When Education is run by the School Bully

We all remember it well. Tony Blair said, "Education, Education, Education". Today, The Times has reported that:

A quarter of boys and 15 per cent of girls left primary school unable to read and write properly, Government figures show today.

Overall one in five 11-year-old pupils failed to reach the expected level in their national curriculum tests in English.


I did some digging. I found an article in the Guardian, by Andrew Adonis , written in 1996, the year of the EEE speech,which to me, gives an astonishing and terrible insight into New Labour thinking on Education, and perhaps helps us to understand why education has gone backwards under New Labour.

By a complete and satisfying coincidence, Adonis wrote in 1996

One in five of seven year-olds in London primary schools score zero in reading tests

Of course, he was confident that in reporting this, he was able to place the blame firmly on the failure of 18 years of Tory administration. Not only has Labour totally failed to improve on this, they have ensured that the state system has now extended the timescale of failure by four years!

So, how did they get there? Your guess is as good as mine - I am not an educationalist, but I am a parent, which is why my children, who were found to have dyslexia, were moved from state schools which failed them, to the independent sector. (The change was most marked in my daughter, whose reading at age 11 was way behind and subsequently shot up to well above average after a year at her new, independent school) Both of my kids are now voracious and articulate readers, both above average intelligence, but you would not have guessed it from their mediocre performance at primary level.

Anyway I digress. Adonis gives an insight into the way Labour thinks. Labour does not believe in creating a level playing field, it merely believes in dragging everyone down to the lowest common denominator. He describes the tension between the independent sector and the public one as "England's apartheid between state and private schools". This is combative and divisive language, with the word "apartheid" having all the hallmarks of gross inhumanity. But this is the way they think. It is a kind of bullying.

He also talks about "the deep anti-education culture of the underclass." Well, I am afraid you are not going to change that unless you hypnotise them. Social engineering does not work, especially if the football is on and Stella costs £5 a crate.

This perverted brand of neo Marxism is ingrained in New Labour, yes, New Labour, though they have as much in common with the actual teachings of Marx as George Soros.

The main subject if Adonis' piece is to pitch Blair for the job of Education Secretary, alongside his role of PM. He ends the article by saying:

And the third reason for Mr Blair to take the job himself? Because he will be the first - yes, the first - Prime Minister since the war to send his children to state secondary schools. This makes him one of Britain's rarest birds: a product of the private system who has not opted out for his children too. It concentrates his mind wonderfully on how to improve the lot of the great majority who are in the public sector alongside him.

To which I can only say, "Bollocks". We are having Education policy driven by a group of people whose guilt over their own privilege must be the engine of our children's suffering.


Elby The Beserk said...

Agree 100% Mr. Weasel. This will take at least two generations to iron out - whenever it starts to be addressed, that is. This must be the worst, most incompetent government this country has ever suffered. All ideology, no experience, no pragma, no sense.

Take 'em all out at dawn and shoot 'em.

lilith said...

When my parents were growing up in New Zealand (they are early 70s) the only people who went to private schools were "special needs" of varying types. There was no demand for private education because the state education was good. They came here, (my mum was a teacher) and they realised that if they didn't want us to have behavioural problems they would have to educate us privately.

Dan said...

They're different stats, though. The Adonis quote suggests that 1/5th of kids in London were getting a 0 in their Reading SAT (KS1). The Times article suggests that at KS2 SATS, one in five were merely not reaching their expected levels (which are far, far above "0" - "0" is way below the expected grade, even for KS1).

I don't doubt that standards are not brilliant - at least, certainly not in line with the increase in spending. But if you're looking for evidence, this is not it.

Michael Dembinski said...

At school in West London in the 1960s and '70s, I had many Polish friends. Their parents, like mine, were refugees, washed up in Britain after the war. They came from all walks of life; peasants, workers, urban middle classes, minor nobility. But all my Polish friends, classmates, whether their fathers worked at the Walls' factory in Acton, or on building sites, or as minicab drivers, or consulting engineers or surgeons - all of their UK-born Polish children went on to complete higher education. Girls and boys. And this was at a time when only 8% of UK 18 year-olds went on to university or polytechnic.

What marked my Polish friends from the Brits was that class did not affect their parents' attitude to education.

This is Britain's Achilles' heel.

The gulf between the working class and the rest of society in Britain is so huge - so endemic - so ingrained - that we might be talking about different species.

It is all about motivation. Where does it stem from? Is it genetic? Or learned? Or does it peter out once basic wants are sated? And what's the lesson here for policy makers?

"Run! Run in the corridors!"