MR PENDLE: Local elections are a ‘non event’

WHY, as one national newspaper put it the other day, will the main focus of attention be on London when local government elections are held soon?

For apart from people who actually live and work in the capital, it will not make the slightest difference to anyone whether Conservative Boris Johnson or Labour’s Ken Livingstone - with no disrespect to fellow candidates Lib Dem Brian Paddick and Independent Siobhan Benita, who have little chance of topping the poll - is elected as the next Mayor of London.

The election is, for most of the country, a total non-event, as are the referenda for elected Mayors in 10 other English cities - many of which, if reports are to be believed, do not want them in the first place as the city’s councils fear their powers will be weakened.

Let’s face it. Local government is a turn-off for many people.

They are hardly interested in who wins their own council elections, never mind polls in cities many miles away.

Less than half of those on the electoral register can be bothered to vote or know who their councillors are anyway, and yet they will moan and groan at the slightest of perceived inactions by those who have been elected by those who have taken the trouble to vote.

Far from being the main focus of attention, the election results in London and the rest of the country will be a minor insignificance to many.

Life will go on very much as before. The sun will come up in the morning and go down at night. We will all be a day older - and apart from that, no one will notice the difference.

WHAT does the schools watchdog Ofqual mean when it says it wants exam boards to “toughen up” the standards of GCSE tests in history and geography?

Both subjects have broad areas to cover - far too broad for everything to be taught in the classroom.

History, for example, has British, European and world categories which are then sub-divided into relevant time sections.

Geography has sections and sub-sections of its own which make covering the “whole curriculum” (to quote Ofqual) impossible.

But all this is nothing new.

When he was at Colne Grammar School more than 40 years ago, his learning of history with Dorothy Harrison and John Munro and geography with the now Lord Greaves and Miss T.M. Whitaker was by no means comprehensive, and he learned the names of past monarchs of this country dating back to 1066, the exploits of explorers both British and European, the capital cities of European and world countries and other facts by reading reference books at home.

Mr Pendle is all in favour of “toughening up” exam standards - but this is something which must be done realistically and not by asking test boards to attempt the impossible.