OK. Hands up if you are fed up with current Tory education policy. Keep your hand up if you can’t wait for the day that Labour get back into power and starts talking sense about what should be taught in our schools.
Sadly, if you’ve still got your hand up it looks like you might be in for a disappointment, because nice Mr Twigg, nasty Mr Gove’s opposite number, has been recently expressing his shadow policies and has very successfully managed to blot his copy book. It seems that Mr Tiggywig is rather keen on supporting the idea of creating Military Academies. All Change Please! can only assume that, beyond the obvious benefit of providing employment for recently down-sized ex-service men and women, it will also be a convenient dumping parade ground for all those pupils who just don’t make the cut on the academic playing fields, sometimes referred to as ‘the poor and not very bright’.
For an alternative view, read these articles….. Wait for it you horrible looking lot…….NOW!
Meanwhile Schools Minister Mr Gibb has been comparing the importance of learning tables by rote in order to be able to cope with higher-level maths with the need for future musicians to spend their childhoods practising scales. Now many, many years ago, All Change Please! dutifully did learn its pre-decimal 12 times table – and in those Imperial days even its 14 and 16 times tables – and admits it’s glad it did so. It probably even helped it gain a Maths O level, but when it came to A levels it was a whole different academic avoirdupois kettle of fish that didn’t equate to anything that would prove to be of any relevance whatsoever to its future life. And the moment that All Change Please! was introduced at a tender age to the rigours of practising musical scales it rapidly gave up all notions of eventually playing in a symphony orchestra and instead decided to settle for getting its head round the three-chord trick being applied to remarkable effect by the emerging popular and far more creative beat combos of the time. So no marks there, Mr Glibb.
Given that the educational policy changes currently being put in place seem unlikely to be substantially reversed within at least the next ten years, the only way forward is for education to seize the battle-gound and do something about it itself. A left-field initiative, such as the TVEI (Technical and Vocational Education Initiative) that emerged in the 1980s but was overwhelmed by the massed forces of the National Curriculum in the 1990s, is urgently needed – but by definition will be completely unexpected, and so we can’t be certain it will ever happen. Or perhaps it is time to adopt the individual school-based model used in many other countries where there is less emphasis on a national academic qualification and more on a school diploma, developed at a local level to meet the specific needs of employers and institutions in the region.
Unless something happens we are surely heading inexorably towards the fictional world of the 1950s, where there are glittering prizes for the minority academic elite, a lifelong sense of failure for the technical and vocationally-orientated majority, and for the rest, a thorough grounding in how to march up and down, stand still and extinguish other people before becoming 21st Century laser-canon fodder themselves. As Douglas Adams didn’t quite put it:
‘In those days spirits were brave, the examination stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and Gove, Gibb and Twigg were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.’