Flying the Flag, Costing the Earth?

England flag flying from a car, World Cup 2010, South AfricaOK, so I object to anyone flying our national flag who feels the need for the word England to be printed across the middle. But is there a better reason for banning the flags flown from car doors?

Flags are not very aerodynamic, and cause drag, making the car burn more petrol than normal. One to two percent more than normal, so over the couple of months before and during the World Cup in South Africa, each car with a pair of small flags will use an extra five litres (or a gallon) of petrol.

If a million cars in England (almost typed the UK there — but no-one in Scotland will be flying the Cross of St George!) had two flags each, that amounts to five million litres of petrol spent dragging flags around the country's roads.

Banning these silly little flags would have the same environmental effect as shutting down a large power station for five days, and save British motorists over five million pounds of expense. It is enough petrol to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools,

So what is holding the government back in these days of austerity?

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General Teaching Council 1998-2010 RIP

Michael Gove, the new Education Secretary, has announced that the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) is to be abolished in the autumn, and not a moment too soon.

It has cost a small fortune to run and was never going to be a rallying point for teacher professionalism, and has failed even to act as a guarantor of teacher quality by disciplining us.

When the GTCE was created in 1998, it had so few teachers paying their subscriptions, even under the threat of de-registration, that it had to arrange for salary deductions to cover its expenses. I, like many other teachers, saw no benefit in the extra layer of bureaucracy. All teachers were already registered with the government Department for Education (and its heirs and successors), many were also members of unions and teacher subject groupings (such as the ASE) and felt we were already quite well represented and regulated.

For my own part, I did not pay any subs until salary deductions started, I responded to no letters, and was pleased that when I moved to a Sixth Form college which didn't require my registration, the GTCE was unable to take any further money. I had a letter saying that I would be de-registered (struck off) if I didn't pay up, so I was surprised that two years later they wrote again to say I owed them two years' payments. They couldn't even get that right.

The GTCE is, and always has been, a complete irrelevance to teachers. When it finally goes, few will notice and none will care.

So what did the GTCE say on hearing the good news? Did they respond by apologising for wasting everyone's time and money? Promise to do better? No, they said that they were "seeking legal advice on (their) position".

Parliament will surely vote to abolish the GTCE later in the year, and it can be finally buried, unloved and unmissed, in the graveyard of the Quangos.

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