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The Press – Yardley Column. Feb 2

THE SCHOOL RUN.

Did you know that a third of British primary school children have no idea where they live? It’s particularly bleak in Wales, where a staggering 57% of school kids are driven to school. Consequently, only 41% of Welsh kids know their home address.  I suspect Christchurch wouldn’t fare much better, given our addiction to the school limousine service. It never ceases to amaze me how smooth our roads flow, during school holidays. But with that little perk about to expire, Canterbury University’s  Professor Simon Kingham is pleading for better public transport and separated cycling facilities, to encourage school kids out of the car. He wants us to spend mega-bucks on light rail for school, because trains are more “attractive” than buses. How ridiculous. The Christchurch Metro bus service is the nation’s best. Professor Kingham is unnecessarily complicating a very simple solution.  Walk! What better way is there to start the school day than with a proper breakfast, exercise and a mind-alerting stroll? You’ll be the teacher’s pet in no time. Plus, your local geographic knowledge will be streets ahead of the Welsh. May 2013 be the Year of the Foot Patrol. Giving your little darling the daily door-to-door service  is super-sized decadence –  and no doubt, you could do with a brisk daily walk, as well.

Search & Strike.

The Christchurch teacher unions are doubling-down on their planned strike on February 19, even though the closure & merger verdict is not in. What’s the point in flexing the muscles of union militancy, so prematurely? The unions should instead focus their fire at the planned sanitisation of school search and seizure powers. Under the Education Amendment Bill, teachers will only be able to “ask” a pupil to surrender a prohibited item. They cannot search any pupil or any bag, forcibly remove a prohibited item, or use sniffer dogs to search for drugs. Several Christchurch schools, including Shirley Boys, have enlisted sniffer dogs, to pro-actively snuff-out the scourge of drugs. The Ministry’s emasculation of these search and seize powers, must be reversed.

Almighty Johnson.

It’s the season of the slow strip-tease. Eight months out from election day, the pre-campaign circus of candidate speculation, sounding out prospects and testing the waters is underway. Sam Johnson would be a formidable council candidate, with impressive credentials. A natural leader, an inspirational community organiser, an ideas man and a true believer in the power of community. I couldn’t  believe how many critics hurled their venal and churlish bile, on The Press website, deriding Johnson as a politically motivated show pony.  I’m not surprised Sam hasn’t decided whether City Hall is for him. For such a pragmatic individual, would he feel like a caged cat on council?7031646

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