ANALYSIS: thinking of starting a blog? This is what the heat can be like in the kitchen.


Today I got a vitriolic email from a Welsh person who disagrees with my views on State-paid, free Grammar School education. It is replete with insults, and inaccuracies based on erroneous assumption…and ends with a naked threat. But it is far from being a unique item in my email inbox.

This bloke has been comment-threading at The Slog since 25th February 2011. During that time, he has made 502 comments – and never once been banned. I think (well, I would really) that he misreads my motives. But like all those who despise opposing opinions, he sees me as some kind of ruthless censor. So the best thing I can do – as a means of disproving that particular hypothesis – is reproduce the email in full here….along with the accusation in its heading.

I urge all wannabe bloggers to read it – and then ask yourself: do I really need to subject myself to this?

What you are too pigheaded to allow to be published at your blog

Mr Ward – if you knew anything about evaluation, you’d know about the concept of ‘Conflict of Interest’. You are without doubt the absolute worst judge of the merits or otherwise of Grammar Schools, because they benefitted you hugely and you assume that because you are God’s Gift to the World, that what is good for John Ward has to be good for the whole of the country.
Here are a few home truths to you from someone who went to grammar school, Public School and whose father was a grammar school headmaster after transforming Physics Teaching in a poor part of Rural North Wales, sending children to top Universities to get 1st class honours in Physics, when before he arrived, not one child in living memory had even got a Physics O Level. That father then rose to become Chief Inspector (Schools) in the Inner London Education Authority, part of which involved taking Secretaries of State for Education and their Junior Ministers around schools to show them good or bad examples of certain educational philosophies.
1. Grammar Schools are generalist education services using unbelievably arbitrary selection methods, namely a verbal reasoning test or, maybe in your day, maths, English and Verbal Reasoning.
So we can have a pretty brutal argument about whether the selection methods had any basis in selecting talent.
2. Grammar Schools assume that the way to learn is teachers standing in front of a class.
We can have a pretty brutal argument about whether you are selecting bright kids or kids or learn well pedagogically.
3. Grammar Schools assume that everyone is equally good at every subject, because they were all good at the Eleven Plus.
That is so nonsensical that it’s not even worth debating.
4. Grammar Schools assume that success in life has much at all to do with intellect, rather than thuggery.
You have got far further with your belligerent thuggery than your intelligence, as displayed by your ruthless insulting of anyone who challenges you. I have heard many senior business executives saying that university degree grades are a useless predictor of success in business. Why? Because thuggery is what gets you to the top and thugs’ primary targets are those who are more intelligent than them. Real world reality, Mr Ward………
5. Grammar School boys like you assume that science is something to study ‘somewhere else’, because you think that grammar school boys like you are superior so science is irrelevant.
In a technology driven world, scientifically illiterate people are a danger to society and it is precisely because Westminster, the Press and half of industry in the UK is full of windbags who studied arts degrees, far too often at Oxford, that the country is so badly run. Once again, you’ll come out with your sneering put downs about science, but only because you are scientifically ignorant, thick as shit where science is concerned, but need a society where scientists are suitably kept at heel by you arts graduates. It won’t wash, Mr Ward…….
Now Mr Ward, because you are scientifically illiterate, you don’t understand how the real world works. The real world is highly complex, full of specialist niches and full of billions of different organisms. It’s not a black and white place with grammar schools and secondary moderns.
The current education system is so far away from bog standard comprehensive as to be laughable. There are specialist academies in all kinds of subjects, from mathematics, ICT, sport/languages etc etc. There are ‘liberal arts free schools’, which are like grammar schools except they don’t have an eleven plus. There are specialist music schools. A new specialist sixth form college for mathematics has been set up, sponsored by Kings College London.
You are 60 years out of date, Mr Ward and because you are a garrulous retired drunk, you think you can get away with it.
The 21st century education provision is going to be digital in nature Mr Ward and that is what threatens you, because doing much more than switching on a ICT device scares the pants off you. We’ve all read your articles about ICT. Well, the real world in the 21st century is ALL about ICT. Spell checkers have eradicated the need for obsessional 8 year old spelling tests. Spreadsheets reduce greatly the need for drilling complex arithmetic. The automation of science means that the numbers of jobs as technicians in the 21st century will shrivel. Sorry Mr Ward and all that. That’s reality and I worked for 20 years in cutting edge science research and you didn’t, so don’t tell me you know and I don’t. I know and you don’t.
You’re too much of a simpleton to want anything more than binary bright kids and thick kids.
Show me that you can design and manage a complex ecosystem of richly complementary schools and you’re worth consulting over education policy.
99% of people opposed to grammar schools have zero interest in uniformity of outcomes, they have an interest in the best education for the most. If you actually read anything of what Michael Wilshaw has done in his life, you’d understand that. You haven’t so you don’t. You just sound like a foghorn of a smearing political hack trashing people who don’t believe what you say they believe.
So you went to grammar school and worked in market research. Big deal.  I went to grammar school wtih some working class kids who stole cars and were sent to borstal before taking their O Levels. But you don’t talk about all those working class yobs because you’re from the working class. I do talk about them because plenty of them thought that beating me up and taunting me was a prelude to filching my homework to copy.
The reason you are living alone in SW France is because you can’t get over yourself. It’s all about John Ward.
If you were capable of listening to others with different experiences without trashing them like the working class thug you are, you’d have possibly been a politician.
‘It worked for me and my brother’ is not the basis of policy for 60 million people.
Grammar Schools failed for a lot of very bright kids. Why? They didn’t provide practical training in an intellectual environment. I don’t need practical training to be a plumber, I needed practical training to be a top scientist. I didn’t need lots of classroom time doing bookwork because I could do it on my own in a quarter of the time. I could teach myself European languages in a quarter of the time. Just like I could design organic chemistry synthetic routes at Cambridge in a quarter of the time allotted in a Cambridge University examination. I needed practical teaching at my level, thank you very much. And grammar schools utterly failed to provide it. Any attempt by you to state that I should have gone to Secondary Modern, when I completed the 11 plus exam in 33% of the allotted time, got 750/800 in the GMAT test for MBA applicants etc etc and you can hang from your walnut tree.
So one more word from you about your beloved grammar schools without a fully fledged exposition on how useless they are for a lot of children brighter than you and you’ll be sorry you ever crawled out of a Manchester hovel……..


(Name & email address withheld to protect the vulnerable)

Recently at The Slog: the post that somehow evoked the above

59 thoughts on “ANALYSIS: thinking of starting a blog? This is what the heat can be like in the kitchen.

  1. Wow – how bloody rude.
    I enjoy reading your blog – I might not agree with everything you say but I do agree with a lot. Long may you continue.
    BTW I am an ex Grammar School boy, my Dad was a rent collector, my Grandfather a Yorkshire Miner!

    Liked by 9 people

  2. As Terry-Thomas once said in a good bit in a film; “I don’t think personal rancour is going to help”
    Thanks for letting those of us that observe reality come and comment here. More important is what we learn here. That is an education that can not be purchased nor agreed to by schoolmasters everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Crikey, that certainly is a rant and a half!
    Strangely, there may even be some reasonable points in it….if they could be seperated from the insults, which rather cast doubt on the claimed qualifications.
    Of course, the whole thing may just be a troll’s prank…

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Apart from all the blather what struck me was the arrogant assumption that digital is the answer to everything. What happens should electricity be unavailable for some reason ?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well I don’t agree much with the pig-ignorant way he spelled it out, John.
    Obviously whatever schooling he had it for absobloominglutely never had anything to do with manners.
    Or maybe he has Turrets. A sad loser whichever.
    Anyway despite the way he puts it I do believe he has a point.
    The main measure of “good schooling” as far as I can see it from the grammar/public school front of the Tory Party (and Blairite Labour) is the percentage of pupils you can get into Oxbridge.
    How different this is in Germany and Sweden which countries have so much more success in productivity, business management and industrial entrepreneurialism.
    There they still have apprenticeships that are respected.
    There engineers are as highly revered as lawyers and medical doctors (well they USED to be revered in this country).
    There a Herr Doctor is respected whether the degree is for engineering or philosophy.
    And Grammar schools never did that.
    And the Oxbridge educated STILL don’t understand that.
    PURE science is respected at the highest level. Give me a Nobel prize winner in Physics or Biochemistry – respect.
    Give me an award-winning engineer and all you get is a sneer. Sad.
    Try getting into Whitehall with an engineering degree.
    See how many cock-ups they make in IT or defence procurement.
    ALL advisers and lobbyists it seems to me give the stupid argument that “this is how I was educated and look how well I turned out – it must be the way” – from Gove to May.
    PLUS what the hades are we stimulating even MORE divisiveness by encouraging religious “faith” schools to enlist only children of the own stupid faiths. “Faith” – definition – having to believe in the impossible.
    Might as well be fairies at the bottom of the garden as God, Jehova or Mowhatsoever. How DARE these imbeciles insist of brainwashing children into ANY brand of fairies.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Good Grief … to paraphrase Wodehouse slightly, “It is never difficult to distinguish between a Welshman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.”

    Now there’s proof of a grammar school education! Mind you, I wasted much of it; lazy, did just enough to coast by, went into the Army instead of University, left then did much the same in various security companies (except I wasn’t shot at quite as often) and was, for a couple of years, the oldest nightclub bouncer in the Plymouth area. But I remember the teachers with much fondness. By Heaven they were a dedicated lot and I realised only much later what I had piddled away due to my preoccupation with earning money, the fairer sex and (mis-)managing an ego out of all proportion to my character.

    And now this pretentious buffoon wants to traduce the memory of those fine men and women who worked tirelessly to bring forth the best in the children who had been entrusted to their care. Why? One may only surmise; I rather suspect that life has not been kind to the poor sap and he seeks – as weak men will – to blame his misfortune upon others rather than undergo a period of introspection to see where he may improve himself. Well be about your business, little man. JW is mighty popular in these parts – irascible? Yes; doesn’t suffer fools gladly? Few of us who reach the Winter years do, Old Horse; but he’ll do for us.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. I think he has a crush on you LOL !

    (incidentally, I attended a grammar school, and had an English father, but a Welsh mother…so feel well qualified to have an opinion)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. @caratacus went to a Grammar school….. could not cope. Went to a flog’em for breakfast cheapo private school… fantastic teachers, achieved my dream, Sandhurst. It really does depend upon teacher power. I could not wait for my slot for Sandhurst…. signed up as a squaddy. …. result…. know how to receive shit….. and give shit. Cur Phil Greenbaum needs a lesson? 3 Big Boats?….. and never spent a penny in UK taxes? Monaco….. Tina? GCHQ supposedly tracks us all….well, except us goys…….


  9. John -trouble is I guess, you espouse your views and if someone else (HUGELY) disagrees, this is the medium to allow it to happen as you have set out. My experience is the French docs have a thing about blood pressure so I hope you are OK and enjoying the le vin and not taking it all too seriously.

    I find most people don’t agree with my views but I prefer to let them wallow in their ignorance!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This comment says it all really, the rest of it is b$%lshit. “I know and you don’t.” Definite ignorance that … what you know is in the areas of interest your life has taken you. Remarkable, can probably ask a million question and they would not know the answer … absolute stupidity.

    The person knows because they have likely had an entitled life and really provided they do alright they do not care about anything so long as it confirms their beliefs. Needs to wake up fast because the world is certainly not what many signed up for but again because they do alright out of the deal CTRL-P, NIRP, MSM suppression of truth etc. it does not bother them one little bit.

    Very similar to Clinton calling the American population and anybody around the world who cares that the most corrupt president in history is about to get elected and thinks it is wrong are called “deplorable”.The reason you were targeted is because you are providing opposition and objecting to things that are disagreeable to you and in a democracy that is reasonable.

    Definitely not afraid of the math / physics / chemistry / real “IT” (not just the push button types) so I would say with such language “is so full of themself” and “I know they don’t, they speak b$%lshit pretending to be better than others” a more apt phrase.

    JW, just add yourself to the “deplorable bunch” like the rest of us.

    A psychological trick especially where trolls try to wield disinformation is to use their comment to express a truth …
    “The 21st century education provision is going to be digital in nature Mr Ward and that is what threatens you”, but it will also threaten those not yet born because the ever increasing freedom in a world that economically will never add up will be curtailed by elites. THAT IS A TRUTH.


  11. Put another log on the fire…make yourself a catapault and fire your walnuts at him….and then, block the Patronizing, Condescending, Supercilious, Up-His-Own-Arse Jealous Prat, for life is MUCH too short to allow those who love to Spread Bullshit Around to do just that.

    I load them all up on my Giant Trebuchet and catapault them over to Fecker’s Island…it’s mighty crowded, I have to say, but very peaceful on my various pages. :0) xx


  12. @Rosstradamus – caught most of that :-) I was offered Mons OCS (showing my age) but, like you, chose life as a squaddie and was happy as hell about it. Those teachers I mentioned did their job; the Latin master, the Languages master (French, German + Russian – time spent, I later learnt, in MI5 during the post war years), the science masters and the PT chap (it was still Physical Training in those days) were truly inspirational. They knew their subjects and, of such precious value, inspired us to think for ourselves and to question everything. I am sure that the occasional diamond may be found in the mud of Comprehensive schooling these days but they will have to be on their guard in case they’re found out by the Common Purpose sh1tforbrains who seem to run eddication these days.


  13. John
    I think that that vitriolic Welsh person is in fact a team …to destabilize and intimidate.
    The INTERNET in fact does present the likes of him/her with serious problems. This hate crime legislation floating along in the sewer system is going to curtail freedom of speech via the net
    I do not expect all my little notes to cause a revolution….but not so long back it would expose me to serious and has caused mental and physical harm.
    BTW my mother, Irish 100%catholic and heavy with child throughout my child hood. 5sisters and a brother one sister lost to pneumonia ww2 (a benefit of the Andersen shelter). The two youngest when to grammar school .
    I did say in my post that I found the grammar school a canumbrum.


  14. High-handed, ill-expressed, gratuitous twaddle from someone who clearly has a communication disorder. All chip and no shoulder, as one of my aged relations used to say. Nil carborundum and slog on, we all know your heart is in the right place.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I read your blog late today so have had a chance to read lots of comments. Keep up the good work. You obviously have a lot of readers who appreciate your insights and the way that you express.

    @OAH, I hadn’t heard that one. The Kiwis still haven’t got over the Chappells.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “The Kiwis still haven’t got over the Chappells.”

    On the contrary, the incident merely confirmed what we already suspected . . . .namely, that they were both well-balanced Aussies.
    Call it confirmation bias :-)


  17. Well give me a garralous old drunk over a prig any day. I went to a Grammar School, studied sciences and ended as an engineer in the oil industry for most of my working life. The Welsh Windbag has some good points in that there is a severe imbalance between science and the arts which permeates the British Establisment. Just compare the BBC output of serious science programmes compared to arts programming.

    He also seems to have some issues with the naughty offspring of the lower orders but may have a point. Some of my close family are involved in modern ejucatun and they often opine that much of their time is spent in crowd control. Mixed ability classes do not result in the brighter pupils pulling along the less talented but usually the less bright become jealous and then disruptive of the education of those who wish to learn.

    He may even have a point about e-learning. One of my sons faced daily violence (being large and fit he coped well) but the general atmosphere of threat dissueded three of his friends from continuing their studies into sixth year (this in a modern academy). Much of this and the waste of time caused by traipsing across the school to different classrooms could be eliminated by home schooling along lines similar to the Open University with access to world class tutors via youtube etc.
    This will be fought tooth and nail by the present educational establishment of course and would only benefitt pupils who had commited parents.

    His points though seem only tangentially related to Grammar School education and could have been made in a rational and polite manner. As it is I think his whole life might have been blighted by some big boys nicking his sweeties.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I always knew some Welshmen were pompous windbags but this man’s arrogance is breath taking.
    Your blog is always required reading for me Mr. Ward. Sometimes I do not agree with your conclusions, sometimes I do not understand them and responses to your blog will cover every spectrum. There are ways of expressing disagreement but the way the blinkered yo yo above did it will find little support from your regular readers.
    Keep up your excellent work.


  19. @farmerbraum I posted my comment before seeing yours. I have good friends in both countries but support NZ vs Oz in cricket and rugby. I suspect both OAH’s version and your version are both used.


  20. There are threats and implied threats in that sad piece of verbiage that point to someone heading for a mental breakdown. The rage is not so much against John Ward as against the world and why it hasn’t treated him (her? them?) they way he believes he should have been treated. Many times people who rage in that manner have drink taken.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. @Waldgaenger

    Not sure I concur over e-learning. It is superb in principle, and I’m sure the Neolib faction are salivating at the prospect of dismissing all those ‘lazy, stroppy, Leftie teachers, but for the education of most pupils, (and teenagers in particular), I suspect it will be a disaster. Having seen my own children subject to the ‘digitisation of the Learning space’, the online component of the course is generally substandard and requires elucidation from an available parent. The other problem is that it legitimises use of a computer during the week, (something I am loathe to allow – I know, I’m a hypocrite), and without my constant vigilance, they often succumb to the temptations of Youtube and the like. (I am enough of a Luddite to believe that there is still utility in the reading of books, having good handwriting and some ability to perform mental arithmetic. I am swiftly being evolved out of existence.)

    As to the email from the Welshman, his venom is misplaced, but I do recognise that there are several themes in his tract that have some merit. As a middle class, ex-comprehensive lad who followed the scientific path I recognise much of what he has to say regarding the attitude of many poorer children towards those with a middle class background and the distain with which Oxbridge arts graduates view ‘the stinks’. In a school dominated by the offspring of first generation Irish immigrant manufacturing workers, I assimilated very quickly as a matter of survival. I learned to play ‘boot square’ and ‘go up the football’ to shout abuse at opposing players and fans, while always feeling a complete fraud – knowing that my mother would have fainted had she been aware of my actions.

    Finally, I wonder if the correspondent used email because his comments to the blog repeatedly disappeared into the aether. It seems to be happening more and more frequently with no apparent rhyme or reason to what manages to get through.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I was speared the grammar school test! but i was lucky that has the local grammar school closed,nearly on mass the teachers transferred to our brand new comprehensive school,the teachers were brilliant,they adapted to teaching pupils far more diverse than they were usually used too.
    Believe me fighting almost daily, a pupil prostitution ring,i remember one class we the chemistry teacher lost control of the class & went to get the enforcer the deputy head no one messed with him!
    & caustic soda was spread on the floor one of the cabinet doors used to ski over it & when the enforcer marched in barking his orders everyone fell into line! but after a few minutes they kept looking at the floor ,only to realise that their shoes were melting & the floor was turning white!
    Yet in this backwater some people received a very good standard of education,which only years later could one appreciate,we had bad teachers we had good ones and we had some very good ones & the same applied to the pupils.
    Education is emotive,but even though i witnessed all this nothing prepared me for my first days work,the work was easy,but as we clocked off, this 35yr odd bricksh** house wider than double doors walked up,picked me up one hand and swung a punch at me(his girlfriends screamed no) too late & lamped me ! i later found out a new worker had sleep with his girlfriend & he thought it was me,i continued working their has if nothing had happened,that i was taught at school.
    But they also taught me critical thinking & to see things from other points of view,that is also a lesson i am grateful for!
    You could say i had a full and rounded education,god know how i would have turned out if i had sat the 11+ probably i would have got just half the education i had!
    I’ll leave you to judge which half!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. JW

    I would consider starting a blog if I thought I had even half of your ability, insight and application. Your output is a gift to those who are interested in understanding wtf is going on in the world today and I am thankful for your efforts.

    As to the email you received, it brought to mind something I saw expressed elsewhere on the net; You might be the best peach in the box, but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches!

    Keep up the good work.


  24. only read the first part of the rant then stopped. Agree that its worse to talk about these twats and give them publicity. Best ignored/banned. Keep going John ,really enjoy the blog


  25. Why would you be so proud of getting 750/800 and being so clever if the oh so obvious way forward is using spell checks and mathematical spreadsheets to replace real knowledge and understanding?


  26. He could have made a better go of it without the insults, it might has been a discussion piece.

    And talk about blowing his own trumpet……..jeeeeesus…….


  27. John
    I, as many of the other’s commenting here, thank you for subjecting yourself to such vitriol. I think he’s simply envious of your living in SW France.

    As to ICT: “…because doing much more than switching on a ICT device scares the pants off you…”, in the privacy of your own abode, you may well be sitting there in front of your ICT device of choice, having had your pants scared off you, but we won’t talk about that right now! Point is, you ARE using an ICT device for all its worth, and unafraid of doing so. That takes guts – keep it up!

    As to the digital 21st. century, last night in these parts (you too I suspect), confirmed the fragility of internet/IT systems, a 100kph blow, and it’s goodnight Vienna, no electricity, no internet/phone connections either with laptop or smartphone, and it’s becoming more frequent. Back to the future 1998 (summer of storms).

    Liked by 1 person

  28. What a mass of predictably lame acolyte sycophant wheezing’s… due to one sudo-science boff ’ calling out Ward for the Narcissist he is.

    As you were….

    Liked by 1 person

  29. @Canexpat: I too believe in the utility of reading books, good handwriting and mental arithmetic especially as one day we may have a major solar flare event and the digital world will evaporate. Imagine all those dazed teens looking up from their phones and seeing the real world.

    BTW, I think all the stushie (good scots word) being whipped up about the grammar schools issue, which was not in the cons manifesto, is classic distraction technique. It is to divert us to the fact that although we voted for a smart exit from the eurotyranny, nothing has happened for the last three months,

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I am a Governor at a Grammar School in a town in Lincolnshire. The author of the email is not up to date. My local Grammar School has a digital strategy that covers not only some elements of teaching but also school processes. The school excels in STEM subjects, has flourishing arts, drama and music departments. The teachers don’t chalk and talk. The school sends 10 kids a year to Oxbridge. The maths results are off the scale with almost eveyone at A level who take further maths achieving above a B grade, with the majority getting A or A*.

    The “secondary modern” in town also does fantastically well. It gets above average results. Many kids from the “secondary modern” join the Grammar School at years 8,9 or 12. Some kids from the Grammar School join the secondary modern at year 12. One I know got poor GCSE results at the Grammar but got AAB at the “secondary modern” at A level and got in to Manchester Uni. Grammar schools have moved on from the 1950s, as has the alternative. The 25% do better. The 75% do well and transfer between schools is very common.

    Talk of scrap heaps and unfairness does not marry up to the school experience in my town.


  31. I think we could all have done with a little less formal schooling.
    Why should the state have you pretty much full-time from the age of 5 (and now it is from under 2 with a pair of working parents) til the age of 16 -or is it 21? That can’t be healthy.
    Very few people as far as I can see,have much positive to say about their education -although many can give great praise to outstanding teachers.
    I know from my own experience -a good local ordinary school- that every single person from that school who has “succeeded “, has done it in spite of their formal education. Even back then, competition was frowned on, no-one should be praised for excellence, or striving for it.

    I think good grammar schools are a good thing; I think good technical schools are a good thing; I think good specialist schools like sports, music, art, mathematics, language, business skills -or at least sub-divisions inside general schools- is no bad thing.
    I think school should be finished at 1:00pm weekdays, and there should be all sorts of grant-supported extra-curricular activities. And I think normal schooling should finish at 16.
    If “academic” people then want to do 2 years national service, do overseas work, local community work, do a 2-year college specialisation, before they do heavy-duty further education course, then encourage them.

    I think we are going to have to re-think they way we compete in the world. We need lots of clever people, with different aptitudes. We don’t need identikat workers, we need innovators. And we don’t need a one-size-fits-all education system.

    Is there a government, county council or local authority who could work on that? I doubt it.
    Education is now politics and propaganda, how easy is it going to be to change that?


    Of all the comments here, this one is closest to my own vision

    Liked by 2 people

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