September 30, 2004
An Education Secretary's lot is not a happy one

I recall how, during the Cold War, you could quote anonymously from some speech, evidently made by some extremely discontented old buffer who no longer cared about little things like being sent to die in a prison camp. The economy is shit. Nothing works. Repairing a fridge takes for ever. The country needs industrial managers willing to be responsible for things, honest government officials, a sober army, far less poison in the air and in the water, far more adventurous use of modern technology, better manners, young people to behave themselves, trains to run on time, blah blah blah, it's all going to hell, etc. etc. And then you revealed that the man who was saying all this was none other than Mr Brezhnev, in his main Supreme Lord High Everything speech to the XXXXXXXth conference of the Communist Party of the USSR. He was nominally in charge of everything, yet he never got what he wanted either.

This reminds me of that:

He gave a frank assessment of the education system's failings, particularly for 14 to 19-year-olds.

"Too much of the work does not stretch the ablest pupils enough,” he said.

"Too much of the work leads some pupils to switch off entirely and to turn to truancy and disruption.

"Too much of the assessment is an excessive burden rather than a stimulation.

"Too many students leave school without knowing their grammar and being properly numerate," he said.

"There is too much of a division between the academic and the vocational streams of study. …"

So who is this discontented old trouble maker? Why it is Mr Clarke, the politician supposedly in charge of Britain's state education system.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:18 PM
Category: Sovietisation