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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 the ‘Education’ Category


Posted by davidburbage on January 15, 2016

Success, as they say, has many fathers. And failure is a lonely orphan!

But when a plan comes together, it’s worth noting. In July last year (in an exchange of letters regarding the safeguarding inspection from Ofsted) I wrote to the Minister :

Secondly, Ministers need to act to ensure proper safeguarding practice across agencies becomes a legal requirement. It has been like pulling teeth to get the Thames Valley Police to place even a part time officer in our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub. This is totally unacceptable. Together, you need to sort this out through proper inspection and oversight rather than having one inspection regime for the wicket keeper and another for the bowler – the current framework across Whitehall departments is inadequate.

Yesterday, this news story came out :

Watchdogs to unite for children’s service inspections


Posted in Conservative success, Council, Education, General, Government Success | Leave a Comment »

Royal Borough’s Grammar investigation highlighted on TV

Posted by davidburbage on November 8, 2014


Thanks to the highlighting of the options we’re considering for secondary school expansion, which has been picked up by Theresa May, we made the BBC London News. The best comment on the news clip came from a resident, who said “we’re allowed to apply for grammar schools from the county, so why can’t we have one in the county and save all the travel problems”.


Posted in Conservative success, Education | Leave a Comment »

Education results worldwide

Posted by davidburbage on December 5, 2013

One of the biggest challenges for Government is the improvement of education. Here is an example of why we have such an important role to play, from a comment on this site

I followed the link from the BBC new story and did the test. Question 6 was:

“Helen rode her bike from home to the river, which is 4 km away. It took her 9 minutes. She rode home using a shorter route of 3 km. This only took her 6 minutes.

What was Helen’s average speed, in km/h, for the trip to the river and back?”

You only need to know that speed is distance divided by time to answer this question. So the answer is 7 kilometres divided by a quarter of an hour which is 28km/h.

According to the OECD website only 3% of British 15 year olds achieved level 6 compared to 31% from Shanghai.

I’ve got to say that after over 10 years of compulsory schooling I find it shocking that only 3% can answer this trivially simple question.

Have I misunderstood something about the test?

Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Economics Lessons

Posted by davidburbage on March 24, 2012

I blog this because it is doing the email rounds…… a nice tale of irresponsibility . . . . no idea if it is true or not but looks like it’s been Anglicised – refers to dollars alongside Gordon Brown . . .

An economics teacher at a local school made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Gordon Brown socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The teacher then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on the Gordon Brown plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the teacher told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, and gives to those who do nothing, no-one will try or want to succeed.
It could NOT be any simpler than that.
Remember,there IS a test coming up.The next election.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You can not legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Posted in Education, Labour failings | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Irrefutable Evidence that Labour incompetence lost millions on costly school buildings

Posted by davidburbage on April 9, 2011


This is an independent analysis of the BSF programme – where horrendously complicated and costly processes needed to be gone through to create bespoke building projects, for the most part on individual schools (rather than tackling the biggest problems in a sensible way).

It just shows what balderdash can be achieved by civil servants and quangoes designing procurement and spending programmes centrally, rather than get people that know what they’re doing to get on with it locally.

Reminds me of a conversation I had with a chap from the Housing Corporation (or the Homes and Communities Agency or whatever it was renamed to) who wanted to hold a “single conversation” with the six Berkshire authorities about the pattern of their investment in affordable housing projects and associated infrastructure. “We need to invest the money” he was saying.

“Just give us our cheque and we’ll spend it on housing” I said. Couldn’t do that, of course . . . we had to go through a complicated process of negotiation first involving producing large documents analysing need, consulting widely, centralising it, asking for approval blah blah blah.

I don’t think we have had any investments since that day, but I could be wrong . . . . . .

Posted in Education, Labour failings | Leave a Comment »

Just say no to dumbing down

Posted by davidburbage on February 11, 2009

My instinctive reaction to the ever-rising grades we hear from schools – and universities now – is that there is not an increase in brain power of our children, rather there is a confluence of more teaching-to-test, more coursework, lower pass marks and the rest of it.

The point of examinations is not really to reward the student, but to grade by ability based on the subject matter at hand so that the “qualification” (an important word) means what it says. Yes, we need to recognise hard work and yes, we need to ensure we don’t just fail people who are actually pretty good, but if 90% of the country’s students who took the exam are better than you at chemistry, we (and employers and higher education establishments) should be told.

There are four opportunities to get this right – by choosing the syllabus wisely (all the time in the world), by students choosing the right level of exam course correctly (lots of time), by marking accurately (apparently, increasingly difficult) and by grading accurately and properly (easy to say but requiring a political steer).

I can never work out why there is not a simple system that is consistent across the years, where the top 10% get an A, the next 15% a B,C,D,E and so on, the bottom 30% an F or a U. How hard can that be? If that’s not acceptable (as you will get the story that there are better ‘years’ than others but surely across thousands of students, that is a nonsense argument) – so if we published the percentages achieved, then focus could be moved onto the results achieved, the examination itself and the syllabus / teaching but at the moment that’s just not feasible.

John Smith –

Chemistry, 65%, 91st percentile result, grade A
English Literature, 67%, 69th percentile result, grade C

and so on. We have all this data, so why don’t we use it sensibly for the benefit of all concerned?

The big thing with statistics is that to be useful, they have to be consistent. But in education, they aren’t because of the obfuscation of moveable grades (there is a big irony there).

What inspired this post :

Score 18%, pass a science exam

It must be ‘too hard’ then, says examiner

edit : more Labour education nonsense; why they don’t do French any more


Posted in Education | Leave a Comment »

Advertiser Letters

Posted by davidburbage on October 23, 2008

There’s a good crop of letters in today’s Advertiser.

Irate and Concerned Parent – on Desborough’s litter. This is not the first time I’ve seen/heard complaints about Desborough School and litter; I have witnessed and have photos of litter on the school property which I brought to the attention of one of the Governors. I recently visited (as a parent) to look around the school and didn’t see any litter. A cynic might think that extra effort was put in on the day when the school is seeking to sell itself (like one cleans a house when you have visitors) but the fact that I have seen litter, the complainant to the paper saw litter and I have had another, separate recent report about the litter problem at Desborough leads me to the conclusion that it is some way from being perfect….

ME Lewington once again has a go at the Waterways in what appears to be a small minority crusade against the project.

Chris Raymond – writes about the attire of pupils at Desborough and seems resigned to failure. I’ve looked around a few schools in the last month and it is certainly interesting the percentage of boys who ‘do up their top button’. I have a confession – and an excuse. I never used to do up my top button at school or for years afterward because – and here’s the excuse – I have a rather thick neck, which I get from my mothers’ side of the family. Fortunately for my son, he’s got his mothers’ rather more svelte neck which means he hasn’t got any excuse not to do up his top button.

I always wore black shoes if I remember rightly and (usually) had my shirt tucked in. I didn’t drop litter either.

A Name and Address Supplied writes on PCT parking charges at St Marks. The PCT is now in the crazy position of having bought and installed the machines but now not using them, as well as having all of the points that are raised in the letter. Not ideal.

Posted in Education, General, Maidenhead | Leave a Comment »