Tag Archives: academic

CBI head calls for GCSEs to be scrapped – BBC News

What do we think of this – the CBI splitting with the government and calling for vocational qualifications to have equal status with academic GCSEs?

The head of the CBI says a date must be set in the next five years to scrap GCSEs and introduce an exam system with equal status for vocational subjects.

John Cridland, director general of the employers’ group, says England’s exam system is narrow and out of date.

He proposes a system in which the most important exams would be A-levels, including both academic and vocational subjects, taken at the age of 18.

Ministers are pushing for all pupils to take a core group of academic GCSEs.

Source: CBI head calls for GCSEs to be scrapped – BBC News

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Poll for today: Should schools be forced to separate pupils into ability groups?

According to The Guardian, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wants to make it compulsory for schools to place their pupils into ‘sets’ dictated by their academic ability.

The move may be controversial as it may be argued that it helps those with higher ability and leaves the rest behind.

However, as someone who was educated in a school that ran a ‘setting’ system, Yr Obdt Srvt can see advantages as well. It would minimise disruption caused by pupils of lesser ability who may be confused by more difficult lessons – and disruption by pupils of greater ability who may be bored by simpler lessons. It would also be helpful to separate pupils with high academic ability from this with vocational ability, making it possible to teach each pupil according to their strengths.

Other arguments – for both sides – are also available. But what do you think? Here’s the poll:

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Michael Gove highlights his own lies; Tony Robinson is right

Left-wing propaganda piece? Sir Tony Robinson (right) with Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth.

Left-wing propaganda piece? Sir Tony Robinson (right) with Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth.

A new development has occurred in the story of Michael Gove’s attempt to rewrite the history of World War One as a glorious display of “patriotism, honour and courage”.

This blog took Gove to task after he attacked one of Britain’s best TV comedies, Blackadder Goes Forth, for perpetuating “myths” about the conflict.

Now Sir Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the much-loved series, has weighed in to warn Gove against attacking teachers.

He told Sky News: “It’s not that Blackadder teaches children the First World War.

“When imaginative teachers bring it in, it’s simply another teaching tool; they probably take them over to Flanders to have a look at the sights out there, have them marching around the playground, read the poems of Wilfred Owen to them. And one of the things that they’ll do is show them Blackadder.

“And I think to make this mistake, to categorise teachers who would introduce something like Blackadder as left-wing and introducing left-wing propaganda is very, very unhelpful. And I think it’s particularly unhelpful and irresponsible for a minister in charge of education.”

Sir Tony added that it was “just another example of slagging off teachers.” He said, “I don’t think that’s professional or appropriate.”

Gove appears not to have the wit to answer on his own behalf. Instead a spokesman plunged him even further in the mire with the following: “Tony Robinson is wrong. Michael wasn’t attacking teachers, he was attacking the myths perpetuated in Blackadder and elsewhere.

“Michael thinks it is important not to denigrate the patriotism, honour and courage demonstrated by ordinary British soldiers in the First World War.”

Oh really? It’s fortunate Gove’s own words are available to be examined then, isn’t it?

In his Daily Mail article on Thursday, he wrote the following: “The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh, What a Lovely War!, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.

Here’s the juicy bit: “Even to this day there are left-wing academics” – in other words, teachers – “all too happy to feed those myths.”

Case proven. Gove is a liar, and he is trying to promote the teaching of lies to children.

Still, he has a vested interest in replacing history with propaganda. Imagine what his own entry in the history books will be. Something like: “In the wake of the financial crisis, the Conservative Party tried to win electoral victory by blaming the disaster on financial mismanagement by the then-ruling Labour Party. When this, and a pledge not to interfere with the National Health Service, failed to inspire the electorate, Tory leader David Cameron seized power in a backdoor deal with the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg – a man who was to become little more than a puppet in Cameron’s hands. Once installed in Number 10, the tyrant set his lieutenants to work: Andrew Lansley and Jeremy Hunt turned the health service over to private hands. Iain Duncan Smith made benefit claims impossible to sustain, driving thousands of claimants to destitution and death. And Michael Gove reduced the education system to a means of indoctrinating the nation’s young with pre-approved disinformation designed to make them compliant fodder for the new corporatist state.”

… and that doesn’t even begin to describe the Betrayal of Britain that started in 2010!

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We have an Education Secretary who wants to overwrite history with lies

– Having failed to find a video clip, here’s an audio version of the scene in Blackadder Goes Forth, in which Captain Blackadder explains to Private Baldrick how World War I began. Michael Gove questions its accuracy but it seems correct, according to the history I learned at school.

If anybody doubted it before, now we can be certain: Michael Gove does not want schools to teach facts – he wants your children to learn jingoistic propaganda. By rote.

We can deduce this from his extraordinary attack on one of Britain’s most revered TV comedies, Blackadder Goes Forth.

He said the show (which, as we all know, mixed some of the best verbal humour of the 1980s with searing social commentary and arguably the most moving ending of any TV comedy at all) peddled left-wing “myths” about the First World War, “designed to belittle Britain and its leaders”.

According to politics.co.uk, Gove said the popular series had sought to denigrate British patriotism and had been used by “left wing academics” to portray the British war effort as a “shambles” led by an out-of-touch elite (so in that way, one assumes, the war was run much as the entire UK is today).

“Our understanding of the war has been overlaid by misunderstandings, and misrepresentations which reflect an, at best, ambiguous attitude to this country and, at worst, an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage,” the article quoted from his article in the Daily Mail.

He’s wrong, of course. Putting patriotism to the side (it is arguable whether that is a virtue), honour and courage are celebrated by Blackadder; there is no lack of it in the lead characters. Blackadder is perfectly willing to help the war effort by foiling a spy in one episode, for example. Lieutenant George is full to the brim with ideas about honour, courage, fair play and Britishness. Even Baldrick does his bit (although he probably doesn’t understand why). The point of the show is simply that the title character is not willing to lead the men for whom he is responsible into certain death.

“The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh! What a Lovely War, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite,” Gove continued.

“Even to this day there are Left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths.”

In fact, there are academics of all kinds happy to feed these notions because they are based on facts, rather than the ramblings of Mr Gove’s deluded mind.

It is, frankly, terrifying that a man with such ludicrous and – in context – dangerous views may hold the position of Secretary of State for Education.

Gove went on to claim that the war was a “noble cause” and a “just” conflict against the “social Darwinism” of the Germans.

Social Darwinism, for those who don’t know, is the attempt to apply the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to politics; it argues that the strong should see their wealth and power increase while the weak should see it decrease.

It is strange that Gove should attract attention to this theory, as its strongest supporter in today’s Britain is his cabinet colleague, Iain Duncan Smith. Coalition policies on social security are clearly based on this principle yet Gove has never raised a whisper of protest against them.

Gove went on to say the war “was seen by participants as a noble cause”. Of course it was – they were fed a constant stream of propaganda by their commanders, in order to ensure their co-operation and keep their spirits up. This did not mean soldiers could not use their own eyes and ears to work out what was going on, and repressive behaviour by authorities at the army camp in Etaples led to the mutiny of September 1917, dramatised in the novel (and BBC TV series) The Monocled Mutineer, which attracted considerable criticism at the time of transmission (1986) for alleged left-wing bias.

It is worth noting that questions in Parliament after the novel was published led to the revelation that all records of the Etaples Board of Enquiry, where the mutineers were tried, had been destroyed long before.

And Gove ridiculously claimed that the Battle of the Somme – which the politics.co.uk article claimed has become a byword for futile and indiscriminate slaughter, was a vital “precursor” to victory. In fact it was nothing of the sort. The Germans gave up because the failure of one offensive after another had left their troops severely disillusioned and their country in danger of revolution – which in fact took place shortly before Armistice Day.

You have much to fear from an administration willing to have a man like Michael Gove running its schools.

He would rather tell your children lies than let them learn the truth; it might give them political ideas that disagree with his own.

His comments are yet more proof that we have a government built on lies.

How are we going to change it?

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Social mobility? The Coalition’s flag should be the ‘Old School Tie’

It's not what you know - it's who: This is the only ticket to upward social mobility in David Cameron's Britain - an Eton tie.

It’s not what you know – it’s who: This is the only ticket to upward social mobility in David Cameron’s Britain – an Eton tie.

Congratulations to Alan Milburn for completely destroying the Coalition government’s ‘Making work Pay’ policy.

It was always critically flawed, of course – how could it not be? It was based on the idea of reducing the money available to people on benefits, in order to make the amount taken home by working people seem like more.

Meanwhile, the real winners were company bosses and shareholders for whom the line ‘Making Work Pay’ is a complete misnomer. A shareholder takes home dividends after investing in a company. Such a person doesn’t do any work for that money at all!

Mr Milburn’s study focuses on working parents, according to the BBC’s report. This makes sense because social mobility is historically based on a child managing to achieve more than a parent.

For decades, Britons have been able to say, proudly, that each generation has been better-off than the last; now, the Conservative-led Coalition has reversed that trend. Working parents simply don’t earn enough to escape poverty and two-thirds of poor children are now from families in which at least one adult has a job.

Falling earnings and rising prices mean the situation is likely to worsen – and what the report doesn’t say (but we can infer), is that this is an intended consequence of government policy. David Cameron will not be thanking Mr Milburn for pointing this out.

Mr Milburn has recommended diverting money currently used to provide universal benefits to pensioners, so that the richest senior citizens would lose their free TV licences and winter fuel allowances, in order to relieve the burden on the poorest families.

But Mr Cameron, who knows that pensioners are more likely to vote than younger people (including working parents), won’t accept that. A spokesman told the BBC those benefits will be safeguarded until after the 2015 general election – in order, we can infer, to ensure that pensioners will vote Conservative.

At least this admission makes Cameron’s reasoning clear!

Some have chosen to lay the blame on Education. That’s right – with a capital ‘E’. Apparently, although Tony Blair was right to put the emphasis on education back in 1997, people just haven’t been interested in taking it up, along with the massive opportunities it offers to attain a comfortable life.

That just doesn’t ring true. Look at Yr Obdt Srvt. I left school with nine GCE ‘O’ Levels and three ‘A’ levels, went on to get a degree and then went beyond that to get a post-graduate qualification in Journalism (making me one of the few news reporters, these days, to have one).

I have never received more than poverty wages – even when I was editing a newspaper. But the effect I have on my surroundings is completely disproportionate to the money I have received – I recently wrote that when I left my last full-time newspaper job, that paper lost £300,000 per year as a result (according to my sources). This very site is currently rated 16th most influential political blog in the UK.

Yet I am as poor as a church mouse!

So Education is not the culprit – and putting teachers on performance-related pay is to chase Education up a blind alley. How would Special Needs teachers benefit from such a system? All pupils have a range of abilities and no two are the same, so how can performance-related pay ever be judged fairly? Suppose a teacher correctly realises that some pupils will never achieve academic excellence but that their talents lie in practical pursuits – should that teacher lose pay for trying to get the best result possible for those pupils? Of course not.

Once again we see government policy following the ‘divide and conquer’ pattern. ‘Take from the needy and give to the greedy’, as the slogan states.

And the flag of the conquering elite is the ‘Old School Tie’.

You’re on very shaky ground in Cameron’s Britain – if you weren’t at Eton.