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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Heroes and Zeros: who have been the best and worst Education chiefs in the UK?

The Secretary of State for Education is one of those government positions destined to attract a lot of attention. Holding overall responsibility for the nation's schools and pupils is difficult enough. It is made much more difficult by the evident fact that none of us seem able to agree on the aims, character or organisation of schools, in the first place1 Indeed, whether we need schools, at all!! Which raises some interesting questions: What has been the 'best' Secretary of State? And who has been the worst? In the name of impartiality, I offer no commentary on the candidates (I will almost certainly do this after the poll has closed, as I am only human). If you want to remind yourself of the basic facts, you can go use Wikipedia. Thanks you for your contribution.

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Anonymous said...

Surveys always go along tribal lines anyway; 'I'm left so Gove is the worst' 'I'm right so Balls is the worst'! I don't have an opinion on the best one because most seem to have contributed to declining standards.

Whichever one came up with Academies seems pretty decent, but the one that said lets spend sh!t loads of money that we don't have on new schools was not, new schools look brilliant I would suggest nicer learning environments are conducive to improving standards, but only if the money is found from elsewhere, like the welfare state for example not simply through borrowing more. Maybe that's just indicative of a very poor chancellor though and Balls was the number two in the treasury during that time, so he definitely doesn't sit high.

I think Gove's ideas are very interesting; it seems that the free school idea is genuinely working where it's being set up, also I like the idea of allowing grammar schools the opportunity expand again. But it's too early to say whether they are benefitting, so he could be sh!t as well.

As for the worst, there isn't even an option for who I think is the worst, which is Shirley Williams. Hands down. So hell bent on 'equality' she equalised the education system by stopping the building of new grammar schools and giving incentives for existing ones to convert to comprehensives. As someone who would have almost definitely benefitted from the old system it would have been nice to have had the option. Comprehensives gives us a system where bright kids can't read and less bright kids are ill prepared for becoming skilled in none academic pursuits. And to think that f@cking fruit loop was kicked upstairs into the House of Lords for trying her hardest to ruin the education system. Horrible bitch. Baroness Williams of Fuckwitshire

I have nothing against comprehensives, but when my parents were growing up there were three secondary schools in my town; The Comprehensive, The Grammar School, and Secondary Modern School, pretty much covering the entire gamut of skill levels. Now there is the comprehensive, the other comprehensive, and other other comprehensive. The result, three sh!t schools, all of which have 5 A* to C grades rates of less than 50%. Actually thinking about it the two of them merged with each other 3 years ago, meaning that there is now 2 sh!t schools. One of which is massive.

Richard Bailey said...

Interesting that you selected Shirley Williams for worst SoS. She is one of the most frequently cited heroines of pre-National Curriculum Education policy! By certain sections of society, anyway.

Gove is unpopular with many teachers; popular with others. I have become progressively disillusioned with him, partly for some of his comments about boats and bibles, and partly because he seems to have abandoned his initial commitment to evidence-based policy (just as Twigg et al embrace it!).

As you, say, it is rather tribal. Although I doubt that these tribes fit party political groups.

For the sake of transparency, I ought to declare that I have posted my views on Grammar Schools. I'd be interested in hearing your response to my argument.

What's the point of Grammar Schools?

Anonymous said...

I think old Shirle is popular with those sections of society for whom equality means homogeneity. People are different and treating them all the same based on the ideal an 11 year old of low intelligence might well become a doctor if you give them a comprehensive education instead of a secondary modern is barking. Especially when it’s at the expense of bright children whose aren’t ‘from means’ that would benefit from a more specialist heterogeneous education system.

As for Gove, the bible thing is stupid, the state and religion should be kept separate at all times and that fact needs drilling into him. The boat thing was nonsense, it was taken out of context because Chris Huhne (who leaked it and is now about to stand trial for perverting the course of justice) deliberately sent a very small part of an email conversation to make it appear that Gove was endorsing state money being spent on an old rich German woman’s boat. Strange how the Gruniard failed to report that once it was clear that the original story was incorrect.

On grammar schools, it used to be that the bright went grammar, not so bright secondary modern and the rich private. Regardless of your socioeconomic group, you could get a better standard of education. Now you have to be rich to get a better standard of education. Ironic that those measures enacted to increase equality have reduced it.

Homogeneity is not equality

Equality is no substitute for opportunity

Equality, at all times, should only be sought if it raises opportunity not reduces it.

Richard Bailey said...

i think you describe the theory of Grammar Schools; not so sure it is/was the reality. That is, I don't think it i as clear-cut as often presented (such as by MIchael Portillo on The Moral maze this week).

I've been studying Gifted Education for some years, and I am not at all convinced that t is possible to strictly divide 'bright' and 'not bright' at 10/11 years of age. As is well-established opportunities linked to social class confound everything at this age.

I am even less sure that any such division has predictive value (as, short of disaster, those who get in Grammar School stay in Grammar School).

And I am worried about the evidence suggesting that those LAs with Grammar Schools perform WORSE than those what don't. If this is true, it would mean that the benefit of the few would be t the expense of everyone else.

None of this is to do with homogeneity. It is about fairness and efficiency.

Of course, I am not Shirley!