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Education

Aber research sheds new light on Churchill

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Finding the man inside the myth: Dr Warren Dockter, Aberystwyth University

AN ABERYSTWYTH academic has jointly authored an article which details the marital infidelity of wartime leader Winston Churchill and sheds light on the way in which Churchill’s reputation and image have been carefully burnished and polished by those keen to present a myth rather than a complete human story.

Dr Warren Dockter is a Lecturer in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East and editor of Winston Churchill at the Telegraph.

Winston Churchill had a short affair with the dazzling socialite Lady Doris Castlerosse in the 1930s, according to his former private secretary.

A recording by Churchill’s former private secretary, Jock Colville, in which he disclosed that Britain’s war leader had engaged in a short affair with the society beauty in the South of France, has been revealed by Dr Warren Dockter of Aberystwyth University and Professor Richard Toye, Head of History at the University of Exeter.

Colville, a close confidant and trusted aide of Churchill, said in the taped 1985 interview for Churchill College, Cambridge, that the story that he had to tell was rather scandalous and that he did not want it disclosed for a long time to come.

He revealed that when he visited Winston and his wife Clementine in the late 1950s, Churchill’s literary assistant Denis Kelly had presented Clementine with a set of love-letters from Lady Castlerosse. Clementine Churchill, he recounted, read the correspondence and turned pale.

According to Colville, Clementine was anxious about the episode for months and told him she had never previously thought that Winston had been unfaithful to her.

The research, to be published in the journal in the Journal of Contemporary History – and featured in the Channel 4 documentary Secret History– includes testimony from Castlerosse’s niece, Caroline Delevingne, who disclosed that her family had known about the affair.

Documents in the family’s possession include – in addition to photos of Churchill and Lady Castlerosse together – a long and affectionate 1934 letter in which he compared her to a ray of sunshine.

Churchill apparently carried out the affair in the 1930s when he had four holidays in the south of France he took unaccompanied by his wife Clementine. He painted at least two portraits of the renowned society beauty – which were removed by Churchill’s friend the Press Baron, Lord Beaverbrook, after her death from an overdose of sleeping pills at the Dorchester Hotel in 1942.

From an ordinary suburban upbringing in Beckenham, South East London, Doris, Viscountess Castlerosse, became a notorious society figure, with a string of wealthy lovers. Tall, blonde and vivacious, she is said to have been the model for the fast young widow Iris Storm in Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat and, later, for the tempestuous temptress Amanda in Noel Coward’s Private Lives.

She married Valentine Castlerosse, a spend-thrift Viscount and gossip columnist, but they divorced after he apparently hired private eyes to follow his wife and report on her infidelities.

The research also cites papers of President Roosevelt’s right-hand man Harry Hopkins which show that at the height of World War 2, Churchill pulled strings to get Doris a hard-to-obtain airplane passage so that she could travel back to Britain from America.

Dr Dockter said: “This revelation about Churchill’s private life helps us locate the man inside the myth and reveals a more complete and nuanced understanding of his character. Beyond his relationship with Doris Castlerosse, the academic article for the Journal of Contemporary History further illuminates how Churchillian networks have curated Churchill’s memory.”

Professor Richard Toye, Head of History at Exeter University and who has written three books on Churchill, said the research provided a fuller picture of a little-known episode in Churchill’s life, and shed new light on his character.

“Although this doesn’t radically change our view of Churchill as a leader, it does give us a more complete view of his character and his marriage. The received wisdom is that he never strayed and that he and Clementine were devoted to one another. In fact, Clementine loathed the Riviera Set with whom he liked to spend his summers, and saw them as a bad influence on him.”

Education

School’s concern over ‘inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils’

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THE HEADTEACHER of a Pembrokeshire primary school has written to parents and guardians following concerns over certain social media activity.

Mrs Clare Hewitt, of Neyland Community Primary School, said that it filled her “with great sadness” to have to email parents and guardians of pupils at her school.

She added that the school had alerted the police regarding the matter.

Mrs Hewitt said that it came to light that there had been “inappropriate use of images of staff and pupils for TikTok pages and Messenger groups.”

The school said it is asking that all parents, where their child uses social media, to check social media accounts to ensure that they are being used appropriately and safely,

Parents or guardians with concerns have been asked to telephone the school on Monday or to contact Mrs Hewitt by email.

Parents and guardians of pupils were contacted by email on Saturday night (May 15).

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Education

Major prize for UWTSD lecturer

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A UWTSD academic has been awarded the prestigious Henry Stopes Memorial Medal.
Based at the University’s Lampeter campus, Dr Martin Bates accepted the outstanding contribution award from the Geologists’ Association during an online ceremony on Friday 7 May. This prize is awarded just once every three years for exceptional work in the archaeological field and specifically ‘on the Prehistory of Man and his geological environment.’
During his career, Dr. Bates has been involved in several major discoveries within the UK archaeological field including the Dover Bronze Age Boat, the Clactonian Elephant butchery site in Ebbsfleet, the Harnham terminal Lower Palaeolithic site near Salisbury.
He discovered the Happisburgh human footprints in Norfolk (the oldest presently know in the world outside Africa).
It was noted during the presentation that the Henry Stopes Medal had been awarded to Dr Bates for his “significant contributions to understanding the geological environment of prehistoric human occupation of Britain and elsewhere over the last 40 years.”
It was also noted that in the spirit of the Geologists’ Association he was “generous with his time and expertise to colleagues, students and members of the public alike.”
Following the awards ceremony, Dr Martin Bates commented: “It is incredible to be recognised in this way and I’d like to thank the Geologists’ Association for this honour.  
“However, this award really reflects the support I have received through my career from a whole range of specialists who have provided me with the data I have used in my research. Without them I would not have been able to do what I have done”
“I think this all goes back to my very early days spent on the beaches of West Wales being dragged along on Saturday fieldtrips led by my father for students studying geology at Aberystwyth.  He has a lot to answer for!”

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Education

Students relying on free school meals fell further behind

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THE ATTAINMENT gap between disadvantaged primary school pupils and their classmates has grown in mathematics by one month since the onset of the pandemic, according to interim findings published this week by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The findings are drawn from an ongoing EEF-funded study that aims to understand changes to the gap which might have occurred due to the periods of partial school closure resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

While disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes in mathematics seem to have been hit hardest by the first national lockdown, the attainment gap did not widen (or shrink) during the Autumn 2020 term.

Thar suggests that gaps caused by Covid are unlikely to close without intervention.

The research is based on assessment data collected by FFT Education from 132 primary schools prior to and after the first national lockdown.

The report did not measure the impact of school closures on overall learning progress (sometimes referred to as learning loss) but, instead, looked at the differences in progress between pupils eligible for free school meals and those that are not.

Data from reading and maths assessments (PIRA and PUMA tests) taken in Autumn 2019 was used as a baseline to track the trajectory of the attainment gap.

Pupils whose data was included in the sample were all in Years 1 to 5 (5-to-10-year-olds) during the academic year 2019-2020.

Reading and maths tests were administered to these same pupils on their return to the classroom in September 2020, and then again towards the end of the Autumn term 2020.

Disadvantaged pupils’ performance in the tests was compared to that of their classmates to examine changes to the attainment gap which might have resulted from the first period of partial school closures.

The analysis of these results indicates that pupils from socio-economically deprived backgrounds have fallen further behind in maths since the onset of the pandemic.

Contrary to previous estimates, this study found no discernible change to the disadvantage gap in reading.

The findings also highlight the difficulty of combatting educational inequality in classrooms.

Data collected from PIRA and PUMA assessments taken at the end of the Autumn term 2020 indicate the return of all pupils to school in September has not been sufficient in narrowing the gap.

Further analysis is currently underway.

A final data set will be collected in June 2021 to examine whether the disadvantage gap narrows, widens, or remains stable.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Today’s research gives us more evidence of the enormous impact school closures have had on young people, especially those from low-income homes.

“The research indicates the need for long-term, sustained support for schools as they work to accelerate the progress of their disadvantaged pupils.

“To mitigate against the long-term impact of lost learning, large government funding is required. The cost of failing to act now will be a catastrophe for young people from low-income homes.”

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “The pandemic has brought the significance of social and educational inequality into sharp focus.

“Research studies like this one are providing clear evidence that substantial existing gaps have grown further due to the disruption to learning caused by the pandemic.

“In strategizing an approach to recovery, we are presented with the opportunity to go beyond restoring the learning lost during partial school closures, and work towards rebalancing the scales for disadvantaged pupils.”

Researchers from FFT Education said: “Our study makes a fresh contribution to the research on the effects of COVID.

“We find that attainment gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers have widened slightly in maths, but not reading.

“We also find that there were surprisingly weak associations between school responses to COVID – for example, phoning students during the lockdown – and attainment.”

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