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Opinion: Education system, Israeli-Hamas war and 20mph speed limits debated in this week’s letters to the editor

Our readers from across the county give their weekly take on the biggest issues impacting Kent and beyond.

Some letters refer to past correspondence which can be found by clicking here. Join the debate by emailing letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

‘Greater involvement of teachers has been replaced by tight bureaucratic control within academies’
‘Greater involvement of teachers has been replaced by tight bureaucratic control within academies’

Reasons to be cheerful in our country

After reading Sid Anning’s letter titled ‘Appalled at state of our country’, I felt very sorry for him, because he is so unhappy with life in Britain today compared with the past.

He sees our streets full of gangs dealing drugs, well-paid public workers continually on strike for more money and protest marches taking place every weekend. The good news is that, if he wants to feel better, help is at hand. All he needs to do is to visit the website of the Office for National Statistics Measure of Well Being Dashboard.

I’m not saying that Mr Anning’s concerns are not important but when it comes to the things which really matter in our lives, he will find on the website a much rosier, optimistic, picture.

For example, seven out of 10 of us feel ‘hopeful’ about our future and the same proportion of us who are in work say we are either ‘fairly’ or ‘very satisfied‘ with our main job.

Things get even better when it comes to our social relationships, with 85% of us saying that we were ‘fairly’ or ‘very satisfied’ with those we have with family, friends, neighbours and other people we know. The same percentage of us say that we are satisfied with our accommodation with 80% of us saying we we are satisfied with our local area as a place to live. We can all feel a bit safer when it comes to crime, with the year ending in March 2023 with an estimated 30 personal crimes per 1,000 of us and down from 53 per 1,000 in 2018.

For me, there is one particular reason to be chuffed about life in Britain today. Given the fact that the internet has given us access to all the knowledge in the world, this year only 8% of us said that we had either not used the internet in the last six months or never used it, down from 13% in 2015.

The last thing I would like to say to cheer up Mr Anning is that we live in a country where the work of the NHS and the Covid vaccination programme saved many thousands in the pandemic. That certainly would have not been possible in the Britain he looks back to in the past. Reasons for us to be cheerful, indeed.

John Cooper

Stop bickering over war and solve problems here

It is the lack of any real management in our government that is so shocking and frightening. MPs concerns are irrelevant to the real problems that we are all experiencing.

Illegal or legal immigration is not a particular problem, but put forward as a distraction from the appalling state of our public services; that is, prisons, NHS, education and social care.

Lack of money here is not the only problem, but often it is poor management and waste that is. Likewise, a housing policy that renders people homeless or ill is a disgrace.

Internationally, no one cares whether MPS vote for a ceasefire, humanitarian pause or anything else to do with the Israel-Gaza War. We have no influence in that area, so stop bickering about it.

Speaking of which, if a class of children behaved as the Conservatives or Labour Party behaves, there would be serious consequences.

I am 88 and can remember a time when the government were serious, conscientious people, who did the job they were paid to do as well as they could. Not any more.

Diana Hill

Schools are just teaching conformity

I was fortunate to be a teacher and a leader within my schools at a time when progress was made in terms of structure, curricula and examinations.

Sadly, in each of these aspects, all that progress has been lost.

In terms of control of schools, communities are no longer able to influence the education of our young people through the local authority.

In terms of school structures, the development of greater involvement of teachers (the trained, experienced, educational professionals) through collegiate systems has been replaced by tight bureaucratic control within academies.

Curricula and examinations are now determined by politicians.

Schools are now, by and large, designed to bring conformity of pupils in order to fit them for the needs of the economy.

The guiding principle had been that schools existed to educate pupils. To encourage them to observe, think, learn and develop their abilities.

Ralph A. Tebbutt

Extremists don’t help their own cause

Events have confirmed the true nature of the activist movements that have inflicted their opinions on us recently, making clear that they are the direct descendants of similar past organisations, such as CND, and the Greenham Common women, the majority of whose followers were at best naive and gullible, and, given the reality of what eventually happened, completely wrong.

The absurdity of the existence of such organisations as ‘Queers for Palestine’, when Islamic states jail, or even execute sexual minorities, and the stupidity of women supporting Islamic states who, whenever they can, treat them as second class citizens, is obvious to all but those involved.

In addition that child saint of the Green movement, Greta Thunberg has stated that “there can be no climate justice on occupied land”, no doubt not noticing that China has occupied Tibet for decades. Just what has the dubious theory of climate change got to do with the issue of Hamas thugs attacking defenceless babies?

A prominent ‘trans’ activist praised Osama Bin Laden’s attack on the US in September 2001 as “one of the most principled and defensible things he has done”, a statement which raises the question of what Islamic terrorism has to do with sexual politics. Some members of Just Stop Oil, and Extinction Rebellion have also weighed in against Israel, while unsurprisingly Stop the War takes a totally one-sided, pro-Hamas approach to the war in Gaza.

Those decent people who are tempted to support this collection of agitators, and extremists, for what they believe to be good reasons, should think very carefully about whether they really want to associate themselves with the latter.

Colin Bullen

Statistics show most people are happier with their lives than we might think, says one readerLibrary picture
Statistics show most people are happier with their lives than we might think, says one readerLibrary picture

Hamas horrors to blame for conflict

I don't usually agree with Colin Bullen's views especially regarding climate change but I think his excellent letter criticising Hamas supporters is so true.

As he states, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East where people have free speech and women are not forced to cover their hair or be at risk of imprisonment or even death, as has recently happened in Iran.

It should not be forgotten that during the Holocaust, six million Jewish people were brutally murdered by the Nazis for just being Jewish.

Parents and their children were separated, never to meet again. Most were cruelly starved and worked to death in concentration camps, shot or murdered in gas chambers. Children were not spared. Many spent years in hiding, as did Anne Frank with her family. Her diary, discovered after the war by her father, has been translated into 70 languages, sold 30 million copies and is the most widely read book after the Bible!

After World War Two, the United Nations decided that Jewish people should have their own country where they could live safely, free from persecution.

In 1948, the state of Israel was created, being the ancestral home of the Jews, who already had lived there for thousands of years. Israel was surrounded by 11 enemy countries, yet offered them the hand of peace. But they were attacked by nine of these in 1967.

Amazingly, Israel won after just six days of war and in doing so gained land, some of which they gave back to the Palestinians. Israel agreed to two states - a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state which the Palestinans - refused to accept as they did not want Israel to exist.

The scenes of people in Gaza, especially the children, are heartbreaking, but it was Hamas who started this with their horrific attacks in Israel, making the country no longer a safe haven for Jewish people.

If Hamas regroup, there will be no democratic country in the Middle East and this could be a threat for the whole world.

Vivien Clifford

Two sides to every story

It would be nice, if just once, Colin Bullen could take a balanced and even-handed approach to one of the many issues he pontificates on.

In his latest diatribe he takes a completely one-sided approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, implying that the many taking part in pro-Palestinian marches are merely supporting Hamas and not out of solidarity with the Palestinian people as a whole.

While not unreasonably condemning the actions of Hamas, it is a shame that Colin makes no mention of the activities of militant settlers in driving Palestinians from their homes and lands in the illegally occupied West Bank. Such activities only inflame the situation and make the restoration of peace to the area all the more problematical.

Bill Ridley

Not all drivers stick to speed limit

I have just read Lauren Abbott’s article and it’s spot on to what most people and parents are thinking.

Our road is 30mph but not all drivers keep to it. If my children were still young, they wouldn’t be playing out.

I’m not against drivers as I drive a car but everyone seems to be in such a rush to get nowhere!

John Prout

End ‘two horse race’ in politics

Politics has become a toxic minefield over the last two decades. Two main parties are so similar it comes down to whether you agree with politicians' personal opinions or not.

With a general election looming I can guarantee that if you put both Sunak and Starmer in a dark room with voice distortion, you could ask them the same question and the general public wouldn’t tell them apart.

Your choices are the two who never seem to get it right; Tory or Labour - or if you want to exercise your right to vote and show your disdain for these two you can vote for a smaller party like the Greens, Lib Dems or Reform, to name a few. We have lost all sense of our democracy and what a vote really means.

The only true way to claim back our sense of ownership in politics is to call for Proportional Representation (PR). With PR, every vote counts and the element of a ‘two horse race’ ends with a much more diverse mix of MPs who can better represent constituents. This also eliminates a one party dominance in Parliament.

I say this with the knowledge that this will allow many other parties and individuals to enter government that I personally don’t agree with. This is a fact of life, the right to free speech and the right to exercise your vote.

Matt Nightingale

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