Wednesday, 19 August 2009

London trip

People are more likely to vote in local elections in Italy if they live in an area which was formally a Republic than in one which was formally a Kingdom. Italian unification was in 1870, so it is the expectations and habits of their pre-1870 ancestors which still leaves a discernable footprint today.

This is something which I keep repeating as we explore the major Inspiring Communities grant aimed at tackling educational expectations. I’m not fatalistic or deterministic about the impact of the legacy of the fishing industry on such things, but the story does provide some realistic balance to any over optimistic language about identifying the right levers and then achieving change by pulling them.

The educational consultant who helped put together the local bid for the programme and I went to an event in London on Monday when we met people from the other fourteen locations which are being funded and the those who are leading the programme from central Government. They want things to move very fast and have consultants lined up to research in each area in the next two weeks and to work with us on developing and finalising our plans in September and October.

Getting to London at short notice is a nightmare. There are no trains between Grimsby and the main east coast line for the whole summer, and what they are pleased to call the ‘walk on’ fare is £190 for one person. My wife and I decided to drive down to leave the car at her parents at St Alban’s, take a train from there, and then spend a night in a hotel, all for less than the £190 between us. We enjoyed a Prom on Monday evening and a walk in Hyde Park as part of a Day Off yesterday where I took the photograph.

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