Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Surfing the System

A question being asked in the newspapers today:

"How can any academic institution make a selection of candidates for university courses based on the perceived social class of the parents?"

In a fierce attack, the Professional Association of Teachers called for the Government to halt its drive towards so-called "social engineering".

Peter Morris, chairman of the PAT in Wales, accused ministers of "Creating barriers in education based on social class".

Addressing the union's annual conference in Harrogate, he said: "I am angry because this Government has interfered with my children and their children's chances of getting a good education in this country. They have changed the ways that examinations are assessed, and clearly this has had a 'dumbing down' effect on the academic standards, in order to get more pupils to achieve."

Under new rules, teenagers applying for university will be asked to say whether their parents have degrees in an attempt to attract more students from poor homes. But Mr Morris insisted it amounted to discrimination against middle-class pupils.

Courses such as physics, chemistry and maths have been replaced with "non-academic" degrees such as "surfing, beauty therapy, knitwear, circus skills, pig enterprise management, death studies, air guitar, David Beckham studies and wine studies", he said.

So should Labour's tinkering with social engineering reach into the university system? It was revealed this week that the country is lacking 500,000 apprentices becauses the government insists in directing non-academic children towards university rather than recognising one of the more obvious facts of life, that some of us are better suited to careers that involve vital practical skills; using our hands, for well-paid plumbing and building work, rather than seeking a useless quasi"soft degree" from an inner-city polytechnic renamed as a university.

It was also disclosed this week that applications for "complementary" medicine are up more than 31 per cent this year, while there has been a 19 per cent fall in applications to study anatomy, physiology and pathology.

A spokesman for the newly-formed Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "We are ensuring every child has the best possible start in life and the opportunity to succeed - nobody can argue with that!"

Ed: What do you think, social engineering and dumbing-down of our children of the worst kind or a brave leap towards a more equal opportunity society?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have non-academic sixthforms all over Thanet preparing students for dubious Higher Education courses that will enable them to be Tesco check-out operators in a few years time. Our University Courses should be directly vocational or truly academic and have restricted entry to academic young people. The country is crying out for skilled workers and an advert in the Thanet Times for 20 qualified electricians to work on a contract is un-likely to attract that number. We do young people a grave disservice by not being honest about what they are capable of and schools are party to this as income for a 6th form bottom on a seat earns more income for the school. EMA payments for practical skills courses at Techs would be a better path to follow for non-academics than sitting wasting 2 years in 6th Forms.

Anonymous said...

This is no new situation. Professor R V Jones warned against it (Churchill's wartime head of scientific intelligence).

At the end of WW2 the women of wartime industry were sent back to the kitchen sink and men were employed in industry that had become obseolete before the First War.

Then some bright spark set up the postwar education system. Studying a range of subjects to a low level (up to the age of 15/16). IE Akin to learning nothing about everything.

I think the academic, whose thinking inspired postwar education, on his deathbed sent R V Jones a message "You were right".

Rather like the academic behind the Multicultural experiment who has now realised it failed and has become the champion of the intercultural experiment.

In 1984 the Institute of Electrical Engineers published a report. 93% of managers in the industry (parasitic) totally unqualified either by experience or education. UK training one tenth of the engineers trained in France or Germany. More students of drama studies than of electrical engineering.

I worked in Medical Physics in 1985 and recall the commuppance of the Superintendent Radiographer who thought she could do a mere "Vocational" qualification. She failed First Year Ordinary National Electrical Engineering (to the great amusement of the medical physics techs) because she could not hack the maths. Which rather begs the question how difficult are the degrees taken by radiographers ?

I also recall the lengths the physicists would go to in order to make the consultant physicians realise that medicine was an easy subject compared to physics. Daily the physicists found ways to make the consultant oncologist feel foolish.

The only time they agreed was when they exchanged details of good homeopathic practitioners to send their own children to ......

(PS Copy of report went to Police Authority yesterday Councillor)

Nethercourt said...

Where ye sow, so shall ye reap....
Comprehensive education? At least in Kent we are halfway to restoring the system that worked. Grammers still exist, all we have to do is re-invent Technical Schools. Oh, and find someone with the skills to teach in them.

Anonymous said...

First of: 'Under new rules, teenagers applying for university will be asked to say whether their parents have degrees in an attempt to attract more students from poor homes.' I haven't a degree but I earn over £30K p.a. so am I poor?
I'm not going to push my kids to Uni. It seems so many go now that degrees are ten-a-penny unless they're in Physics, Science, Mathematics, Engineering. I'll teach my kids to go self-employed,(Petty Bourgeoisie, ask a kid with a degree if they know what that means) own their own business before they get to a situation of having to pay bills.

Beauty Therapy Courses said...

Education is this country has always been class based. Now it seems that in some ways, that children from poorer background will have an advantage instead of a disadvantage.