Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Only 15% of students make the academic grade

For years we've been hearing of the success of our education system. Standards have been going up year on year with the league table pass rates (5 A*-C grades which must include English and maths) at their highest ever level. It's evidence of the success of our education policies said Labour over 13 years.

Except it's not, it's simply evidence of the dumbing down of education that has left us in the shocking state we're in today. You see Michael Gove has just introduced a new league table measure, which show's things rather differently. This new measure, the English Baccalaureate, is the percentage of pupils attaining 5 A*-C grade GCSEs to include maths, English, science, a humanities and a foreign language. A measure of a rounded education you could say. What's shocking is that only 15.6% (1 in 6 pupils) in the UK managed to achieve that. Compared to 53.4% under the old system.

Of course Head Teachers are complaining. This is an unfair measure, they say, our students (read as the Head Teachers) didn't know that this measure would be used 3 years ago when they picked their options. The previous government pushed our pupils towards vocational courses in other subjects yet more grumble. What about diplomas a small minority call. Won't somebody think of the children a Head from an inner city school screams from the back.

At the end of the day though head teachers and teachers have participated in this deceit. None of them questioned the league table measures and whether they measured real attainment, or indeed were useful for employers, colleges and universities. None of them complained when languages were dropped as compulsory GCSEs. As a result of this (and it not being in the league table) One of our local schools has all but dropped languages from the curriculum. Pre GCSE you'll do one term of French, with one one hour lesson a week, then switch to German for the next term. In the final term you'll do no languages. Last year less than 20 pupils took the French GCSE, those that did unsurprisingly obtained less than stellar results. I haven't even looked up the school's baccalaureate score, I know it will just be depressing. I'm willing to bet languages will get a bit more focus now though.

What these figures show is that school's haven't just been teaching to the test, they've been teaching to the league table. I don't think anyone could argue that pupils shouldn't leave school with GCSEs in the core subjects of English, maths, science, a humanity and a foreign language so this new measure is certainly a valid one regardless of what the Head Teachers may be claiming.

These figures also banish another great myth which falls alongside the abolishment of boom & bust. That Labour spent 13 years improving education for the better, in fact they spent 13 years destroying it.

Bootnote: One has to wonder if all these failing schools that have been turned around have done so purely by changing the curriculum mix. If you were making everyone do real GCSEs in the core subjects and then you swap that to softer subjects and GCSE equivalents, your league table scores would improve immeasurably. Something to look into I think.

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1 comment:

  1. The Labour Party is the true enemy of education. Ever since Anthony Crosland abolished "every fucking grammar school", in his eloquent words, standards have been consistently falling and fewer students from poorer backgrounds have been getting into top universities.

    Blind socialist ideology has ruined the life chances of countless poor people. Ironic, that.

    The only solution to all this is to be bold and reintroduce selective schools. The Conservatives should be ashamed that their flagship "free schools" are allowed to select by just about every criteria except ability.

    The Tories have been cowardly on this subject for far too long. Grammar schools must return, or countless more students will be subject to Labour's mediocre education system.