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This is a good question, and one we must ponder,
For is there much wrong in schools, we wonder.
We have a desire to keep changing, improving
When is enough enough, when do we stop not moving?
I feel our situ is good, better than before
So what else do we do, to move forward some more?
When I was at school, some fifteen years ago,
Things were not bad, some might say so-so.
I had a good time and my grades were good,
I didn't feel pressure as most of us would.
Nowadays it seems the buzz word is "targets",
Teachers get pressure, work themselves into bits.
Every year, the exam grades get better
But this year's the first time, that they were wetter!
Grades were down for the first time in years,
Has the bubble burst and is Gove in tears?
This I doubt, for if he really cared,
He would listen to schools and get ideas shared.
I wouldn't change the way kids are taught.
It seems to be fine, but more ways are saught!
The key to it, as it seems to me,
Is to keep teachers cool, help them to see:
There's more to teaching than grades and high marks
Let's get kids interested in books, less in the parks.
For why would a kid spend time on things boring,
When everyone knows in class they'd be snoring?
Learning should be lively, and it should be fun,
Get the kids engaged: You can teach them a tonne!
I had some teachers who would stick in my mind,
Who brought learning to life, and the answers we'd find!
I know this sounds unrealistic to some,
Idealistic and impractical for teachers to run.
But there's a lot to be said for teaching with passion,
It has strength, it has fibre, there's no fun to ration.
It's the way to keep learning fresh and alive,
Help children to learn and give them the drive.
If it was up to me, the things I would alter,
Would be take pressure off, even if kids falter!
Less focus on "doing better than last year",
More focus on the kids, helping them cheer:
"I did it, I understand, I get this at last.
The teacher took time with me, now I've passed!
I found maths hard, I found it tricky,
But my teacher was patient, fun and not picky."
A comfortable environment, conducive to good learning!
Let's help teachers keep cool without Goves constant yearning:
"You have targets and targets, and targets galore,
In fact you must work harder, than you have before.
I don't care if they're dumb, just make them pass.
Must get at least a C, to save my arse!"
Of course, as we know its not quite like that, is it?
But nevertheless, it might as well be, schools need to be fit.
I joke and I jest, but education's important,
Lets teach them the best, that teacher's know and want!
For a teacher's a teacher, because they care,
Not 'cause they have sales targets to hit and to bare!
Look at me! My teachers weren't worked to the bone,
And I came out fine, able to work things out on my own.
My education was fun, it was good, we were fine,
And look at me now...I can even rhyme!
Thanks for reading :)
© MarcoG 2012
I wrote this on ciao, but the 1,000 word limit really cut me short, so I've come here where I can waffle away :) Please forgive me - this review is long , but it a subject I feel very strongly about.
I home educate my children, and I am quite happy with this choice at this point in time. But I do not think home education is the best option for everyone, nor is it likely to always be the best option for my children as they grow older and need to learn things I may not be able to teach. I am also well aware that home education will never suit every family - or even the majority of families. Many families can not afford a stay at home parent - and no matter how much people say no qualifications are needed to home educate - you do need certain skills - the most obvious being able to read. You may think most people in our society are fully literate - but illiteracy is a dark secret people usually do not talk about. I have two very close relatives who can read -- but not well enough to read Dr Seuss book out loud. I know dozens of boys who have even less reading skills. These people are not "thick" although that is the excuse most will give you. Nor are they learning disabled, slow, or any way less intelligent than the rest of us - they just can not read.
There is no one size fits all solution to the current crisis in education - and there is no doubt in my mind - education is in crisis. Children are spending more and more hours in school and learning less and less. In the meantime they are missing out on being outdoors, taking up hobbies - or just reading a book. Children over tired and over stressed by our current systems come home and look for escapes - in the form of television, video games, drugs and alcohol. In fact many of our children are drugged by the system. We diagnose them ADHD and pump them full of meds but home educated children are usually able to go off their meds without problems - could school be causing ADHD? The age at which our children start school has been linked to a shortened life span, and early morning school start times are linked to numerous health problems. This may be worth it if it the only way to ensure literacy for all - but is it? I do have experience with these children - and most of them went off their meds on our trips - there is nothing wrong with most them away from the stress of school that a bit of exercise won't cure. Even the most severely affected were able to focus and behave very well as long as I kept them tired. I know some do have serious difficulties but I do not believe 2/3 of boys here have some disorder, which was the diagnosis/ label rate for a local school.
The odds of a boy from the same background as my sons leaving school in Northern Ireland fully literate are less than 1 in 4. Prior to Forster's Education Act of 1870 studies show that 92% of working class people could read. Even among coal miners the literacy rates were 80%. It seems compulsory education has resulted in a decline rather than increase in literacy. I very strongly feel literacy and basic numeracy need to be the top priorities. If a child can not read , can not do enough addition and subtraction to keep a bank account balanced or figure out how much two items will be cost - these subjects should come first at the expense of all others. I also believe we need to look at different ways to teach children. My son learned maths facts while jumping on a trampoline - one jump to each answer. Some children can not sit still for hours.
But for every person who clamors for a reduction in school hours or delay in the mandatory starting age - there is another asking for the polar opposite. Reduced school hours and a delayed start would benefit most children. But the children who would benefit the most from a change in policy are the brightest children to begin with. At the other end of the scale - children from the most deprived homes could actually be harmed by the same policies. How do we balance the needs of the many against the needs of the few? I believe flexibility is the only way to insure as many of our children as possible reach their full potential - and that we inflict as little harm on them as possible in the process.
I am a firm believer that the mandatory school starting age should be raised to seven. But I also believe parents should have the option of sending their children to school as young as age three, and in homes where parents can not read, special reading partners should be assigned from a very early age. If we kept the same number of teachers we would have reduced class sizes at no extra cost. You would find that the closer you get to mandatory school age - the more children attend so the majority would still be in school by age 6 with far less attending at age 3. The children who do attend at age 3, would in most cases be those that need the most help - so having less children per teacher would be wonderful.
If we cut mandatory school hours - we could still have teachers keep the same hours and be available for children who need extra help. Imagine if ordinary classes ran from 9:30 - 1:00. Most children would get to go home earlier, but those that needed help to catch up would stay and if the class size were reduced from 30 to 10 for the last part of the day teachers would be able to offer a lot more one on one attention. It would also provide a massive amount of motivation for children who are capable of doing more to work hard and catch up. Fun classes could be offered as electives for those who want to take them after 1:00 - things like martial arts, music, science labs, wood shops and more. ( and of course we would have to draw in legislation that states if a parent allows a child to take elective classes they can not claim for accidents not caused by gross negligence) - if you let older children use tools and do thinks like fix cars. you will gets cuts and bruises - it is part of life and I think schools have cut back on so many fun things due to fear of claims. Things like an auto shop can prepare children who are not going to uni for real jobs.
I'm afraid claim and blame has gone too far. I know many good teachers are afraid to open themselves up to claims now. My family went through a very difficult time when I was young, involving the death of a sibling as well as extreme poverty for a time. One teacher actually used to take me home, make me dinner for me, share books with me and just be there if I wanted to talk. How many teachers would dare do that now? How many classes, trips etc are skipped because of the risk of a minor childhood accident resulting in a claim. I'm not saying we should turn the 7 year olds lose with welding equipment, or let the bus driver drive drunk - but I would make these extra activity optional and dependent on signed waiver of liability - and make the courts enforce these waivers. If your child drops a hammer on their toe in wood shop - accidents happen - live with it.
Speaking of blame - we can not blame the teachers when their hands are tied with rules and regulations and they are forced to teach to a test. But what really annoys me is statements like "why didn't they tell me my child could not read". Fair enough maybe they should have - but why didn't the parent know? Didn't they ever read with the child? Teachers have part of the responsibility for educating a child - but that does not remove all responsibility from parents. No teacher can possibly offer your child the one one one attention most likely to lead to good literacy skills. Parents need to read to their children and with them - if parents can not read I can understand to some extent - but even then I would swallow my pride and get help myself so I could help my child. If children are falling too far behind in reading perhaps the parents should be brought in and the school work on ways the parents can help - finally if they can not - I believe those children should be assigned individual reading tutors - using older children if necessary.
I believe home education should be encouraged - and home educators should even receive some help to make it economically possible for more families such as the loan of school of text books and an optional teacher / adviser to meet with the family each term. I feel every family should be informed that home education is a legal option. I also feel flexi schooling should be allowed. It exists in theory in the UK, but almost never in practice. The idea is to allow a child to take some classes at school and learn at home for others.
I would also bring parents in to class if the child is completely out of control. There really isn't a lot teachers can do - and many complain that parents criticise any attempt by the school to impose discipline - so let the parent do it. I imagine parents will try much harder to make Jr behave, if misbehaviour means they have to sit in class too - and the sheer embarassment of it would get many youngsters to toe the line.
Another option I feel would be to create schools which allow each child to work independently, at their own pace, rather than trying to lump everyone into a standard ability level for their age, and I believe children should have some say in what they learn. I would also like to see older children helping younger children learn as tutors or reading partners. There really is no point in having a child who is reading young adult novels sounding out d-o-g, but neither is there any point in trying to force the child who can not read "dog" to read beyond his level. Every child reaches milestones at different times and education needs to make allowances for this - without labeling children who don't meet the average age for each milestone. Give them extra help where needed - but give them time to blossom as well.
I would also create specialist secondary schools. These would be considered a privilege and children not meeting minimum behaviour standards would be expelled. I would create schools of performing arts, schools of science and technology as well as schools whose specialty would be trade related - such as school for mechanics. This isn't to say children would be locked into a career choice at such a young age - the schools would teach the basics as well, but the special interest classes would serve as motivation to work on the rest of school work. In addition specialist schools might be developed to deal with issues like adhd - without drugs where possible. If need be - I would have a row of trampolines in the back of the class room. My own son has learned maths facts on a trampoline, one jump per answer. It does help alleviate the frustration of being required to sit still too long.
But the biggest revolution I would like to see in education would be the creation of virtual schools. This has already been tried with spectacular results in the USA for children ages 5-18. Children can study completely at home, or on a school campus, logging on to classes designed to match their ability rather than age level. In cases where they attend a brick and mortar school, less staff is required per student - but they still have enough staff to offer as much one on one help as needed. Some classes are taught in a more traditional format - such as Physical Education - but everything is based on the student as an individual. A child could be working below grade level in maths and years ahead in reading. Children who learn completely online have the freedom of setting their own hours and have time to pursue their own interests as well. They don't have to feel embarrassed if they are several years behind and need special help to catch up - nor do they have to be bored with work years below their ability level. They get most of the benefits of being home educated along with having a professionally tailored curriculum, proper text books and a trained teacher to help if needed. Obviously those who learn completely at home do need some parental involvement to make sure they keep up with their work, but simply having the privilege of being able to work at home is enough for most children to exert the necessary self discipline - and this in itself is a useful skill for children to learn. They learn to set goals for each day and work until they reach them - with the rest of the day free to enjoy.
Of course children do need outside contacts and socialisation, but most home educated children participate in several outside activities - they do have more free time to pursue interests. Children attending school online could also earn credits through private lessons, volunteer work, or even paid work experience. Personally, I feel volunteer work is an excellent way for home educated children to learn and if we continue home education into secondary school, my children will be asked to choose a group to volunteer for. It offers real world experience as well as being very close to the experience of actually working - you have set hours - a boss - etc... It also allows them to try out certain fields, and gives them something to put on a cv or university application.
The possibilities are endless. We just need to start thinking outside the box. I believe our education system has broken, in spite of the many wonderful and dedicated teachers who do try their best. As long as it stays broken - we will continue to break more and more children as well - not to mention our best teachers. I'm afraid my best teacher was let go by a narrow minded school board. no one ever asked what we thought. I believe children should have a chance to voice their opinion in school matters. I think we need to listen to parents, teachers and students - but as for politicians - can't we just let them clean the loos instead of making the rules?
How Would I change Schools Today?
I am an ex teacher and have taught in Australia and the England. I have home schooled my children and also been very involved in Montessori education in Australia where my children attended for some time.
I absolutely hate the way primary schools have become so formal in this country. From a very young age children are tested and labelled constantly, teachers are under pressure to get results and move children up two steps within a level per year. Children are NOT machines and they develop at different rates, they have individual stresses and family issues, they have different talents and different abilities so why does this education system force them all to fit the same hole.
I would make Primary school fun. It does matter what the children learn apart from reading and maths, the history and geography etc are irrelevant. Teach the basic skills through any subject that appeals to the children at the time and the teacher. It is a well known fact that children learn more when they are enjoying the learning and it is something that interests them. It really doesn't matter if they learn the reading and maths through world cup football or through Harry potter as a good teacher will be able to fit all the learning of skills into whichever topic they choose.
Ofsted are the biggest waste of time and all they do is create stress in teachers and children. Failing schools are still failing and the best schools still continue to be the best, NOTHING has changed except that many good teachers have left the profession because of stress. I get rid of Ofsted which is only lining the pockets of those doing the job. I left my failing school as I was constantly being criticised and I am proud to say that the class of children that did best in the Key stage 2 SATS is the class that I had for three years - Y3 to Y5 and I taught them through things we all enjoyed. Thatis what didn't go down well.
Maria Montessori was ahead of her time. She first introduced small chairs for children and equipment like brooms that were for children sizes. Her main philosophy was that education should be hands on and the child should be guided but basically they learned through activities chosen by the child.
My children once we came back to the UK had to go to state school as I had to go to work in order to pay the bills as there was no one else to do this. Luckily they went to a local village school and loved it. The school had caring teachers and the children certainly were not pushed academically which could be a criticism but they were happy. They all achieved the standard level 4 in their SATS. Other people I worked with were pushing their children and they were getting level 5 and even level 6.
They moved into a local school which has a 'good' reputation. I also went to the school as did my sisters and it was not the greatest school but we all came out okay. One sister is an anaesthetist, another works pretty high up in Canada for Procter & Gamble, the other sister and I are teacher s. My own and my step children were always supported throughout school but we never pushed them, we encouraged them to take part in other activities such as sport and the like and we ran around doing the music lessons etc whilst both working full time. They have all been to university and are all in good jobs and we are proud of all of them.
I can't say that the education they had was the best and it is nothing like that of my nieces who went to private school and had all sorts of different options not available to mine however they are happy and they enjoyed school and they are making a useful contribution to society now.
I am really concerned that if the government keep pushing and pushing that we will end up with child suicides like they do in Japan. School should be a place of learning but it should also be a place where social interaction can take place where children learn how to be part of society and it should be fun. Schools should be able to be more flexible and offer a variety of activities rather than just the straight academic curriculum.
Everybody is not academic, not everybody can be a investigative scientist or work towards a PhD, we are all different and have different skills and talents to offer so PLEASE can schools be allowed to develop these skills and talents. This could be done by allowing schools to share teaching skills, a Latin teacher might teach in four different schools and subjects like yoga offered and experts brought in to just teach that.
Music is already taught by peripatetic teachers so why can't this happen with other subjects and interests and bring in talented skilful people to share their knowledge.
I also feel very strongly that no child should leave education with being able to budget for a household. They should also all be able to cook simple meals using basic ingredients. Simple household management skills seem to be lost in the generations leaving school and the youngsters really struggle. Not all children have the opportunity to cook at home as parents either can't themselves or they are too busy working. Cooking is not only fun but is educational and a basic life skill. My classes cooked once a week in groups of six each week. They cooked proper, interesting meals from different countries and not one child refused to taste anything .We ate it sitting at tables correctly, the children served it out, prepared and washed up. Not in the National Curricul and so I was asked to stop!
Didn't really know how many stars to give as I anm not sure if I am rating the current system or my idea - current system gets 2 stars
I could go on but...
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same username.
When it comes to a student's achievement within our state education system in the last fifteen years - the results have been inflated, from its Watchdog, Exam Boards, and every education orientated component across the spectrum. Year on year the academic achievements did go up a notch, yet in reality the students abilities have been deficient compared to the mid 1980s' - the education curriculum in Singapore have adopted an 'O' Level approach, inspired by old UK test papers from thirty years ago; profoundly enough the UK education authorities now look to the curriculum in Singapore to help reform our education system - it is a circus! Our inane education system has deluded a generation of students; by simply getting them to pass a system rather than educating the students - in a bid to guarantee school funding. Funding has superseded 'actual' education because of Governmental policy, and it hasn't changed largely for two administrations. Our educators have their hands tied, the students are treated like pawns, and for a proper overhaul of the current education system requires an election with 'education' at the crux of policy.
Admiration goes out to the home educators; their wisdom firstly to go via an alternate route will be rewarded, and secondly, their love and ambition for their children will stimulate a positive response and respect for education as a whole, which doesn't exist in the current state system whereby students run amok. No form of learning can be achieved under a disharmonic environment, and Whitehall requires retracting such odious policies which disables educators to simply do their job. Again, political correctness and health and safety regulations are strangling the educator's ability to communicate and discipline efficiently (regardless of the talent of the teachers).
Sadly, I view Michael Gove as an opportunist and like all Tories they opt for the avant-garde theory that privatization is a viable option - under the umbrella of improving standards by opening up the competitive private sector market. Obviously, it will put more pressure on the already strained private sector especially in this precarious financial climate. Education is scheduled to go down the same vein as the NHS under the education reform. It naturally will cause more confusion than of any worth in the next three years. The evidence is already apparent - Gove has waved any responsibility from himself / or department, concerning the recent downward grading of exam results - having already claimed earlier there will be a shake-up to the system. Deflecting responsibility is a parliamentarian trait; also so is cultivating half-cooked concepts and expect the civil servants to muddle through with policies which should've been left on an inked napkin. I warm to the old values of reciting poetry and re-introducing students to the forgotten classics, but the delivery has to be up-to-date. 'School intranets' should provide free app downloads for this kind of reading. Initiatives must be introduced to get the students stimulated. And famous guest speakers can muster an enthused audience far better than any educator can. When Sir Allan Sugar entered the 'Lords' I genuinely felt a milestone had been reached and that this administration would infiltrate similar inspirational techniques to state education - Alas, not. The benefactors will be bigger than governmental policy. Gove's vision tinkers with 'American styled' Academies with big name sponsors. Naturally, on paper it looks a viable concept; until you see the major flaws - the reality is the sponsorships will accentuate a class divide - far bigger than even witnessed sixty years ago, in post-war Britain. Having a FT Index approach for schools, may naturally, unwittingly stimulate higher stakes in teaching performance that'll make the importance of results far worse than it is now. It'll be evident at grass roots level - i.e. the students, whereby the pressures of sustaining a lucrative sponsorship will become more important than 'actually' teaching. The knock-on effect indefinitely creates rival gangs via school outfit - Tragic cases like Philip Lawrence in 1995 may loom up again; as the monetary stakes get higher, if Gove's privatized education reform comes to fruition (Academies means privatization). So order and respect is necessary on a level playing field (not what we've experienced of recent). State schools can only be effective institutions through a cohesive format - that needs a traditional thread of respect for educators and education. If, the two don't work in tandem it maybe worth maneuvering lecturers from universities into schools and teachers can get refreshed. Why I mention this is due to the fact that lecturers generally enthuse passion into a subject more so than a state educator. They're masters of 'focus techniques', if it works with a young adult, it'll work with a fourteen year old; this is not a bathetic approach.
The 9,000 GBP fees are unfairly weighed down onto today's students, yet no contrarians, who add theoretical rigour in their critique? The tautology of 'value for money' crops up automatically - whether you are a student, parent, brother, sister waiting to get an initial response from the one attending University. The three little words lie in the subconscious. They're also in the lecturer's head - three little words swimming about in the goldfish bowls of the subconscious and conscious. It is questionable if it improves communication performance. What I do know is, whenever an external professor visits institutions and offloads wisdom, in my experience, you could hear a pin drop in a packed lecture theatre. Discussions go well into the evening, no-one wanting to leave the hot-spot of knowledge. A school intranet can implement these resources, regardless where you are - Tapping into the rich resources of education available via authors, business chiefs, professors, and engineering experts etc and the young's fascination with social media; education is a two way vehicle. The results can be multifarious and inspiring. You don't need schools to provide peer interaction anymore, hence the increasing number of home educators, whereby: inchoate minds come into contact with older and worldlier ones in a spirit of intellectual and creative endeavour.
As a mostly autonomous home educator who is completely child-led, this topic is particularly interesting for me as we deviate so far from the 'norm'.
****What we have****
Currently, we have a system that is inefficient, rife with bullying, where children are taught to pass exams, and blend in.
All I remember from school is being badly bullied, and having to take a foundation level science exam because my science teacher couldn't be certain I would pass the 'higher' science exam. It was far too easy, yes I got top marks (100% pass) but it was to keep their statistics looking good when what I desperately wanted was to be challenged. The few good teachers that I had were constantly constrained by the rules which meant I wasn't free to develop my interests, for example drama. I got one grade lower than I needed to take it at A-level which threw me completely off for the rest of my educational journey with school/college, I desperately wanted to be a drama teacher but it was a year and a half before I realised there was another course I could take, by which time I had switched off as I was completely bored with the classes I was taking. What I learnt was how to be invisible, it didn't matter how 'good' I was, it didn't matter what I thought or felt and blend in whilst competing with 30 other kids when I needed help, as a result I rarely asked for it which showed in some of my results.
I didn't come out of the education system until 2008, but in reality it ended for me in 2004 after my GCSEs. (Which I passed with at least 5 A - C grades) Though I couldn't tell you what I learnt in school as I barely remember any of it, the only type of learning I do remember is what I have learnt since out of interest rather than being forced to do it. My partner on the other hand who was autonomously home educated uses what he learnt and puts it into practise most days and is far better at financial planning than I am.
Under section 7 of the 1996 education act it states:
'The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable
a) To his age ability and aptitude,
And b) any special educational needs he may have, either by attendance at a school or otherwise.'
When you send your child to school, you are asking them to fulfil this, unfortunately unless you send your child to a unique school; it is highly unlikely that schools at the moment will fulfil that responsibility.
Firstly the compulsory age should be raised to 6 or 7. They need the freedom to be children for as long as possible. The classes in schools need to be smaller. Did you know that if a child is taught one-to-one what they are taught in 10 hours total takes about 100 hours in school? Sometimes longer. Leaving them plenty of time to move onto something else, or just simply have time for their interests. I know of children that have learnt everything they need to know for their GCSEs in 6 - 8 months. It takes 2 years in school!
Personally I would love if it was made clear to parents, what their rights are when it comes to educating their children. A lot of people aren't aware that home education is a valid, legal option, let alone that school is opt in, not opt out. For those who choose to flexi-school (school part-time, home education part-time, though legally the education becomes the schools responsibility as they receive funding), it needs be ensured that Head teachers can find the information easily and are open to it. For those who do choose school I would love to see a system that is tailored to each child's individual needs and completely child-led. Currently the only school that offers this is Summerhill. There are also 2 virtual schools in the UK, however as I haven't used them (my son isn't old enough) I don't know how good they are.
To use a quote from a fellow home educator (it's about autonomous learning but I think it's particularly apt for this 'review')
" The beauty of autonomous education is that you don't need to get children interested in learning, learning is a side effect of doing interesting things."
Wouldn't it be incredible if we could say that about schools? I'm not saying it will be the right approach for every child. Every child is an individual, but if the education was suited to their needs then they are more likely to retain the information they receive.
Not only that, but teachers need more autonomy too. They need to be able to cater for the children they are teaching, something which currently, they can only achieve by private tutoring. We also need teachers that enjoy their jobs and want to do the best they can for the children they are employed to teach, some of the comments you read on the TES forum can be horrifying!
Of course, while it's a great ideal, with so many cuts being made, it's unlikely to be reached any time soon. So for now, I will keep home educating until small one is old enough to make the decision for himself whether or not he wants to go to school.
Learning is something that never ends and success isn't something that can be measured, the sooner we realise that the better. What is one person's success is another person's nightmare.
We put far too much pressure on our children, maybe we need to step back and let them figure things out for themselves? Their minds are like sponges constantly absorbing the world around them, they are not empty cups that need to be filled.
** Also posted on ciao under the same name **
It really started with me and my famous bobble hat at nursery but let's *skip* it and go straight to primary school (just don't tell the teacher!)
My first experience of the National Curriculum and its education system began at a primary school in Holloway in London. Annoyingly through absolutely no choice of my own I moved south to the Isle of Wight where I attended a new primary school in East Cowes (I recall being shocked at witnessing the teacher drag a boy by his clothes and pinning him against a wall; something like that anyway, it was too long ago to extract real details from my now 22 year old mind - nonetheless I was seven and never knew such discipline then!) I only stayed at that school a year or so and although young, was probably glad to depart. I then went to a primary school in Carisbrooke where I stayed the rest of my primary school duration and generally liked it. I was confident with friends and I'd settled well onto the island; this school was a good one.
Next up it was middle school...
So came the scary move to middle school in year five. Looking back at it the middle schools are relatively small schools with say, 200 students, if that. At the age of ten or eleven, it is quite an intimidating experience. I can see the first day there (maybe on induction day or the start of term) clearly. I can see the classroom I was in which horrifically doubled up as the lunchtime 'canteen'. Then we got our first piece of work. Probably easy as anything looking back on it but my nerves got the better of me and it looked ever so difficult in comparison to primary school work! I stayed at this same middle school to the final day. How did I rate my middle school experience? Awful.
Probably the worst of the lot. I don't know how I managed to see it through but I did. However it damaged my confidence horribly and my trust in others. The teachers had their clear favourites of course and I wasn't one of them - it was certainly a case of your face fitting with many teachers. My geography teacher always seemed to like me though. I was good at geography but shy, I think. He was great: funny, firm, popular, knowledgable and never patronising (my least favourite treat in a human being and something I've promised myself I shall never accept from anyone). At the end of Year 8 (yippee!) the school held its annual valedictory ball to see off the leaving students - you know the type: pretentious girls in their prom dresses, an awards ceremony and teachers' speeches about what a pleasure it was to finally get rid of us, oops, sorry to teach us. Needless to say that I predicted who would get the awards and recieve the arse licking, and 13 year olds in their gowns and ten layers of foundation; it just wasn't my scene. However my favourite geography teacher insisted I go, and so I did. Much to my shock I was presented with the Geographer of the Year award and another big award. When I was about 7 years old I began to learn world capitals, mountain ranges etc. and establish an intetest in geography and the world and studied atlases geekily until I knew everything from the capital of Mongolia to where Buenos Aires was located. Of course it is not a competition at that age but having shown an interest in words at about two years old, and being sent to the class above me when I was five, during reading lessons, I was beginning to understand my academic stengths. Of course every human has strengths and they are more often than not balanced out by weaknesses. Well, I can still recall struggling with my divisions in primary school and can safely say that I have never been or never will be a mathematics or science person! My geography teacher was the only one then to see through my shyness and modesty and credit my ability at a school where amongst the popular girls, in particular, I felt ignored and often unfairly treared. My best friend and I were even accused of something fairly serious with no proof whatsoever; I was left in tears by this incident because I was such a timid kid. Having checked on the CCTV of the event *after* jumping to conclusions and accusing us, they obviously realised we didn't do it and we revieved absolutely no apology. It was not the first false accusation and gun jumping from the teachers. My friend even had an eraser thrown at her by our art teacher from across the classroom.
Thankfully I had that one teacher who seemed to have a belief in me and rewarded me with at least one brief moment of happiness. It was simply a poor school and what was worse was my best friends all left at certain periods leaving me feel isolated amongst the snobs, bullies and discouraging, biased teachers. The moral? If you feel you have no teachers to approach, don't give up as there may be one gem amongst them and keep on going because you won't be there an eternity - even if it is feeling that way.
Onto high school...
In 2002 it was high school and although a huge school with 1,500 students, it was actually a relief. Also one of my best friends who had left my middle school, would rejoin me at high school. We walked into the school together, we got lost together, we got scared together and laughed and cried together in our first few days there. It was like a fresh new start with new confidence and new friends and teachers. We went home at lunch prior to getting our lunchtime pass, trying to dodge the teachers as we crept out and finally I was having a few laughs again. In fact I did some stupidly funny, embarrassing things then. The school had the biggest fields ever and a huge floodlit Astroturf, squash courts and weights rooms; it had many buildings and stairs and as weird as it sounds, I used to love walking around it, especially in summertime. My technology and French lessons in particular were out of control though because the teachers couldn't keep control. I'm not personally in favour of old fashioned physical discipline (hardly anyone in my family through the years smacked their children), however the fact the teachers took the backchatting and idiocy they did is not only worryingly weak but severely affects the good students' concentration. In the end the students told the teachers what to do!
Homework was ridiculous - to the point it prevented you from having outside life. There was just so much emphasis on written work and little on living and creativity. Some nights I'd be in tears; five pieces in one day was enough but it kept coming. I've learnt more watching the world go by at a railway station.
By Year 11 we were sitting our GCSEs and this would contribute to the decision we made in terms of sixth form, college or employment. I chose textiles in technology after sampling all types of technology lessons in Years 9 and 10. There was really the one grade that didn't match my expectations hence I decided to stay on at sixth form and use that as an opportunity to resit it and up the grade slightly. Along with chosen subjects (mine were art, photography and er, maths) and any resits, citizenship was also a compulsary aspect of our timetable. However, very few turned up to these classes! Often we would have about five at the most in class and annoyingly be sent away (talk about others affecting your education!) I really enjoyed the citizenship lessons myself. I swiftly took the resit halfway through the first year and achieved the grade I originally wanted and the teacher was good.
My other teachers were fine as well and all treated you like an adult. We were free of school uniform as well, but jeans and trainers were the exception. We had our own common room and entered and exited as we pleased. We played music, studied and generally chilled out. I liked it as the remaining students were relatively mature but not particularly snobby either. The loud, immature girls who smoked in class and the boys who ran around like toddlers had dropped out or entered college, naturally. Although I am sure many good boys and girls went then as well. The teaching was good but the timetables were frustrating and inconsistent: I would have a lesson at period one and then be devoid of any lessons until the end of the day. Much time was spent studying or chilling, so to speak, in the common room or the quieter art block. Sometimes I would just walk home and recuperate!
Luckily the school is situated near the town centre and amongst some beautiful public footpaths. When I was having an emotional teenage moment, I would get my portable CD player out, grab my camera and handbag, and take a slow walk past the fields and ponds into town. That is the benefit of sixth form: whilst you may have to sign out when you have a/some free period(s), you do have slightly more adult freedom. The teachers harrass you less and are always there should you require help. You also have the examinations waiting at the end which are okay but they're a large step up from GCSEs.
However if you are more practical and weak at exams, college is undoubedly a better choice. With options that a school could generally never offer like childcare, engineering and fashion, college is broader in a sense and probably a better choice if you are not interested in university. There's no reason ypu should be other than specific career requirements: there is also the option of apprenticeships. I decided to try college because I wanted to study something else and though art is great, it wasn't going to take me anywhere and I adore photography but it is a useless subject career-wise.
With college, you may have to wear a uniform, though. I studied travel and tourism and a blue suit was the order of everyday! It does provide an even more adult atmosphere; partly because there are adults studying there as well which offers some comfort in a way, and it is not a 'school'. At sixth form we continued to call the teachers by their title and surname (aged 16, 17, 18...) whereas at college it is Julie, Kevin, Marie etc. which helps to sustain a laid-back vibe. Mind you the first thing the greeted me when I walked to the Isle of Wight College was a boy and girl having sex on the grounds near the entrance! Very laid-back.
Work is easy enough, mostly computer-based, but you have to work efficiently and you have stricter deadlines. Work is made up of units and you can attain either a pass, merit or distinction, depending on quantity and quality. Everyone must complete the pass section of the units but it is up to you if you want to do the merits and distinctions. The latter are slightly harder and of course it requires more input but if you achieve the merits or/and distinctions, you are rewarded with more UCAS points at the end of the course. Tinetables are better because the course is taught over mornings, afternoons or whole days. My course consisted of all day Tuesday and Thursday and Friday mornings. Teachers were good and although I misunderstood one then, I really admire her stance looking back. Key Skills in both IT and communication are compulsary with any course and the only exams you will find yourself sitting - promise! Even they are fairly standard computer tests. However there is also research and typed work on top of this you must complete. I completed mine swiftly but the people who mark them kept returning it despite the teacher believing it was fine. Eventually with one or two tweaks, it was fine. Bare in mind though this is the annoying part and you cannot pass your course unless you pass this part so there is no point in going missing here! Don't procrastinate; just get this part out of the way if possible.
Luckily the students in my class restored my confidence in fellow girls somewhat as they were very mature and intelligent. We hardly had any boys, which worried me at first but I got on with every girl. However we went on about three major trips to France and Spain (at a price; one was £600 and the other was £300), and both were spoilled by immature, moaning students from the other travel class. You also have to pay materials fees at college which was about £20, I think, so money is a factor but you are warned when you enrol.
I have got mixed feelings on school personally, with reservations about the comformity the British system involves and how rigid it is; also about the possibility of overrating the importance of exams, university and schooling in general. Exams at seven are ridiculous and testing children via one way is flawed and unfair. I'm not usually one to say Country X does this better and Country Y does that better because of ignorance but children are only just beginning their schooling in Scandinavia at the time our poor kids are sitting at a table in silence answering stupid questions; yet they have amongst the highest literacy rates in the world. Not only that but exams emphasise what you can recall and not neccessarily what you understood.
I honestly think that I have learned more in my own time than at school although I did okay in exams and high school. I learned more about sex and relationships and life experiences at home than at school where everyone spent their time sniggering. Okay so some kids are from a prudish or reserved background so if the schools don't explain, who will? It's a shame we expect the schools to do all our dirty work.
I think that the biggest lesson is learned in life itself and in the UK we have a habit of discouraging ambition and success, or accusing those who do well or are confident of doing well of being arrogant. There seems to be this notion in the UK that the working class should know their place and should stay in it. Which I think explains why the average Briton critisises footballers' wages but never high earning middle class sportsmen or women like golfers, racing drivers or tennis players. I just want to say to any youngster who may have found their calling - don't let anyone put you off, don't be afraid of confidence, ambition and success and don't build every last hope on age, school or university; especially if things don't go your way in exams or things don't happen straightaway. Do your best at school, stay classy and go out there and be true to yourself.
Sorry if I have bored you or you disagree with my opinion but hopefully someone will find it helpful; whether you are about to leave school or left it thirty years ago - good luck with achieving your goals. Go get 'em!
Our education system is one of the best in the world, and its free, unlike some other countries, so based on just that, I think it is brilliant. But then you have others things to consider, like results, style of teachings, and exams. All of these put to gether and you will get one very stressed pupil. My child is now in year 9, and I am so glad that they have scraped the SATs for his year, as I can remember exactly how stressed he got when he had to sit exams when he was in year 6, and when he was only 11. Althoguh the standards of teaching has increased over the past 30 years, there is so much pressure put on students these days, and they are always being told that they must achieve the highest grades to be sucessful latter in life. When I was a child, the only exams I could remember sitting where the then GSCE exams, and they were bad enough.
Teachers these days push their pupils too hard, and I think that more school visits may help things a lot. Getting out of the classroom is a major boast to every child, and helps them a lot more than just sitting in a boring classroom for 6 hours a day. Im much older now and even that would bore me. Saying this, this method has proven to work, but my question is at what expense. Many teenagers dont want to go onto college as they think things will only get harder, which is wrong. Changes need to be made Mr Brown.
My son is not old enough to go to school yet, but I do know alot of mums with school age children. I live on the Isle of Wight but was brought up in London where the education system is not the same. The way I grew up you went to Primary school from the age of 4 until the age of 11 , then you wnt to secondary school until the age of 16. On the Isle of Wight it is very different. You start off the same by going to Primary school the same, then at aged 9 you go to a Middle school until the age of 12, then you go up to High school until the age of 16. This different method does have its advantages but also I can see disadvantages. You have to up-heave yourself more times, and maybe lose your friends to other schools in the process. The system is up for review currently, and they are deciding whether or not to change to the mainland way of schooling. Obviusly people hate change but it worked for me no problems.
I think our education system is ok - not good not too bad - just so long as your child is "mr. or miss average", i.e. average ability. I dont think most schools cater for very intelligent children, or children who are behind, and I certainly dont think that there is enough being done for children who are bullied, or who are different in any way at all.
My son has Asperger's Syndrome, a "mild" form of autism ( although there is nothing mild about the devastating effect it can have on their life), dyslexia, dyspraxia and ocd. None of this was noticed at school, in fact I used to go into the school at least twice every week, trying to highlight the problems he was having with his reading, but they just saw me as an overly concerned mother fretting over nothing. I had meeting after meeting with the headmaster, about his reading difficulties, who informed me; "if there is a problem then I know about it, if I dont know about it, then there is no problem!" What a pompous way of thinking!
Eventually, after more than three years, by chance I found a leaflet about dyslexia, and took my son to be tested for it by a dyslexia tutor.From there, we learnt about Aspergers, and eventally had a diagnosis, so at least the school took me seriously at last, and he was put onto School Action Plus, which supposedly gives them extra hours tuition, and meant they had a plan they had to stick to - called an IEP- Individual Education Plan. Personally, I think it just gives the teachers a load of extra forms to tick the boxes, it doesn't actually help. At this time, we took my son out of school every monday and tuesday afternoons, for private dyslexia tuition, at the cost of £20 per lesson. Now THAT did help!
Then, my son had to go up to secondary school. It frightened the life out of him because he couldn't keep up with any of the work, and because he takes things literally, often the teachers thought he was being rude and sent him out of the classroom. He started to have panic attacks, and I started to look for an alternative to school. Luckily, I found one - home education. We go to meetings where the kids get together and do bowling, swimming, badminton, or go for walks, and go on outings. And me and my son visit different places to learn about new things. His reading has improved 100% because we've concentrated on improving his reading before moving onto more complicated things. But, above all, he's happy, and safe, and not stressed out with panic attacks. And he learns so much more, because of that.
My only regret is not home-educating sooner...
Education - changes that really consider the child that matters?
Your child primary education is changing in the way it's being delivered.
If I asked you the question - Should pupils plan their own lessons? What would your response be? Ten years ago I would have been horrified at this question. Especially after going through years of the 'New Literacy & Numeracy Hour framework training'.
Our education system has undergone many changes since the harsh days of Dickens. The differences between how I was taught, how I use to teach when I first qualified and how I teach today, has in itself changed dramatically. Many have said to me we should turn to Victorian values - I beg to differ. Where education is concerned - how can we teach Victorian values when our children have to live with and experience daily life that is a far cry from the Victorian era. Although respecting others is a value that needs to be brought to the forefront of education, I believe this should be taught by parents before children even enter the reception class. Maybe then teachers will have the respect from their pupils right from the very start.
Children know that teachers and police do not have the authority they once did, hence the lack of respect from an early age. Today children leaving school need to be independent thinkers and quick witted technological geniuses. By teaching them to respect themselves and being responsible for their own actions we are helping them to be good citizens.
Teaching methods need a shake up and during this review I will tell you about one method that is developing new skills in pupils that are needed in every child.
Since being awarded an outstanding Ofsted 2 years ago and our LEA giving us high commendations in our creativity teaching and learning, we as a school have made the decision to break away from traditional Framework Strategies and Out of date Schemes of Work. We have adopted several creative teaching strategies from a skills based curriculum to Discovery Time.
One teaching method we have been using for over a year now is called TASC -THINKING ACITIVELY IN A SOCIAL CONTEXT. TASC was created by Belle Wallace who is Past President of NACE (National Association for Able Children) she has published many studies on Gifted and Talented Children.
TASC Rationale is to;
* Work independently yet within an inclusive school policy
* Develop skills of research, investigation and problem-
solving that can be used across the curriculum
* Develop a positive sense of self as an active learner
* Develop their strengths exploring and using the full range
of their human abilities
* Develop skills of self-assessment
The rationale points above are all skills that help children develop as independant thinkers and develop a respect for their own learning. By giving children the opportunities to plan what and now they will learn, they will remember key objectives and take pride in what they have learnt. By getting a child to take pride in their learning they learn respect. By learning respect they learn how to be a good citizen.
TASC is not turning its back on the key issues children need to be taught just working alongside the National Curriculum and its objectives.
HOW TASC WORKS.
TASC is presented as a wheel. The wheel is divided into 8 sections. Each section targets a specific area of learning. These are;
* Gather and Organise
* Learn from Experience
To help pupils achieve a section effectively they are given a question or statement in each part of the wheel. These are;
1. What do I know about this?
2. What is the task?
3. How many ideas can I think of?
4. Which is the best idea?
5. Let's do it.
6. How well did I do?
7. Let's tell some-one.
8. What have I learned?
AN EXAMPLE OF HOW I HAVE USED THIS.
The project - ART (Containers) / HISTORY (Ancient Greeks)
To link the 2 subjects above I used the TASC wheel to start a project that would result in the children researching, planning and making Greek Pots from clay.
At the start of a topic / project/ subject the whole class are put into small groups of 3-5 pupils. They are then given the project title - Containers.
The children are then shown which part of the wheel they are working on. I do this by taking the coloured section off my board and asking a child to read it out so all are clear as to which section and the question relating to it we are covering.
Each group mind-map the title using the first section of the wheel - What do we know about containers? The children record their ideas in one colour pen around the title. After 5 mins the children are given the chance to share 2 of their best ideas with the rest of the class. Encouraging them to share and record each others ideas helps build on their own ideas and increases confidence for all. The children are then asked to pick up a different coloured pen and from each idea write a further idea connected with the first suggestions.
(EG. 1ST idea from 1 group was a container holds water. From this the group added - It needs to be made from a waterproof material).
This is helping the children to make connections and build up their knowledge and understanding. Pupils are then asked to share their ideas and record good ideas from others.
From this I ask the children to create a question that they would like to use as a research base. For example - It needs to be waterproof - what materials will we need to use that will keep the water in.
These questions are written onto our mind map in another colour. Again the pupils repeated the sharing /recording activity.
One aspect of the TASC Wheel is that you don't necessarily go around in order. You may find that you jump from one section to another. As long as you ensure you identify with the children which section you are working on, they are taking control of generating and identifying their learning tasks and therefore taking ownership. By taking ownership of their learning they will take pride in their project and respect each others ideas and opinions.
I won't go through each section in too much detail as I will be here all night. However, here is a brief overview of what was achieved by my year 5 pupils.
The children generated great research questions that they then had time to discover, record and share their findings. They used these answers to then put their findings into generating skills they would need to create Clay Pots in the style of the Ancient Greeks. We brought our historical enquiry skills into this project and looked at everyday life depicted on Greek Pottery.
We identified skills we would need to practice before actually making the pots and held a skills morning that gave the children the opportunity to develop 3 types of pots - a press pot, a coil pot and a pinch pot. As a whole class we also created a Success Criteria for each type of pot.
A Success Criteria is a check list / instruction sheet to ensuring that a task is completed successfully. We use these in every area of our learning and the children a brilliant at identifying what is needed in it and then using this to check draft pieces and edit if required.
The class used these well to then identify which pot they enjoyed making and why. From these ideas they were given the choice of design for a final 'best' pot to make in the afternoon.
The quality of work was beautiful and each child took away a sense of pride that reflected the excellent design. We repeated the TASC process for the decorating of the pots. Our pots have gone off to be fired in a Kiln.
RECORDING AND ASSESSMENT
Apart from the finished products I have found that photocopying a TASC Wheel onto A3 size will help children to record the answers to each section. This will allow pupils to look back on their ideas from the previous section to help inform their next steps. It also helps the teacher to assess how a pupil tackles and record ideas under each learning skill.
I have noticed the children's confidence reach new heights. The sense of pride they take in their learning and ability to work independently, as well as part of a team, is fantastic. The respect that pupils gain from this learning experience is reflected in the care and praise they show each other and each other's work. The appreciation of each other's opinions and views show the move towards a good citizen developing and this will serve them well in the future.
When talking to pupils about their work their speaking and listening skills appear more confident. The ability to share new learning with others has become an every day part of their skills. We have developed new skills together and as a teacher I feel my pupils are more independent in research skills, thinking and problem solving.
My teaching skills have also developed into a role that has the confidence to allow my pupils to take control of their learning and set themselves (and myself) challenges.
Every child has something to give and this new style of teaching and learning ensures both pupils and teachers learning and share together.
I would urge any teacher not already using this method to investigate further. I am willing to share planning ideas and help with any further enquiries on this subject.
Some-one once said 'Our children are our future' - So what type of future will our children give us?
Thanks for reading this - my longest - review.
Also on Ciao
I suggest that the education is very good, but also awful, depending on how it is viewed. Our current system runs from the tender age of 4, right through the to whenever you decide to stop. The eduaction systems productions are in general very succesful and worthwhile. However, in my view, the education system is awful. What we learn is entirely dependant upon what the exam board issues in it's future examinations. Not only do children forget to learn for themselves, they lose any motivation to learn at all. Suggestably yes, a succesful job leading to money could aid in motivation, but what about the exceptions? So many children across the globe aren't catered for in the education system, and are therefore classed as 'failures'. Imagine setting a set of guidelines, a set of rules, that everybody you ever meet must achieve... otherwise are not worthy of life. If this in your eyes, is acceptable, then that is fair. But if you view this as a ridiculous concept, then why should it be allowed into the education system? Productions of the education system are robots repeating ideas they are fed over years of systematic procedure, but nowhere, in the entire history of education, are humans taught to think outside the box and therefore are nothing more than a mere mammal, a stain on the actual potential available to the human mind.
"Literary or scientific, liberal or specialist, all our education is predominantly verbal and therefore fails to accomplish what it is supposed to do. Instead of transforming children into fully developed adults, it turns out students of the natural sciences who are completely unaware of Nature as the primary fact of experience, it inflicts upon the world of students of the Humanities who know nothing of humanity, their own or anyone else's." - Aldous Huxley (Doors of Perception)
The education system in the UK is passable I think, but nothing special. However, I believe that the education of a child is primarilly the parents responsibility, regardless of whether your child is school age or not. I dont think parents, working-class, middle-class or upper-class, should abrigate their responisibilties to their child immediately they enter the formal education system.
The failures of the education system have to be made up for by the parents. No-one can expect their child to do well, in this day and age, without putting in extra effort at home. I dont mean sending them to Kumon Maths, or whatever, or drumming into them their 10x tables, but rather ensuring that quality, fun learning time is spent with the kiddie. Everything outside of school is an educational experience, and the little chats we have with our children about the world around us shouldnt stop because weve thrust them into formal education. Teachers have too much to contend with nowadays; broken families, the threat of child abduction, food allergies, political correctness, unreasonable class sizes amongst other things, so it stands to reason that we, as parents, have to bridge the gap.
Im feeling this situation more acutely than most at the moment, maybe, because my daughter is due to start school in September. As far as I can tell, from reputation and Ofsted reports, my daughters school is fairly good. This , nevertheless, is not enough for my husband and I, and we know that the teacher will be stretched with her class size to capacity at 27 children. Ok, so she has a classroom assistant, but we all know that teachers have pressures and government 'targets' to reach, and in this 'mess' of demands the needs of the children, as individuals, can be lost a bit. We have to, as her parents, ensure that Amelia reaches her own level of achievement based on her individual ability, and that most importantly she is happy. That doesnt stop age 4/5 years when you hand them over to the authorities. In fact, I think it becomes even more important to support them than at any time before, as they come under so many influences and pressures at such a young age.
I have experienced education from all vantage points. Ive been educated at an all girls catholic school, a country upper school, a town comprehensive, and Ive been home schooled (between the ages of 14 and 15years), so I do have some insight into the system shall we say. I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I achieved the most when I was home-schooled, and that I was at my happiest at a mixed comprehensive. So, perhaps the best of both worlds can be achieved by enhancing their learning at home, or supplementing school education with a 'home education' of sorts.
This is just my view, but its the way we are going to help Amelia through her school life, both emotionally and prcatically.
I have to say I think we have a damn good education system in this country and think we are very lucky.
Essentially we get our education for our kids for free, yes I know we pay for it through NI contributions but what we pay per month in NI does not cover what it would cost to put your child through school on a monthly basis.
I have been fortunate in the schools that I attended and that my children are attending, I don't believe private education guarantees good grades and success and think a lot od this depends on the child and their application at school, and also the parents.
If anything I think some parents let their children down, you need to get involved with your child's learning and not expect it to end at the school gates and it all be their responsibility.
When I have seen the desperation in some african kids faces as all they want to do is go to school and better themselves, it disheartens me that we hear so many complaints about our own school system.
we are very fortunate, end of.
After riling you up as your new Prime Minister over the last two days with the devils new laws heres my grumbles on the education system. As most of you are teachers are getting ready for your 11 week doss in the summer I know you will love this. There's even one or two letters of the alphabet to keep the feminist interested here. Heres my A-Z of Britain's crumbling education system, Blair's legacy about to go down the toilet with his economy. I know Blair had weakened this countries very soul with his policies but who would have thought he would have knocked the Great off Great Britain so quickly. Even the foreigners had to win the Champions league for Manchester United.
A is for A-Levels
Once the gold standard of education the clever kids exams are now political tools to make middle class families feel better as the pass rate goes up, now at a mind-bending 97%, justifying their investment in their kids university education they now have to make. But research is arising that show one third of A-Level courses are a waste of time and the 'redbricks' are refusing to target students with high media studies and general sciences pass etc...easy A-levels to pass that are being used to bump up points scores to get into university. With tuition fees' coming in there's a welcome slow move back to meaningful degrees in the white-collars, but not in the working class, these easier A-Levels and courses are still the only way into higher education. 11% in A-level maths gets you an A-Level pass.
B is for Baccalaureate
The government wants to dump A-levels because grade inflation has run out of room to keep producing those ludicrous pass rates, a new exam replacement the obvious solution.
C is if for Christchurch College, Cambridge
People may say the English class system is dead but don't believe them. 13 British Prime Ministers have come from Christchurch College, Oxbridge. Middle England despises the working class as much as they ever have and as long as Oxbridge continue to bar intelligent working class people from going into the top universities nothing will change in the power positions. 40% of the countries top jobs are done by Oxbridge illumine.
D is for Detention
There does seem to be a lack of raw discipline in schools as teachers run scared of kids. In my day we all feared detention and the cane, and if you were a bad boy you got whacked and locked up. I'm surprised parents come into school and complain when their kids are punished and I believe some parents are more violent than the kids when they turn up at parent meetings. If I was a teacher I wouldn't last five minutes as I wouldn't take any crap. Kids are adults at 14 and should be treated that way. Fingers under the desk lid time mate! Your here to learn and if you don't want to you should be held back a year like the kids are in America.
E is for the entrance exam
Oxbridge has done everything they can over the decades to keep the 'proles' out of their universalities, the entrance exam the best tactic. But as Oxford and Cambridge were originally set up to educate the officer and public school class then it's not surprising they have so few kids from council estates. One way they did it was insisting all applicants had at least one other language skill, knowing full well only 44% of comprehensive kids take a language for GCSE and only 15% getting A-C, one reason why 63% of Oxbridge intake comes from the 7% independent sector. And with numbers collapsing in state schools students taking languages, pressure from New Labour has now forced Oxbridge to drop this rule to attract kids from state school now fees are driving down the number of working class applicants. Oxbridge ban students from taking paid employment during course time and so it's inevitable private school numbers are rising faster than ever. Until now, students applying for Cambridge had to have GCSEs or A-Levels in English, a foreign language and math's or science, as well as two other subjects, not exactly the league table obsessed state school menu. Coupled with chippy teachers that refuse to send their comp kids to apply for Oxbridge the system is seriously skewed against kids from working class backgrounds.
F is for Foreigners
Did you know 240,000 EU students are entitled to the same education grants you are? And because their parents pay more towards fees they are often a better proposition than some English students, meaning universities send out teams to Eastern Europe to go and get them. For years now the foreign student has always been allowed some leeway on course work and exams because of their poor English skills, the supreme irony being that leeway is most prevalent on English degrees being taken by affluent South East Asian and African students. The new EU students can go one better now and never pay off their student loans all you guys have had to because there's no real proven mechanism to collect from overseas students that's proved cost effective when they go home. They are not asked to cough up at the airport.
G is for GCSE
57% of our kids get A-C passes, most of those going on to get that 97% pass rate in A-Levels? But 33% don't get good grades and 10% get no grades. But for all Blair's education...education...speeches, kids leaving school with no qualifications have been slowly rising since Labor came to power, the league tables meaning the worse ten percent had to be expelled to improve table ratings. One exam board, OCR, have just be called for printing the answer on the back of the exam paper!
H is for Holidays
Teachers get 13 weeks off a year (*marking my ass!*). Some of them get second jobs in the summer holidays and many have more than two holidays a year. Yes it's tough in the classroom environment in inner-city schools but how many actually set out to work there, ending up there instead. Sick notes, long summer holidays and early retirement options are really what state teaching is about now.
I is for Illness
The latest middle class trend for making sure their kids get high pass marks and into the best schools is to get extra marks by claiming illness and bereavement. If you're good you can get a 2% increase in your exam mark if you were ill during exams and up to 5% in 'exceptional circumstances'. In 2007, there were 300, 378 requests for special consideration granted compared to 274,967 in 2006 and 255,200 in 2005. Word spreads quickly at coffee mornings. Believe it or not but if your kids pet dies you can claim this two percent on exam day and if it's your distant granny that's snuffed out by Russian terrorists you can claim the full 5%. Hay fever is the most common excuse given and one of the reasons why Britain has logged a 15% increase in allergies in just three years. Blessssssyou!
J is for Jobs
Don't expect one after you graduate, one third of all graduates still working in admin or call-centers a year after graduating. Women are particularly reticent to get jobs in the subject they graduated in, one quarter pregnant and married off five years on from leaving university, the other third working for a temp agency or in retail. Arts and humanities degrees have the lowest graduate employment rates.
K is for Knowledge
Only 25% of graduates get a job in the career they have a degree in. The redder the brick the more chance. Apart from maths and English, the things we learn at school and college in exams aren't really what get us the job if we are honest. University is a middle-class right-of -passage, what ever that particular class think, 'uni' about learning to be independent and arrogant enough to join the ruling class. I would love to see GCSE and A-Levels rolled into one three year course and see pretty much everyone experience the liberation of university and get away from the parents. I would also like to see a reduction in university courses down to two years to enable wider access through that cost saving. Those arts and humanities courses can be part-time and should be nowhere near full-time courses.
L is for Learning
I learn something new everyday. Be it from reading books, browsing the broadsheets or watching proper telly. Knowledge is power and it can drop a girls knickers from three paragraphs away. Girls like guys who know stuff in general conversation and I'm never dull in a room full of dull people. But more importantly, if the things you learn are used skillfully, you can overcome most hurdles in life and get the best deal. You can never know too much. Did you know that when Kate and Gerry McCann were made suspects they employed the legal team that got Chris Langham off lightly over those grotesque pedophile charges? Ironic isn't it. You can use that one at the next dinner party.
M is for Mickey Mouse
We have all heard of those crazy Mickey Mouse degrees that were enticing intellectually challenged or idle over-stretched kids to be shuffled off to the college to fore fill their middle England right-of-passage and make mum and dad happy. But what about this cracker! Brighton University is offering a two year 'Street Arts Performance course', a degree in juggling. Juggling!! Brighton's national sport. You would think if there was one thing students didn't need to do a degree in is bloody juggling, plenty of them already fully qualified out there with their Glastonbury hats on, spinning those ten pin bowling pins and fire sticks every street corner in the big cities. Exactly where are the vacancies? So the next time you see someone in Brighton juggling those balls remember who's paying for it. My favorite MM degree was 'Science and Science Fiction at Swansea University'.
N is for 'NEETS'
'Not in Education or Training' (or 'Neds' in Scotland) are on the rise, especially in Scotland. They are the people who wear hoods and rob old grannies. They have quite rightfully been bunged out of mainstream education because they disrupt decent kid's education. These guys need military service. It would solve many of their family and environment problems. We are a product of our environment in this country more than most and these guys need sorting.
O is for 'Oxbridge'
As much as they want you to think they do allow state school kids in it's a home truth that most of those state school kids come from grant maintained state schools, the schools that see results rise when posh parents buy up the house price and effectively turn the school into selective private schools. Nothing wrong with middle-England getting together to get their kids the best, but why have a comprehensive system if you don't deploy it. Buying second homes and flats near school just for a postal address that qualifies your kids for the good schools is outrageous. These very same parents then have the luxury to be the loudest to complain about the state of our uneducated kids.
To prove Oxford are as picky as ever over who they want there, they had just 87 black Caribbean British students in there 6200 places in 2006. They have no problem, though, with educating rich overseas students that can meet all the financial requirements and so help beat their race and social quotas that enable the top colleges to keep their bizarre charity status. The 7% independent sector takes 67% of Oxbridge places, the middle-class comps and overseas kids eating up the next 20%. If you look up elitism in the dictionary then Oxbridge will be there somewhere.
P is for Public School
Eton and Harrow guarantee places at Oxbridge through their sixth form. It's in their prospectus. People that go here don't go onto Liverpool John Moore's or Salford. It doesn't matter how dim they are they go to the best universities. Parents expect that return for the extortionate fees that guarantees the Russell Group university places. Both Eton and Harrow receive charity status that makes them tax exempt from certain costs.
Q is for Queen
The idea of pledging allegiance to the Queen and flag at the start of school is very silly. This was recently suggested by one of Browns lackeys. The BNP would love that! If Blair had to pay div kids £30 to turn up to for sixth form and 'HE' college then unless there's hard cash to attend the flag waving ceremonies you can forget it.
R is for Religion
Why on earth do we have religious studies! Its bad enough these Christina Fundamentalists are sneaking into our school system but to make the teaching of a fairy story as legitimate education makes no sense.
S is for Sats!
Blair's justification for 'Sats' was it was a way to monitor kid's progress by the time they hit the critical age of eleven, where teachers can usually judge whether kids will go on and do well in school or end up with an ASBO, so able to pay more attention to those failing at that age through looking at the results from these tests. The government recently tweaked their tests to disastrous effect, nine out of ten kids failing the new exams. Because teachers were spoon feeding the kids the answers to keep their schools high in the divisive league tables to secure funding through the old level 6 testing, when the kids had to do a test with questions they weren't familiar with there was a 90% failure rate in the guinea pig schools.
Because of this, kids are to be given more time to answer the hard questions and only have to take the test when teachers think they are ready. Clearly kids are being tested too much too young and what ever system applied and the same kids will always do well in school and the same kids not. Parents educate kids at that age .
T is for Teachers and training
Just as the police save money with community support officers and 'hobby bobby's' replacing proper coppers, teachers are suffering the same restraints and cutbacks. There's a huge push on to recruit 'teachers assistants', often parents of children in the same school and only basically trained in teaching. These guys are half the cost of trained teachers and increasingly taking over their roles. We are also seeing an increase of teachers taking lessons they are not qualified to take, again a cost-cutting measure, English teachers taking Geography... If there's one thing you shouldn't do it's to take risks with the education of the nation. I know qualified teachers can be a right royal whinging pain in the ass but the ones that stick it out have to put up with a lot now and with record retirements and poor retention it's a profession that increasingly being rejected.
U is for University
University is a middle-class right-of-passage and so it was inevitable New Labour started to charge to cash in on that kudos. British student numbers are falling now that kids and their parents have to pay and as you would expect a big drop off are in poorer areas. After Blair made it easier for dim kids to go to university Brown is making it harder.
V is for Value
All the kids that were doing Mickey Mouse degrees now have to part pay for them, which have seen collapse in their popularity. Degree courses in proper subjects have seen an increase as parents and students realize the days of a three year piss up are on the way out. With estimated debts of over 20k grand for kids after graduation, and recession looming, I suspect we will see a collapse in numbers going from poorer families too. Deep down I think that was New Labors plan all along, the idea that kids not equipped for university with D and E, A-level passes going to university rather silly. One third of students who go to the old Polys drop out by the third year and millions of pounds are wasted. The current system, like I have said a hundred times before, is not about educating the masses but nurturing the few who can afford it. If your parents can't help pay then you are not going to be bale to study away from your town.
W is for work
If you take a part-time job during college you get a lower degree pass mark on average. Students are banned from working during course time at 'Oxbridge' for this reason. The kids who work during 'uni' are the poorer ones who's parents cant afford to contribute as much, and so more likely to give up the course or change it. In America working is part of your degree, although the system is set up to help them do that. I think we need a radical change in courses to weave around employment. I reckon most degrees could be part-time and anyone who has been to uni will know just how many lectures people didn't bother to go and yet still pass their degrees. Only 3% who finish courses get a 'Douglas Hurd' at the 'redbricks'.
X is for the X-Factor
On the day Scotland held its annual highers exam for 16-year-olds, the X-Factor were holding auditions in Scotland's big cities, reports saying that in some schools up to one third of students in an Edinburgh schools were asking for the day off to audition! Many said they would rather miss their exams than miss the auditions. Doesn't that sum up the 'noughties' in Britain's youth?
Y is for Youth
Why do kids have to start university at 18? How about a year or so in-between so they go there with a bit more maturity and some money in their pockets, perhaps working in those two years and squeezing in their year out before college. It amazes me just how many students can afford to go traveling before and after university. If they can afford that then maybe they don't need as much taxpayers help to study?
Z is for Zzzzzzz
You can wake up now.