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Wolford6

Education / Michael Gove

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I agree with everything you have said in this post and the previous one. However, here for me lies the crux of the problem. The kids priorities are different nowadays but the reality of adult life hasn't changed. In order to get a good job and be successful within that career, you still need good literacy and numeracy skills and a broad education base. In order for the country to be economically competitive, we still need a well educated population with literacy and numeracy skills at the core. We are falling so far behind other nations in regards to education standards, it has a negative effect on this country attracting investment and forcing business to look elsewhere. I think Gove is correct in attempting to solve this issue.

There are a couple of problems with this. First of all, Gove has set himself us as the sole champion of standards, implying that they are currently lax. This is not the case at all. The reasons I pointed out the difference in children nowadays was to give an alternate reason for (apparent) lower standards of basic literacy and numeracy than a change in teaching methods. Like I said, Northern Ireland has a much more traditional education system without noticeably better results, often worse.

The second problem is the idea that a return to essentially a 1950's style curriculum will solve these problems in the 2010's. The media and Gove often like to mention the now discredited polls suggesting that masses of children do not know who Winston Churchill was. However, even if it were true, are we really suggesting that a lot of children get through education without being taught about Winston Churchill at some point? This is again nonsense but for some reason children don't remember it; I would suggest it is because they aren't interested in it and see no relevance in knowing that information. Look at what our society so often sets up as role model: sportsmen, filmstars and celebrities. If this is what they aspire to be then historical knowledge doesn't really fit in. Only a fool would suggest that it was because of superior history teaching back in the day.

Gove was always up against it, being a Tory education minister but there is something so ideological about his plans for education. It also flies in the face of most educational research. For instance, a couple of years ago I completed a masters assignment on what a Primary history curriculum should look like. This was before a new curriculum was being discussed and there were of course a variety of different opinions but none of them fit with Gove's. There is something arrogant to think you can supercede what the experts say because you think people should know x, y and z.

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How is it public, when only the two of us are present?

 

The people who work for me are part-timers; I would hope that, if they were actually "staff" they might  actually take an interest in the work.

 

I speak having endured a frustrating morning where the girl who works for me has listened to half of what I asked her do, instead of all of it. I asked her to cut some documents from one file, and  collate them to form another.  Then to add certain identified photographs from another file to the new file and then print them all off.

 

Before she started, I asked her if she knew what she was doing. 'Oh yes' was the answer ... then of course she cocked it up; none of the three files had the correct stuff in it. It took me half an hour to sort out a job that I could have done myself in ten minutes. While I did this, it was an ideal opportunity for her to do some texting on her phone.

Is it the education system that taught her how to text on her phone?

There are far wider societal issues with the problems that you are talking about than just the education system.

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You are right about the disparity of funding between the Grammar Schools and the Secondary Moderns. In principle, there is nothing particularly wrong with providing a child with the education to which he/she is best suited, but both types of school need proper funding. The Secondary Moderns didn't get it.

Not everyone is suited to a Grammar School education, just as not everyone is suited to a degree-level education, but everyone should have an education that is best-suited to their abilities and aspirations. I wish I could wave a wand and make that happen.

The key point for me has always been that 11 is not a good time to decide someone's entire future. Comprehensive Schools allow late 'academic' developers the opportunity to go on to HE when Tech would have been their best option previously. It allowed everyone to have life appropriate education.

Sadly, I don't think the disparate and fragmented trajectory of the current education system will serve anyone well.

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I'd be interested to know just how old this "girl" is?

 

 

17

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The key point for me has always been that 11 is not a good time to decide someone's entire future. Comprehensive Schools allow late 'academic' developers the opportunity to go on to HE when Tech would have been their best option previously. It allowed everyone to have life appropriate education.

Sadly, I don't think the disparate and fragmented trajectory of the current education system will serve anyone well.

 

 

That is the point. Many of the Secondary Modern Schools in the area I live in opted to take 'O'Levels, although sadly not mine.  One even went on to have  a sixth form.  They got some good results too. Any education I got was thanks to five years at evening classes after I left school, in later years Radio 4, and a couple of OU courses. But the point I was trying to make was that grammar schools were not a vehicle for social mobility Those in favour of their restitiution (usually Tories) like to pretend they were, but they weren't.  If  a prime example is required Magaret Thatcher, a grocer's daughter, typical of the type of pupil who went to a grammar school. Hardly a working class hero(ine)

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The key point for me has always been that 11 is not a good time to decide someone's entire future. Comprehensive Schools allow late 'academic' developers the opportunity to go on to HE when Tech would have been their best option previously. It allowed everyone to have life appropriate education.

Sadly, I don't think the disparate and fragmented trajectory of the current education system will serve anyone well.

 

Many people are either unaware of, or choose to ignore, the fact that it was possible for a child who had failed his/her 11-plus to transfer to a Grammar School at 14. It was a very difficult thing to do, but the pathway was there. One of my fellow students at York Uni had taken this route, attending Normanton Grammar before going on to study Chemistry/Education at York. He was from Altofts and followed Wakefield Trinity, so we often shared our passion for TGG, as well as swapping tales of school. I got the impression that he was happier at the Secondary Modern than he was at the Grammar School, but realised he needed to follow that route to get to Uni.

 

You make a very good point about flexibility within a Comprehensive environment, though. It should be a lot easier than the transfer at 14 route, but I suspect it often isn't for a variety of reasons.

 

(see my next post)

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That is the point. Many of the Secondary Modern Schools in the area I live in opted to take 'O'Levels, although sadly not mine.  One even went on to have  a sixth form.  They got some good results too. Any education I got was thanks to five years at evening classes after I left school, in later years Radio 4, and a couple of OU courses. But the point I was trying to make was that grammar schools were not a vehicle for social mobility Those in favour of their restitiution (usually Tories) like to pretend they were, but they weren't.  If  a prime example is required Magaret Thatcher, a grocer's daughter, typical of the type of pupil who went to a grammar school. Hardly a working class hero(ine)

 

You make a good point, too.

 

Your educational achievements are praiseworthy and illustrate one thing which is alluded to, but not always overtly stated, that is "motivation". Schools can do a lot to help children fulfill their potential, but they cannot force unwilling students to study. There has to be a degree of motivation on the part of the student. Not everyone can ignore their school work to concentrate on football and end up like David Beckham, for example. This is the part where parents, teachers and society as a whole have a role to play. I remember, back in the day, despairing when I heard pop stars saying things like "School did nuffin for me, I used to nick off and hang around wiv me mates. Now look at me! Didn't do me no harm*."

 

This is definitely one area where we can all help to improve standards.

 

* Admittedly, I don't hear this very often these days.

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I see some "Head Teachers" are setting a good example to their pupils by heckling Gove. 

 

Motivation: indeed.  I knew two secondary modern pupils, personal friends at the time,  from the late 1950s/early 1960s: one, now deceased,  became MP for Gravesend and the other is Professor of the History of Astronomy at Oxford University.  They were motivated  and they rejected  the anti-education sentiment that prevailed (and may still does) in certain sections of society.  In this I really do blame some parents.

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That is the point. Many of the Secondary Modern Schools in the area I live in opted to take 'O'Levels, although sadly not mine.  One even went on to have  a sixth form.  They got some good results too. Any education I got was thanks to five years at evening classes after I left school, in later years Radio 4, and a couple of OU courses. But the point I was trying to make was that grammar schools were not a vehicle for social mobility Those in favour of their restitiution (usually Tories) like to pretend they were, but they weren't.  If  a prime example is required Magaret Thatcher, a grocer's daughter, typical of the type of pupil who went to a grammar school. Hardly a working class hero(ine)

They were for some. My mother went to a Grammar school, her family were very working class. These days someone in an equivalent situation would have no choice but to attend the local comprehensive.

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The key point for me has always been that 11 is not a good time to decide someone's entire future. Comprehensive Schools allow late 'academic' developers the opportunity to go on to HE when Tech would have been their best option previously. It allowed everyone to have life appropriate education.

Sadly, I don't think the disparate and fragmented trajectory of the current education system will serve anyone well.

The fallacy about the 11 plus has already been tackled but I don't see why a return to Grammar schools necessarily relegates existing Comprehensives to the role of Secondary Moderns. The society for which the Secondary Moderns were created has disappeared. We live in an era where lots of people (probably too many) go to university; very many of these people would not have passed an 11 plus (or equivalent).

 

Some parts of the country e.g. Devon still do have a small number of Grammar schools. My eldest son is currently prepping for the 11 plus. Devon has yet to become an area where 80% of children are fobbed off with a "technical education" preparing them for jobs that no longer exist.

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They were for some. My mother went to a Grammar school, her family were very working class. These days someone in an equivalent situation would have no choice but to attend the local comprehensive.

 

There are always going to be some. But generally it was the kids of the better off parents who went to the grammar school. My wife went to grammar school, as did her sister.  They were the daughters of the editor of the local paper.  As a generalisation, if you lived in rented accomodation, very common in the sixties, and your parents had a manual job, my dad was a van driver, my mother scrubbed floors at the local gas showrooms, you failed the 11+ went to a Secondary Modern and got a manual job. 

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I have some sympathy for the grammar school idea but I'm far from convinced either way. I always saw grammar schools as an antiquated system that had been put in the past by forward thinking countries. It wasn't until a debate I had with my father-in-law (Northern Ireland is only just stopping the grammar system) that I found out that a number of countries such as Germany still have them.

 

It is a far reaching question that comes down to what we actually want our education system to be. At the moment, if you succeed in our system you have acquired the skills to become an academic of some sort. I don't think this is necessarily the right way to gear our whole system towards. Labour had this crazy idea to try and get 50% into Universities which has led to a large number of useless degrees and watered down genuine degree qualifications. From this way of thinking it makes sense that those suited to academic studies should be put in schools that serve that side of things and children not suited to academic studies should be steered elsewhere.

 

I do speak from some experience. Me and my group of friends at the time were the sort of children that would have passed the 11 plus and gone on to grammar school. We were top of our class in Year 6 and generally bright. We certainly didn't flourish in the local comprehensive secondary school. Despite being setted and still being amongst the brightest, for instance two of us achieved the only level 8's in the Year 9 SAT's out of a group of 300, we were hardly in an environment that supported such achievement. As I'm sure you would expect, it didn't go hand in hand with popularity either and it was the norm to play down any degree of intelligence. I often wonder how we would have got in an a grammar school system that at least to some extent celebrated achievement and encouraged intelligence. Also despite our academic success, none of us has really achieved what would have been expected from our Year 6 grades. Would a grammar system have given us a better starting point to achieve something?

 

However, I do know that this is a relatively selfish and idealistic viewing of things and to an extent is a convenient excuse for any perceived failings. I've never been comfortable with the idea of effectively writing off children at a certain age either and think it would inevitably create division and a degree of snobbery. I have a brother in law that failed his 11-plus and felt like a second class citizen in the town. My mum also made it to the grammar only to feel out of her depth and never really settled. As did my dad who made it to the grammar and basically dropped out of education.

 

I think the fundamental issue is what we want our education system to do and whether it is in fact an achieveable goal.

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I have some sympathy for the grammar school idea but I'm far from convinced either way. I always saw grammar schools as an antiquated system that had been put in the past by forward thinking countries. It wasn't until a debate I had with my father-in-law (Northern Ireland is only just stopping the grammar system) that I found out that a number of countries such as Germany still have them.

 

It is a far reaching question that comes down to what we actually want our education system to be. At the moment, if you succeed in our system you have acquired the skills to become an academic of some sort. I don't think this is necessarily the right way to gear our whole system towards. Labour had this crazy idea to try and get 50% into Universities which has led to a large number of useless degrees and watered down genuine degree qualifications. From this way of thinking it makes sense that those suited to academic studies should be put in schools that serve that side of things and children not suited to academic studies should be steered elsewhere.

 

I do speak from some experience. Me and my group of friends at the time were the sort of children that would have passed the 11 plus and gone on to grammar school. We were top of our class in Year 6 and generally bright. We certainly didn't flourish in the local comprehensive secondary school. Despite being setted and still being amongst the brightest, for instance two of us achieved the only level 8's in the Year 9 SAT's out of a group of 300, we were hardly in an environment that supported such achievement. As I'm sure you would expect, it didn't go hand in hand with popularity either and it was the norm to play down any degree of intelligence. I often wonder how we would have got in an a grammar school system that at least to some extent celebrated achievement and encouraged intelligence. Also despite our academic success, none of us has really achieved what would have been expected from our Year 6 grades. Would a grammar system have given us a better starting point to achieve something?

 

However, I do know that this is a relatively selfish and idealistic viewing of things and to an extent is a convenient excuse for any perceived failings. I've never been comfortable with the idea of effectively writing off children at a certain age either and think it would inevitably create division and a degree of snobbery. I have a brother in law that failed his 11-plus and felt like a second class citizen in the town. My mum also made it to the grammar only to feel out of her depth and never really settled. As did my dad who made it to the grammar and basically dropped out of education.

 

I think the fundamental issue is what we want our education system to do and whether it is in fact an achieveable goal.

 

The grammar school system was great - for those who went to the grammar school. But it wasn't so good for those that didn't. On the other hand most grammar school (round here anyway) played Union, and many Secondary Moderns played League.

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What an interesting post, MD. I have often wondered about schools' ability to provide students with what they need to become 'successful'.

 

Firstly, I suppose it depends on what you mean by success. That is really an individual concept - my idea of success won't be the same as yours. I don't really think schools can be held responsible for an individual's failure to achieve his/her goals.

 

Secondly, when it comes to success, there are many factors which are impossible for schools to teach. For example, I think risk and luck play a part in all our lives. If you really want to be a success, you have to be willing to risk failure. Schools are particularly ill-suited to instilling this concept because they are, essentially, conservative establishments. They are doing risk analysis now, but even I didn't see this until I was in my 50s. Luck? Of course we all need luck. You revise a particular topic and then there it is on the exam paper. You go to a party and are introduced to someone who ends up offering you a job. Your band play a gig in a pub and a recording company manager is in the audience. There are millions of little incidents like this that happen in our lives. Sometimes you get the lucky break, and sometimes you don't.

 

Success is hard to achieve and, though hard work helps, the many intangibles make it more or less impossible to teach. We just need to keep striving to become the best we can. All of us.

 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling.

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What an interesting post, MD. I have often wondered about schools' ability to provide students with what they need to become 'successful'.

 

Firstly, I suppose it depends on what you mean by success. That is really an individual concept - my idea of success won't be the same as yours. I don't really think schools can be held responsible for an individual's failure to achieve his/her goals.

 

Secondly, when it comes to success, there are many factors which are impossible for schools to teach. For example, I think risk and luck play a part in all our lives. If you really want to be a success, you have to be willing to risk failure. Schools are particularly ill-suited to instilling this concept because they are, essentially, conservative establishments. They are doing risk analysis now, but even I didn't see this until I was in my 50s. Luck? Of course we all need luck. You revise a particular topic and then there it is on the exam paper. You go to a party and are introduced to someone who ends up offering you a job. Your band play a gig in a pub and a recording company manager is in the audience. There are millions of little incidents like this that happen in our lives. Sometimes you get the lucky break, and sometimes you don't.

 

Success is hard to achieve and, though hard work helps, the many intangibles make it more or less impossible to teach. We just need to keep striving to become the best we can. All of us.

 

Sorry if that was a bit rambling.

 

Thanks for the reply Tony.

 

I completely agree that there is so much more to it than academic success and that risk taking, confidence and luck are probably bigger factors in achieving economic success. As you also said, it depends on how you measure success. Personally, I feel like I have been quite fortunate and largely despite my secondary education. It wasn't until much later (and with a bit of luck) that I suddenly woke up to what I needed to do.

 

I also agree with Trojan also, I'm not advocating setting up a whole system to benefit the children that were like me. I was suggesting that the comprehensive system potentially fails those better achieving pupils. For instance, many of my friends succeeded in the British school system but the pay off was that they spent much of their time classed as social misfits by the majority of their peers. They subsequently haven't succeeded in work like their grades would have suggested and we're talking 4 or 5 of my friends including easily the most intelligent person I know. Instead of pushing these brighter pupils, the comprehensive system promotes a race to the middle for the sake of fitting in.

 

I have an 11 year old nephew who lives in Northern Ireland and is exceptionally bright for his age (100% despite his primary schooling). They have just dropped the grammar system where he lives and I haven't really expressed to the family my real concerns for him in the next few years. He will suddenly be thrown into a situation where his achievement is not celebrated, in fact far from it. I worry that as puberty hits he will also find himself in a very awkward situation.

 

Of course I also accept that I have no experience of the realities of the grammar system. I'm not suggesting that some of my friends would have suddenly become social butterflies in a grammar system, they would probably have still been classed as social misfits. I'm also not suggesting that it would be a paragon of high-brow learning, I'm sure there would have been many of the same problems as in a modern comp. However, I just wonder whether it might have been better for the geeky students but also those that aren't socially awkward but feel pressurised to play down their talents for fear of being branded a misfit.   

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The grammar school system was great - for those who went to the grammar school. But it wasn't so good for those that didn't. On the other hand most grammar school (round here anyway) played Union, and many Secondary Moderns played League.

 

I've always felt I missed out by not being able to go to a grammar school. Like MD's experiences, the school I went to it was almost as if they didn't want the pupils to have any academic ambition and you just couldn't seen to be interested, keen or even good at the academic subjects without getting a good kicking at break time. It may seem selfish but sometimes I think that schools should allow those who want to get ahead and learn to do so in a grammar school and those who want to mess about and waste a wonderful opportunity that is free education and go to a school and do subjects that they may have an interest in and will be more suited to their aptitude. 

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Education is wasted on the young!

 

I like that, Weary. And there is just enough of 'an element of truth' in it to make you stop and think.

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There are always going to be some. But generally it was the kids of the better off parents who went to the grammar school. My wife went to grammar school, as did her sister.  They were the daughters of the editor of the local paper.  As a generalisation, if you lived in rented accomodation, very common in the sixties, and your parents had a manual job, my dad was a van driver, my mother scrubbed floors at the local gas showrooms, you failed the 11+ went to a Secondary Modern and got a manual job. 

Whereas now the same kids get to go to a low-standard comprehensive school with no possibility of going to the posh schools. We've swopped merit-based systems for ones that are solely about your parents ability to buy a house in the exclusive catchment area or about their willingness to play the God card. 

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I like that, Weary. And there is just enough of 'an element of truth' in it to make you stop and think.

 

There's more than an element of truth in it. I'm far more interesting in the things that I was forced to do now than I was then, things like art and reading music. I was taken to cubs and scouts as a child and absolutely hated it but now I love all those Bear Gryllis, Ray Mears bushcraft stuff and would love to be able to camp and have many of those skills.

 

It's the same with things like Science and French. Out of interest I've self-taught myself far more in these topics than I ever knew coming out of school. Take something like evolution, despite a B in GCSE Science I had no real understanding of it whereas now I'm fascinated by the topic.

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Whereas now the same kids get to go to a low-standard comprehensive school with no possibility of going to the posh schools. We've swopped merit-based systems for ones that are solely about your parents ability to buy a house in the exclusive catchment area or about their willingness to play the God card. 

 

There is a very real point here. Let's not pretend that we have a 100% fair for all system, we have a system that gives a better education to those that can afford to either live in a good area or pay for a private education.

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Not entirely the right thread but at work I don't ever recall "those" being used, it's "them", as in "I hope them cups are clean", "I'm off to pick up them plates", "them drawings". Is this just a Lancashire thing?

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Not entirely the right thread but at work I don't ever recall "those" being used, it's "them", as in "I hope them cups are clean", "I'm off to pick up them plates", "them drawings". Is this just a Lancashire thing?

It's also a Yorkshire thing.

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It's also a Yorkshire thing.

Fair enough, never really noticed it until a few weeks ago. A bit like Manchester has a penchant for using "dead"? Like "that was dead good".

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