If not enough children could jump over a three foot bar, would the number be increased by raising the bar to four foot? Of course not, but isn`t this exactly what Gove is doing, in his words, "to improve the attainment of pupils in England"? Lots of reasons exist to explain England`s low ranking for numeracy and literacy among 16 to 24 year olds, but none of them is the nature of the examinations taken by them when they were 16, and the cutting of resources which limit the amount of early intervention, in places like Sure Start centres, will only add to the problems.
Increasing rigour, with more emphasis on grammar, spelling and punctuation in all written examinations, and on such things as proportion and probability in Maths, could be achieved by a re-wording of the mark schemes by the examiners.Gove`s wholesale changes of assessment and content, whilst perhaps adding extra challenge for the brightest, will only serve to demoralise the average and below-average students. A curriculum and assessment system,based on ones delivered in 20th century private schools, will lead to the demise of many subjects incorrectly perceived by right-wing politicians to have no value in the 21st, and will increase the likelihood of failure for many pupils, especially those from less affluent backgrounds.
Taking education back to a 50s style system, universally seen by educationalists to have been flawed, must be seen for what it is, an ideologically-driven political exercise. Words like "planet" and "which" spring to mind when one recalls that Clegg agreed to give these reforms his party`s approval because there was no danger of the end-result being a two-tiered system of state education! Without the intervention of a Labour government intent on upholding equality of opportunity as one of its fundamental principles, a nationwide system of grammar schools is the inevitable consequence of Goveism. Unless Labour no longer sees itself as the champion of comprehensive education, opposition must be voiced to Gove`s changes immediately; failure to do so will be giving tacit agreement to an examination system designed to limit the chances of success for children from working class backgrounds.