Beware of Learner ministers

The 1950s specification for the L Plate

So Mr Gove, champion of the Academic, how are you and your department when it comes to the more practical things in life? Not so good, it seems. For example, on the 21st March he was asked a question in the house about his policy of not allowing re-sits in e-bac subjects:

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): Ofqual says that the Secretary of State has asked it to look at A-level and GCSE re-sits, including in the English bac subjects. We learnt this month that it took the accident-prone Secretary of State seven attempts to pass his driving test and that his car was badly damaged recently when he got it stuck in a car parking lift. If it is seven times for  Gove, how many times will mere mortals get to pass the bac?

In the same session, John Hayes, an education minister, was asked about the teaching of design. Not only was this incorrectly taken to refer exclusively to design and technology, but it was assumed that d&t was something to do with apprenticeships.

Mr Hayes: The white heat of technology has never been more important. Britain’s future chance of success lies in our being a high-tech, high-skilled nation, which is why the Government have agreed an unprecedented level of commitment and expenditure to apprenticeships, which are being taught in many schools. We will continue to build that high-tech, high-skilled nation. I recommend our strategy to my hon. Friend – signed copies are available.

And elsewhere, again equating D&T with getting your hands dirty, Nick Gibb said in response to an Ofsted report suggesting that D&T needs to place more emphasis of robotics, electronics and computer-aided design:

“The Budget set out a big expansion of technical colleges – to provide high quality vocational education alongside academic classes, to thousands more pupils.”,

What’s emerging seems to be a fundamental ministerial misunderstanding of the difference between technological education and technical education. The Government clearly has a lot to learn about what Design and Technology is all about. Perhaps it should make more of an effort to read the D&T Subject Importance Statement as laid out in the National Curriculum documents? And then perhaps a re-sit of its policies?

Let’s just hope other government departments are a bit better informed about matters such as the economy,  the health service and Libya…

One comment on “Beware of Learner ministers

  1. Indeed, what qualifies these people to make these observations and ultimately, decisions? On what basis do they judge their own opinions to be what’s best for society? Especially when they appear to not fully hear or understand the issues and concerns.

    They seem to offer no more than management tinkering based on something they think is a good idea after being plonked in the job. Their offerings are not based on a consensus of opinion or on proven thought processes.

    Like the “L” plate specifications above, these politician’s policies leave a lot to be desired. The L plate uses outdated measurement techniques (inches) using a non-standard method marking method (TO BE). To fully construct the L, the width of the vertical side of the L is missing (it may be the same as the horizontal width but not necessarily!). What sort of Red is the L, and what does “The corners of the white ground may be rounded off” really mean especially when the background appears to be cream. Does it mean that a thin red line has to be 7 inches or is that the L plate’s border.

    I know this L plate is not something the politicians are using, I’m using this as an example of how old-fashioned views/specifications are not relevant or complete for today’s use.

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