Poor Ravel

The peculiar, angular residence perched above Montfort-l’Amaury and resembling the prow of a ship, or so exclaimed a mischievous student who likened the house to a poorly cut slice of Camembert, was purchased by Maurice Ravel in 1921. With the help of his inheritance, the composer restored the house to his liking – a meticulous and eclectic design that came at no small expense since the abode lacked running water and electricity.

Ravel found the house to be an optimal retreat, close enough by train to Paris to indulge in the bright lights and the big city but secluded enough in the midst of Rambouillet forest within a short ride for long walks, provided the weather and work permitted.

Bolero, the most frequently performed classical music piece globally, was written in the same house where Ravel resided in 1928. Bolero’s swift composition for a dancer friend has been used on countless occasions in ad campaigns, Olympic games such as Torvill and Dean’s 1984 win, and significantly the score for Dudley Moore and Bo Derek’s iconic 10 romantic scene.

Ravel’s Bolero, according to the composer himself, reflects his fascination with the well-oiled pounding of heavy machinery. However, some see it differently as a ‘veritable hymn to desire’ and ‘an exaltation of the erotic.’ It’s estimated that Bolero plays somewhere around the world every 15 minutes. It has been one of France’s top musical exports for decades, generating revenue for both classical and contemporary music.

Despite Ravel’s oeuvre bringing in millions in royalties, anticipated to be in the public domain around 2015, most of his work aims to fund £1.5m annually, resulting in around £40m to date. Curator Claude Moreau intends to shed light on where all that money goes.

Belvedere, Ravel’s house, is open to visitors frequently throughout the year, with 3000 people making the pilgrimage annually. Moreau, the sprightly curator, leads visitors through its minuscule interior. Here, Ravel, a compulsive collector, stored his belongings and sat by his rosewood piano.

Belvedere is mostly intact, the same way Ravel left it before passing away during brain surgery in 1937 to address a degenerative disease. It is full of surprises that range from Dadaist teacups with holes in the bottom to a porcelain ashtray bearing the words, "Who burnt my table-cloth?"

While the Belvedere house is a sight to behold, there are moments of gloom and sadness. The carpets are threadbare, the silk curtains disintegrating with time, while the ceilings are cracked. The house suffered a pipe burst, causing water damage in Ravel’s bedroom, leaving wrecked wallpaper and bulging, crumbled masonry requiring a new roof and overhaul, despite not requiring significant funding.

Regardless, the French national museum, and surprisingly, the right owners of Bolero royalties, have refused to pay. Thus the composer’s house continues to rot away, despite raising millions on its own and earning additional income from royalties.

The story of the missing Bolero millions is a saga of artists’ rights and one of the most significant in history. It is a messy tale with manipulative confidants, Machiavellian schemes, a will rewritten, and conniving lawyers.

The subplot starts with Ravelito, aka Maurice Ravel, the childless, unmarried composer who left everything to his brother Edouard until his passing. Edouard then turned the Montfort-l’Amaury house into a museum, with Celeste Albaret as its eccentric concierge, who had served as Marcel Proust’s housekeeper. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until Edouard and his wife were involved in a severe car accident in 1954. The Tavernes, comprising a 48-year-old nurse and her husband, stepped in to take care of the couple. When Edouard’s wife passed two years later, the Tavernes took over and never looked back.

Upon returning home, Edouard Taverne inexplicably changed his mind and made Jeanne Taverne Ravel’s sole inheritor, despite the objections of publisher René Dommange who wanted the rights to benefit French music. Jean-Jacques Lemoine, legal director of Sacem, who knew Ravel’s worth, observed the ensuing legal battles between the Taverne and Ravel’s Swiss relatives, freezing all money coming into Ravel’s account until Alexandre Taverne won the case and received at least £3.6m. Lemoine, who resigned from Sacem and took Taverne as his first client, helped Taverne secure a portion of the publisher’s rights through a reworking of Dommange’s contracts and formed Arima to manage Ravel’s works. In 1972, the Tavernes gave Arima a portion of their publisher’s and composer’s rights, leaving the family with nothing, whereas Lemoine was the sole recipient of £30m of ill-begotten cash. Scarano, former proprietor of Durand, disputes this, claiming Arima is a joint publisher with Durand, but it remains unclear why the Tavernes gave Arima half their publisher’s rights and what Arima’s purpose is, considering its vague shareholder structure and offshore location in Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands.

While standing on the balcony of the abode of the composer, Claude Moreau had a sorrowful gaze aimed at the verdant fields that were situated past the Montfort-l’Amaury church. It was at that moment that she expressed herself in an agreeable manner about the situation. She didn’t possess the monetary funds needed to repair the curtains, carpets or even the roof. Claude voiced her disapproval, stating that it was a scandalous and disrespectful act to the memory of Ravel. The dire circumstances which the abode was currently in had caused Claude’s concern to grow, as without the proper financial backing it would soon be too late for any restorations to take place.

Sample LNat Questions


Examining the following argument:

"The existence of mentally ill offenders in our prisons is a shameful reality. Punishment serves its purpose of deterrence, but this requires a rational person, one who comprehends the consequences of their actions. By definition, mentally ill individuals lack complete rationality, making deterrence ineffective, and therefore raising questions about their incarceration."

1. Which of the following assumptions is implicit in the argument?

(a) There are many mentally ill people who are incarcerated.

(b) Incarceration of the mentally ill is deplorable.

(c) Imprisonment is a type of punishment.

(d) A reasonable person understands their actions’ probable outcomes.

(e) If one cannot be deterred, they should not be incarcerated.

2. What is the flaw in the argument?

(a) There is no explanation provided about the definition of mental illness employed.

(b) The argument presumes that prison is shameful.

(c) The argument suggests a complex review of the use of prisons as a punitive measure.

(d) The argument does not allow for the possibility of inmates contracting mental illness while incarcerated.

(e) The argument relies heavily on statistical data.

3. Which of the following best represents the author’s beliefs in the argument?

(a) Imprisonment should be used as a last resort.

(b) Mental illness is a medical issue and requires treatment, not incarceration.

(c) Imprisonment is the only punishment for non-mentally ill offenders.

(d) All actions have consequences.

(e) Punishment’s purpose is not to rehabilitate.

Examining the following passage:

"As a child grows, the idea of submitting their conscience to an adult’s mind appears less reasonable. However, unless there is a deficiency in moral development, one-sided obedience typically develops into mutual respect and cooperation, which represents the equilibrium state of affairs. Our contemporary society relies on cooperation as a standard, and a child’s moral development accelerates with good examples."

4. Which of the following summarizes the passage’s primary point?

(a) Children who do not learn from good moral models remain developmentally stunted.

(b) Adults should not rely solely on their authority in parenting older children.

(c) Society can only function based on collaboration.

(d) Modern society’s normative values accelerate a child’s moral growth.

(e) Young children lack reverence for people or values.

5. Which of the following claims does the author make?

(a) Cooperation is the natural method of interaction between adults.

(b) Yielding to someone’s authority is disrespectful.

(c) Young children learn cooperation from the moral guidance of adults.

(d) Adults in modern society always have mutual respect.

(e) Children develop in a range of ways.

Anne Sanderson Obituary

Anne Sanderson, my late mother-in-law, passed away at 85 years old, leaving behind a legacy as a passionate education advocate in and beyond South Yorkshire. Her advocacy for the rights of all children, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds, to have access to top quality education was fueled by her desire for every child to achieve their full potential.

Anne’s career was filled with notable achievements, starting as deputy head and headteacher at several Sheffield schools in the late 1970s. Later, she became a renowned senior lecturer in primary education at Sheffield Polytechnic, authoring several outstanding books on early years teaching, including the well-received Models for Writing series, in conjunction with Chris Buckton. Her career ended as a senior adviser to Barnsley schools with a specialty in language development and English. Her expertise was also requested to improve teaching standards in Saudi Arabia, Hungary, and Hong Kong.

In addition to her professional achievements, Anne was also a long-serving Ofsted inspector, equipping many others to follow in her footsteps. She cared deeply about helping every child reach their full potential, which was evident in her efforts to connect with each child. I remember one instance where Anne visited a student who had become electively mute. While waiting to talk to the teacher, she noticed a girl painting at an easel and started an animated conversation with her. She later found out that the child she had been talking to was the electively mute student.

Anne’s passion for education sprouted from humble beginnings. She was born in Barnsley, the oldest of two sisters, to Colin Wildsmith and Amelia (nee Atkinson). Unfortunately, the sisters lost their mother while they were young children and their father, a miner, was unable to raise them. As a result, their mother’s sister, Auntie Dinah, who worked extra hours cleaning Barnsley bus station’s toilets, took them in and raised them with their other cousins.

Despite adversity, Anne passed her 11-plus exam, earning a spot in a prestigious grammar school. However, the school did not inform her family of her success, thinking that they couldn’t afford the uniform. Auntie Dinah was infuriated by this, and began cleaning even more toilets to help cover the cost. Eventually, Anne earned a higher education certificate at Sheffield University (1970), a BA in education, language development, and psychology at the Open University (1977), and an MA in English language and linguistics at Sheffield University (1983).

She met her husband, Bob, at a steelworks dance in Chapeltown, and they shared a love of rock’n’roll jive dancing throughout their marriage. Anne is survived by Bob, their two daughters, Jackie and my wife Jane, her sister Janet, as well as her grandchildren. Her memory lives on as a beacon of hope and inspiration to all those whose lives she touched with her unyielding passion for education and dedication to helping others.

The Ex-head Of Harrow Who Now Offers Advice On Plumbing And Hairdressing

As a publisher seeking a book about the experiences of students who fall into the lower 50% of academic performance, you wouldn’t typically choose a 64-year-old former headmaster of Harrow as your author. Nor would you select a title like "Other People’s Children," which implies that readers’ children must be high achievers. Nevertheless, Barnaby Lenon, who spent his career teaching in prestigious private schools, managed to find a publisher for such a book, which was published this summer.

Lenon admits that writing about the experiences of students who do not pursue A-levels or university was presumptuous of him, as he spent his entire career working with students who do so. However, he decided to undertake the task when he found it difficult to locate a simple guide to vocational education. Lenon researched his findings by examining training and qualifications for occupations such as plumbers, chefs, mechanics, hairdressers, and care workers, primarily for those in the lower 50% of their class.

Lenon’s book, "Other People’s Children," occasionally feels like the report of a 19th-century explorer providing observations on savage lands, as he discusses vocational education and qualifications in these occupations. Although the book reads like a textbook and isn’t something you would bring to the beach, it contains a comprehensive analysis of the ills of English education for 14- to 19-year-olds.

The unusual aspect of Lenon’s writing is that, despite his career in private education, he appears to have separated the insights he gained from researching his book from his opinions as a private school head. In "Other People’s Children," Lenon contends that the most significant issue facing English education is inadequate support for students in the lower half of the academic proficiency range and cautions that addressing their needs should be a top priority for any education secretary.

Lenon’s book explains that the current focus on strengthening the academic aspects of 11-18 education has severely impacted students’ weaker half, who now spend too much time on academic components. Michael Gove’s abolition of modular GCSEs further hampered them by preventing termly exams that would allow less academic students to focus better.

However, Lenon does not believe that Gove’s educational reforms were entirely misguided. Gove recognized that England was falling behind some far eastern countries in education and that a degree of dumbing down had taken place. Similarly, Lenon does not advocate for doing away with the current A-level systems’ narrow specialization. Instead, he believes that students should focus on subjects they enjoy to motivate them further, as he experienced in his own life. In "Other People’s Children," Lenon emphasizes that essential life-determining choices occur for English students when they are just 16-years-old, often without knowledge of the employment outcomes of their decisions. He believes that this is one of reason there is a low enrollment rate in Stem courses.

Lenon exudes confidence akin to that of a successful headteacher, even when his statements may seem contradictory, resulting in difficulty discerning his true standpoint. Despite this, Lenon is on a journey and I inquire if I may report this. He confirms that he is indeed on a journey, but I wonder if he comprehends the arduous task teachers undergo daily, as many students do not favor any one school subject, causing disheartenment among state school teachers regularly.

However, this does not undermine the critical messages relayed in Lenon’s book. Firstly, funding for FE colleges is insufficient, substantially less than schools and universities, creating larger equipment costs and mandatory smaller class sizes. Secondly, though the UK has an influx of graduates, there is a scarcity of individuals with intermediate skills requiring qualifications higher than A-levels but below degree level. A mere 36% of the population possess such skills, in comparison with an OECD average of 44%, with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic exceeding 60%.

Thirdly, England’s vocational education system is a long-established, disreputable mess, with a bewildering myriad of 163 organizations, offering 20,000 different vocational qualifications, of which 30 are solely for plumbing. With the development of NVQs, diplomas, Applied Generals, and many others, Lenon shrewdly observes that “the average government minister is only in post for two years and the easiest way in which he or she can make a mark is by changing a qualifications system,” creating further complexities.

Lenon accepts to some extent that complexity is inevitable in vocational training, as engineering contrasts with hairdressing. However, recent governments have exacerbated the situation by introducing market forces, and multiple private entities compete in offering qualifications, leading them to offer shorter syllabuses, numerous resit opportunities, easier question papers, and more lenient grading.

Lenon supports the present government’s initiative to provide vocational education under its own brand: T-levels. FE colleges potentially offer thousands of course options as every profession has its unique requirements, and the government proposes 15 diverse T-level “routes” such as creative and design, hair and beauty, engineering and manufacturing, social care, and transport and logistics, which is a good number as it can easily be retained in memory.

Despite praising T-levels, Lenon’s characteristic perversity leads him to outline 16 reasons why the initiative will most likely fail. A handful of students will undertake them, and finding enough proficient teachers is implausible. Also, standards have been established too lowly, there will be no “parity of esteem” with A-levels, and the introduction has been rushed. Lenon stipulates that the only solution is for politicians to adopt a long-term view, asserting that “T-levels won’t work within one parliament” — a statement that may be improbable. However, it is rational considering Lenon’s association with a school established in 1572.

The book, Other People’s Children, authored by Barnaby Lenon, is published by John Catt.

Men’s Facial Hair: Losing By A Whisker

Despite lacking the expertise of a barber and the longevity of a 130-year lifespan, Dwight E Robinson managed to compile a comprehensive report on the fluctuations of men’s facial hair between 1842 and 1972 in London. Robinson, a business professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, utilized the Illustrated London News, a popular publication during that time, as an indirect source for his study. He titled his report "Fashions in Shaving and Trimming of the Beard: The Men of the Illustrated London News, 1842-1972," which was published in the American Journal of Sociology in 1976.

Robinson employed a technique developed by Jane Richardson and AL Kroeber to measure the yearly alterations in various aspects of women’s clothing, such as skirt length and waistlines, as ratios to their height. For his study, Robinson used a "head count" method that involved determining the comparative frequencies of five major features of men’s grooming: sideburns, sideburns with a mustache, beards, mustache alone, and being clean-shaven. He included all men appearing in the publications, excluding group shots, royalty, advertisements, and non-European men.

One of Robinson’s most noteworthy findings revealed a steady increase in clean-shaven men from 1885 until the present. In contrast, sideburns saw a decline until about 1920, when they began to appear less frequently. Beards, too, hit their bottom in 1920, but had short periods of popularity throughout the years. In 1921, moustaches reached their zenith, with nearly 60% of the men pictured in the Illustrated London News sporting them. They continued to dominate throughout the years.

An interesting graph that Robinson produced depicted rising and falling waves over a 115-year period, showing the relationship between the width of women’s skirts in proportion to their height, and the prevalence of beards among men. The skirt-width-ratio wave began 21 years before the beard wave. Robinson concluded that "men are just as subject to fashion’s influence as women."

A study conducted by Nigel Barber twenty-five years after Robinson’s analysis yielded further insights into men’s facial hair. Barber discovered that men tend to shave their moustaches during weak marriage markets, possibly to create an impression of trustworthiness.

Theresa May Under Fire As Student Visa Myth Exposed

Theresa May has been left isolated in her determination to keep counting foreign students in the government’s immigration targets, after new figures have shown that fewer than 5,000 remain after their visa has expired. Both Conservative and opposition politicians have urged the prime minister to end the focus on overseas students, as the government has overestimated the number of students who remain in the UK illegally. The data, which comes from the Office for National Statistics, shows just 4,600 people overstayed their visa last year, compared to estimates of close to 100,000 from previous years. Many Conservative MPs believe that including students in the target has distorted government policy, leading to suspicion rather than welcoming of the sector’s contribution to the economy.

The number of EU citizens leaving their countries has increased by 33,000, resulting in a total outflow of 122,000, which is the highest it has been in almost ten years. Interestingly, citizens from EU8 countries – which include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – saw a sharp increase in departures, with 17,000 more people leaving compared to the previous year. In contrast, there was a decrease of 19,000 EU citizens coming into the UK, although this was not deemed to be statistically significant. Economist Jonathan Portes has stated that these figures demonstrate the impact of Brexit on migration flows even before leaving the EU or implementing policy changes.

There has been a significant decrease in the number of international students coming to the UK since the Brexit vote, with figures compiled by the Economist showing that immigration has dropped to approximately half of what it was, causing concern amongst many in the UK. The ‘poisonous tone’ created during the EU referendum debate has generated the demonization of immigrants, creating obstacles for social integration. According to a recent report by all-party parliamentary group on social integration, migrants should be seen as potential British citizens and not viewed as a security threat. The group recommended councils be legally obliged to promote integration and that the government encourage “meaningful social mixing” between immigrants and Britons. Businesses employing a large number of immigrants should also be required to pay a levy that could be used to help alleviate the stresses and pressures on communities. Chair of the group, Chuka Umunna, stated that “we must act now to safeguard our diverse communities from the peddlers of hatred and division while addressing valid concerns about the impact of immigration on public services". To do this, it is important to view immigrants as Britons-in-waiting, eager to integrate into their communities. It is vital that such newcomers should not be left to struggle or thrive but be provided with the appropriate support to establish themselves in the UK.

The Best Of The Blogs

I am currently streaming a live webcast of the 2006 Edublog Awards. This online event showcases the use of educational blogs and other social software in the field of education. Although it is being hosted in an internet chat room, it is still an event that should not be underestimated. The awards ceremony has been running for three consecutive years and this year, the number of nominees has increased while encompassing a diverse range of candidates. The nominees vary from a Chilean teacher who blogs to Australian school children who produce podcasts as part of their history lessons. It is clear that the impact of blogging and related technologies has grown significantly in education.

Josie Fraser, a United Kingdom-based educational technologist who facilitated the awards, mentions that most of this year’s winners are second-generation bloggers. Many were inspired and guided by their predecessors who were pioneers of educational blogging. Fraser also points out that it was great to see blogs and projects from various nations being nominated.

The Best Teacher Blog award was awarded to "Have Fun with English! 2". This blog, which is run by Teresa Almeida d’Eça, an English teacher from Portugal, aims to help students improve their English outside of the classroom and interact with teachers and classmates globally.

Meanwhile, the Best Group Blog award was given to the "Polar Science 2006" blog. The blog is a collaborative learning space that allows teachers and students from different parts of the world to involve themselves in the research of Dr. Shane Kanatous and his Ice Team in Antarctica, as well as Canadian biophysicist Dr. Thomas Hawke and lab team in Toronto, Canada, as they study the biology of Weddell seals.

In the United Kingdom, University of Sheffield’s Cilass Blog won the Best Undergraduate Blog award. The blog, written by Cilass’s 24 student ambassadors, aims to promote inquiry-based learning among students and provide them with an opportunity to share and discuss their learning. Dr. Sabine Little, who facilitates the Student Ambassador network at the university, said that the awards encourage students by demonstrating the value of their work. For staff who are not entirely comfortable in the world of blogging, the awards also provide them with a chance to explore and gain new insights into teaching.

Terry Freedman, who was nominated for Best Post, Resource or Presentation for "Coming of Age: An Introduction to the New World Wide Web," stated that the awards prove the existence of an "edublogging community" and provide encouragement to teachers who may work alone while exploring the use of blogs and social software.

Despite the strength of the awards and the educational blogging community overall, it is clear that more support for teachers is necessary. "I think educators could benefit from more face-to-face training and internal resources," says Fraser. "The edublogging community has provided a wealth of advice and support material, but newcomers to these technologies need guidance in finding the information they require."

To conclude, the 2006 Edublog Awards have shone a spotlight on the various ways that educational blogs and other social software can revolutionize the field of education. It has demonstrated that such technologies can provide students with a global platform to communicate with and learn from their peers and teachers. Furthermore, it is clear that more support in finding resources and face-to-face guidance is necessary.

Not Good Enough

Philip had his heart set on becoming a mechanical engineer from a young age. However, when he was 15 and preparing for his GCSEs, his highly selective London boys’ grammar school was not confident that he would receive a top grade in mathematics, which could jeopardize the school’s league table position. Despite Philip’s desires to study mathematics, the school informed him that he could join the sixth form but should not pursue mathematics as a subject of study. It turns out that the school’s impressive league table position is partly achieved by not enabling students, like Philip, to reach their full potential.

Fortunately, Philip was able to find a school that taught him mathematics and engineering. On the other hand, Jane’s story does not have the same happy ending. She wanted to enroll in a textiles course at the Kent Institute of Art and Design and needed a textiles A-level to do so. Although she had excelled in her GCSEs, the highly selective Kent grammar school she attended was not pleased with her grade in English or her performance in other subjects. They refused to allow her to study the subjects of her choice and would not even permit her to study only textiles and theater studies. Since the school’s position in the league tables relied on point scores and the number of A-levels passed, they could not afford to let Jane bring down the average. With no other option, Jane is now studying irrelevant subjects at a local further education college, demotivated about her future prospects.

Both Philip and Jane are victims of schools that prioritize league table positions over their students’ best interests, but grammar schools are the worst offenders. These schools select the brightest pupils at age 11 from a wide range of geographical areas. When it comes to A-levels, the school reviews student performance and eliminates anyone who will not help them rank higher in the leagues. The schools can make these decisions since each institution is permitted to set its criteria for entry to the sixth form, either admitting or rejecting pupils from other schools. Some schools go as far as having a thorough clearout after GCSEs, removing students who may meet published criteria but have doubts about their ability to perform well in A-levels. Some parents are not aware that they can insist on their child being accepted into the sixth form if they meet the published criteria. Even if they are aware of this, they may not want to force a reluctant school to accept their child.

For example, Paul, a gifted linguist at a boys’ grammar school in London, received an A* in French at GCSE, but his teachers predicted that he would earn a lower grade at A-levels. This would have reduced the school’s scores, so Paul was not permitted to enroll in French studies in the sixth form. He attended another school and achieved an A grade instead. In the end, these schools’ behavior leads to students missing out on opportunities and failing to reach their full potential.

Several grammar schools exert a considerable effort to perform well in the league tables. The Queen Elizabeth boys’ school in north London, for example, only permits existing students to enroll in its sixth form. Furthermore, the students are solely permitted to study a subject if their subject instructor believes they will score highly. Liam Hagerdon, the head of the school’s sixth form, disputes that this means the institution advises pupils on A-level courses. "Students will get a few subject teacher recommendations, and they may select from those. GCSEs may not be an accurate predictor of A-level grades," he explains.

Despite this, the method implies that some scholars of Queen Elizabeth boys’ school relocate to the sixth form of a nearby grammar school — the Latymer school, which is also highly selective. The school’s criteria for joining its sixth form are that students must have a minimum of six grade As at GCSE and a genuine interest in participating in the school community.

Wallington county grammar school, based in Surrey, has raised its conditions for joining the sixth form this year from six Bs at GCSE to six As. "We aspire for A, B, and C grades at A-level. If we believe that students won’t succeed, they simply withdraw," states Wallington’s principal, Dr. Martin Haworth.

In some grammar schools, the students’ best interests seem to play a minor role in comparison to the institution’s rank in league tables.

The Ascent Of One Woman

Throughout her five-decade-long career, Jane Goodall has established herself as the confidante of presidents and pop stars. Having shaken the hands of several million people, raised significant funds for conservation projects, and inspired the birth of a new branch of science, she has radically transformed our understanding of what separates humans from other animals. Out of all the incredible experiences she has had, there is one that stands out.

“It was one day that I was tracking through the jungle, following David Greybeard, who was always my favourite, at a distance. At one point I thought I’d lost him, and then, suddenly, I entered a clearing, and he was sitting there, looking at me, as if he had been waiting for me. And who knows, perhaps he was?”

She reminisces about this moment with a smile, “I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but after a little while, I approached him, very gingerly, and I noticed there was a pinenut on the ground – they love those. So I picked it up and very slowly, very gently, held it out to him. He pushed my hand away, but he didn’t run away. So I tried again, and he took the pinenut from me and threw it on the ground. But then he did the most remarkable thing. He reached out his hand” – she slowly extends her own – “and covered mine with it, and just held it for a moment."

Her touch on my wrist is cool, and feather light. “It’s what chimpanzees do to reassure each other. And it was just remarkable, this wild animal communicating with me just as he would with a member of his species. I don’t know if there was some ancient brotherhood between us that he was tapping into. But I found it absolutely incredible.”

It was during her early twenties that Goodall discovered her passion for animals. Despite lacking academic training, she saved up waitressing tips to fund a long boat journey to Africa, where she established a job as secretary to the celebrated anthropologist, Louis Leakey. Within months, Goodall had convinced Leakey to allow her to study a group of chimpanzees living in an area of virgin forest called Gombe on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

Leakey believed that researching the social lives of chimpanzees would enlighten him on the early hominids he had discovered at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, as well as their modern human descendants. However, as Goodall dedicated herself to the study of these primates, she unveiled numerous discoveries that would fundamentally shift our broader comprehension of the animal kingdom.

Her most well-known revelation came by accident and within months of her arrival at Gombe. One rainy morning, Goodall observed the chimp she called David Greybeard fishing for his food. He pushed a long leafy stem into a hole in a termite mound, withdrew it, and sucked off the soldier termites that had defensively clung to the prod. As she observed this repeatedly, Goodall realized that the chimps picked up twigs from trees and pulled off the outer leaves to fashion the rods themselves. The ability to make tools, once thought to be a trait unique to humans, was not exclusive to homo sapiens. In a telegram, Leakey enthused, "We must now redefine man, redefine tools, or accept chimpanzees as humans."

I first had the pleasure of meeting Jane Goodall in London through her assistant, Mary Lewis, one of the formidable and highly capable middle-aged women who assist her in managing her busy schedule. Lewis had mentioned that Goodall might have a little bit of free time while in London, so I managed to squeeze in a conversation that lasted only 15 minutes, amidst her tight schedule that involved a book launch and spending time with her sister and niece. Lewis advised me that I was unaware of the extent of Goodall’s busy schedule. However, a few weeks later, Lewis contacted me and mentioned that Dr. Goodall would have some time in mid-March in Denver, Colorado, while visiting.

Goodall arrived in Denver to open “The Remarkable World of Jane Goodall,” a travelling exhibit that includes a mock-up jungle, graciously housed for three months by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, as well as “Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees,” an IMAX movie about Gombe, which the museum screened until the end of that year. Interestingly, Denver was thrilled to welcome Goodall, who has become an American rock star, according to Lewis. To be precise, the excitement that this shy, grey-haired British woman generates was surprising. We had to be smuggled into buildings through back doors and underground service lifts, as Goodall’s enthusiastic fans crowded around her for an autograph or a photograph. Every Starbucks shop we entered (of which there were numerous, as Goodall seems to subsist mainly on black coffee and crumbleberry slices) had the young female servers asking, “Is that who I think it is?" At a book signing in the neighboring city of Boulder, some of the several hundred people waiting in line for an autograph were in tears by the time they reached Goodall’s table. When the line finally passed, an exhausted Goodall noted with quiet triumph, “I had four people tell me today that they had done science to the PhD level because of me”.

Jane Goodall is undeniably an internationally renowned celebrity. She has appeared on prime-time chat shows in the United States and has even been name-checked on “The Simpsons.” She counts Kofi Annan among her friends and can boast of celebrity supporters such as Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, and Alicia Silverstone. After requesting that Goodall visit his Neverland Ranch to advise him on the care of his own pet chimp Bubbles, Michael Jackson wrote a song for her. Goodall explained in an interview that “Michael asked me for some tapes that we had about the suffering of chimps in captivity, so that he would get very upset to help him write the song. Heal the World” went on to become an enormous worldwide hit. She is perhaps the only famous scientist who has had to put on a wig and dark glasses on occasion to disguise herself from overenthusiastic fans.

The National Geographic Society largely deserves credit for Jane Goodall’s remarkable level of stardom. Inspired by her observation of tool making, the organization agreed to provide funding for an additional year of research. Later, an ambitious young photographer, Hugo van Lawick, was dispatched to work with her. Goodall’s work with the chimpanzees was still in its early stages, and she was still "habituated" to their presence when Lawick arrived. His photographs of wild chimpanzees looking under her shirt for hidden bananas, and early films of baby apes touching her nose, were broadcast around the world. The beautiful, white Englishwoman with an unusual spiritual connection to nature soon became a star. Lawick and Goodall married in 1964, and their son, known as Grub, followed three years later.

Jane Goodall’s research demonstrated that chimpanzees display a variety of behaviours that were once thought to be exclusive to humans, such as abstract reasoning, symbolic representation, and self-awareness. While some of her findings were positive, not all were benign. Goodall discovered that chimpanzees could be brutal, just like their hominid cousins. Goodall observed male chimpanzees organizing themselves in ferocious hunts for smaller mammals, revealing the darker side of their nature. She also documented two female chimpanzees going on a murderous and cannibalistic campaign against other females’ young. Additionally, she saw one group of chimpanzees completely annihilate a smaller, separated group in a four-year war in what was the first-ever observation of such advanced levels of violent behaviour in non-human primates.

Goodall’s observations suggested that aggressive behaviour was innate in chimpanzees, leading her to believe it was probably innate in humans too. Despite facing criticism for publishing these findings, she believed that human aggression could be controlled. One fundamental element of this was controlling our inherited aggressive tendencies.

Goodall is vocally opposed to the violence in Iraq and has no reservations about thinking beyond accepted scientific parameters. A recent comment she made about accepting the possible existence of Bigfoot and other unknown great apes prompted a flood of correspondence, which delighted her.

National Geographic films helped make Goodall a global star. They also led to a group of scientists and enthusiasts wishing to emulate her work. Two women in particular, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas, contacted Leakey and obtained assignments on projects observing gorillas in Rwanda and orangutans in Borneo, respectively. Primatology is now a well-established field of study with a higher percentage of women than any other scientific discipline. Goodall hypothesizes that women may be inherently better at this kind of research because of their need to understand non-verbal beings.

In 1986, at a conference marking the publication of her significant behavioural study The Chimpanzees of Gombe, Goodall recognized that primates around the world were critically threatened by habitat destruction and the bushmeat trade. She realized then that she could no longer be an observer but needed to take action, with no alternative but to get involved. This led to her leaving behind her role as a field scientist and beginning a new chapter of her life.

Jane Goodall strongly emphasizes the importance of positivity and hopefulness, but acknowledges the grim reality that the future for chimpanzees at Gombe is in peril. The park, spanning 77.6 sq km (30 sq miles), is secured; however, rampant deforestation in the areas surrounding it poses a significant threat to the survival of the chimp population.

Considering that the chimpanzee community at Gombe now consists of merely 150 individuals, their long-term genetic sustainability is uncertain. Throughout Africa, the population of chimpanzees has plummeted from 2 million to 150,000 over a century. In this month’s National Geographic magazine, Jane warns, "Unless we can expand the current habitat corridors that connect the park to the communities in the north, the Gombe chimpanzees could become susceptible to disease or inbreeding within decades."

Fatigue evident, Jane Goodall assures, "That’s why I will continue with this absurd schedule as long as I can." Her itinerary involves Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. She notes, "We must stop relying solely on decision-makers and instead, recognize that each of us can make a difference. If everyone who cares about the environment acts ethically and considers buying ethically, then the world will transform rapidly."

If you wish to learn more about Jane Goodall, you can read the following books: In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behaviour by Jane Goodall, and Beauty and the Beasts: Woman, Ape, and Evolution by Carol Jahme. Visit the Jane Goodall Institute for further information.

Watford Academy Tops GCSE Rankings Of Non-selective State Schools

According to a recent study by the Guardian and the analysts FFT, Watford Grammar School for Girls achieved the most impressive academic performance in England among schools of its kind. Despite not being a traditional grammar school, the academy achieved the highest proportion of students awarded top A* and A grades in English, geography, art and design, mathematics, and music among non-selective state schools in England. Additionally, it ranked among the top 10 schools for the percentage of students awarded top grades in history and languages. In fact, Watford Grammar’s results were on par with the best selective state and independent schools in several subjects, with 96.5% of music entrants and 85% of geography entrants achieving A* and A grades.

Dame Helen Hyde, the headteacher of Watford Grammar School for Girls, attributed the school’s success to its outstanding teachers. She praised the teachers’ enthusiasm and cited the school’s geography and maths departments as examples of exceptional teaching. The school is primarily non-selective, admitting students based on proximity, but allocates 25% of entrants based on academic ability and an additional 10% based on musical aptitude. Music is an integral part of the school’s culture, and Hyde warns that without investment in music departments in the state sector, music may fade away.

Hyde has been headteacher for 25 years and has witnessed many trends come and go in education. She believes that academy status, which the school achieved three years ago after being a voluntary-aided school, is beneficial. Academy status allows headteachers greater flexibility in making decisions that positively impact the education of their students. Hyde highlights staff policies as an area where academy status has allowed for greater flexibility. It has enabled her to structure staff employment, pay, and working conditions in a way that benefits everyone. Academy status also promotes a culture of free and independent thinking that extends to the school’s students, training them to think critically and independently.