Sunday, 18 December 2011

Who said educational standards had fallen in the UK?

I read that school pupils could be expected to learn their times tables by the age of nine instead of 11. By the age of nine? I attended primary school in the late 1960s/early 1970s and I am pretty sure that I had learnt my times-tables (1-12) by the age of seven. What has happened to education in this country such that the target age for knowing the times-tables is currently 11 and the aim is to reduce that to just nine?

The dumbing down of education in this country started under the Conservatives but it was under the last Labour government that it accelerated. Standards fell, exams were made easier and all in the name of equality & opportunity and of course so as to show that everything was getting better under Labour.

What idiots really believed that educational standards were rising over the last 30 years? Who really believed that students were so bright that suddenly anything less than an A* was a sign of failure? Who really believed that the average English teenager was more intelligent and better educated than their predecessors from the 1980s?

Of course those of us who pointed out the dumbing down of educational standards were told that we should be celebrating the achievements of pupils & teachers and that we just didn't understand that pupils were working that much harder. The fact that many university students were graduating unable to do mental arithmetic or write a coherent document was irrelevant. The fact that many science and mathematics university entrants needed a term or longer remedial courses to bring them up to the standards of 20 years ago went all but unmentioned. The fact that parts of modern maths A-Levels were on a par with parts of my O-Level maths paper were deemed unsayable. I could go on and on but what's the point?

Educational standards in England were dumbed down so Labour could claim ever rising standards even as the international comparisons showed this to be a lie. This country has suffered for many reasons at the hands of the last Labour government but their alliance with the educational establishment to falsely reward so many of this country's children may be amongst their most heinous of crimes.


Anonymous said...

I started primary school in 1959. By the age of 6 I knew all of my times tables up to 12, and by the time I left, in 1965, I was doing simultaneous equations, had a thorough grounding in geometry and could work out HCFs, LCMs and other things I now can't remember. I had learned many popular poems by heart, knew some French and Latin, and where on a map to find all of the countries of the Commonwealth, Knew all of the Kings and Queens of England and the important events in British history.

I don't this was exceptional for the time, but what's striking to me is the lack of effort that the teachers seemed to expend in the process of my early education.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree, I was a primary teacher from the beginning of the Labour Government. I was told not to use 'big' words in my teaching and there was this awful conspiracy - where if you dared to admit that the children in your class were not the levels that they should be you would be held entirely to blame. This resulted in cover up after cover up and of course they didn't really achieve the expected level because of this strange attitude. By nature I am not very good at being a 'sheep' and have given up teaching to set up my own business providing the aspects of education that have been pushed out because tests have taken over. It is a paradox the more the system looks at what the children can do the greater the focus in schools is on what they can't do - so everything becomes quite negative. Why can't it be accepted that all children are not going to achieve the same level and focus on the strengths of the children enabling the more able to be challenged and give the less able more time. Every lesson is like a closed box with a success criteria preventing rich incidental learning to occur. We are also not all academic and we learn differently.