Dancing in the dark

Without accurate ways to measure the wider impact of spending, politicians remain in the dark argues Jonathan Todd.

Here are three things I’ve noticed recently: 1) Barney Stringer's fascinating blog about London passing an extraordinary milestone – the population finally caught up with its 1939 peak population – from now on it will be an all-time high. London needs, Stringer notes, a wave of new schools with 133,000 additional places required in the next four years. Will these places be created? 2) John Kampfner interviewed by the Guardian about his new role in charge of the Creativ...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 15 Jan 2015
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What makes a 'good job'?

Ralph Scott introduces a new essay collection on the quality of employment.

What makes a job ‘good’? In the midst of a jobs-rich recovery, in a relatively flexible labour market, attention inevitably shifts to the quality of the jobs being created – both in terms of the contribution to national productivity, and the qualitative experience of those undertaking the work. In these terms at least, it is not evident that the picture is entirely rosy: there are questions of pay, productivity, security and job satisfaction. All of this is in a context of ...

Posted by Ralph Scott on 11 Dec 2014
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A tale of two classrooms

Claudia Wood and Ralph Scott introduce A Tale of Two Classrooms, a new essay collection on educational inequality.

The education system in England and Wales has of late been subject to rapid and tumultuous reforms. These changes have affected every aspect of our education system, from school structures – with the introduction of academies and latterly free schools – to accountability – changes to the Ofsted framework and introduction of the EBacc – to the curriculum and qualifications – the shake-up of vocational qualifications and the introduction of the iGCSE. It is too so...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 05 Dec 2014
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How we can close the attainment gap?

Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, outlines his vision for our new collection.

This essay is taken from A Tale of Two Classrooms, a Demos collection on educational inequality.   Not all that long ago it was received Westminster wisdom that Michael Gove was on a successful ‘personal crusade’ to rescue poor children from having their opportunities dictated by their social circumstances. Drawing on his own quietly remarkable life story – not to mention his prodigious journalistic gifts – the former education secretary was routinely able to co...

Posted by Tristram Hunt MP on 05 Dec 2014
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An artistic Autumn Statement

Osborne's plans could unite two great ambitions: apprenticeships and the arts, argues Jonathan Todd.

“The cultural life of the North will get a boost,” George Osborne trumpeted in the Autumn Statement, “including a major new theatre space in Manchester. Manchester City Council propose to call it The Factory Manchester. Anyone who’s a child of the 80s will think that’s a great idea.” But as Osborne seeks to kick start his northern powerhouse, how important are the arts to economic regeneration? “In Germany or the USA,” notes John Kampfner, cha...

Posted by Jonathan Todd on 04 Dec 2014
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Below the Samaritans Radar

Jamie Bartlett on the good intentions behind the ‘suicide app’.

A couple of weeks back those decent people at the Samaritans got themselves into a bit of trouble. They released an app on Twitter which allowed a user to use an algorithm to automatically scan the tweets of the people they follow, looking for words associated with depression and suicide. Once spotted, said app sent the user an email which contained that tweet, asking if they felt it was cause for alarm. This innocuous sounding app was called Samaritans Radar. This, to put it mildly, did not...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 18 Nov 2014
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The ‘suicide app’

Alex Krasodomski-Jones on where SamaritansRadar went wrong.

This morning, the Samaritans announced SamaritansRadar, a tool that flags social media content within your network that might indicate someone is vulnerable. The tool was created by a digital agency – SpreadingJam – and claims to use a ‘specially designed algorithm that looks for specific keywords and phrases’ (which technically doesn’t sound like an algorithm). The intention is probably noble. It’s a good thing that groups like the Samaritans think about...

Posted by Alex Krasodomski-Jones on 30 Oct 2014
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How should I vote?

Jonathan Birdwell and Louis Reynolds announce a new campaign to boost youth political engagement.

Today, Demos and Bite the Ballot are announcing a crowd-funding campaign to build the first ever Voter Advice Application designed for young people. A clever and engaging VAA could help to make history by driving up the youth vote to unprecedented levels. In November, Demos is launching a new report called Like, Share, Vote. The report examines the possibility of using social media to mobilise young people to vote in next year’s general election. One of the potentially most effective t...

Posted by Jonathan Birdwell on 27 Oct 2014
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Direct democracy?

Carl Miller and Alex Krasodomski-Jones on the social media aftershock of the Ukip earthquake.

We wake today into a new political dawn. UKIP has won their first Parliamentary seat, and very nearly got another. Commentators from all sides of politics are, on one point, agreed: this is a big moment, and it feels that the sands are shifting underneath the political status quo that has stood for decades. But apart from the UKIP insurgency, another earthquake was rumbling under Westminster last night: social media. These new social-digital spaces have emerged as an important second front i...

Posted by Carl Miller on 10 Oct 2014
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Statelessness isn't a solution

Taking citizenship away from British radicals isn't a moral or practical solution, argues Louis Reynolds.

With increasing frequency, the withdrawal of British citizenship is being used as a national security tool. Since 2002, 53 people have been stripped of their British citizenship; of these, 48 have had it removed during the Coalition government. Until recently, the Home Secretary had the power to take away a person’s citizenship if doing so was ‘conducive to the public good’ and did not make them stateless. Since the passing of the Immigration Act this year – after a br...

Posted by Louis Reynolds on 10 Sep 2014
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