Sunday 19 May 2013

"Raising standards" - not.

The evidence that Gove is 'raising standards' is here in Ofqual's consultation document on why they propose removing Speaking and Listening from GCSE English:

"We estimate that removing speaking and listening from the qualification would mean a drop of between 4 and 10 percentage points in the proportion of students achieving grades A*–C..."

We are talking here of a massive hoax. By talking of 'raising standards', Gove hopes to enlist the anxiety vote in support of what is a deliberate attempt to downgrade and fail more students. This is a backward move to create a reservoir of the 'failed'.

This is a historic turn away from the decades of rhetoric about 'upskilling' of the masses in order to face the challenges of new technology etc etc. All this talk of commas, grammar and the 'knowledge base' is a screen to hide a) they have put in place an even more secure system of failing the majority of pupils and b) they have given up on the notion that British capitalism can or should compete on the technology front.

The effect of this on human beings (ie school students) is that the government is not pushing for 'parity of esteem' between A-levels and technology qualifications; is doing very little to help non-academic pupils increase their skills and knowledge in the areas of technology, and 'applied' science; is doing a lot to ensure that those who fail 'academic' subjects are indeed all-round failures who are seen to be bringing down the scores and status of their schools ie the consequence of rating schools on English and Maths alone.

This has a double effect, repeating the errors of my time at secondary school in the 1950s/60s: so-called academic pupils like me were discouraged or prevented from getting a good technology education; students in secondary modern schools were regarded as inferior beings and it was only if they moved on to a 'tech' (Technology College) that they got anything like a good technology education. Even so, this was regarded socially and academic as less important and less valid than getting an A-level in Latin!

I suspect that this government has made strategic decisions about all this. In spite of the disasters that the finance sector has created, the government appear to think that a low-skill, low-wage economy linked to an emphasis on the finance sector is the way forward.

Outfits like Ofqual are pathetic servants to this greater objective.