No government can feel satisfied with itself until it has “overhauled” the education system. This one is no different, but is it going in the right direction?
The education secretary, Michael Gove, has a plan for GCSEs meant to make Britain more competitive in the world and tackle ‘grade inflation’. The concern is that Britain’s education system is falling behind – the Chinese work harder, the Americans are more innovative, the Germans more logical and the Scandianvians are just better. And there have been more passes and higher grades every year that GCSEs have been taken since their invention in 1988.
So what’s going to change?
It’s probably a bit un-PC to compare school kids to the Taliban, but I have no doubt that when ex-soldiers make it through a two-year fast track programme to become teachers that they’ll notice the similarities. Teenagers and terrorists: liable to explode any minute.
The Sutton Trust, a respected education think-tank, is worried that poor kids choose not to go to university because it’s too expensive and says fees should be means-tested. It’s wrong.
There are two issues here. The first is that university fees are too expensive. The second is that poor students should be given more help than richer ones.
As a semi-proud holder of a second class degree, I was delighted to hear that the leading scientist and TV presenter Lord Winston deliberately doesn’t hire people with a first. Why? Because there are two ways to get a first – be the sharpest knife in the drawer or work your arse off. Problem? The latter kind doesn’t know how to do anything else.
Almost every kid next door has a degree these days. Even post-grad qualifications are common, making it damn difficult for employers to pick and choose. In addition to paper qualifications, they look for extra-curricular experience – a degree is no longer enough.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that the market for internships has got pretty competitive too. But here’s the shocker: you can buy an internship. The going rate? £5,000.
The sad thing about education is that by the time you realise what it’s worth, you’re too late.
A good friend suggested yesterday that I watch a thought-provoking YouTube rapper/rhymer with a knack for picking holes in the fabric of Britain’s education system. I did, and I’d like to share him with you too.
Naming and shaming: Britain got a report card this week from Unicef on the well-being of its younger generation. The result? An award for improvement. And a beating, because Britain’s kids still don’t know nuffink (like not starting a sentence with a conjunction).
Unicef (the United Nations Children’s Fund) measured several factors related to well-being and scored 29 rich countries for their performance in each category. (Full report here).
So what’s the damage to dear old Blighty?