Disclaimer: Due to technical difficulties, Max was unable to publish his blog contributions on the Sunday evening deadline. Slow, painful and meticulous punishments will be enacted accordingly.
Oh Gove, where to begin. This was meant to be a rather concise post critiquing SATS and why we should do away with them in light of Gove introducing grammar tests in year 6 SATS. But over the past week you’ve committed such a shambles I’m just going to critique (as best I can) a large part of the Coalition’s education plans (this will take a while) on a broad level.
1. Free Schools
As probably the centrepiece of the Coalition’s Education reforms it’s only fair I tackle this first. The problem with the Free School concept, while the principle of allowing unsatisfied parents the ability to set up their own schools is admirable in it’s own right. This often has dire consequences upon how funding is allocated and danger in how schools can subvert the national curriculum. First we have the situation where the majority of Free School proposals from 2011-13 were from religious organisations with 659 applications, 330 (50.1%) were faith-based. This is a very dangerous reality where large swathes of children will be forced to adopt their parent’s own religious views and beliefs which is paramount to child abuse. The situation gets even more worrying when a proposed Sheffield Christian free school had a creationist curriculum in science lessons. This of course gives no weight to the disproportionate shift in resources to these schools which last October where heavily under-subscribed.
2. Scrapping EMA
Now I’ll be honest, I never received EMA when I attended College, but the benefits for those who did receive them where profound. Of course while at College it was hard not to hear the wining; “Oh I don’t get EMA, it’s unfair. They never spend it on useful stuff.” (even at 16/17 I was pissed off at anecdotal evidence). But the truth couldn’t be further than these narrow perceptions. In October 2011 around 49% of Colleges and further Education centres in England saw a drop in student numbers just at the time when we need more highly skilled and educated workers. We have Alan Milburn, social mobility ‘tsar’ for the Coalition admitting that scrapping the allowance was a mistake. Yes, some may misuse the money, but most don’t. Many use it for expensive stationary and many more use it to pay for extortionate bus fares.
3. Facts, fact and yes, you’ve guessed it, even more facts
Why learn important critical thinking skills when you can reel off an endless list of facts! Well that’s what Gove is pushing for in the draft National Curriculum that’ll be introduced in September 2014. Facts are great and all, everyone loves facts Mr Gove, but I’d rather much our children learn how to discover new facts rather than learn already existing ones like a parrot. At the same time Mr Gove, it would be nice if you used your own facts instead of claiming “one teenager in five believing Winston Churchill was a fictional character while 58% think Sherlock Holmes was real.” in the Mail on Sunday last March (in this article he also hits out at all teachers who opposes his plans as “Marxists”)when it turns out that you’re not one for the evidence. Seems Mr Gove cited PR-commissioned opinion polls as evidence of teenagers’ ignorance of key historical events.
There’s probably far more I’d love to rip in to Mr Gove for, but this post was meant to be published on Sunday and I’d rather keep this piece as short and concise as I’m able to. This week’s Links to the Multiverse #002 contains a brilliant piece on Gove’s take on education which is sadly, highly accurate.