Thursday, June 01, 2006

We know some British teenagers who do not know the name of the capital city of their own country. They can barely read and write.

We know some British teenagers who do not know the name of the capital city of their own country. They can barely read and write. Yet they are of average intelligence.

British state schools are bad and getting worse. They should be closed down.

A re-think of education is required. All schools should be run privately by non-profit making trusts. All schools should be small.

The school day should be about 3 hours. The school leaving age should be around 12.

Much more use should be made of apprenticeships, learning by computer, and 'special' schools.

BBC 1 television should show educational programmes only.

Mothers of young children should stay at home and not go out to work.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, 1 June 2006, more than half of school leavers have problems with the basics.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers have such poor mastery of the three Rs they cannot scrape a grade C in the two subjects employers and parents regard as crucial.

They are finishing compulsory schooling without the literacy and numeracy skills they need to "participate in life, learning and work" despite a raft of multi-billion pound Labour initiatives...

And the inability of pupils to get good grades comes despite widespread suspicions that exams have been dumbed down in recent years...

Forty-two per cent of pupils finished 11 years of compulsory education without achieving at least a grade C in GCSE English which means they struggle to read and summarise information accurately or use basic grammar...

Forty-eight per cent - or 301,671 - failed to reach the same standard in GCSE maths meaning they are unable to calculate the area of a room.

A total of 54 per cent - nearly 350,000 - fail to achieve the expected level in both English and maths.

The official exams watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), says pupils need to meet grade C standard - so-called "level two" - to function as citizens...

Just 46 per cent leave school able to read, write and add up properly.


1 comment:

w.b. kelso said...

Dear Ladies and Others,

English schooling is a disaster, as you say. I know whereof I speak, having recently retired (hurt) after serving in the Education Wars since 1979. Government policy is really about social control, not standards.

The Thatcher gang were chiefly motivated by hatred for leftish teachers and their pupils, who in 1979 had significant autonomy about what was studied and how.

No less a figure than Chris Woodhead (and there is no less a figure) once wrote that it was "dangerous" for teachers to think up their own ideas. (Ted Wragg)

Everything has become far, far worse since Blair became King. The social control function of schools is now cancerously metastasising, with compulsory "citizenship" teaching, 10-hour school days, plans to drug-test pupils, heads being offered powers to impose legal sanctions on unco-operative parents - one could go on. Blunkett and Clarke were both in charge of education before becoming among the most reactionary Home Secretaries ever, in a very competitive field. Blair carries out this programme, and extends the advantages of the middle class pupil, while pretending to be be improving standards. Much education spending goes directly to Blair's base in the form of building, equipment and consultancy contracts.

Developments in the 1970s which tended to be sceptical of establishment ideology and aimed at developing critical thinking were ended and replaced by an authority model stressing "teaching" rather than learning by pupils. Working-class kids and left-wing teachers had to be put back in their place by changing back the entire model of schooling.

Schools must also introduce uniforms and a house system, so the only freedom is the choice of tea or coffee at break time, and that may come under threat. (Ted Wragg)

Teachers were one of the biggest unionised groups of workers and they were disciplined by the Inquisitors of OfStEd (annual waste of £300 million)and decades of criticism by politicians and the media.

Compliance produces dependency. Innovation and change are believed to lie entirely in the hands of politicians and their acts of parliament. Your marching orders will be in tomorrow's mail. Postman Pat, with his manila envelopes and neatly printed sheets of A4, is a key figure in the education system nowadays. You want a revolution? It's in the post. Except that there won't be one. (Ted Wragg)

Outputs of schools are no longer thinking citizens, but exam passes awarded to docile potential employees.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the sole purpose of tests, assessments and exams is to generate statistical data for league tables which the government can then use to prove (sic) the effectiveness of its education policy. Children have gone from being the objective of education to becoming the means to supplying data. I regard this as a betrayal. (Tim Field)

The prestige of governments depends on rising outputs and so they are duly reported everywhere from the local primary to Oxford University. They all bear the same relationship to the exam passes of yesteryear, as 2006 £pounds have to those of 1976: worth an awful lot less, but look how many there are. The English exam system is corrupt from top to bottom: politicians inflate grades, harried educators are driven to get results anyhow, pupils and parents plagiarise and cheat by any other means. This is why employers now set writing and reading tests even for holders of Oxbridge degrees and why Oxbridge is resuming its own entrance examinations; because the qualifications can no longer be relied on.

The type of criticism exemplified by the Daily Mail article is Tory-opportunist. The exam grades they refer to are misleading. As soon as GCSE was introduced, achievement below Grade C was rubbished because C was held to be equivalent to an O-level GCE. O-level was only ever achievable by 25% of candidates because it was intended to establish who was in that top 25%. There were even more demanding quotas set for girls, secretly, until the 1960s. The real equivalent is probably more like Grade A. When state schools got as many As as private schools, a new, even higher grade, 'A-starred, ' was brought in to re-emphasise their superiority. But as I said, corruption and grade inflation is so rife it compromises analysis anyhow.

Hypocrisy is a corrosive thing. Rational people reach the state when they no longer see the gulf between what they are saying and what they are doing, or feel the remotest need to align their actions with their consciences. The liberal middle classes patronise comprehensives in words but not with their presence. Like the priests of some mouldering religion, they make pious noises in public places, then go their private ways ... The point is that, in education, hypocrisy has become the norm. (George Walden former Conservative MP and one-time education minister)

The politicisation of education resembles the same process applied to crime, with the same disastrous results.

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