Pupils should do sums
Sam Ud-din of the National Union of Teachers states he does not agree with the withdrawal of calculators for national curriculum Sats (Gazette, May 15).
Either this gentleman or myself seem to be not living in the real world.
I find nothing wrong with adults using calculators in their everyday life in either work or leisure.
I find everything wrong in 11-year-olds leaving primary school unable to cope with even simple mathematics without the help of a computer.
Pupils have six years at primary school plus the help of parents/grandparents etc, to learn enough of the basics to prepare them for the rigours of a secondary school education.
Are we seriously expected to believe that the above cannot be achieved without the use of calculators?
Due to my own faults, my own education left a lot to be desired but I did achieve a reasonable level in both maths and English to enable me to attend secondary school when calculators were nonexistent.
How many times have we all read in the last few years that over a third of children leaving primary school are totally unable to cope in secondary school?
Perhaps this is due to the shortsightedness of people who come out with statements that appear to deny pupils even the basics of an education because it’s much easier to let them use a calculator.
Decide taxes centrally
In response to Simon Blackburn’s cry of the north losing out to the south on council tax in his latest outburst (Gazette, May 16), as far as I am concerned this is just another example of shouting more, more.
But if successful it would only mean they would have more money to waste.
Just like the police they waste public funds then dip into our (the public) pockets for more or cut services, all of which is why I would advocate the total abolition of council tax in favour of central control.
My wife and I pay double council tax as it is.
Though far from perfect, with central government control, at least we would not have to suffer so much local mismanagement and central funding decisions would be academically based on a pro-rata basis.
Decisions made locally on taxes will always be based on unscrupulous thinking.
It begs questions such as, why are there new council offices being built during this long recession while there is a claimed massive shortfall of funds and the council is having to lose public service personnel at the same time?
Same story with the police who I believe are proposing to have new premises built while apparently unable to find the necessary funding for their services.
We live in times of appalling irresponsibility of those in positions of local decision making which affects our lives! When is it going to stop?
Let us check who voted
Every voter whose name is on the electoral roll is identified by a unique number which is reproduced on the ‘poll card’ which is delivered to you.
It helps if you bring this card to the polling station, as most people do, although you can still vote if you haven’t got it with you.
There is nothing secret about this poll card number.
Every candidate can have a copy of the electoral roll for the area in which they are standing.
Electoral Law allows a representative of each candidate,(teller), identified usually by a rosette, to be outside the polling station and to ask voters on their way in for their poll card number.
The tellers usually co-operate so each has a complete list of who has voted.
There is nothing sinister about this.
It does not allow anyone to identify who you are voting for.
Even if you have told a person representing a particular candidate during the campaign who you intend to support you can vote for someone quite different and no one will be able to find that out from your number.
You can also refuse to give it.
The principal purpose of the ‘telling’ exercise is to prevent you being pestered by a representative of each candidate wanting to urge you to vote.
Obviously if it is known you have already voted you are spared this chasing.
For reasons best known to himself the Returning Officer for the North West has exercised his legal right to forbid tellers asking for the poll card number on the way in to the polling station.
They may only ask on the way out.
Most people do not remember their poll number and leave their card in the polling station since it has no further use.
Thus the very simple process of preventing you being chased up is wrecked unless, on this occasion, you hang on to your pollcard so that, after you exit the polling station after voting you can give your number to the tellers.