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.

4 comments on “Horses for courses

  1. Gove’s innovative and forward thinking ideas are so refreshing and revolutionary! They could seriously and finally bring learning and teaching kicking and screaming into the 21st Century at last – NOT.

    “R” level exams sound great, or maybe “VRL” exams (Virtual real-life) where everyone gets to try out and learn about real-world problems and practicalities of life, where the side issues of Maths, English, Languages, History, Geography, Design, Art, Science, etc., happen by a natural course of events….

    Those ‘challenged’ by the rigours of real-life can then go on (or return) to ponder and pontificate further to have their ‘special needs’ catered for in ‘academic only’ study instead of ‘actual’ study. A place where reality is kept at bay, when the rest of the world continues to learn, explore and develop in real-time?

    Education is not just for school, college or university, and study of the classics and academic interest is not something you should need to teach, more it should happen by actively being part of a world-society rich in knowledge and infrastructure by the course of history itself.

    How education of the children is achieved in the modern digital world where everything you need to know is available at the touch of a button, I do not know. But Gove coming up with ideas like ‘O’ levels, Latin and classic literature as the be all and end all of development somehow falls short of my expectations in the real, new, forward-thinking digital world.

    Yes, Gove’s ideas of subjects of study may be admirable things to have interests in, but it’s all sounding very naive, old-fashioned and snobbish if you ask me, with no bearing on the reality of today’s needs and interests.

    I fear where Gove is taking things. He really needs to stop tinkering with the system and spouting-on about things without proper evidence and he must use thought processes that are inclusive of all, and in a way that’s relevant to today’s needs. He needs to consider and look at the values of all types of people that make our society and look at the needs of tomorrow, not yesteryear.

    By his smug looks of innocent obviousness, Gove perceives a lot of his own intellectual ability and prowess. He is looking down at everyone that does not fit within what he thinks are his own admirable qualities and consequent extrapolated conclusions. At a stroke of his thoughts, he condemns children (and teachers!) with non-academic (practical!) abilities by the very nature of praising the few that can attain academic achievement in-line with what he believes is his own significant level of intelligence, QED: that smug look. – It’s not clever what Gove is doing, it’s really quite childish and at times offensive. I think I grew out of that way of thinking and behaving when I was about 15.

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