“England’s exam system is “diseased” and “almost corrupt”, says a former government adviser in a book on Labour’s education policy.
A former director at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Mick Waters, says exam boards are conniving in the dumbing-down of school exams.”
OK, he has a book to sell and needs to make a pretty dramatic statement to sell said book.
But lets face it Education, Education, Education has been a political football for most of the last sixty years. As with anything that becomes a State monopoly it just allows standards to degenerate and figures get manipulated to serve political targets.
The Butler Education Act of 1944 had a very sensible tripartite system that acknowledged that education had to be relevant to those being educated, rather than pander to social engineering system that required ’50% of young people to go to University’. Not everybody wanted to do a fine arts degree, some people wanted to be engineers, others to get technical skills. All of which meant that education was largely relevant because youngsters could see a future.
When even getting an academic degree is now seen to be largely unimportant to future success, because of the glut of people holding degress, we are in severe danger of becoming a nation devoid of real learning and skills.
I went to a ‘Technical School’ that rapidly turned in the second year into a Grammar school, because thats what the teachers wanted. Whilst I ended up studying for my French ‘A’ levels in a wood working shop fully equipped with rusting tools and machinery. Getting an Engineering apprenticeship at Rolls Royce was as much cause for celebration by staff and school as was getting a place at Warwick, Bristol or Durham (Oxbridge was still seen as out of our league)
Impossible Social Engineering and the latest groovy social theories have been played out with dire consequences for the country, industry and worst of all for students themselves. The quality of industrial management and of civil adminstration have degraded beyond anything thought possible. The case of Damian McBride is a case in point. A Civil Servant who failed to even comprehend the Civil Service Code and ethos.
This was a man who wrote a final year supervised dissertation at Peterhouse, Cambridge in praise of inciting violence and rumour-mongering in politics entitled Far More Important Than Politics? Public Policy and the Impact of Urban Riots, 1964-8.
In a desperate attempt to create a one size fits all education system, standards have been clearly dragged down not up.
The only way to create a world class education system is to take the State out of the equation perhaps save for funding school vouchers. Let Technical colleges, Universities and establish bodies like MIT to set their own entry requirements.
After sixty years of tinkering all the State has done is bring education to its knees.
Andrew P Withers