Finding a Tradesman that knows their Trade

Following some minor building works at our offices in London it became clear to me just how difficult it is to find decent tradespeople. We were repeatedly let down and we also encountered some extremely poor quality workmanship. Apologies for the stereotyping but the best tradesman / builders (by far) were Polish.

I have had a very similar experience domestically over the past few years, as have friends and family.

Why are we not producing good tradespeople and how do we know if somebody knows what they’re doing? After all, you need no formal qualification to describe yourself as a ‘builder’.

What we need is proper training in schools leading to an actual qualification that demonstrates competence. Students could leave school at 18 with a provable skill which could be checked. This should begin in compulsory education and would help people into work where they could gain further experience on the tools.

Let’s stop pretending everybody is an academic and start properly training people in the trades. We are getting left behind.

Academy regulation ‘too weak’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29219757

Unfortunately this is what can happen when you give these schools free reign with their budgets and accounting. The system for non academies where local authorities award funds after consultation creates checks and balances. That system is not perfect, but at least it is fair. In a local authority containing a mixture of academies and local authority run schools funding is not balanced, with academies getting greater sums of money. This system leads to the elitism that the original ethos of academies – to help struggling schools – was designed to prevent.

Heads attack no-notice inspections

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29222232

This would be an excellent idea if Ofsted were less like the Spanish Inquisition. If Heads felt that post Ofsted they would be given constructive guidelines rather than demonised for their failings they would probably be behind the idea. There is such paranoia about Ofsted that schools spend weeks preparing; time that could be much better spent.

Top GCSE grade to be given to just 3% in English and maths

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29162249

Just read the table below and wonder at how this is going to pan out. Everybody will be totally confused from students through to employers and universities. Why can’t the government just admit that terrible mistakes have been made and rectify them. A* always was an idiotic idea – basically an admission that exams are too easy. And exams ARE too easy. Does anyone at the D of E understand what the terms ‘Examination’ and ‘Testing’ literally mean? Go back to A-E grades that everybody understands and make the exams hard. Surprise, surprise, only the top students will get top marks.

“The new approach will also mean:

  • Broadly the same proportion of students will achieve a Grade 7 or above as currently achieve an A and A*
  • For each examination, the top 20% of those who get Grade 7 or above will get a Grade 9
  • The bottom of Grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of Grade G”

Ofsted warning over provision for school leavers

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-29145874

We need PROPER vocational skills taught in schools alongside core subjects. Help the less academic gain vocational skills whilst still having the opportunity to study mainstream academic subjects.

Improve Compulsory Education for Future Generations

We are being left behind by the rest of the world because our compulsory secondary education system is confused, complicated and not testing enough.

Standards have been dropping year upon year for decades, reflected in higher and higher ‘pass’ rates and a greater quantity of ‘top’ marks. Look at the attached Graph. O Level & GCSE Achievement 1953 -2009

(Source: House of Commons Library – Standard Note SN/SG/4252 – Social & General Statistics)

This lowering of standards has fed right through to Higher Education. Top Universities are finding that freshers do not possess the knowledge which their high marks should reflect. Mathematically heavy subjects are particularly badly effected. Engineering Undergraduates at top Universities often have to have extra lessons in Mathematics because their assumed and necessary knowledge of Mathematics is just not there.

This is because we have dumbed down our examinations.

There needs to be a revolution in the examination system and it needs to happen NOW.

Through Kensington & Chelsea Tutors I come across students from all over the world. I have been consistently shocked by how we are being left behind by other nations, particularly in the 11 – 16 age range. The difference is particularly noticable in Mathematics and Science where students abroad are tackling far more testing material than students of the same age in the UK.

Unless this changes the future looks bleak; we need reform to keep the UK competitive.

Centralise UK Compulsory Education NOW

Imagine if we had just one body setting examinations for 16 year olds in the UK. The government is constantly looking for ways to save money; printing costs alone would save millions. I don’t think parents and the public in general have any idea of the ludicrous work load put upon Examination Officers these days. At many schools it is a full time job! At many private schools children in the same class will be sitting different exams for the same qualification! Mistakes are often made because of the complexity of so many different papers for the same subjects. Results comparisons are meaningless and standardisation is virtually impossible.

We need ONE body setting the examinations for core subjects at 16 and EVERYBODY should sit identical examinations for each subject. This would save money, raise standards, avoid errors and make statistical comparison of results have some meaning.

Performance Related Pay for Teachers…impossible to quantify!

Here’s my take on the story that appeared on the BBC website yesterday regarding proposals to introduce performance related pay for teachers…. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-18089505

Performance related pay in the teaching profession is surely impossible to quantify?

Every lesson in every classroom on any given day presents different challenges. The variables are endless; class size, location, age, demographic. Along with that each and every cohort is unique; possibly similar or totally different from the last and the next. And how do we measure performance? Exam results? Disciplinary record? Attendance?

As well as that, performance related pay naturally introduces competition which can breed disharmony. Teachers should be paid equally and fairly.

Would love to know your opinion!