Monday, 24 November 2008

And all shall have prizes, the destruction of education in the UK

I have blogged before about the way that this Labour government have systematically destroyed the credibility of the English education system. The devaluing of grades via ever ever higher pass rates and ever easier questions has long been suspected by many and denied by a Government who continually get away with saying that we must not diminish the achievements of hard-working students. Last week The Times reported a speech by the intelligent and geeky, and often unfairly mocked for this by Labour attack dogs, Michael Gove. Melanie Phillips wrote about this recently and gave the following examples that were in Michael Gove's speech but not reported in full by The Times:
"Peter Tymms at the University of Durham has shown that a student achieving an E in A level maths in 1998 would have achieved a B in 2004.And Duncan Lawson from the University of Coventry has shown that students entering university in 2001 with a B at Maths A level displayed the level of knowledge which 10 years before would have been shown by a student with a grade N - or fail.

Indeed students who failed the Maths A level in 1991 performed better overall in tests of mathematical competence than those who secured a B pass in 2001. Dr Jonathan Ramsay and John Corner have analysed maths papers from the 1960s to the present day and found topics which once used to be set for 16 year olds at the old O-level and even the CSE, which was designed for less academic pupils, now crop up in A-levels.

Their report pointed out that ‘finding areas and volumes using calculus, which used to be examined at O level are now examined in A level pure mathematics, but it is the O level questions which are harder’ and, perhaps even more shockingly, ‘some applied mathematics CSE papers from the 1970s are almost indistinguishable from the mechanics unit one A level paper, with some CSE topics even overlapping with unit two. One calculus topic from O level pure mathematics is now to be found at A level.’"

Meanwhile, here’s a "science" GCSE exam question:

" Residents have a variety of thoughts concerning the siting of the new power station. Two views are -

1The nuclear power station will provide employment in the area.

2 Any release of radioactive material would be very dangerous.

Which statements are arguments in favour of siting the nuclear power station here - 1 only, 2 only, both 1 and 2 or neither..."

Subjectively I find that most interviewees who received their GCSE and above education in the late 1990s and 2000s have excellent results but often not the ability to match the grades. In an attempt to go along with the "will nobody think of the children" attitude this destruction of educational standards has been allowed to continue for too long but how can it be stopped?

Unfortunately it is my opinion that the system cannot be easily stopped and that it suits this Labour government to have a large pool of people who are so incapable of independent thought that they will believe the lies and spin put out by the Labour government and its propaganda arm, the BBC, and vote accordingly. It is a scandal, it is a disgrace and it will only get worse.

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