Archive for Secondary Education

A Bungled Education System

Posted in Britain, Budget Cuts, Children, Conservative Party, David Cameron, England, English Schools, Government, Insanity, Liberal Party, MP's, Nick Clegg, Primary Education, Primary Schools, Teens, UK, USA with tags , , , , , on 10/09/2011 by floroy1942

Lancashire Hot Pot is a type of stew in which ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ goes in the pan, and this is probably the closest we will get to describing the British educational system at the moment.

Education is one of the cornerstone’s of any modern culture, and if you mess that up, you ruin not only people’s lives, but the future of the nation. So what has gone wrong in Britain?

Well, in a nutshell – politicians! If there is a way to mess up a perfectly good working system, politicians will find it!

Yea! Right!

Up to the beginning of the 60’s, we had a system of education that worked, and gave us many of the leading scientists, entrepreneurs and academics in the world. No one could touch us for sheer brilliance, not even the United States, who lured away most of our top scientists with promises of extravagant salaries (known as The Brain Drain).

In 1965,  Anthony Crosland, Secretary of State for Education for the then Labour government, introduced comprehensive schools. This was the catalyst for the de-fragmentation of UK education. From that moment on, we saw increased diversification into faith schools, technical schools, academies etc. etc. etc.

Each successive government since then has added its own few ingredients to the stew, and now today, we have a system of complete confusion, and on the verge of total collapse.

I Expected Better

I had hoped Cameron and Co. would have done something to fix the problem after 13 years of Labour meddling, but unfortunately, they have only succeeded in making the problem much worse by introducing ‘free’ schools, adding yet another variation to an already confused system. The kids don’t know where they belong, the parents don’t know which school is best for their child,  and the education staff are in complete disarray.

The evidence for this is everywhere you look. A youth that is semi-literate and unemployable, and teachers who don’t know what time of day it is! None of the ‘old style’subjects are taught properly anymore: history, geography, religious education, physical training, chemistry, and in many cases, physics.

A modern school: Teacher: “Right class! History is about the past, geography is where places are on the map, religion is about Jesus and all that stuff. – Karen, please pick up your pen dear! – Right, you can put it down now. – That was about all exercise which we call physical training. Next is chemistry, all about chemicals, and the last one is physics which concerns – errrr! Can anyone tell me what physics has to do with? – Jeremy? – Physical things? – Well I guess that is close enough. Right class, dismissed.”

Trying Hard But Getting Nowhere!

Sorry, just couldn’t resist it! It is indeed a sad indictment, when the education system of a country is so bad, that most of the pupils leaving it read and write like eight-year-olds. Sure, the figures look good when you see a 97% pass rate for GCSE, but when you consider that a twelve-year-old from 1955 could quite possibly have sailed through it, it doesn’t really mean much, especially in today’s hi-tech world.

Maybe we will have to wait for the next government (which will probably be Labour again so don’t hold your breath) for the UK education system to be kicked back into shape. But to be honest, I very much doubt if that will happen.

I reproduce a breakdown of the UK schools from the Independant newspaper which will probably surprise you:

Schools Graphic

3,446: There are 3,446 state secondary schools in England. The vast majority (about 2,950) are comprehensive in name. There are still 164 selective grammar schools in the country and the rest are either secondary modern schools or “high” schools (effectively secondary modern schools that choose to use a different name to describe themselves).

1,300: Within that 3,446 figure, there are 1,300 academies. The difference between these and those that remain maintained by the local authority is that they have the same freedoms as independent schools to set their own curriculum, hire non-qualified teachers and run their own affairs. There are, to complicate it further, two types of academies. There are those set up under the previous Labour government which have sponsors (education charities, private providers, independent schools and universities). There are 319 sponsored academies. Under the Coalition, existing state schools – firstly those described as “outstanding” by Ofsted – were allowed to transfer to academy status. There are 981 transferred academies.

10: A further complication is that virtually every state secondary school is a specialist school, specialising in one area or another of the curriculum. (There are at least 10 types of specialist schools including languages, science, maths, arts, sports, humanities and even rural studies.)

16,884: There are also 16,884 primary schools in England. Only a handful have decided to convert to academy status.

7,000: The picture is further complicated by the fact that about one in three English state schools (primary and secondary) are faith schools. There are just under 7,000 of these. They can either be voluntary aided or voluntary controlled. If they are voluntary controlled, the diocese or faith group has a far greater say over admissions. A breakdown of the faith schools reveals that there are 6,955 Christian state schools (mainly Church of England or Roman Catholic but with a handful of Methodist schools, too), 36 Jewish, six Muslim, two Sikh, one Hindu, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist.

24: To this mixture can now be added the free schools: 24 of which have opened up for the first time this September. David Cameron has said he wants this figure to rise to the early hundreds in the next few years. Once it is set up, a free school has the same freedoms as an academy. The difference is that it is a new school started by a variety of parents’, teachers’ or faith groups (or education charity). It is also possible for a free school to be a faith school, but it must offer 50 per cent of its places to non-believers – a requirement not asked of mainstream faith schools.

2,415: To add to the mix, there are 2,415 independent schools: 1,625 primary and 790 secondary. These educate about 7 per cent of the school age population.

372: The picture elsewhere in the UK is simpler than in England. In Scotland there are 372 secondary schools, all comprehensive in intake. Of these, 53 are faith schools (all Catholic). There are 2,099 primary schools, 318 of which are denominational or faith schools, 314 Catholic, three episcopal and one Jewish.

1,435: In Wales, there are 1,435 primary schools and 222 secondary schools. All the secondary schools are fully comprehensive.

My thanks to the Independent.

From the above it is clear that some schools, e.g. acadamies, even have the power to hire unqualified teachers!!!

GCSE – A Worthless Piece Of Paper

The current mess has been criticised by no less than Professor Alan Smithers, a senior adviser to the Commons Education Select Committee, who said our education system is a ‘liquorice allsorts’ kind of system. He too argues that all children should have an equal opportunity for a good education. At the moment it is clear they do not.

There is but one way for education to go: One standard school system for the UK, and one curriculum for all. Once children have left school, they can go to acadamies to learn specialist subjects. GCSE’s should be hard so that only the most gifted are able to go to university.

Roy.

Britain’s Education System – The Blind Leading The Blind!

Posted in Britain, Children, Conservative Party, David Cameron, England, English Schools, Government, Insanity, Liberal Party, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Primary Education, Teens, UK with tags , , , , , , , , , on 27/06/2011 by floroy1942

“The truth will always out” and that has never been more amply demonstrated than today with the new literacy/numeracy tests for trainee teachers

Education, Education, Education

Education standards in British schools have been falling for decades, thanks in particular to the previous Labour government that made exams easier to improve pass statistics, and now we are ‘paying the piper’. We have long passed the stage where our ‘teachers’, responsible for the proper education of our next generation, are capable of the task.

The horrifying impact of this situation is that it perpetuates. As standards drop generation by generation, so does the competence of succeeding generations of teachers, and thereby the education of each new generation declines. To put it bluntly, how can a semi-literate person teach literacy or numeracy to a child?

This is the vicious circle we are now in as a nation. In my opinion, we are rapidly reaching a point where British children will no longer be able to apply for skilled jobs, and this is already happening. We will eventually see that born and bred British youth will only be able to get jobs as cleaners and road sweepers because their level of education precludes all else. 

See also:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/young-people-today-unemployable/

It is a well known fact that four out of five youngsters leaving school today cannot read and write properly, and don’t even try mental arithmetic!

Teacher Training

Until now, candidates for Teaching Colleges have been allowed to take assessment tests while they train as often as they wish, so if they ‘got lucky’ on their sixth attempt they would be allowed to continue training as teachers! The news item states that candidates will now only be allowed three attempts, but I have to ask; if they need three attempts, are they fit to teach the next generation, especially considering how ‘hard’ the test is? I think not!

The report gave the following examples of questions that appear in the exam given to those attending teacher training:

  • Q1: Teachers organised activities for three classes of 24 pupils and four classes of 28 pupils. What was the total number of pupils involved?

  • Q2: There were no ” ” remarks at the parents’ evening. Is the missing word:

  • a) dissaproving

  • b) disaproveing

  • c) dissapproving

  • d) disapproving?

  • Q3: For a science experiment a teacher needed 95 cubic centimetres of vinegar for each pupil. There were 20 pupils in the class. Vinegar comes in 1,000 cubic centimetre bottles. How many bottles of vinegar were needed?

  • Q4: The children enjoyed the ” ” nature of the task. Is the correct word:

  • a) mathmatical

  • b) mathematical

  • c) mathemmatical

  • d) mathematicall

Answers at the end of this post for those who don’t know!

 Even the questions (faithfully reproduced) have missing punctuation and spelling mistakes, but that may be down to the reporter more than the real exam paper.

While I am on the subject, mistakes are now very common in articles written for news bulletins and newspapers. Whether this is because the writers cannot be bothered to check their work before handing it in, or is the emergence of the level of illiteracy spreading to reporters today I do not know, but its worrying.

A Time When Teachers Knew How To Teach!

When I first saw the above questions, I realised very quickly that they were like the ones I had to answer in school when I was ten years old! That was of course hrrmmm years ago when school was school, and teachers knew what they were doing. In those days teaching was a calling, much like nursing. People did it because they loved the idea of educating the next generation. They knew their subject inside out and woe betide you if you didn’t learn.

The Department of Education calls this exercise ‘toughening up’ on education, and Ed Gove, the Education Secretary is quoted as saying  the proposals would “emphasise our commitment to boosting the status of the profession by toughening up the recruitment process and ensuring that all new teachers have a real depth of knowledge in their subject”. That was the ‘norm’ fifty years ago for cryin’ out loud!!! I know my old teachers would be spinning in their graves if they could see what is happening today!

The tests taken are for literacy and numeracy, both essential if you wish to embark on a career educating others. To date, 10% of all applicants take the numeracy test more then three times, and 7%  do the same for the literacy test. Although the news rules may well help, I still do not see the need for candidates to be given three attempts at a test. Would you get three attempts at a GCSE? No!

Hmmm!

So what do we have now? For the most part, teachers who can only stand in front of a class and recite a lesson from a book, and why? Because they themselves have little or no knowledge of the subject they are ‘teaching’. In some cases their literacy and numeracy are no better than a twelve-year-olds, which lets face it, is considered ‘normal’ these days.

The reaction to this report from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is predictable. In their opinion the tests are ‘superfluous’. That just about sums them up too! According to them the students requiring more than one shot at these test were either dyslexic, had English as a second language or were unfamiliar with on-line testing. My Goodness! How can a dyslexic person, or a foreigner with insufficient understanding of english, be allowed to teach our young????? It boggles the mind!

Christine Blower

NUT General Secretary Christine Blower said: “The NUT has always argued that the entry requirements for initial teacher education, which include GCSE passes grade C or above in English and maths, should be sufficient and make the additional skills tests superfluous,”

If that is the case, why do so many have to take the test more than once to pass it! Especially when you consider how simple the questions are. GCSE’s have been dumbed down by Labour over the past decade to such an extent I am surprised everyone doesn’t have at least ten! So Christine, You can blow…never mind!

The National Association of Head Teachers has, as you can expect, a more professional attitude to the current problem saying: “it was right to have demanding expectations of recruits to the profession”. Now that sounds more like it!

The Associations General Secretary, Russell Hobby, said: “We should not fall into the trap of thinking, however, that academic excellence necessarily makes someone a great teacher. We want smart people, but we also want visionary, caring, energetic, creative and thoughtful people.” Quite right Sir, up to a point! Without the basic knowledge of the subject they are to teach, the rest is meaningless. All potential candidates should be properly examined for their level of general education and long before they enter the system, not while they are in the midst of training.

Let Me Check That In My Notes

Unless the government makes severe changes to the level of competence of our new teachers, and makes it compulsory for them to have a full understanding and knowledge of any subject they wish to teach, things will never improve and we will end up a with a workforce capable of performing menial tasks only. Whenever companies need skilled workers they will have to be imported. Not a happy thought.

Answers to the test questions: 1. 184     2. d     3. 2     4. b     Just in case you may have had some difficulty.

Associated post:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/its-not-mi-falt-i-carnt-spel/

Roy.

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