Even posh boy conspiracies have limits

It is rare for writers to declare all their interests when putting finger to keyboard, but as we are talking private education I feel obliged to confess that I attended a middling private school in South London for the sons of the capital’s better paid white collars.

No such declaration appears in Robert Verkaik’s Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain, and Google can’t tell me where the author went to school either. Although it does not undermine what he says, the question lingers over whether this is the broadside of an angry former pupil or envious outsider.

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The case for abolishing exams

The cancellation of exams during the lockdown has raised a familiar debate: are we over-testing our kids? Simon Jenkins of the Guardian takes the progressive line that doing without exams for one year might be beneficial.

In the mind of Jenkins, quantifying what students have learned has perverted school and university education, without even giving employers a decent flow of graduates ready to work or a reliable indicator of how well a recruit will perform in the job. “Education lies in the totality of the course, not something that can be written down on paper,” he writes.

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Podcast: Ep. 156: The Sending Teachers to an Early Grave Society

This week we discuss whether the heroic teaching profession should be called on to do their duty for queen and country, rate Sir Keir Starmer’s virtual PMQs banter, and discuss Adele’s new look (Is this right? – Ed).

Joining us is the patented Covid-19 diet, for a leaner, meaner you!

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Will Boris Johnson fight the next general election?

It is never too early to wonder whether our prime minister will still be in office by the next general election. The Right Dishonourable asked whether Donald Trump would serve his full term as president shortly after his inauguration in 2017, concluding there was only 17% chance he would not do so.

In similar spirit, Guardian pundit Suzanne Moore recently tweeted out, “I predict [Boris] Johnson won’t serve a full term.” Despite the wags in the comment, she presumably was referring to his capacity as prime minister rather than father, fiance or soon-to-be husband.

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Journalism’s dark art of Zoombombing

Mark Di Stefano listening into private Zoom calls at the Evening Standard and the Independent is hardly a new phone hacking scandal. The now former media reporter for the Financial Times accessed calls about staff pay cuts and furloughs – not great, but not hacking a murdered schoolgirl’s phone either.

What lost Di Stefano his job, however, is less what he published and more how he got the information. The FT editors were happy to publish the piece when the information was attributed to “people on the call”, but reversed their position once they found out those “people” were their own reporter.

Yet what is more striking than a man losing his job is the sympathy that Di Stefano received on Twitter from figures as diverse as the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, the anti-Murdoch Peter Jukes, the Guardian’s Owen Jones, former BuzzFeed colleague Alex Wickham, and various Novara media figures. Is the offence deemed too trivial?

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