Trash-talking 'that new race of idlers'

6th September 2013 at 01:00

I am conducting research into elementary schools in England before the 19th-century "payment by results" system wrecked the extraordinary good work that had previously prevailed - similar, perhaps, to schools inspectorate Ofsted in a later century. I was intrigued to find out that William Cobbett - social reformer, and editor and publisher of the Two-Penny Trash, forerunner of Private Eye - was opposed to the state funding of church schools. Cobbett said that any state funding of private church elementary schools and the expansion of education would do nothing but increase the number of schoolteachers, "that new race of idlers". Perhaps if Cobbett was alive today he would have joined today's "new race of idlers", Ofsted.

Dr John Black, Bristol.

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