My opinions on recent BBC education stories


More teenagers Neet – not in work or education


It is important for teenagers to be in work or education after compulsory education ends. However, let’s make sure that if teenagers remain in full time education between 16 and 18 that the qualifications they are working towards are meaningful. Either hard A Levels or vocational qualifications that can lead to a job.


Public schools lack moral compass, WellingtonCollege head says


This is an interesting story. Conceptually Academies are a good idea but as we encourage greater and greater separation from control of the curriculum and finances are we not moving towards a more disparate system? We need standardisation, particularly in the curriculum, in order to accurately measure students against their piers.


Boys’ reading skills ‘must be tackled’


I agree that this is more of a social / parental issue. Boys need to have the importance of literacy instilled them along with the joy of reading. This is increasingly difficult in our multimedia, information age but with three children of my own I understand the importance of nightly reading and encouragement. Without that, many children would never chose to read a book!


New brainbox test ‘is dog whistle to middle class’


I am entirely in agreement that these tests are a bad idea and create elitism and increased competition. Every child should be given equal opportunity regardless of ability. Pushy parents will have their children specifically coached for these tests increasing the already heavy pressure on our young people.


Exams need ‘fundamental reform’, MPs say


At last somebody talking of fundamental reform. The dumbing down of our exams has been happening for decades. Schools are under pressure to produce results for the sake of league tables and so individual subject heads are bound to search for the Board which produces an examination that they feel is easier for their students. Conversely, the Boards obviously want to maximise the number of Centres that sit their particular examinations.


A single, carefully regulated examination body would make for a clear, understandable system with meaningful results that allow accurate comparison.


England’s schools ‘letting future maths stars down’


The fundamental problem is that examinations in this country are comparatively easier than in the other countries in the study. How can we encourage more gifted students if they score 100% in the tests that are put in front of them? As children progress they should be given harder material to study to stretch them intellectually. Is that not the point of streaming? More gifted students should be in the top group where they can be pushed. Less academic students should be helped to achieve their potential too, but the two goals cannot be achieved in unison.

This is reality, not elitism. Help the weaker, push the stronger.


Of course we need a reformed examination system first that actually produces tests that are difficult even for the most gifted individuals.


University applications from the UK fall 8.9%


Hardly surprising with tuition fee debts potentially up to £27,000 for a three year course. This is significant debt. What proportion of graduates will emerge with a qualification that enables them to get a job that can service that kind of debt? Let alone raise a mortgage too.


The government seem to think that increased applications reflects higher standards. Does it not also reflect an increase in the quantity of available ‘University’ places?

How many of the courses that are taken really help towards a future career?

Perhaps we should survey graduates to see what happens to these indebted individuals when they join society following University?


Violinist Nicola Benedetti attacks school music cuts


Unfortunately Music is often seen as a less ‘mainstream’ subject so is likely to be hit by cuts before other subjects. I agree that this is totally unacceptable, education is the foundation of our future prosperity. Music and musical education is a fundamental part of society and should be encouraged.


Exam board says pupils given wrong grades


This is an inevitable consequence of a ridiculously complicated examination system. Dispense with multiple Examination Boards and Centralise the system. Standards will rise, administrative errors will fall. Everybody will know where they stand.


Reading and writing catch-up classes for poorer pupils


I think this is an excellent idea. Any help for students from disadvantaged backgrounds should be encouraged. The way that this is delivered does, however, need to be carefully managed. I agree with Nansi Ellis that teachers should be more able to use their professional skills to help such students with fewer constraints from the primary curriculum. Surely that curriculum has partly failed them by the time they need extra help?


100 more free schools approved for England


The birth of these free schools is clearly a result of lack of faith in the system as it stands. This is understandable, but the government should be focusing on the present structure not some vote winning gimmick. Surely this is heading towards greater privatisation and less central control. The free schools cause havoc within the present system with many parents not knowing where they stand. I agree with Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, what is needed is improvement and funding to the existing system, not fragmentation.


Ministers ‘rush to approve private degree courses’


Why is the government approving so many barely regulated courses and institutions when it is bleeding the established Universities dry of funding? A cynic might look towards unemployment figures and interest paid on student loans. Future employers will surely look towards graduates from established institutions? Many students will be in excess of £50k in debt after a three year course. In many cases this will not be money well spent for the individual but it will be a nice little earner for the institution.



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