Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Olympic Success

Chris Hoy and Team GB have done an incredible job in Beijing. Chris received three gold medals and in his words ... is now "shattered"! I am not surprised. The training regime is intense - both physically and mentally. We will never know how much they suffered along the way to achieve what they have.

They will be an inspiration to many across the country. They show that it is possible to achieve dreams. That it is rewarding to work hard and achieve your 'maximum' ... be the best you can be. The commitment is huge and there is much sacrificed along the way. But with the goal in sight, it is worth it in the end.

We can all learn from them. When the going gets tough, we just need to take a deep breath, visualise the dream again, find the inner strength and step forward with renewed vigour and determination. The impossible can then be made possible.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Are A-levels getting easier?

A-level results are out today. I remember the feeling (just!) of anticipation and nervousness as I opened the dreaded brown envelope.

The overall UK pass rate this year is 97.2%, which is the 26th year in a row it has risen. But are they getting easier or are students just getting smarter? I am not sure anyone knows the answer to this but we should be questioning if A-levels are the right educational assessment method. Is something broader needed so that students do not just specialise in three subjects? An English Baccalaureate is already being considered.

It is also interesting that there is a regional divide with results, with the South East of England getting the most As and the North East getting the least. Although this may be explained by the large numbers of independent schools in the SE, it does though highlight how important it is to ensure excellent education is made available for all children. We need to make the most of every individual talent, no matter who they are or where they come from.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Refuge speak out on increase in Domestic Violence

I was glad to see that domestic violence was given a headline this week. Too often, this is an issue that is ignored... but it is incredibly important, both locally and nationally.

The first women's refuge was opened in Chiswick and the charity, Refuge, have done tremendous work in trying to bring about change to support victims of domestic abuse.

The stark reality is that two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Talking about it reminds women (and some men who are also abused) that they should be aware of the subtle signs. Jealousy, possessiveness and criticism can be indicators of future domestic violence, whether it is emotional, sexual or physical.

Be aware if your partner is:
- charming one minute and terrifyingly aggressive the next
- excessively jealous and possessive
- stopping you from seeing your family and friends
- constantly criticizing you and putting you down in public
- controlling your money
- telling you what to wear, who to see, where to go and what to think
- pressurising you to have sex when you don't want to

Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry?

Please don't ignore the early warning signs...

Friday, 1 August 2008

Tackling crime on our streets

31,500 prisoners have been released early this year, including thousands of violent offenders. Is this the way to tackle crime on the streets of London, especially at a time when knife crime is increasing?

I believe that we have to:

a) have a long term plan to deal with the causes of crime - unless we understand and solve the root causes, we will never reduce crime on our streets

b) create a process of rehabilitation for young offenders to stop them committing knife and other crimes in the future - the reoffend rate is high and we need to work with these young offenders to make them face up to their issues and create a process for skills building and support back into the community

c) reduce police bureaucracy so that more police officers are out on the streets trying to prevent crime taking place - then we will feel safer

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed now before it incresase even further.