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Gove's a great guy. Was suprised by the rather substandard performance on QT last week.

bring back grammar schools

If you are going to have radical reform of the education system you HAVE to dismantle the embedded ability of veto held by local education authorities.

You also have to radically reform, if not abolish, the school inspectorate.

Finally Any operator should be capable of opening a school whether profit motivated or not.

What matters is the quality of education, and by that I mean that the education should be relevant and attractive to it's target audience.

In other words not everyone wants to be, or indeed is capable of, being a rocket scientist. A bit more practical trades and skills training would make education more relevant to the vast majority of the currently disaffected.

James Cullis, the Tories voted in favour of the Government Bill banning the creation of any more grammar schools.

Anyway, Gove is just pretending. Andrew Adonis would be Cameron's Education Secretary. James Purnell would be Cameron's Work and Pensions Secretary. And Ken Clarke would be Cameron's Chancellor.

So, Tory poll lead? Who the hell cares?

"education should be relevant and attractive to it's target audience"

No, that would be cheap...

The reason people hate LEAs (apart from the fact that they simply know nothing about the state education system, which is frankly none of the Conservative Party's business) is that, without really very powerful LEAS, there could not have been and there cannot be a bipartite or tripartite system of secondary education.

As Education Secretary, Thatcher closed so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. During her Premiership, not a single one re-opened. And it was she who ran down LEAs. Of course.

I'm in favour of better quality examinations.
But I do wonder if we are going to fall into the same trap as labour. As for the GCSE being devalued I'm not convinced, my children's work seems as hard today as it was when I was at school. Do we really want to go down the same route as yesteryear. I recall that at ROSLA some children were in schools that only took CSE's, whilst a grade 1 was excepted by some employers as an O'leval some turned up their noses even at the top grade. As a result those who got Grade 2 or below, might as well have not had any qualifications at all. Despite a grade 2 being well above the grade expected for a child of average intelligence completing the course. We must tred very carefully before consigning another generation to the scrap heap, because of a false assumption about the qualifications they have been "forced" into.
Another worry is the impact a further set of changes will have on our already over worked teachers. Otherwise these proposals sound very interesting. As long as they are thought through carefully an introduced at a sane pace, they should result in a better system for our state school children. Of course this is all a long way from being a set of policies. Now is indeed the right time for us to debate the future direction of this important plank of our national life.

if we reay wanted to be bold we'd repeal it

But you won't, of course. For one thing, as I said, you can't have bipartite or tripartite secondary education without powerful LEAs.

And The Bishop Swine, can you name the Prime Minister who replaced O-levels with GCSEs?

Im concerned that Goves portfolio is too wide and that he therefore concentrates too much on the education part at the expense of the other two parts.

"As for the GCSE being devalued I'm not convinced, my children's work seems as hard today as it was when I was at school".

I am sure that the second part of your comment is quite correct, The Bishop Swine, but I am afraid there can be little doubt about the devaluation of exam standards.
The present government will pay little or no heed to the overall educational benefit provided by the leading independent schools but they should take note of the fact that they are going in for the international GCSEs and the IB rather than A levels, because their best pupils are not stretched enough.

If academies are very similar to the grant mainatined schools, it does show what poor value for money Labour has been over 12 years. Under the conservatives, there were about 1100 GM schools, which Tony Blair promptly ceased (along with the assisted places scheme). I believe there might be about 80 academies now!

Tim - who cares what the teaching unions think?

Depressing, snipeing pessimists on site as usual!

What Michael Gove is suggesting COULD be the beginning of a real breath of fresh air in the state education system!

I think it is time children in the state system are 'educated' again, that is persuaded that acquiring KNOWLEDGE - of all sorts of areas, is beneficial, but first of all taught to read and write properly.

Under this government so-called education has become political indoctrination - and quite plainly it has not benefitted many of of the pupils much.

It would be pleasant if children were taught 'English language', and encouraged to be proud of the English language, it is after all the national language - still!! Amongst young people 'texting' has also become a kind of language - perhaps a techno language, that doesn't mean it can't exist side-by-side with an education in the national language!! But many young people seem uneasy with perceived english, sometimes one gets the impression that an urban dialect would be the more acceptable general method of communication for groups of young people!

Fund parents, not schools.

Unions can strike all they want, but if there are 5,000 employers employing 80 teachers each rather than 800 employers, 799 of which employ 80 teachers and one that employs 336,000, no strike will ever hold.

That is not a radical policy. This is: -

I believe that the education system of this country is in ruins and is a serious handicap to any future hope of England developing prosperously as a knowledge-based economy. Blair came to power on the promise that his government’s priorities were to be “education, education and education”. Yet, we have an education system, which, despite massive investment, lags behind every competitor economy in terms even of basic numeracy and literacy. If we cannot address this issue successfully, our economy has no chance in the globalised economic struggle to come. Labour’s analysis of the public sector prior to 1997 was, broadly, that all its acknowledged problems were solely due to under-investment and that they had but to restore the money stolen from it by hard-hearted Tories for all to be sweetness and light. This mantra they used initially against Lady Thatcher and with gathering force against Major. Thanks to Mr Brown’s largesse, their analysis now lies in ruins amidst the service it sought to support. Throwing money at the problems of education in this country has not solved those problems; it has just made them more expensive. Therefore in education too, the Conservatives now have an opportunity to draw a line under 20 years of stereotyping and abuse as the skinflint party and to reach out to millions of parents desperate to know how (without going privately) their children are going to be able to receive the kind of rigorous education that parents in our competitor countries expect as standard.
The problems of education in this country are founded on its class system up to World War 2. Grand Public schools for the country’s upper classes and grammar schools for the aspirant middle classes together provided this country’s political and economic elite. This left a lot of people to be taught in secondary moderns, condemned never to rise above their father’s place in Society. Post war liberals regarded this situation as intolerable and England entered on the Comprehensive School experiment from the Sixties onward. This experiment can now be concluded as a disastrous failure. Comprehensive schools, a Marxist synthesis of grammar schools and secondary modern schools, were in fact more like grammar school in scholastic method and ethos. But the sad truth is that only a quite small part of any year’s intake is capable of utilising a grammar school education, which is why we had secondary moderns in the first place. It is cruel to teach French to a child who is having difficulties with English or to teach physics to a pupil who cannot comprehend the simplest mathematics. To teach these children in the same classes as others thirsting for knowledge and capable of coping with mediaeval verse and relativity is not an educational philosophy but a sick and sadistic joke against the realities of childhood. This ideological battle against reason has been promoted by educationalists in the Universities and government quangos and perpetrated by teachers indoctrinated in their teacher training schools. All this has politicised education in this country to an almost unique extent. Teachers are seen to be the authors of their own misfortunate. Despite conditions of service that are the envy of many, it is the Teaching Unions that have campaigned hardest for the ideology of Comprehensive Education and to ban the cane in schools. Many schools lack all discipline and have ceased to function. HM Inspectors report that as many as a third of England’s state secondary schools may be deemed to be failing. Is it any wonder that no other western country holds its educators in such low regard or that no other western country pays its teachers so poorly in comparison with other professions? As the Comprehensive experiment was seen to be failing the very children it was set up to encourage, political pressure grew on politicians for improvement and they in turn put pressure on educators to prove that things were indeed improving. So began the Orwellian conspiracy against truth that has characterised the educational policies of successive governments. Lord Baker, when he was Secretary of State for Education, attempted to control this teacher mutiny against educational rigor by laying down the curriculum that was to be taught in schools by insisting that all children should be taught the same things. However, bad schools quickly perverted this good intention, so that what was intended as a minimum floor for schools to build on became the only object of endeavour. This was the first step in the “dumbing down” of British education. Next came the league tables. These were designed to assist parents in identifying schools in their area that provided good or bad education and to give parents information to make meaningful the idea of parental choice. They have instead caused education in this country to be focused on examination success in exams with increasingly narrow curricula. GNVQ exams have been allowed to count for more than they are worth, falsely raising the performance of schools that rely on them and schools have been allowed to use tricks to keep out of the figures pupils who could be expected to perform badly. The Labour government never slow to steal an idea, went one further and prescribed a literacy and numeracy hour in all schools. One hour for each! What had been on offer before? The truly awful thing is that this seems to be working in improving literacy and numeracy. In the teeth of opposition from educationalists and the Teaching Unions, we have learned that when teachers bother to teach literacy and numeracy, children learn it. By such small steps does civilisation progress! Government has colluded with poor schools to lie to parents about the state of England’s schools. The lying must stop. Government must work for parents not for schools. We should reform the league tables so that schools must include in their figures all children who enrolled at the school but have not since moved from the borough. League tables should be “value added” by comparing performance in SATs at 5 and 11 for primary schools and at 11 and 16 for secondary schools. SATs at 14 should be abolished. This will assist good schools with many pupils in the lower ability range, whose good work is not made manifest by the current tables and will, probably, expose some current, supposedly good schools, who do not make full use of the potential of their upper ability range pupils. School inspections cause a great deal of anxiety and workload for schools at present and in many cases the inspection proves only the good work that local parents already know takes place. With “value added” league tables, inspections need only occur in schools in the bottom third of the table. This will save public money and free good schools from an unnecessary burden.

With all its educationalists, who are part of the problem not the solution to the English education crisis, The Department for Education should be abolished and replaced by a professional body under Royal Charter, The Royal College of Education. Because the government can never wholly relinquish political responsibility for education, the President of the new Royal College should sit in the Cabinet and be appointed by the Prime Minister. But the Chairman of the Royal College and its board should all be serving teachers of more than 20 years standing and elected by the profession. The Royal College should organise teacher training in England and examine and licence all new teachers, who would then become members of the College. Experienced teachers could take a fellowship exam after 15 years in the profession and this would automatically entitle them to an increase in salary in their current post, which would assist the retention of experienced, able teachers. Secondly, the Royal College would take over the inspection of schools from the current schools inspectorate ensuring independence and uniformity of standards in schools. It would compile and publish the “value added” league tables and would commission research from University education departments on whether differences in teaching practice or policies of discipline or reward accounted for differences between schools in the upper and lower quartiles of the table, to enable all schools to learn from the best. Thirdly, the Royal College would set the curriculum syllabus, the examination papers and arrange for the marking of all public examinations. This would ensure that schools couldn’t play the system, as some do now, by choosing easier syllabuses from different examination houses in competition with one another. The Royal College would be required to keep for 30 years copies of every examination paper set and specimen examples of marked answers, so that we can settle once and for all whether there has been dumbing down. Taken together these three measures are a revolution in England’s education. They de-politicise it by handing the governance of education to the teachers (not the educationalists) and treating them as true professionals, rewarding and acknowledging the best. If the profession forfeits that trust, the President, as a politician, is responsible to speak both in Parliament and to the Board of the College on behalf of parents and pupils and not on behalf of the system that has hitherto let them down so badly. In addition, they reduce the inspection and examination burden on schools, whilst continuing to show to parents, which school in their area will do well by their child, whether he is a high flyer or struggling.

The next requirement is to reform the burden of over-examination that we currently place on our children. Given that the summer term is mostly spent revising, sitting exams and then sloping off early for the summer, the current system means that pupils are only really learning new things from September to March and are wasting half a year, every year from 16 to 18. GCSEs are a hangover from the old grammar school days. They were a final exam, when many children did not stay on into education post 16. Now that so many children do, they have little use. They are an irrelevance for children whose University entry depends on their A level results. Yet they have been stretched into meaninglessness so that all pupils, including those of lower ability, can sit them. One has to ask what is the point of a G grade GCSE in French, except to tell a future employer not to put the person on the phone to the French office. We should abolish GCSEs and replace them with a Citizenship Certificate, testing all pupils at 16 in literacy, numeracy and citizenship (British history and politics). Instead, pupils and their parents should decide at 15 whether they are to stay at school beyond 16. If they are, they should sit 5 A levels over 3 years with final exams in each subject at 18 in the Easter term (abolishing modular courses and repeat attempts to get the desired answer). That is 7 terms teaching for 5 subjects rather than 4 terms for three. One A level must be a science or Maths and one a language or humanity, which will permit the breadth of knowledge that people admire in the French Baccalaureate without losing the depth of knowledge for which A Levels have, until recently, been the gold standard. Grades at A level, which have been traduced so badly by grade inflation over recent years, should be abolished. Instead Universities should have available to them the actual A level marks and a centile score for the mark (so that pupils can be compared across years without the need for examiners to fudge marks in difficult years as happens now). Pupils should also sit an SAT1 at 18 on the same basis as in America, so that Universities will have a nationally referenced intelligence test to provide additional information to supplement A level scores. With A levels taken at Easter, universities can make post A level offers to all pupils. Pupils, who are going to leave school at 16, should spend their last year sitting a vocational qualification appropriate to the local employment situation and not waste their time on academic study. After they have left, this should lead in appropriate cases into a formal apprenticeship scheme with local employers, craftsmen and tradesmen. An apprenticeship might involve further day release study at an FE College

This government is destroying the University sector through under funding. Lecturer salaries are lower than for teachers. The government has destroyed the principle of free education that has given poor but able students the ability to better themselves, in order to pay for a spurious expansion of the University sector providing a lot of spurious courses. We should free up the Universities too from state control. We should abolish University fees for English citizens and introduce a university voucher to fund undergraduate teaching on the same basis as for schools and commission and fund research from Universities separately. The College fee, in the form of a higher voucher, should be restored to Oxbridge and extended to other members of the Russell group of universities to allow these to retain their status as world class universities. However, Oxbridge and Imperial, in particular, have a unique product and may need to charge still higher fees to maintain their pre-eminence and they should be encouraged to do this, even if this means partial privatisation. Students must weigh the initial extra cost against the benefits of this quality of education, as they do in the USA. Ancient rich colleges will be encouraged to develop full value bursaries for poor students. England can only survive as a wealthy country in the 21st century by investing as a knowledge-based economy. This is not an area on which England can afford to stint.

Schools should be financed by education vouchers, which can be cashed at any English School. Money would be banked by the government onto a parent’s membership card, which could only be spent on termly fees at their child’s school. This is the second of the benefits of citizenship. Non-citizens would have to pay the school directly and Charities may become involved in this area. This would end the distinction between state and private education, which has added to the controversy and bitterness of English education. All schools would become independent. Existing state schools would receive a licence to occupy their current premises free of charge. The freehold would be owned and structurally maintained by the Treasury out of general taxation. If a school failed, its premises could be offered to other successful schools locally to enable them to expand or found daughter schools or to parents or charities wishing to set up a new school. In this way, Education vouchers will make a reality of patient choice by allowing good schools to expand and take over failing ones. At present, choice lies solely with the Heads of popular schools and not at all with parents because the school’s intake is fixed and expansion is difficult. Freed from the control of local bureaucracy and able to attract extra finance from extra pupils, good schools would flourish and poor ones wither and be taken over or replaced. The most difficult aspect of Education vouchers is whether you prevent schools from charging more than the amount of the voucher. On balance, I feel that schools will operate under the new arrangements in a true market and the less government direction the better. Many parents will not be able or will not want to pay any more for their child’s education than the voucher. With the real ability to create new schools and with money to pay for it through the vouchers, parents will have much more say in controlling education costs. High fees charged by major public schools do not represent the true cost of a good education but the cost of the Rolls Royce and frankly unnecessarily elaborate facilities that many of them provide. It is right that parents should be able to buy this level of provision, if they wish, out of their own pockets but no one can pretend that England either can afford or should attempt to duplicate Eton in every school. Nonetheless, I would require every school, including Eton, to offer a minimum of 10% of its places at the voucher price (most schools will offer a much higher percentage) and leave it up to the schools to decide who benefits from this concession. For some formerly public schools this would represent a scholarship to allow poor but bright children a new start in life (essentially restoring the assisted places scheme) but for most schools it would ensure that all children were guaranteed an education. Churches and charities would, in addition, receive encouragement to offer bursaries or to set up community schools that would offer education at the voucher price in poorer areas. LEAs should be abolished but a locally elected Council Director of Education would police the local schools for the benefit of local parents – no longer suffering producer capture, he would speak on behalf of “his” parents not “his” schools and settle disputes about school placement. Each Council Director may also be elected on a platform of providing a Local Education Voucher, which would supplement the national voucher. Thus local decisions could be made about the level of education expenditure for local pupils (irrespective of where they go to school). Council Directors would also be responsible for collecting and publishing information about the financial and scholastic performance of schools in their area.

Opinicus -

You need to have shorter snappier posts.
One of the most useful things to learn is getting to the point, and learning to write articles that fit within 180 words, and letters onto a page.

Did anyone read all that?

I don't expect anyone to have read it all, although I obviously think it bears reading. The problem with blogging is that it is only a virtual bar room brawl. It is all reactive. There is no where to come up with positive reasoned alternatives. Blogging doesnt have to be always the Daily Sport.
The problem with the Conservative Party is that they now look likely to get into government in 2010 with a shattered economy and ruined public services especially in education but with no plan and more importantly no desire or perhaps taste for taking the radical steps necessary, which alone will pull this country out from under.

Cameron's first government threatens to be like Blair's. A hugely disappointing waste of time.

I can do pithy abuse as well as the next man but felt that education was too important to leave it to that.

"Under this government so-called education has become political indoctrination - and quite plainly it has not benefited many of of the pupils much."

This is absolutely true. When my eldest finally twigged that he was being manipulated by the PC culture he was rightly outraged. However I remain unconvinced, and a little suspicious of those who claim our children "an't learning nutting at skool". I recall that there was a great deal of the same kind of sniping about the reading and writing skills of children and the undermining of the then O'Level when I left school. Incidentally I was in the first year of ROSLA. Strangely I never hear anyone saying that they are personally unable to cope with mathematics or reading (well they wouldn't would they?) Education it seems, like youth itself, is horrible wasted on the young. I think we should be less critical of the young, and a lot more honest about the improvements in the numbers gaining some sort of qualifications. How many people over 50 have 3 A'level's let alone 5 GCSE's. I am more concerned about the imposition of student debt on our young, and the loss of the notion of free education, than the education my children are receiving. Saying that my children attend a pretty good school, which achieves well into the top 10% of the state sector. The price we pay for this relatively good school, is the Labour PC propaganda, and constant letters warning the children that being ill is simply unacceptable. Of course the grammar school system was excellent for those who got through the 11+ (or in my case the 13+ transfer) and the 10% that graduated did indeed have the world at their feet. Perhaps we do need to move away from the GCSE system for all children and bring in City & Guilds to improve vocational training.The reality remains that far more children now achieve 5 good gcse's than did in the 50's,60's and 70's. If we further undermine the reputation of the examination, we will be doing them a great injustice. Let's not forget that almost all of us were pretty hopeless at 18 and being green as grass is a place we have all been.

But what is a "good GCSE" for? What does it tell you about the child
People taking A level dont need it and how many people getting a good GCSE dont take A level? Its a nonsense exam.


Brevity is the soul of wit.

@Super Blue
Like all at CCHQ, borrowed wit and a fetish for sound bites

I am not connected to CCHQ in any other way than being a party member.

"But what is a "good GCSE" for? What does it tell you about the child
People taking A level dont need it and how many people getting a good GCSE dont take A level? Its a nonsense exam."

Not everyone goes on to A levels and university, even now. As an example 5 GCSE is the minimum requirement for entering the Police, Nursing and a number of other vocations. Many young people go into college, and study BTEC, City & Guilds etc.
I do recognise that if we support the raising of the school leaving age to 18, then we should look at diverging the qualifications on offer to the 16-19yr age group. GCSE isn't just about passing the examination. My eldest son, is going to be studying History GCSE next year in addition to his A levels. The reason being that he feels that he "missed out" because he did a option that did not include History. He doesn't need an extra GCSE but he wants to follow the course. Finally GCSE is a far better examination than CSE which was utterly undermined by the press. Those children that only had access to CSE at ROSLA, were given a very bad deal indeed.

^^ Above post is by Bishop Swine not his wife.

That's because CSEs were a bad deal. But GCSEs morphed out of O levels and they were academic and not everyone can do academic. CSEs were academic too but at a really low level as GCSEs have been forced to become in order for children to meet the government's targets. What the non academic need is vocational and skills training not ersatz O levels.

I agree, Just so long as we don't force clever children into sub standard examinations.To many bright children had their wings clipped at ROSLA by being forced into CSE examinations. Of course a few got a string of Grade 1's, shame that the employers didn't read the small print. Saying that I am quite happy with the higher tier Math's and Science GCSE examinations my eldest is sitting.
I think City & Guilds should help develope good quality vocational examination for the 16-19 age group. After all they are the experts in the field.

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"beinaty hcbupa gquis xhad aqbgdevs rgbkiwzao lferjos"

Jack Stone that's the most sensible thing you have said for a long time!

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