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Looking Back on the Week that Was with FE News!

The hot weather tends to have certain side effects in a nation such as ours, accustomed as we are to miserable overcast skies and relentless drizzle leading very logically (apparently) to drought warnings and water shortages in the South East.

Of course an obvious consequence is that the vast bulk of us (which is not a veiled reference to our troublesome conflict with obesity, as we are certainly losing the inch war as a country) rush out in ill fitting swimwear and populate polluted beaches. This is our time to shine; quite literally, glowing bright red with our blissful disregard for skin care and the harm that the sun’s rays can do to our outer layers. If a giant chef walked past Margate in August, they might well mistake our mottled red exterior and pop us straight into a vat of boiling water to make a nice bisque for their friends.

The Ideal World?

In an ideal world, the sunshine would have a positive effect on our mood as well. After all, given that we have even gone to the trouble of giving a name to our malaise in the winter – Seasonal Affected Disorder, or the aptest of all acronyms, SAD ““ we should surely revel in the chance to smile and laugh in the sunshine. The bluebirds singing in the trees, the humming of the birds and bees, everybody feels at ease, we go to discos and dance to cheese, we”re happy, content, easy to please”¦

Ok, enough of that. The truth is that we remain gloomy and miserable. The British, apparently, are never happier than when they are complaining; just take the weather as an example. After months of complaining about rain and drizzle and greyness abounding from every corner, suddenly we have that which we have longed for ““ sunshine, warmth, the chance to look a little less like Casper the Ghost. But what is our reaction? We complain; it is too hot, too dry, and too uncomfortable. Fair enough, we do not generally have air conditioning as standard; but that is our fault.

This even extends to our technology. A few months ago, various corners and lines in our magnificent train network (and why does sarcasm not have its own font specifically for its own use?) ceased to function after an entire inch of snow, for three days. Many cynics might point out how well other nations” infrastructures cope with much more severe weather conditions ““ Russia, for instance. What is more curious is that our underground network also struggles to cope with hot weather as well, as anyone struggling through the network this past week will have noticed. It seems that our technology mirrors our personalities, much as a dog imitates its master or mistress; we are happy, us and our machines, in neither hot nor cold weather, nor in wet nor dry weather.


The interesting part of this is the singular reluctance to carry through a logical thought process. If we do not like the cold, and the weather changes from cold, then it is likely to be hot. However, we are reluctant to invest in measures to make this sought after state of affairs palatable ““ air conditioning, fans, any form of ventilation in the underground network besides the fanning of newspapers and the heavy breathing of your neighbour. So a desire for a state of affairs, but a reluctance to do anything about it.

The furore today over the issue of prisoners being released early is a case in point. With convictions rising and the prisons overcrowded, something must be done to relieve the pressure. What has caused the current outcry has been the revelation that many dangerous criminals have been released early from custody and some, indeed, have embarked on foreign trips. The public, naturally, is outraged; equally understandably, they do not as a body sanction the early release of rapists and murderers so that they can go on holiday (it would be a challenge to find anyone who did< support this).

The solution lies within the remit of FE. Obviously many of these serious offenders would not be able to be released before their sentence dictated through training opportunities ““ education can do many things but many of these offenders are dangerous to themselves and to others. But many other offenders who end up in jail can be prevented from re-offending through improving their life chances when they are released from a short custodial sentence. This has been demonstrated time and again; education and training can reduce re-offending rates drastically, with a little investment.

But then, that is the key to the problem. Investment. To improve the levels of training provision in prisons and thus ease the pressure on the overloaded prison system, a substantial funding increase will have to be realised. In order to do this, the Government will have to funnel extra funds into this area, which will mean either raising taxes or diverting funding from another area of public service. The public will not accept a diminution of service; and generally a party proposing a rise in taxes has novelty value but proves unelectable.

The Government must shoulder the blame for this ludicrous situation, of course. After all, that is their job; they aren”t there simply to invite television crews in to watch football games with them. But the public has a share of blame to accept as well. We must accept that the solution to many of our problems, in this case education in prisons solving re-offending pressures, is a solution that will cost money.

Welcome to the 21st Century ““ you still can”t get something for nothing.

Jethro Marsh

Stay with FE News from Monday to Monday!

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