Friday, 6 June 2008

Edukayshun, edukayshun, edukayshun

Just a quick round-up of some recent stories illustrating the continuing decline of British educational standards:

#1: Yet more evidence that A-levels are getting easier, and the impact that this is having on the nation's economic competitiveness:

A “lost generation” of mathematicians has cost the economy £9 billion, while GCSE maths has become a “pick ‘n’ mix” test rather than the key staging post it once was, according to a report.

The decline in standards threatens the future of the economy, say the authors, and is having a devastating impact on the City, with some firms recruiting most of their maths graduates from overseas.

The report, by the Reform think-tank, accuses the Government of marginalising the interests of employers, teachers and students. It claims that ministers are focusing on exam results, rather than educational outcomes, and are trying to get pupils to pass any five GCSEs to meet targets, rather than concentrating on the core subjects of English and maths.


Maths exams are much easier now than 30 years ago, Reform says, because of efforts to make them more relevant to the workplace. This means that children are not being taught key skills such as problem solving. As a result, it is “now possible to achieve a grade C in GCSE maths having almost no conceptual knowledge of mathematics” and by scoring less than 20 per cent in the top paper.

“A coherent discipline has changed to ‘pick ‘n’ mix’, with pupils being trained to answer specific shallow questions on a range of topics where marks can be most easily harvested.”

#2: Imperial College votes with its feet, and the count doesn't go A-levels' way:

One of Britain's leading universities is to introduce an entrance exam for all students applying to study there from 2010 because it believes that A levels no longer provide it with a viable way to select the best students.

Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College, London, suggested that grade inflation at A level meant that so many students now got straight As that it had become almost “worthless” as a way of discriminating between the talented and the well drilled.

Last year one in four A-level marks was a grade A and 10 per cent of A-level students achieved at least three As.

“We can't rely on A levels any more. Everybody who applies has got three or four As. They [A levels] are not very useful. The International Baccalaureate is useful but again this is just a benchmark,” Sir Richard said.

He added: “We are doing this not because we don't believe in A levels, but we can't use the A level any more as a discriminator factor.” The move will make Imperial, which specialises in science and engineering and ranks third in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge in The Times Good University Guide, the first university to introduce a university-wide entrance exam since Oxford scrapped its own version in 1995.
#3: If some people have their way it will get a hell of a lot worse, before it gets any better:

Children should no longer be taught traditional subjects at school because they are "middle-class" creations, a Government adviser will claim today.

Professor John White, who contributed to a controversial shake-up of the secondary curriculum, believes lessons should instead cover a series of personal skills.

Pupils would no longer study history, geography and science but learn skills such as energy- saving and civic responsibility through projects and themes.

He will outline his theories at a conference today staged by London's Institute of Education - to which he is affiliated - to mark the 20th anniversary of the national curriculum.

Last night, critics attacked his ideas as "deeply corrosive" and condemned the Government for allowing him to advise on a new curriculum.

Professor White will claim ministers are already "moving in the right direction" towards realising his vision of replacing subjects with a series of personal aims for pupils.

But he says they must go further because traditional subjects were invented by the middle classes and are "mere stepping stones to wealth".


Professor White wants ministers to encourage schools to shift away from single-subject teaching to "theme or project-based learning".

Pupils would still cover some content but would be encouraged to meet a series of personal aims. The curriculum already states some of these but is "hampered" by the continued primacy of subjects.

The aims include fostering a model pupil who "values personal relationships, is a responsible and caring citizen, is entrepreneurial, able to manage risk and committed to sustainable development".
Hmm. I think the following quote from Yes, Prime Minister says it best:
Employment Secretary: The National Union of Teachers are scared stiff that conscription will expose the fact that school leavers, while of course being tremendously integrated socially and creatively aware...
Sir Humphrey: Can't actually read, write or do sums, yes.


Anonymous said...

And it never occurred to anyone, that the destruction of the National bloodstock was their purpose, all along.


Anonymous said... free PDF booklet by whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt is the book you'll need to read to understand what is going on in the world.

Kick IB and the UN to the curb.

Alex said...

I've heard similar rumours before that "they" are deliberately planning to destroy what Monty calls "the National bloodstock".

Who are "they" and what evidence do we have that a master plan exists to reduce this country to penury and ignorance?

Anonymous said...

"They" are the cohort of lefty miscreants who graduated in the 60s and 70s, and have been infesting the university education faculties ever since.

"They" have presided over the following:

1. Systematic destruction of discipline in the schools. Refusal to deal effectively with the problems caused by seriously disruptive and violent pupils, for whom education is a serial progression of being expelled from one school and dumped onto the next one.

2. Abandonment of competition, and the quest for academic excellence. Destruction of the old gold-standard public examinations. Replacement of "sight unseen" papers with so-called coursework.

3. Destruction of rigour in the study of mathematics and the sciences, on the pretence that the children can't handle it.

4. Promotion of non-academic themes like environmentalism and diversity.

5. Neglect of the traditional arts and crafts.

6. NVQ's which are so badly taught and assessed, they are of no benefit to the children.

Up to now, the UK has had a world class record of excellence in innovation, R&D, engineering, finance, literature, and music. Ultimately, that earns us money. The real high fliers would do well anywhere of course. But we used to prime our good B students exceptionally well. They were the engine behind our national wealth.

Let us bid a fond farewell to all that.


Anonymous said...

Their "innovations" have resulted in such an unrelenting decline in standards, over the past four decades, that there is no longer any scope for pretending that this is some kind of regrettable accident by well-meaning do-gooders who really wanted to give our children a spectacularly good education.
They didn't, and they don't. This lamentable state of affairs is exactly what they wanted. Their only outstanding target is to make all of us forget, that it was ever better than this.