In response to a recent speech, in which Michael Gove warned the number of pupils passing exams would fall as a result of government reforms making exams tougher, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the traditionally moderate association of Teachers and Lecturers, accused Mr Gove of seeking an “utterly disastrous” return to the 1950’s exam system.
“Education should be about developing students’ skills and not about ensuring some students fail exams”. Dr Bousted added that top priority should be given to tackling poverty, social exclusion and social inequality as a means of improving the performance of disadvantaged pupils.
She said right-wingers laid the responsibility for tackling educational inequality upon the school … “In their world, the school exists in a bubble, unaffected by the economic forces raging around it which will put 200,000 more children below the poverty line.
“We need to understand just what schools can do but we also need to understand what needs to be done in terms of social justice to give all children a fair start in life and a fair chance to benefit from their education.”
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said “Michael Gove’s continual criticism of teachers, headteachers and pupils achievements is thoroughly undeserved…While it serves the Education secretary well in securing headlines it simply alienates and demoralises the profession which strives day in and day out, often in difficult circumstances, to achieve the best for all their pupils.” (4)
Following on from Alicia Duffy’s post (3) about restricting access to Open University degrees by tripling the fees, Think Left posts another from Liam Carr challenging the retrograde education policy of the Tory/LD government and specifically the lack of understanding of Education Minister Michael Gove:
Under-equipped? by Liam Carr
Michael Gove should redo his GCSEs. If he did GCSE Sciences now he would learn some important concepts about how to look at data both in the media and from other sources. He has noticed that there is a correlation between low academic achievement and ‘risky behaviour’ (1) or what a normal person might call having unprotected sex. He has made the classic mistake that GCSE science students have learned not to make, and jumped from correlation to cause. Fertilisation of an egg is the cause of teenage pregnancy, not, doing badly in class. He has then made the leap that if everyone did well in acagemic subjects there would be no need for sex education. This is yet another example of the retrograde education policy of the tory government (2). When Gove dreams up policy is he just reminiscing?
“When I was at school the Queen had a boat = we need to buy the Queen a boat”
“When I was at school everyone did Latin = We are bringing back Latin”
“When I was at school there was no sex education = We are scrapping sex education”
“When I was at school we all stood up when the an adult came in to the room = we need a policy on standing
(The lib dems could do with a policy on standing at council elections)
An education secretary must be capable of thinking in the future and not just in the past. It is one of the most important ministerial positions; ineptitude is a disservice to the next generation.
Education in the UK is not as content heavy as in some nations which are held up as ‘overtaking’ us. This, in some ways is no bad thing. Knowledge is easy to access but an understanding of how we find out the things ‘we know’ is more important for students if they are going to break new ground. The progress made in fostering skills development, particularly in Science education, is progress that we cannot afford to reverse.
The academic rigour of some subjects needs to be looked at, but unless a holistic approch is taken, we risk providing an education to our students that would equip them well for life in 1950s Britain, but leave them floundering in a rapidly changing world.