A question for Michael Fallon

How exactly, Mr Fallon, do air strikes from 30,000 feet on the participants of a chaotically complex and multi-layered civil war ‘fortify’ the UK against ISIS attacks? Could they stop ISIS affiliates in Tunisia opening fire on beaches when the bombs would be falling 1,500 miles away? Do ISIS have conventional troops, a navy and aircraft to invade the United Kingdom by land, air and sea? How exactly would a number of bombing raids of uncertain efficiency protect a single UK citizen? Could such conventional military action stop a UK citizen ‘sleeper cell’ carrying out an outrage in London, Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds? How, Mr Fallon, how does a long-distance item of ordnance ‘fortify’ this country?

The legacy of Christopher Woodhead

Former Education Minister David Blunkett has written an article in today’s Guardian under the sigh-inducing headline: “I was tough, but Chris was tougher.” It is a sad day when toughness is seen as the most important characteristic of either an Education Minister or Chief Inspector of Schools. I would prefer integrity, the ability to listen, a rigorous application of the conclusions of research, open-mindedness, curiosity and an abiding attachment to the interests of children, teachers and parents.
Chris Woodhead posed as a brave iconoclast, but he had the solid support of the state for his ‘reforms.’ There is nothing brave about bullying teachers and children into a system of increasingly Gradgrindian mediocrity. Blunkett is sensitive to the criticisms of the Chief Inspector’s tenure which is why the article is so deeply contradictory. Under the ‘rights of children’, Woodhead propagandised a system in which they became more stressed, more subjected to endless pressure, target-setting and short-term box-ticking rather than quality learning. Primary science and writing are probably the two areas that suffered most from this approach. Children were encouraged to learn ‘scientific knowledge’ rather than test hypotheses through process and bludgeoned into phonics and the scatter-spraying of Wow words (the only wow word is wow) as opposed to learning to express themselves clearly through experimentation and reading. Teachers became victims of the same process. I had two radio exchanges with Woodhead. He said in one that silent reading was ‘pointless.’ I kid you not. Far from the brave, sword-in the hand groundbreaker Blunkett conjures, he was a deeply mediocre place man who ditched his own earlier attachment to a soppy and irresponsible progressivism in exchange for the most intensely robotic form of school management. He was at the cutting edge of the breaking up of state education and presided over the steady slide of the UK down the admittedly problematic PISA tables. Even the much-lauded increases in test results were invariably the result of teachers and children getting better at teaching to the test, not the result of better pedagogy. He was also a fierce promoter of Woodhead Plc, pressing his edu-business interests and media columns with the kind of ruthless efficiency he never devoted to defending children’s interests. I take no pleasure in any human being’s passing, but it would be wrong to suspend my criticisms of a man whose impact on education was negative in the extreme.

Quote of the day

“Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – not a whole generation, a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack upon Islam.” Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5.

Round up

Public Libraries News : 5th July

The importance of being careful in emails … and charging for the latest in lego




Hinckley Times : 4th July

Leicestershire | Burbage Parish Council makes bid to save village library




Daily Beast : 3rd July

How to (Almost) Ruin a Great Library



New Statesman : 2nd July

Parliament’s all-male, all-white culture select committee

Jesse Norman is the new chair of the DCMS select committee




Darlington & Stockton Times : 2nd July

Meeting to decide fate of North Yorkshire’s libraries

CILIP quoted




Market Rasen Mail : 2nd July

Council merger – Let’s focus on north-west


Love Bris Libraries (Twitter: via @LoveBristolLib)

Submission from Royal National Institute of Blind People to Bristol City Council ‘Libraries for the future’ consultation




Daily Record : 2nd July

East Kilbride library axed in council budget cuts hosts farewell tea for loyal customers

The closure was branded a ‘disgrace’ by loyal customers.




Loughborough Echo : 1st July

Leicestershire | First volunteer-run library to be launched


First opened in 1938 – Barrow Upon Soar Library’s history




They Work For You

Written Answer – Libraries : 30th June




Southport Visitor : 1st July

Birkdale library; anger as Sefton is set to sell site to developers




Public Sector Executive

Ciara Eastell:  Developing the digitally literate library workforce




Attachments area



Surrey Mirror : 30th June

Reigate and Merstham library opening times set to change

The changes are part of a wider review of the library service, which plans to reduce the staffing budget by £227,000 for 2015/16.




Your Thurrock : 30th June

As Thurrock’s mobile library closes on Thursday, Homelink service expands




Cambridge News : 26th June

Plans for enterprise centre at Cambridge Central Library thrown out by “embarrassed” councillors




They Work For You

Written Answers – DCMS : 26th June

Public Libraries – Closures





Literacy Trust : 29th June

Report from Read On. Get On. highlights ‘language skills gap’ at age 5

The report highlights the crucial role of local services, including children’s centres and libraries


Report – ‘Ready to Read’  http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/Ready_to_Read.pdf



Liverpool Echo : 20th June

Arts Council chief on Liverpool’s pivotal role in ‘Northern Powerhouse’

We will make the best possible case for central government funding for the arts, for museums and for libraries.




Yorkshire Evening Post : 29th June

Leeds libraries campaign turns its first page

Libraries across Leeds have today started a new chapter in a campaign to raise awareness of the services they run http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/whatsyourstory-leeds-libraries-campaign-turns-its-first-page-1-7331763



Loughborough Echo : 29th June

Leicestershire | Library opening hours are changing




Public Libraries News : 28th June

Sympathy for the devil: why even chief librarians don’t have it easy




Hinckley Times : 28th June

Leicestershire | Brewery bids to run library


Liverpool Echo : 24th June

St Helens council plans for £23m cuts to services in next two years

This could mark the end of the road for some or all council-run libraries across the borough, with the chief executive suggesting other providers may have to step in.  Councils are obliged to ensure there is library provision available, but not to run libraries themselves.



Swindon Advertiser : 23rd June

Council hires new staff to ease pressure on library




Bristol Post : 24th June

Stephen, aged 8, collects 450 names for petition to save lib under threat of closure




Fife Today : 24th June

Communities to be consulted on Fife’s proposed library closures


Coventry Observer : 23rd June

Protest at council against libraries & disabled jobs service cuts proposals




Coventry Telegraph : 23rd June

Anti-cuts protest before first full meeting of newly elected Coventry City Council today

Sarah Smith, a Tile Hill resident who has been campaigning against the closure of her local library, will be handing in a petition of over 2,200 signatures against its closure.




Ilford Recorder : 23rd June

Redbridge’s libraries bringing communities together

“Libraries are something we have to protect and defend”




York Press : 23rd June

No plans to close York libraries




Carnegie winner Landman condemns library closures




Birmingham Post : 22nd June

British Library joins Library of Birmingham for cultural partnership

Special project will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare with initiative designed to help support the cash-strapped library




Lichfield Live : 22nd June

Staffordshire | UKIP ready to fight alongside the Green Party over future of mobile library service




Save Lincolnshire Libraries : 22nd June

Press Release | Lincolnshire CC library plans to be challenged again in the High Court

details of 3 grounds for challenge




The Courier : 22nd June

Public urged to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to save closure-threatened libraries in Fife




For Info :

Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development



Boom time for children’s books as sales soar, but where are readers?

Funding cuts in schools and libraries have put books out of reach for many children, says head of London-based literary agency The Bright Group




East Grinstead Courier : 20th June

Surrey | Power to the people – as Lingfield Library is to be passed to trustees




The Courier : 20th June

Methods questioned on proposed closure of 16 Fife libraries




Southern Reporter : 20th June

Scottish Borders | Councillors set to continue talks on plan to outsource cultural services http://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/local-headlines/councillors-set-to-continue-talks-on-plan-to-outsource-cultural-services-1-3805607



Shropshire Star : 20th June

Shropshire | Top lawyer drafted in to help Church Stretton library fight


The Lincolnite : 19th June

Hearing into potential judicial review of Lincolnshire libraries’ decision set for July




Burton Mail : 19th June

Plans on changes to mobile libraries in Staffordshire




Shropshire Live : 19th June

Church Stretton Library Support Group set to launch legal action over library relocation




Fife Today : 19th June

SNP campaigns to save north east Fife libraries



The Courier : 19th June

Fife | Closing libraries could destroy ‘lifeline’ for local communities, Trust warns



Public Libraries News : 18th June

Editorial | Strife in Fife? Library cuts go further than expected



Fife libraries threatened with closure




West Sussex Gazette : 18th June

Emsworth community divided after dramatic library u-turn




Hinckley Times : 18th June

Leicestershire | Library hours are cut to help balance books




Lincolnshire Echo : 17th June

Michelle Obama receives letters from Lincolnshire children about future of county’s libraries




View From Online : 18th June

Axminster: Former mayor says sorry over library campaign web link storm



View From Online

Axminster Councillors call for ‘ignorant’ library officials  to resign

Axminster town councillors have passed a vote of no confidence in the the two people leading Devon County Council’s (DCC) Library Service – Councillor Roger Croad and head of libraries Ciara Eastell.


Public Libraries News :  16th June

Editorial | Legal action against the DCMS over cuts to public libraries: appeal for information

Paul Heron from Public Interest Lawyers has been in touch with regard to gaining national information on the failure of the DCMS to properly investigate and respond to cuts to public libraries.  The full details are below. Please respond if you can help.




Harrow Times : 17th June

Library closures a ‘bitter disappointment’ as books sold off and staff face redundancy



Harrow Times : 16th June

Letter to council reveals government will review library closures




The Courier : 17th June

Sixteen libraries in Fife earmarked for closure




The Knowledge Exchange : 17th June

Volunteers in libraries: an alternative to closures, or a risk to the professionals?




Staffordshire Newsletter : 17th June

Residents urged to have say on latest consultation on future of Staffordshire archives http://www.staffordshirenewsletter.co.uk/Residents-urged-say-latest-consultation-future/story-26707283-detail/story.html


Lichfield Live : 17th June

Consultation to start over plans to scale back mobile library service in Lichfield and Burntwood




Times Series : 17th June

More registered at Barnet libraries – but loans fall




News North Wales : 16th June

‘Spend merger plans cash on frontline services’

SCRAPPING proposed mergers between councils in Wales would protect frontline services, a council leader says.


Latest diary update 2015-16

School visit availability, 2015-2016:

September 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 28, 29.

October 12, 13. 19, 20, 21, 22.

November 2,3.

December 15, 16, 17.

January (any day at the time of writing except Jan 15).

February 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25.

March 21-31.

April (any day at the time of writing).

May , June, July (any day at the time of writing).



Round up


The places where mobile phones should be banned

Public libraries




Ars Technica UK : 16th June

European Parliament committee adopts controversial pro-user copyright reform report

The newly adopted report hopes to make it easier for libraries to lend e-books …




Shropshire Star : 15th June

Shropshire Council starting to offload its libraries




Save Lincolnshire Libraries : 16th June

Three children write to Michelle Obama about Lincolnshire Libraries




Stourbridge News : 16th June

Dudley | Stage to be built in Kingswinford Library as part of Arts Council grant


Milton Keynes Citizen : 15th June

A review of libraries is taking place in a bid to save money over the next three years




Liverpool Echo : 15th June

Livewire and council propose £16m neighbourhood hub for Warrington




Harrow Times : 15th June

Libraries close their doors for the last time