Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

An Old Saw

September 14, 2010

Nick Clegg’s views on social mobility paraded in a major speech a few days ago had the ominous ring of levelling down rather than levelling up. Instead of claiming that too few able working-class kids go up to university – which may be true – he claimed a “disproportionate” number of middle-class children do. Even my Lord Prescott claimed that, “We are all middle class now.” but bourgeois values are under constant attack from above and below. They bring their children up well, make sure they work hard at school, and instil the right values to ensure their off-spring go to university rather than jail. They pay most of the income tax but all they get is abuse and the favoured solution to the Brown Profligacy is to tax, means-test or take away “middle-class benefits”.

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Is it worth the candle?

September 14, 2010

In that hopeful dawn of 1997, Tony Blair proclaimed his “education, education, education” mantra and set a target that half of all school leavers going to university. The elephant in the sitting room was always what sort of retained value was there in a degree once been awarded to 3% of the population but was now available to 50%. The evidence is that the new qualifications have not repaid the hopes or the tuition fees invested in them and half our graduates are now in jobs that do not require a degree. The extra money they were to earn has dropped to an annual £2,500 over a 40-year career and even that modest figure is swollen by Oxbridge hedge fund billionaires. The fact is that Switzerland sends only 15% of its youth off to get a degree – but it makes sure the others have apprenticeships with actual businesses and vocational training.

The Blessed Butler Education Act

September 11, 2010

The Butler Education Act of 1944 was the last attempt to place our children’s education above party politics and led to an astonishing burst of post-war social mobility. This ethos has now been polluted by crass social engineering with grammar schools razed, Highers and A Levels dumbed down, and the independent sector attacked. The controversial decision to allow polytechnics to re-brand themselves as universities was part of a cultural shift away from vocational training in favour of academic courses. Instead of excellent trade certificates, the middle stream of working class children are being channeled into these second rate universities to read pseudo-academic subjects. Sadly, employers will only hire the brightest people and these are much more likely to be reading Maths at Cambridge than dance and film studies at an ex-poly.

UK Tertiary Education

September 10, 2010

The number of students at tertiary level has doubled in the last 15 years and is up tenfold since the 1960s leading to an inevitable decline in the quality of education. University has now become the world’s most expensive form of childcare, a sanctuary to drink and party and avoid the responsibilities of adulthood for a few years. Many young people with the smarts and good practical skills should be making a great career in the trades instead of becoming square pegs in round academic holes. This period of rationing of university places will at least allow teenagers to reflect on whether submitting blindly to the pressure of their parents, teachers and peers is in their best interests.

Heads in the Sand

August 19, 2010

To no-one’s great surprise, Scotland has withdrawn from international education surveys which are exposing the disastrous failings of its schools. The Pirls (comparing national literacy) and Timss (comparing national numeracy) have shown the Scots tumbling down the international league over the past 40 years. The dire results prompted unwelcome calls for improvement in the training and educational standards of both primary and secondary teachers in Scotland. Under the guise of “saving money” the educational establishment has demanded that the catastrophic mess they have made of school education be kept hidden. Scottish youngsters will thus be sent out into an increasingly competitive world unaware that they have fallen further and further behind their contemporaries in the Far East.

Market required in Higher Education

August 19, 2010

Following the disastrous old Eastern European system of central planning, the state sets the number of places on particular courses at British universities. The resulting mismatch between what is churned out and what is needed means that employers have trouble recruiting people in maths, science, technology, and engineering. Heavy subsidies are available for duff courses at pretendy “universities” so that masses of kids are wasting their time and getting into debt in a ludicrous drinking culture. There is a crying need for a proper market in higher education allowing universities to charge different amounts for different courses. If universities were made to publish their data on graduate employment and earnings, people would be able to judge whether particular degrees are worth the effort.

A culture of apathy and failure

August 19, 2010

Last week, we learned that more than a third of children are leaving primary school are illiterate and innumerate underlining the disaster zone state education has become. New Labour tried to silence debate on the subject, claiming that any discussion of falling standards amounted to an “attack on the hard work of pupils and teachers”. Essentially, our state schools are dominated by an anti-work, anti-achievement culture, which crushes pupils’ aspirations and opportunities. Firms such as Sainsbury’s have told Parliament the reason why they prefer to hire immigrants is that they are better educated and have a far more satisfactory work ethic. Yet the educational establishment will resist to the death the idea that individual schools should “challenge” the dire prevailing culture of apathy and failure.

UK University Future

August 19, 2010

Lord Browne – he who exited BP just in time – has been charged with examining fees and financial support for full and part-time students, including post-graduates. The idea of “Go now. Pay later” is probably untenable, whether the money comes in as a loan repayment or a graduate tax. The elephant in the sitting room is the grim truth that there are less and less overseas customers for our increasingly dumbed-down tertiary education. I wonder if he will be drawn to the highly successful “needs blind” programme of his alma mater Stanford University whose fees range from zero to the full whack. Of course that would mean cutting loose a UK Ivy League of Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE, St Andrews, Edinburgh, UCL, etc and running the rest as techs and day colleges.

Rationing Reflection

August 19, 2010

The number of students at tertiary level has doubled in the last 15 years and is up tenfold since the 1960s leading to an inevitable decline in the quality of education. University has now become the world’s most expensive form of childcare, a sanctuary to drink and party and avoid the responsibilities of adulthood for a few years. Many young people with the smarts and good practical skills should be making a great career in the trades instead of becoming square pegs in round academic holes. This period of rationing of university places will at least allow teenagers to reflect on whether submitting blindly to the pressure of their parents, teachers and peers is in their best interests.

Our disastrous schools

August 9, 2010

Last week, we learned that more than a third of children are leaving primary school are illiterate and innumerate underlining the disaster zone state education has become.

New Labour tried to silence debate on the subject, claiming that any discussion of falling standards amounted to an “attack on the hard work of pupils and teachers”.

Essentially, our state schools are dominated by an anti-work, anti-achievement culture, which crushes pupils’ aspirations and opportunities.

Firms such as Sainsbury’s have told Parliament the reason why they prefer to hire immigrants is that they are better educated and have a far more satisfactory work ethic.

Yet the educational establishment will resist to the death the idea that individual schools should “challenge” the dire prevailing culture of apathy and failure.