Fun Activities to Do on an England Vacation

Where are you headed to this year? Are you considering an England vacation? If you do, then it is one of the most promising tours that you can ever have. Being on a vacation is indeed a memorable event for you and your family. So if you need you are going out of a rural area with good friends or with your relatives, there’s one vital thing that comes around and that is your trip will involve spending money. Yet, you don’t need to worry that often because whatever amount that goes out of your pocket is equaled by the most unforgettable enjoyment, fun, and thrill! When all said and done, England is such a vast place that the attractions therein are valued visiting.

Fun Things to Keep You Busy during Your Stay

Alright so you’re searching forward to your stay in England. Of course the best place to visit is the famous city of London. Here are the lid 10 activities that should make up your list.

Go to the British Museum. If you need or not you are a history bug, the British Museum will surely fascinate you. It houses more than fifteen million of artifacts so the visit will open your eyes to its rich historical accounts in addition to provide you with an instructive see. Its numerous collections are unlikely to fail to stimulate your mood and if you get tired, you can invariably head towards the museum caf.

Capture the wonder of London Bridge by dusk. Being the renowned London icons, the bridge itself stands majestically across the River Thames. The river flows peacefully even though there is a general traffic jam over the bridge. Take photos of it at dusk and you will definitely love the scenery!

See the Huge Ben and the Time piece Tower. The time piece tower is considered to be the biggest four-faced chiming time piece with a captivating structural design. The Huge Ben whereas is the gigantic bell that is in a clock tower.

See for yourself the changing of the Queens’ Guards. Be sure not to miss this opportunity of witnessing the changing of the guards at the Buckingham Palace.

Tour the Westminster Palace. If you head to London on the summertime, you can grab an opportunity of getting into the palace and hearing of its educational and historical commentaries.

Go shopping at Harrods. If you want you want to buy or simply look around, this shopping place is truly worth your time. In here you will likewise see the memorial sculptures of Dodi Al Fayed and Princess Diana.

Walk around Trafalgar Square. You may not be in a position to feed the pigeons as it has been already banned yet outdoors square provides a great place for using some kind of walk.

Pay homage to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Gothic architecture have been destroyed by the fire in the year 1710 but it currently stands beautifully with fantastic facades. Do not forget to pass by its Whispering Gallery too.

Visit the London Eye. Take a full view of the city as you ride this Ferris Wheel.

Sit and marvel at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Plays and educational tours are offered therein so you could commemorate the historical essence of this place.

So, are you already up for the fun and adventure that an England vacation holds for you?

Parent Power – The Prime Hope For a Grass Roots Revival of English Education

This is my third investigative report into the parlous state of education in England’s state schools. The first argued for a massive reduction in the scale of government intervention; the second for a transfer of power to give teachers far more control of the education process. Now, in this final article, I want to highlight the vital role that can, and should, be played by parents, grandparents and local communities in helping youngsters develop their individual talents and skills, so they are not merely trained to earn a living, but more significantly to enjoy a fulfilling life and make a substantial contribution to the society they will eventually inherit..

Much is said today of the need to empower children and give them more control of the way their schools are run. This is an invaluable exercise in democracy as children mature, but must never be introduced in a way which weakens teacher autonomy and classroom discipline. One of the government’s recent items of backroom window dressing is ‘Student Voice’, a programme which invites children to rate their teachers’ performance. This, they now realize, gives youngsters the opportunity to downgrade teachers whom they judge to be too strict. Under this new initiative they’re also offered the chance of interviewing prospective new teachers, one applicant being humiliated by a request to sing his favourite song. Ill-conceived policies like these have led to a marked decline in discipline in schools. Practically every week there is a violent attack on a teacher in England. One fourteen-year-old boy sexually assaulted a classroom assistant. The head wanted him expelled, but the governors overturned his decision. A twelve year old boy was banned from an Essex school for carrying a knife, but was allowed back by an appeals panel. With this lax discipline, children will offend with impunity, and think that they can do the same when they leave school which is hardly what we want.

Children are being taught their rights, but not their responsibilities. Coordination Group Publications, one of the UK’s largest educational publishers, has sold thousands of copies of ‘Your Legal Rights’, a book which assures teenagers: ‘You have the right to be protected from emotional or physical abuse’. One of the examples it gives of physical abuse, is being made to take part in a cross country run. This was once thought to be an excellent way of getting fit, but clearly our aim now is not to encourage youngsters to maintain a high level of physical fitness, but to be able to take their place in a litigation culture. Children should we empowered, but at the same time they must be encouraged to recognise authority, and eventually assume positions of authority, for as Voltaire stressed, “firm discipline serves not only to punish the culprit, but also to ‘encourage the others’ to remain virtuous.”

Assuming that power can be wrenched from the government, and a large measure transferred to teachers and senior pupils, some must be retained and reassigned to parents and local communities. Parents are legally responsible for their children, and since they pay the bulk of the taxes which fund the state education system, they should have a powerful voice in the way that money is spent. In a democracy there should be no taxation without direct representation, as the Bostonians citizens argued when they thumbed their noses at the British government and held their highly successful Tea Party protest. There’s little doubt that if a referendum were held today, parents would vote against the rigid, exam based 3Rs national syllabus, in favour of a more liberal, diverse and flexible curriculum which took account not only of children’s needs, but also of teachers’ individual talents and enthusiasms. Classes must be adaptable, so they can respond to a child’s natural curiosity, whether it’s an interest is grasshoppers or a zeal for collecting foreign coins. So much schooling today is dull, and bears little relationship to the real world. A focus on passing tests does little to foster creativity, enthusiasm and a passion for lifetime study. At five the majority of children can’t wait to get to school; at sixteen most can’t wait to leave. Education should return to its etymological roots. It should be a process of drawing out (from the Latin educare), rather than a mindless regime of indoctrination. In the long run the only meaningful education is self-education, for what children learn at school today will be out of date in a few years time.

The educational aspirations of politicians fail, not because they’re too high, but because they’re set so abysmally low. A healthy education system needs diversity rather than mind numbing conformity. Families should be given the choice of sending their children to technical colleges, comprehensives, faith schools, secondary modern, grammar schools or public schools. Or, if they have the time and ability, why should they be hindered from joining the estimated twenty to fifty thousand parents in England who opt to teach their offspring at home? Again, why shouldn’t parents in England be given the chance to open ‘free schools’? This has been done with great success in Sweden where since 1955 local communities have the freedom to buy an appropriate building and turn it into an independent school. Parents are given a voucher to pay for their child’s education and can cash it in at any school they fancy, so long as it doesn’t charge any kind of ‘top up’ fees. Since this legislation was introduced well over a thousand free schools have opened and now educate more than one in ten of all Swedish pupils.

Success in life is not closely related to IQ scores, but is more intimately linked with personality factors, like determination, sociability, inventiveness, courage and motivation. Research shows that gifted children tend to be artistic, musical, good at sports, able to communicate easily with adults, have a lively and original imagination coupled with an ability to focus on their own interests rather than simply what is being taught in the school curriculum. Parents have been led to believe that education is about gaining diplomas and degrees, which is why almost half of the children at London state schools are now receiving private tuition to help them through their SATs and GCSEs. Children’s minds should not be crammed with facts. They should be given time to dream, which is the open sesame to creativity. Like the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland they should be encouraged to think that education includes believing half-a-dozen impossible things every morning before breakfast. At a good school, children should be trained to work together for the common good rather than in monastic isolation. This is not happening today in most UK schools according to a recent survey of eight countries where a sample of children was asked to reply to the statement: ‘Most of the students in my class are kind and helpful.’ In Switzerland over eighty per cent of children replied that this was true; in Britain only 43 per cent of children gave the same affirmative response, the lowest of all the countries polled. This is a sad commentary on our schools, and an even sadder reflection of the state of our divided society.

Many independent schools have a social service programme, an extra-curricular activity which encourages senior boys to go out into the community: to visit the elderly in their homes, do their shopping, help at day centres, work in charity shops, take food and clothing to homeless people and work at centres for the mentally handicapped. By doing so they gain as much as the people they serve. Why can’t a similar system be introduced in state schools? Gardening is another valuable extra-curricular activity, which can be carried out under the supervision of parents and grandparents whenever there’s an accessible plot of allotment land. Less than two years ago the Royal Horticultural Society launched a Campaign for Schools Gardening, which well over six thousand schools have now joined. Its objective is to give every youngster the opportunity to get a taste for gardening, and the opportunity to grow and learn about plants. Children should also be expected to perform chores, a duty which prepares them for the responsibilities of adult life. This is the belief of the charity help line www.parentlineplus.org.uk which claims that as well as being a confidence builder, ‘Chores can also teach children how to plan their own time, taking into consideration others’ needs’. This used to be taken for granted in most households, but is now largely forgotten, unless children are bribed to run an errand or clean the family car. A study carried out by Markella Rutherford, an assistant professor of sociology at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, revealed that American parenting magazines regularly advised families to give children routine tasks, like decorating, shopping, house cleaning, gardening and nursing sick relatives. This advice disappeared from the magazines in the 1980s. Since then, children’s only responsibility is to do their homework. This is regrettable, since the more trust we place in children, the more they will grow to justify that trust. Learning doesn’t stop when we complete our formal education, for as Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher affirmed: ‘A man should never stop learning, even on his last day.’ To recognise and promote the individuality of the pupil, and prepare them for a lifetime of exploration and growth, we must recognize and promote the individuality of each individual school.

Communities ought to form pressure groups to lobby for change in the educational system. Parents should join their local PTAs, to play an active role in the running of their schools. All too often we don’t protest because we think we’re powerless to change the status quo, but as Lord Justice Brandeis rightly observed: ‘The irresistible in often simply that which is not resisted.’ Many people campaigned against the 1902 Education Act, which abolished the board school system, and 170 parents went to prison for refusing to pay their school taxes. Would we be brave enough to do the same today? Schools should work in close conjunction with parents and local communities, and be subject to far less control from impersonal quangos and remote government departments. We must press for change at grass roots level to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving world, for as Thomas Edison observed more than a century ago: ‘If you are doing anything the way you did twenty years ago, there is a better way.’

Middle England Under Pressure to Pay New University Fees Up Front – Can Insurance Help?

So far, the impact of the recession has not really been felt by people who have kept their jobs. This is the case particularly for professionals and others who in the past would be described as ‘comfortably off’. This group represent a large section of British society that finds itself described as occupants of a mythical place called Middle England. However, as the Government looks for ways to balance the books, inevitably they will take more money from those who have it, rather than those who don’t. So Middle England look out! As the back bone of the tax paying, law abiding majority; you are the easiest source of revenue.

Since rechristened the ‘squeezed middle’ by the Labour Party, even those disinterested in politics have been watching with increasing alarm the gathering storm of Coalition benefit cuts and tax rises.

The combination of the removal of Child Benefit for households with one earner on 40% tax will be compounded by moves to lower the threshold for those who benefit from Tax Credits. However the real crunch will come in 2012 for families with children who are entering university for the first time. They will be hit by the planned tripling of university tuition fees.

Middle England realises how important a good education is to ensure it’s offspring achieve the best start in the world of work. This is now juxtaposed by the knowledge of just how damaging a large debt can be for their children’s future quality of life. For parents who have worked diligently to build up their savings to support sons and daughters through university, this hike in tuition fees has come as a bombshell.

Up until recently student debt was viewed as a necessary evil. However the modest loans and low interest rates made this acceptable. Now the proposed fees are close to three times higher, this has created a future tax nightmare for graduates. Causing more alarm, even among those who see £9000 per annum fees as inevitable, are the close to commercial rates of interest to be charged on those student loans. Parents are particularly aggrieved that their sons and daughters will be faced with a heavy debt burden, at the very time in their lives when they might be trying to set up homes of their own.

Although the final details have yet to be published, there is more than a suggestion that the Government are also looking at ways to penalise early repayment of these loans. Therefore, with its unavoidable interest charge, for the graduate, this will become a massive financial penalty for achieving future success. The political ramifications of this have yet to be fully understood, however the clock is counting down toward implementation. Many parents are already looking for ways to meet these tuition fees themselves to avoid a bleak financial future for their children.

Teenagers contemplating their university options are mindful of the potential weight of debt they would carry around their necks. They either need to be lucky enough to come from families that have the means to pay, or poor enough to qualify for a combination of benefits and bursaries to escape the majority of fees. Those students from England stuck in the middle may decide it simply is not worth going on to university. With minimum student living expenses of about £6000 per annum, when added to £9000 tuition fees each year, will mean a student will accumulate £45,000 of debt in just 3 years. When taking future interest payments into account, this could mean paying off nearer £50,000 over time.

Imagine a young couple who met at university and subsequently worked to achieve reasonably paid employment after a few years. They could easily have debt liabilities of close to £100,000 between them. That is ghastly and will add nothing to the willingness of mortgage providers to lend them enough to buy a home of their own. Many parents will have sacrificed a lot to enable their children to go to university. To see them subsequently struggle to even get on the property ladder, will engender deep resentment.

Indeed many hard working parents will openly question whether they should do anything to encourage their children to think about university, given the potential size of the financial millstone this will create for them. Will a full time university education prove to be only a luxury enjoyed by the rich and a means tested benefit for the poor? The children of the ‘squeezed middle’ being left to battle their way up the corporate ladder with the Open University offering one of the few debt free routes to a degree.

For the majority of children from Middle England who have recently commenced studying A levels, there are new risks that they will now need to assess regarding their future education. Unless they are very bright, with straight A’s to secure a place at a flagship institution, is there much point even thinking about university? However much fun student life might be, will the value they gain from an Arts degree at ‘Anywhere University’ be worth incurring so much debt?

The reaction of parents still digesting the ramifications of the new fee charging regime are as yet unknown. Many could be deciding to postpone retirement to work for several years yet to pay for their children to get through university relatively debt free. The need for more income will see many more dusting off their CV’s as well as demands for students to find better work to pay their way.

For parents, keeping their jobs and a second income coming in to get two children through University may become much more important. Inevitably contingency plans will need to be considered and Unemployment Insurance or Income Protection Insurance paying £1000 per month, if one of the parents is unable to work due to accident sickness or unemployment, could offer an answer. This insurance would guarantee the monthly income that many Middle England parents will soon see as essential for them to afford to pay for their child’s university education.

Dennis Haggerty, Marketing Manager of protection insurance specialist i:protect commented, “We see university fees creating a large and unexpected hole in the budgets of many families who simply cannot contemplate their children leaving university in so much debt. This in turn will create a demand for our product from a section of the market that hitherto could cope by taking money from their own savings if they were out of work. Now finding £15,000 per annum for each son or daughter at University, in addition to their usual household expenses, will drive the search for alternative sources of funding. For example, one of our policies with premiums of just £10 per week would pay £15,000 in benefits if the policyholder was unable to work for a year”

The lifetime habit of Middle England to support it’s children through university will be placed under severe strain. However, for the benefit of their children’s future, provided they are in work, most will ‘bite the bullet’ and pay as much as they can. More parents than ever may need to agree to pay the full cost of tuition fees for their offspring, just to convince them to take advantage of a university education. Otherwise many potential university students may refuse to go in fear of the financial consequences of their decision.

Helping to mitigate risk of lost earnings for parents contemplating paying these tuition fees ‘up front’ is worth consideration. Those same parents will soon be attending university open days for their sons and daughters to weigh up their options for future education. It would be nice to have the confidence that a minimum guaranteed income would be received, even if one of the parents were out of work for some time. Unemployment Protection or Income Protection Insurance does offer a viable ‘plan b’ in an uncertain job market.