Monday, 3 December 2007

Beyond a joke

I had intended this to be a satirical post on the state of education. Unfortunately, when I began to research it, I discovered so many facts that are beyond parody I had to completely change my focus.

Apparently, officials from the amateur boxing world want their hideous 'sport' included in the National Curriculum. A spokesman, describes it as 'injustice' - eh? - and had been hoping that it would also be included at GCSE level (I think the Torygraph reporter may be confused about some of the educational terms involved). What the hell would employers or colleges make of a young person who proudly displays his (or her - once it's there, you can't discriminate) GCSE in boxing?

What school and which local authority would take the risk of lawsuits after a child got brain damaged from boxing? A colleague of mine from a neighbouring authority has to complete a ten page risk assessment before he can take his chess - yes, chess - team to an away match. Where would you start with a sport whose objective is to inflict brain damage?

According to Sunday's News of the World, Edexcel is planning to have exam scripts marked in India this summer. Didactophobe marks for a major exam board and is absolutely horrified by this prospect - not just because he earns a useful amount each summer from marking exam scripts. All the major boards have either moved, or are moving, to online marking, which means that scripts are scanned and are then marked by teachers sitting at home.

This saves the exam boards a huge amount of money and does have some advantages. However, having marking done overseas is a step too far. Anyone who spends two years teaching a GCSE or A Level course is entitled to presume that their students will either pass the course, or be failed by someone with equal competence and qualification to themselves. Students and parents are also entitled to know that the scripts are being marked by people who are qualified to teach in this country, not by persons unknown thousands of miles away. Many people with experience of Indian call centres will be shocked to think that their child's exam success could depend on the accuracy of foreign markers who may or may not be able to find Britain on a map.

Meanwhile, 40% of English children are failing to reach the appropriate standards in basic skills of reading, writing and maths.

We have a five year old being expelled from primary school after punching a teacher after the child's mother had begged the local authority to provide a place in a special school for them. When will the public learn that social inclusion is about saving money, not about providing opportunities for children. Including children with severe special needs in mainstream schools disrupts the learning of other children, whilst failing to meet the needs of those it is meant to help.

And we have the tragic case of Bob MacKenzie.

If you want to know what is really going on in schools, grab a copy of Frank Chalk's excellent book, It's your time you're wasting or take a look at the comments of former union leader, Alan McKenzie.

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