Tuesday 14 December 2010

Education, Education, Education

Hmm, I wonder what happened with that 1997 buzz-bite?

Standards are falling in this country. We're now below Japan, the US, France and Germany.

Depressingly, they show that, despite the millions of pounds poured into narrowing the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest pupils, the UK is still more beset by problems of class segregation than many of its rivals.

The raw data reveals pupils in private schools are streets ahead of their state-school peers. The average reading score of a privately educated teenager in the UK is 553, while it is 492 for a state-educated pupil. (The OECD average last year was 493 points.)
Well, as the author pointed out, it's not investment which is at fault here.

D'you know what? I think it might be the 'narrowing the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest' bit which is causing the problem.

With such an ideologically-blinkered approach to delivering education, how could anyone believe that standards were going to rise?

Look. The way to give children of the less well-off a better education is by raising the standards of state schools - and the teaching therein - to a level of excellence. This would entail spending more time on, err, education, rather than quite ludicrous flights of dogmatic right-on self-pleasure.

Unfortunately, this quite simply doesn't happen. Instead of trying to match the very best UK schools, the massed ranks of public sector educational administrators (egged on by hideous legislation, in their defence) prefer to litter - and I do use that word in its literal sense - the syllabus (syllabi?) of our kids with lashings of politically-correct garbage.

It's great for equality in the state system - kids are all as poorly-served as each other - but private educators, for example, plough on regardless with proven methods of excellence and an emphasis on core subjects which will exponentially benefit pupils as they grow. Like a savings account, the more you put in at the start, the more compound interest will accrue on your initial deposit.

By handicapping kids with trendy irrelevances at an early age, their future all-round educational prowess is inevitably weakened.

However. And it is a big however. Those parents who may be well-off or highly-educated themselves have the wherewithal to escape the state schooling trap by offering top-up teaching, either as an extra after-school resource (paid or free) or as a stand-alone home education. Richer kids, by the simple rules of life, will always manage better when equality is the prime concern in schools.

Yet again, the left's best efforts at egalitarianism only serve to disadvantage the less well-off.

Teaching kids to be the very best they can be, even if little Andrew turns out to be the type of genius that little Wayne will never be able to aspire to, should be the only consideration for teachers. Some kids will always be more clever than others, or better resourced. But by focussing on pushing them all to their limits, rather than making them all equal, we stand a better chance of raising standards across the board - and improving our country's future prospects - than some slavish adherence to a big pile of theoretical steaming horseshit.

Just let the teachers teach, how hard can that be? Or, as someone once said ... "education, education, education", not equality, equality, equality.


R said...

The Education Act says that the child should be educated in accordance with the child's age, ability and aptitude and any special needs the child may have. This is how it should be. Each child is different. I don't know of many schools that even come close to that. Their "one size fits" all regime sees to that.
This is why many autonomous home educators find the whole system ridiculous. If the education is child led, by it's very nature it will suit the age, abilities and aptitudes and special needs of the child. If the parent is engaged one on one with the child this is even more likely to happen than in a classroom of 30. Yet, autonomous home educators get hounded the most by Local Authorities who proclaim that a school education is superior. In fact, if anyone is sticking closer to the Education Act, it is the autonomous home educators and not the schools.
Schools are not looking at the age, ability and aptitudes of each child, but they would get much closer to that if they gave teachers some autonomy of their own, so they in turn could give it to the children.

SadButMadLad said...

Wayne might never be as clever as Andrew, but that's doesn't say anything about who will be more successful. Wayne might be more entrepreneurial and start a business straight away whilst Andrew stays in higher education for years before coming out with a 1:1 in psychology. Wayne will do better in life than Andrew.

Alternatively, Wayne might be more suited to being a bricklayer and be an expert at it whilst Andrew couldn't hit a nail with a hammer without hitting his finger. Which is one is more clever than the other now?

It all depends on your point of view.

Society needs both types of kids.

Brian Bond said...

We just need to recognise the pachyderm on the patio - and bring back the Grammar schools.

My (provincial working class town) Grammar school headmaster was committed to excellence as measured by university admissions (back in the day before it became 'yooni' and everyone had to go).

Just before the DoE vandals turned it into a bog standard comp., the school achieved several consecutive years with higher numbers of Oxbridge entrants than the public school (4 miles) up the road - Repton College!

I shudder to think how my education might have turned out without the opportunity afforded by the Grammar system.

SimonF said...

The real problem, as witnessed by a very good friend who became a teacher at age 45, is that it is no longer about teaching but crowd control. He teaches A level economics and has difficulty with keeping them under control, not violent or anything, just unable to sit and concentrate for any length of time.

And he's no soft touch, having been in the Navy, an operations manager for a mobile phone operator and worked around the world as a consultant.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Raquel: What an illuminating comment. Thank you for that. I'm a big admirer of home educators so your insight is very well received.

SBML: Absolutely. I was in no way knocking the Waynes of this world. Merely stating that all kids need a sound educational base. A very good friend of mine has made an extremely lucrative career in the film industry through his painting/decorating and building skills. He relies extensively on his mathematical skills despite leaving school at 15. Knowing about world religions, for example, does him no fucking good whatsoever.

Brian: More grammar schools would be great. Less right-on PC in comprehensive education would be better, as in SBML's example above.

Trooper Thompson said...


read this essay on egalitarianism and why it's rubbish. You won't regret it!

Xopher said...

Years ago teachers were allowed to teach and if a child had an ability it was promoted. Excellence is denied due to our 'experts' demanding a Government directed syllabus.
Excellence in music, drama, gymnastics, you name it, comes from those who join energetic voluntary groups outside of education not from school clubs or educational initiatives. One size doesn't fit all.
Our entrepreneurs didn't waste their time sucking up to their lecturers for academic obedience and a guaranteed degree of some sort, they got on with the job rather than mindlessly accepting academic doctrine.
I taught in a Secondary Modern School and we did our best for each pupil. Many went on to tech and have amazing careers others went on to be happy (even a couple of TV presenters and an England cricketer) but now our future's 'fire' is doused by the demands of academia; a demand that ignores the needs of people simply in the for even bigger academic empires.
We need more young people in the world of work rather than the classroom hiding the true state of unemployment - They'd quite happily to do so many jobs that our nouveau superior academics with their useless GNVQ/degree qualifications feel are beneath them.
It's time Academics butted out from general education and rebuilt respect for those courses that deserve respect.n

JuliaM said...

Comprehensive schooling has become a sausage factory, churning out regulation length and quality sausages.

Those who prefer flavour over standardisation go to a specialist butcher, or make their own at home.

Neal Asher said...

Ah but Dick, even the words 'education education education' were wrong. What they meant was 'indoctrination indoctrination indoctrination'.

I am Stan said...

I`m with Neal on this one Dickie,I have no spawn meself,my squeeze thinks my sperms are dead due to smoking the leaf,magic cheroots and daily drunkedness...

Anyways da Vinci had no GCSE`S and he did alright.

Angry Exile said...

The fucking Spirit Level! It bloody had to come into it, didn't it?

Michael Fowke said...

Kids in state schools need to educate themselves if they want a chance in life. This is probably becoming more difficult as our libraries turn into internet cafes.

Ian R Thorpe said...

Over on a US site I learned that American standards are holding up only because of the boom in home schooling and parent funded and run schools.

Pupils from the state schools can barely breathe and maintain a pulse simultaneously let along read amd write. They are however as well schooled in multiculturalism, tolerance, feminist studies, gay lifestyles and civil rights as our state school students.