Mark Andrews on Saturday: Celebrating England and dangerous birds

Read the latest musings from Mark Andrews.

Celebrating England
Celebrating England

It is often said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again, and expecting different results. So congratulations to Katie Price on getting engaged again.

Meanwhile Dudley Zoo says that after an absence of 14 years, it welcomes the return of one of the world's most dangerous birds.

Does that mean she's marrying a zookeeper?

Academics at several of Britain's universities are now being instructed to turn a blind eye to poor spelling, punctuation and grammar because it discriminates against students from ethnic minorities and those who went to underperforming schools.

According to Hull University, requiring students to demonstrate a grasp of clear, correct written English can be seen as 'homogenous, North European, white, male, and elite'.

Similarly, University of the Arts, London (me neither) warns academics to 'avoid imposing your own idea of 'correct English' on student work' and to 'actively accept spelling, grammar or other language mistakes that do not significantly impede communication'.

A couple of points. First, isn't it both racist and sexist to suggest being able to string a coherent sentence together is the preserve of 'North European white males'? Because I know plenty of people from different backgrounds, male and female, who don't find it too onerous.

As for 'underperforming schools', while this may seem a bit more controversial, wouldn't it be better to concentrate on raising standards in those rather than handing out degrees to semi-literates like they're going out of fashion?

Maybe the Department for Education could lend a hand by dropping its ludicrous requirement that all pupils learn about social media, transgender issues, and the importance of exercise, and instead make sure no pupil leaves school without being able to read and write properly.

My recent feature about the demise of the former West Midlands County Council in 1986 attracted quite a few interesting comments, and notably not one person had a good word to say about the authority.

That's the trouble with trying to force a top-down change of identity on people. The West Midlands county was created by bureaucrats for bureaucrats, without a moment's thought given to the centuries of history treasured by the people who actually lived in the area.

St George’s Day was yesterday. I put together a feature for the paper explaining that St George actually had nothing to do with England, but was still important as part of our identity in being English.

It is a shame that the patron saint day for England is largely forgotten, especially when the Irish, Scottish and Welsh use it as an excuse for a knees-up. We English tend to take being English for granted and instead pile behind our region, whether that be Black Country, Salop or Staffs.

But we really should do more to mark a country that, despite its faults, is a place where people of all backgrounds can live and flourish together.

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