ACCORDING to the Department for Education, Swindon’s primary schools are among the worst in the country for literacy and maths.

Perhaps you were a little perplexed by this revelation, as other data suggests our schools are doing very nicely, thank you.

Indeed, 89 per cent are rated good or better by Ofsted, which puts us a full three per cent of the national average.

As if this were not strange enough, the Key Stage 2 results suggest we’re bouncing along the bottom in overall writing ability, but are somehow 46th best in the country for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Call me a cynic if you must, but the whole Key Stage 2 process seems to be a complete load of twaddle.

Perhaps these pubs are not the problem

THE council is considering preventing new pubs and clubs from opening in the Broad Green area of Swindon.

It seems bevvied folk have been making a nuisance of themselves, so the idea of the ban is to reduce the availability of booze.

Well, that makes perfect sense to me. Our elected representatives and the officials we employ are once again proving just how well-founded our faith in them is.

Broad Green isn’t the only part of this borough to have a problem with roaming drunks and their antisocial behaviour, of course.

Many’s the neighbourhood where long-suffering ordinary people are under siege from connoisseurs of grape, grain and possibly turps or anything that can be sucked from the fuel tanks of parked cars with a long straw.

Perhaps there’s a pub whose management aren’t too picky about who they let in. Perhaps it has the sort of clientele who make extras from The Walking Dead look healthy in comparison. Perhaps they pick fights with each other, with passers-by or with their own reflections in the glass of bus stops and phone boxes.

Perhaps every chucking out time is also chucking up time, and children heading for school the next morning have to play a kind of hopscotch that isn’t any fun at all.

Or perhaps the problem isn’t a pub but an off licence or some other shop permitted to sell booze.

Perhaps drunkards, their pockets rattling with coins they’ve threatened people into handing over, line up to buy cans of super lager, dodgy wine or mysterious spirits bearing brand names most people have never heard of.

Perhaps those drunks bring added interest to the local quality of life with their staggering, their cheery obscenities and their lack of shyness about performing certain bodily functions in broad daylight.

If you or I were confronted by such a scenario and had the power to do something about it, we’d probably get things wrong.

We might, for example, make sure the police and the licensing authorities had the personnel they needed to enforce certain rules, such as the one allowing dodgy pubs to be shut down.

Another mistake we might make would be to have anybody behaving anti-socially arrested and charged. We might also make the error of demanding that magistrates and judges sent repeat offenders to a place where the only drink to be had was fermented from winegums and mouldy fruit, strained through a mucky sock and hidden in a plastic bag down a toilet.

That’s why the likes of us aren’t suitable to be in charge.

Clearly a far better solution is to ban all new pubs and off licences.

It might seem a little unfair to ordinary law-abiding people deprived of choice, and also a little unfair to businesses wanting to offer that choice, but we must all make sacrifices for the common good.

We’ll all be safer and happier in the long run.

It’s not as if the drunks will just continue to buy their booze from wherever they currently get it.

  • SOME 3,000 people have put their names to a petition against the building of waste disposal plant at the South Marston Keypoint site.

    Energy company Rolton Kilbride insists they want to build an energy centre, but protesters describe it as an incinerator and fear for their health and quality of life.

    Clearly Rolton Kilbride must do something to calm local fears.

    I suggest that it amends its proposal to include a compact family home in the grounds, complete with a nice garden.

    The company should then pledge that for as long as the plant operates, its executives will take turns to occupy the house with their spouses and children in stints of, say, five years.

  • RICHARD Davey and his wife, Tania, were hauled before a court under truancy laws after taking their son on a five-day term time holiday.

    The child otherwise has a near-perfect attendance record.

    They were duly acquitted following an outbreak of common sense in the legal system.

    Many of you will be wondering why it often seems to be people such as Mr and Mrs Davey who are prosecuted in these cases, rather than the sort of people who allow their children to skip classes for months or years on end.

    It’s quite simple, really.

    People whose children have near-perfect attendance records apart from a few days’ holiday are easier to get at because they have more to lose.

    Try to prosecute people who drag their unfortunate children up instead of raising them, and you’ll have nothing but trouble.

    Officials are likely to be sworn at or clobbered, the threat of court holds no terrors, the chances are that they’ll have been through the system enough times to know exactly how to wriggle out of the charges, fines won’t be paid and the children still won’t go to school.

    It’s far better to target respectable people, as they’re more likely to quietly plead guilty under the threat of having their reputation trashed in a public court hearing.

    Should anybody object, officials can insist they’re doing it to protect children – even if the children in question didn’t need protecting in the first place.