Horses for courses

It’s Royal Ascot…

Ignoring for a moment the rather convenient fact that today’s controversial ‘Back to O levels’ proposal was leaked to the Daily Mail the day before the doctors’ strike, All Change Please! readers may, or may not, be surprised to learn that it thinks bringing back O levels is in fact a jolly good idea. But that’s as far as it goes regarding the details of the proposals.

So here are All Change Pleases very own proposals, exclusively leaked to its own blog.

Announced today are a series of what will be known as R levels. The R stands for ‘Relevant’. Subject content will be related to potential everyday situations and circumstances that 15 and 16 year-olds might actually find themselves in later in life. These will comprise important areas (previously and quite erroneously known as Mickey Mouse subjects) such as the creative and performing arts, design and technology, IT, engineering, business, management, sports studies, engineering, etc. The new R levels will be welcomed by employers, parents and teenagers, and seen as an essential requirement for entry into lifelong education and ultimately well-paid practical work leading to a prosperous future where creativity, collaboration and sustainability are recognised as the way forward into the 21st century.

While the new R levels will be taken by the majority of students, the 15% or so who are unable to cope with the rigour of such practical subjects will be labelled as ‘academic’. These ‘special needs’ children will be taught separately, with the hope that after taking their O levels (the O stands for Ordinary), they will eventually manage to gain entry into a University where they can quietly contemplate their existence without doing anyone any harm. They will then go on to become lecturers and professors and pass on their thoughts to other unfortunate children, while the rest of the world gets on with real life.

If Gove’s proposals go ahead, large numbers of non-academically orientated children will end up failing their ‘rigorous’ O levels. They will be joined by those with CSEs who are seen as second-class. Truancy rates will rise dramatically as pupils vote with their feet. Just as horses are only entered for races in which they stand a chance of winning, it’s about time we started entering students for valued and relevant courses and examinations that they stand a chance of passing. Change is needed. But not that sort of change.