"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ofsted opens a department of the bleeding obvious

This is in response to an oldish article. I was going to blog on it earlier but every time I went to do so, the red mist descended and I had to lie down. Right now I'm too fucking tired to get angry, so here goes...

Bloggertarians on the subject of education piss me off in ways I can't describe. But I'm gonna try anyway. Here's my problem with them: they claim to be in favour of freedom in education - scything the dead hand of bureaucracy, decentralisation, empowering and liberating schools to do their own thing and so on - but there's just a teensy-weensy problem with this line, so teensy-weensy the unobservant and the historically ignorant might just miss it: they are fucking Tories and that bitch Thatcher they worship, followed by the genial but useless Major they didn't like but voted for anyway, centralised education services in this country to an unprecedented degree.

It was actually that nice Mr Major who was responsible for much that is evil and shitty in education today - the National Curriculum, for example - along with the whole culture of league tables and draconian inspections. But Thatcher laid the foundations with her war against local government and the public sector in general. (As an aside, I'd like some of these voucher-supporting libertarian diddies who wank over the memory of the Iron Lady to acknowledge, just once in a while, that she closed more grammar schools than any previous 'totalitarian' Labour government. It'd be nice, y'know? Inject a little reality into the education 'debate' and that.) What they don't seem to understand is that power lost to local education authorities isn't power passed to the 'consumer'; it goes - it went - to central government. Did y'all miss this? This is why - for example - the 'detoxified' David Cameron can announce that he favours, for example, 'setting' or streaming in schools, or the use of phonics in primary schools. I mean, what the fuck? Why doesn't he just actually take the classes himself? Interesting that those who seem to think this vacuous fop represents a resurgence of liberal Toryism have nothing to say about this breezy assumption of control from the centre. Ok, so it's not that interesting - just annoying.

This is not to exempt that Thatcher in trousers Tony Blair who embraced the philistine Tory centralism with great vim and gusto. So enthusiastic he was about it, he retained the pupil-shagging Thatcherite bully-boy Chris Woodhead as head of Ofsted - as well as employing the authoritarian thug David Blunkett to run the goddam education department.

Which brings us this, from the piece linked above:
"A study of nearly 200 schools found that while maths tests and exam results have improved, teachers' poor understanding of mathematics was a serious problem. Fewer than half of secondary maths teachers have degrees in maths or related subjects and there is a shortage of suitably qualified candidates.

The report, Mathematics: Understanding the score, concluded: "Many [teachers] concentrated on approaches they believed prepared pupils for tests and examinations, in effect 'teaching to the test'.""
Teaching to the test? You don't fucking say. I wonder how that happened. I have to say that since Ofsted have contributed towards a culture where the survival of institutions and the careers of individual teachers depends on the performance in national tests, it really takes a special kind of chutzpah to then produce a report complaining about it. Here's another one on a similar vein, this time to do with science teaching in primary schools:
"Children's interest in science and their understanding of it are being crushed by the compulsory tests they sit at primary school, leading professors argue today.

Pupils in England are being taught to perform well in the tests, rather than having their "natural curiosity of science cultivated and harnessed", researchers from Bristol and Durham Universities will say in a report.

All 11-year-olds in state schools are examined in science as part of their standard assessment tasks (Sats). The results are used to compile league tables, on which parents and the government judge how good schools and teachers are."
It takes a 'leading professor' to come up with this sort of breath-taking insight, you understand.

Ah, the rage, the rage. Sick to death of shit about vouchers, fucking Sweden in general, fucking 'choice' in general, crap about faith schools and their putrid discriminatory 'ethos', utter utter wank about grammar schools from journalists that are supposed to be leftwing but like to strike a contrarian iconoclastic pose by being, em, really rather reactionary actually. Come the revolution, I'm going to have every journalist and blogger who writes this ignorant crap shot like the rabies-infected dogs they are - starting with Melanie Phillips. Just saying like - so you know not to associate too closely with them. You have been warned.

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