesses relocate, we may end up getting even less of a percentage of our rates take despite contributing more to the national pot than most local authorities!

Posted in General | 3 Comments »