Today marks exactly four weeks since starting my job at Four Communications, a Marketing and PR agency. It’s been an interesting four weeks, mainly because of how new everything is. I’ve never had an ‘office’ type job before, but I’ve heard a lot about the infamous culture of the office, so as an ‘outsider’ to this new world, I thought I’d make a few mental notes on what I was experiencing.
Yesterday, author Roald Dahl’s widow revealed that Charlie was black but Dahl was persuaded to make him white. I find it so interesting the concept of white washing can be found tucked away in a book that was written more than 54 years ago. I know some people will think Charlie’s skin colour is not that deep, but to me this revelation points to a valuable home truth people of colour need to learn.
Last night I accompanied my cousin Rachel Nwokoro to the Totally Thames launch party, for 1-30th September Thames Festival Trust annual celebrations of the River Thames. Now at first, to any Londoners like myself, there’s not much to celebrate about the Thames, but I’ll explain why last night gave me a new found appreciation for England’s most notorious river.
I hate to break it to you, but they just might be.
For decades, the feminist movement has prioritised the problems of the middle-class white woman and scapegoated the problems faced by minorities. It has failed to address the experiences faced by the less-abled, non-white, non-cisgendered women.
Over the last two years, A-levels have been changing. The new A-level system sees some
subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and History using a new linear system of examination. Previously, A-levels were conducted on a modular basis, whereby students carried out AS examinations in their first year of sixth-form which equalled to 50% of their overall grade. In the second year, students took their A2 examinations which constitutes towards the final 50% of their A-level grade. Some subjects such as Maths and Politics followed the modular system this year but are currently being reformed. Under the new linear system, students take their final exams at the end of their two years at sixth form. Students fear that the new reforms are not accurately representing their efforts.
Sixth form student Kamsi claims that the new A-levels “[are not] a fair representation of a student’s academic commitment. Testing two years worth of content is unfair and it doesn’t give students the opportunity to showcase what they have actually learnt.”
The problem that many students have found is that under the new system they are in a
constant battle in the second year to remember the information that they learnt in the first. This often makes learning the second years’ content a lot harder as much of the information consumed is not properly digested as there is frankly too much content.
Under the old system, students were able to learn the first years’ content and take the
exams which counted towards their final grade. This meant that students did not have to
learn both years of content which made the volume of content much more manageable.
Fears have been cast over the effects that the reforms have on the mental health of
A-level student Ijaz Sultan explains “[a] trend among my peers in my college, in particular, was a growing doubt in [their] ability to do well.”
This belief has proven to be common among students undertaking the reformed A-levels. A larger volume of content to remember has seen exam pressure amongst students reach a new peak with many students finding it difficult to cope with the stress. The A-level system and the UK’s education, in general, has often been criticised for not teaching students to be creative or open minded but instead teaching students how to think.
A-level student Ivan, who has undertaken the new reforms, suggests “Linear A-levels just shows that the qualifications are designed to see how well you can remember lots of information [and] not actually educate you.”
Critics of the new system have highlighted the exam boards failures to sufficiently prepare students for the reformed examinations with claims that not enough specimen papers were produced to give students a chance to prepare for the new exams.
Later today, students across the country will be opening the envelopes containing the
grades that universities will be using to measure their abilities. Reports from various outlets have suggested that grade boundaries will be lowered to ensure that education standards do not fall and so that students’ efforts are fairly represented by the grades they receive.
This is bad news for the reforms which were implemented to improve standards nationally.
Striving to fill a massive gap in British news media, The Common Sense Network offers a solution to the lack of media plurality which sees just 3 companies own 71% of the UK’s newspaper market and the crippling polarisation that exists between the political left and right. TCS is attempting an ambitious yet possible task of having a 100% public funded news network for millennials by millennials, taking back ownership of our stories from the old boys whilst creating a platform for us all to engage with.
At least 80 lives have been lost in the Grenfell tower fire, with numbers expected to rise as many more are still unaccounted for, with children amongst those still missing.
“Architect Sam Webb says breaches of fire safety standards in the UK are common and lessons from Lakanal House have not been learned” — The Guardian
“We are still wrapping postwar high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down.” — Sam Webb
According to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) “For life safety, new residential blocks over 30m high must be fitted with sprinklers to meet Approved Document B standards”. In other words buildings which are 30m or more in height, literally require sprinklers to reduce the risk of death in the case of a fire.
Grenfell Tower did not only not have a sprinkler system installed but also stands almost 70m tall.
BAFSA Sprinkler Facts:
Losses from fires in buildings protected with sprinklers are estimated to be 1/10 of those in unprotected buildings.
In buildings fully protected by sprinklers:
99% of fires were controlled by sprinklers alone
60% of fires were controlled by the spray from no more than 4 sprinklers
Despite lessons that should have been learned from previous disasters, in addition to recommendations from BAFSA, coroners and a host of other fire safety experts, sprinkler instalment is still only a recommendation and not a legal requirement. That is, all high-rise buildings are not bound by law to be retrofitted with sprinklers. Former housing minister Gavin Lewis stated that it is not the “responsibility” of the government to pass such a law.
This blatant disregard for human life did not go unnoticed by fire experts and those in the public domain alike, some of whom took to Twitter to highlight the issue. One of the most outspoken on the topic was award-winning artist and writer Akala, who lives in the area.
These strong opinions seem to be shared across the country. MP David Lammy even went so far as to state that:
There is a strong sense that someone must be held accountable for the disaster which claimed innocent lives and destroyed families in what seems to have been an entirely avoidable event. Grenfell Tower, lacked the structural robustness to prevent a fire. This is not an isolated incident, many tower blocks across the country fail to meet fire prevention regulations and are retrofitted with cheap, lightweight but extremely combustible rain clad panels.
“contractors used the cheapest aluminium coated panels, which are reportedly outlawed in the United States over safety fears, as part of a £10m regeneration of the tower block last year.” — ES
Many of these buildings happen to house some of Britain’s poorest families.
How many more people must die before the preservation and safety of human life is treated as a priority?
“We are in one of the richest spaces not just London but in the world. Repeated requests were ignored. There is no way that rich people would be living in a building without adequate fire safety.”
“Everybody I spoke to couldn’t hear alarms, there was no sprinkler system…”
How many devastating fires does it take to teach a Tory a lesson?
Despite the Labour Party’s efforts to pass an amendment designed to ensure all rental properties were “fit for human habitation”, opposition from the Conservative Party ensured that they did not succeed.
Theresa May’s new Police and Fire Minister, Nick Hurd, was among the careless opposing group, all of whom happen to be private Landlords themselves making additional income from property.
However, both the Conservatives & the Labour Party have failed to make the necessary changes needed to improve fire safety regulations.
I recently watched an episode of the American TV show Black-ish which makes hilarious yet deep remarks about being Black. One episode highlighted the complications of identity faced by Biracial people. The act of defining yourself can be somewhat challenging, coming from two different cultures can sometimes make it difficult to find a sense of belonging. Many people feel that it is their right to label you, whether their term is offensive or not is irrelevant. Some terms deem you as human, some don’t. They range from Biracial, Mixed-Race, Dual-Heritage, half-caste, half-breed, exotic, the list goes on.