Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Morning Star letter on education

As was well explained by Pete Stevenson, progress in state education has been seriously hindered by the government`s reluctance "to invest in elevating significant numbers of poor pupils to challenge the privileged", who from their private schools, move on to Oxbridge and top jobs (Morning Star,28/08/15). Sadly, this Oxbridge connection is more invidious than its simple prevention of more working people becoming members of parliament, something that Corbyn alone seems to have noticed.. The fact that it dominates an entire political class, including "thinktankees", was demonstrated perfectly by the recommendation from the Policy Exchange thinktank, which Gove set up, that schools should be fined when their pupils fail to achieve grade Cs in either GCSE Maths or English. Such a suggestion, based on ignorance of both state schools and education in general, can only have come from people with no idea whatsoever of life in an average comprehensive school. Should members of an education advisory unit really need to be told that some pupils, despite possessing other skills and abilities, simply cannot grasp what is required for these grades,and would benefit from studying either functional Maths and English, or different subjects altogether.

     Like Labour`s Tristram Hunt, thinktank members, with their cossetted education and limited experience of anything approaching real life, only see teacher failings as reasons for lack of C grades. This, too, explains the recent government announcement that schools with less than 60% pupils gaining 5 A*-C grades, are "coasting" and must "academise". Anyone with knowledge of, and experience in, state education knows that there are many excellent schools, with good leadership and brilliant, hard-working staff, with results nowhere near 60%. Sadly, such understanding seems beyond the comprehension of our so-called "political elite".

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