Stories from 1999:

Saving the skills of reporting

Published December 1999.

Some of the best-known journalists in the country are joining forces to teach a 48-hour crash course in investigative reporting. We plan to turn our own stories inside out to expose the techniques we use. David Leigh is going to unpack the saga of Jonathan Aitken; Paul Foot is going to look back at notorious miscarriages of justice; John Ware will talk about his work on the secret state in Northern Ireland; and I am going to explain how I spent the best part of 18 months investigating a murderous paedophile ring and never got a word into print.

The mystery of the Mayans

Published December 1999.

Once, the world was full of mysteries, some of them frightening, some of them wonderful, some of them merely fascinating, but now, it can be a banal and predictable place, the tracks of daily life so well-beaten and defined, our culture awash with the imbecile obvious, our existence suffocating in safety. But mysteries remain.

How to rape and get away with it

Published October 1999.

One of the most prolific sex offenders in British criminal history yesterday admitted a series of kidnaps, rapes and assaults, leaving the home office to explain how he managed to attack two of his victims while he was serving a prison sentence for an earlier armed robbery.

Getting away with serial rape – the story of Clive Barwell

Published September 1999.

At about half past two in the afternoon on May 14 1993, a 23-year-old woman from Leicestershire drove her mother’s car into the centre of Nottingham and parked on the ground floor of the concrete multi-storey car park which squats on the edge of the Broadmarsh shopping centre. For a few moments, she sat there, sorting through her handbag.

How the government used and abused educational research

Published September 1999.

The greatest dream of all good experts is to find a government who will listen and turn their research into reality. Some succeed. Peter Mortimore did. But the greatest frustration for any expert is to have found a government who finally listened – and ended up misunderstanding.

Poverty and education: the evidence

Published September 1999.

This is the secret that everyone knows: the children of poor families are far less likely to do well in school than those whose parents are affluent. For the last ten years, this has been almost buried in denial. “Poverty is no excuse,” according to the Department for Education. Neverthless, it is the key. As everyone knows.

Poverty invades the classroom

Published September 1999.

This is the moment. The teacher with the Bleeper has legs like an ostrich and takes the stairs three at a time. Within 30 seconds, he has reached the classroom which has called for help and there, he wades into the confusion. The trouble is Terence.

Chris Woodhead and his unreliable facts

Published September 1999.

They really don’ t know . The world of education is rather like the world of the Fortean Times, the journal of strange phenomena. A few years ago, the magazine totted up the number of reports which they had been sent from around the world that year describing bizarre and inexplicable events. They compared the total to the number of similar reports which they had received the previous year involving various freaks and flying saucers and concluded that the world had become 3.5% weirder.

Critical Mass: the research that supports the ideal of comprehensive education

Published September 1999.

At its root, the idea of a comprehensive school rests on the possibility of using bright middle class children as an asset for the educational system, to be distributed like fertiliser to help the poorer children grow. But does it work?

The killing of the comprehensives

Published September 1999.

Once upon a time, in the late 1960s, well-meaning politicians accepted the
most progressive idea in the history of British education. They decided to
establish a national network of new schools which would deal equally with
all children, providing a free secondary education for all students of all
backgrounds, without favour of class or ability. They called these new
schools ‘comprehensive’.

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