A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Category archive: Comprehensive schools

Thursday July 03 2008

Continuing with the first comment on this that I quoted the beginning of below, and continuing with the theme of higher education as a British export industry, the final paragraphs of what “illuminatus” says go like this:

The wider cult of the metric is of great concern to me and is also starting to creep into HE too. Stories published this week about degree inflation and pressure on academics to wave through international students whose grasp of English is so tenuous as to be pretty much non-existent are just small indicators that the era of the comprehensive university is upon us (trust me, I work in one). Ed Balls is not unique, just the latest in a long line of education ministers who has covered their ears and whistled so they can’t hear the concerns of those of us in the education system telling them some rather uncomfortable truths about education policy and its implementation.

In the words of Albert Einstein: not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

He’s talking about these stories.  Further evidence, I suggest, that Terence Kealey is wrong about the alleged continuing excellence of universities, but right that universities should retain their independence, and preferably have it strengthened.  Instead, that is to say, of becoming “comprehensives” living in a state of perpetual political derangement and deterioration.

Sunday May 18 2008

Andrew Neil, here:

Those who regret the demise of the grammars pose this question: if you destroy the centres of educational excellence for bright kids from ordinary backgrounds, but keep those which are reserved largely for children who have well-off parents, why would you be surprised if public school kids started grabbing all the glittering prizes once more?

Makes sense.  He’s talking about this.

Wednesday April 30 2008

I’m for it:

A school is paying sixth-formers as young as 16 to teach lessons instead of hiring qualified supply staff, it emerged yesterday.

Here’s the story.  Predictably, a Union spokesperson has just been on the telly complaining about it, which is how I heard about the scheme.  Children “aren’t trained” to teach.  (We don’t want any of them proving they can, more like.) And Conservative spokesperson Nick Gibb is also suspicious.  But why isn’t he in favour of school autonomy?  Head of Chalfonts Community College Sue Tanner points out that the resulting classes are frequently better than what supply teachers from outside the school offer.

And I say that one of the classic ways you encourage people to learn a subject is to get them to teach it.  This has long been known at Sandhurst.

Friday December 28 2007

It often happens that in the relatively unbuttoned atmosphere of the comments section, things are revealed which don’t make it to the official bit of a blog.  Here is David Thompson, commenting on his own recent posting, on the subject of how he remembers his comprehensive school:

I have less-than-fond memories of my own comprehensive schooling. I remember the continual background disorder and the demoralised atmosphere, both so common to comprehensive schools. I have particularly vivid memories of two of my left-leaning teachers lecturing me on the “selfishness” of my complaints regarding my substandard education. It was, apparently, “wrong” of me to assume that my education was for my own benefit, rather than society’s.

Yet an “inclusive” comprehensive education is still presented as a credible, even righteous, model – despite decades of failure and frustration. The belief seems to be that a failed experiment can somehow be made to work by demonizing the alternatives, or by measuring its failure in increasingly tendentious ways. And when pro-comprehensive pundits say, “All children should be able to fulfill their potential,” there seems to be little recognition of what that might actually entail. For instance, a couple of days ago I heard a leftist educator insisting that the most able pupils should be “obliged” to academically “mingle” with the less competent for the sake of “social cohesion” – and regardless of what effect this might have on the able children’s own preferences and academic performance.

“Mingle”.  Makes it sound like a cocktail party, doesn’t it?