The head of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) believes that teaching "Britishness" is racist, while the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) is presided over by a woman who thinks that the use of the term "fairy boy" on a TV show leads to a surge in "homophobic bullying" in the playground. But a senior figure in the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) appears to be unusually close to sanity, for a teacher.
Peter Morris, chairman of the PAT's Welsh branch, has attacked the government's education programme on two grounds. First, he has accused the government of reducing academic standards, in the course of its efforts to increase the number of pupils studying to A-level, and the number of students in our universities. Secondly, he has criticised the government's move towards discriminating against the middle classes, in the university application process.
Both of these criticisms are, in my opinion, thoroughly justified. The government believes that fully half of the nation's children should go on from school to university. This is clearly something which will not only reduce the value of a degree (after all, the value of a thing does tend to be inversely proportional to its commonness), but will also necessitate a reduction in the standards needed to enter onto a degree course. After all, when only 20% were at university, one could afford to set the entry standard such that only the top 20% of the population could meet that standard; if one wishes to have 50% of the population enter onto degree courses, then one will need to have an entrance requirement which anyone of average intelligence could meet. Indeed, since it is inevitable that at least some people on the right hand side of the intellectual bell curve will choose not to attend university, then in order to achieve the 50% figure, entry standards will need to be set that can be achieved by people of below average intelligence. This in turn will surely entail a reduction in the difficulty of exams, and, at least in our weaker universities, a reduction in the difficulty of the course, to allow the poorer students to keep up. Thus we have such courses as beauty therapy, surfing, and "Fashion Studies".
Mr Morris's second complaint is also justified. It has been established that universities are actually prepared to discriminate against the children of graduates, in order to achieve greater 'diversity' in their student bodies, and I doubt that it will be long before we reach a situation where, as in America, "oppressed" and "underrepresented" ethnic groups also receive preferential treatment (as the racists at BLINK have already demanded). All such discrimination is wrong in any event, and is particularly idiotic in an academic sense, where selecting on any basis other than academic merit will inevitably lead to a reduction in standards.
It really is refreshing to hear common sense out of the mouths of teachers. It is also saddeningly rare. However, Mr Morris's comments, and those of the other PAT members reported by the Telegraph, suggest that not all teachers have bought into the mindset of the liberal-left, where education takes a distant back seat to liberal ideology. Perhaps there is hope for the education system after all.