Wednesday, 16 March 2016
David Cameron is to sweep away the last vestiges of the old Local Education Authorities as he plans to turn every school into an ‘academy’. Brilliant. Let’s change the name again; after all it works for tired old companies doesn’t it? Doesn’t it? When they swapped GCEs for GCSEs it was better all round because you got the extra C, see? Now if we can have the kids gaining baccalaureates or, better yet, high school diplomas (there’s a slender chance they’ll actually be able to spell that) it will look brilliant on the several hundred identical CVs they will be mailing out to indifferent employees who couldn’t give a shit.
Who wants the output of British schools these days? Yes, they’re diverse; yes they have been culturally ‘enriched’; yes they have all passed ‘History of the Holocaust’ and unwittingly converted to islam on a school trip to a mosque; yes they have a list of ‘achievements’ as long as your arm... But, seriously, have they got a clue? For too many years we have allowed academic theory to get in the way of education, churning out identikit model citizens with cultural awareness, gender sensitivity and a total blindness to arse/elbow differentials.
The left, of course, in the form of the NUT and other usual suspects are claiming that there is no evidence this will improve anything, oblivious to the reality that fifty years of progressive education has hardly proved the theorists fit to fiddle with anything, let alone kids. I choose my words carefully, for piss-poor education is tantamount to child abuse. Spare the rod, they used to say, and spoil the child.
Those employers I mentioned? All they want is work-ready youngsters with solid basic skills and the ability to learn without being coddled. Maybe – if the NUT’s conspiracy about preparation for privatisation holds true – some of those companies could end up running their own academies. Some already do, at graduate level, but imagine what might be achieved if, instead of tinkering around the edges with ephemeral, government-term headline ‘fixes’, companies could inject education with enthusiasm and vitality and – I hardly dare say this – the prospect of real jobs at the end of school?
But of course it won’t work like that because mass education belongs to the statists and the state will simply be unable to prevent itself from interfering. And they’ll start measuring and testing and re-testing and altering; experimenting with real live subjects all over again, the only constant being change. And once again the smart parents will see what is happening and use whatever influence they can bring to bear to keep their own kids from becoming just another brick in the walls of the national house that Jack built.
Another wall to tear down?
So, whatever Cameron proposes, the course of state education seems determined to steer forever towards a dodgy, dumbed-down horizon. Those with private means will turn to genuinely independent, private schools thus bringing about the NUT’s feared privatisation prophecy. Every time a government intervenes in education (anything, for that matter) it seems to only get worse; the three Rs now stand for Reading, Rights and Rioting. Have they learned nothing?