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October 06, 2003
Language czarism

Lord preserve us, it seems that we now have a languages czar. Every primary school is to have a language specialist in it by the year 2010, and when that doesn't happen, the language czar can take all the blame, instead of him sharing it with the idiots who appointed himn and lumbered him with this impossible task.

As with most of the other bits of educational centralisation going on nowadays, this one is provoked by a good idea, in this case that learning foreign languages makes you, other things being equal, a better educated person.

But there is no good idea too good to turn bad if it is foisted on everybody, without anyone being allowed to say thanks but no thanks. I mean, presumably this czar is going to go around telling primary schools that they must pay for language specialists, right? Or maybe he'll give them money for their language specialists? But that will mean they have to fill in a ton of forms before they get that money, and if they don't they'll end up getting a de facto cut in their budgets. That, after all, is the pattern with all the other damn central initiatives that have flooded across the land out of London during the last decade or more. It's got so a school has to do lots of initiatives to just get its hands on a so-so budget, and about a quarter of its staff have to spend their entire days filling in all the forms.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:31 PM
Category: Sovietisation
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Comments

I started writing a slightly tangential comment about this, but it ended up rather long and rambling, so I turned it into a post on my blog.

Comment by: Michael Jennings on October 7, 2003 01:26 AM

http://www.michaeljennings.blogspot.com/2003_10_05_michaeljennings_archive.html#106548627135382706

Comment by: Michael Jennings on October 7, 2003 01:26 AM

I seem to remember a similar initiative with science specialists. The result was someone with no science qualifications was given the job (with a small pay-rise and a budget). They got hold of a science equipment sales brochure ordered a few things largely at random or from what they remembered of GCSE chemistry. Their purchases can now be found at the backs of cupboards at schools everywhere, largely unused.

Daniel

Comment by: Daniel Thomas on October 7, 2003 10:20 PM
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