You remember the old saying "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach"?
It's often repeated by people who are small-minded enough to still feel resentful against the teachers who confined them in their youth. A couple of days in the classroom would soon show them who can and who can't. Trust me, I've done both, and life in an office or behind the wheel of a company BMW is by far the easier option.
Many teachers will tell you that there's a modern, and much more pertinent, version: "Those that can teach, do. Those that can't teach, tell teachers what to do". There seem to be more parasites making a living out of education - advisers, education officers, advisory teachers, lecturers, researchers, Ofsted inspectors - than there are actually teaching. Everyone's been to school, so everyone considers themselves an expert on education.
If you combine all this with education's vulnerability to the absurdities of political correctness and the peculiar interpretation of the word "responsibility" current in government and public bodies ("I'm responsible for this, so I can fiddle around with it as much as I like") you have a recipe for an education system rife with ineffective activity, poor (or no) standards, demoralised staff, emasculated leadership and dissatisfied "customers", as I expect we're supposed to call parents these days. Or is it the kids?
It was reported in the Times this week that two of these parasites, Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally from the University of London, have issued a report on primary school education. It's called the Cambridge Primary Review (ah, it has the word "Cambridge" attached to it, so it must be good) and it's said to be the biggest study of primary schools for decades. That in itself is odd - aren't the government constantly studying primary education? Isn't Ofsted engaged on a ceaseless round of close inspections of primary schools? How much bigger can you get?
Anyway, the report says that middle-class parents are 'monopolising' the best schools, and calls for the best primary schools to hold lotteries for places to prevent eager parents from manipulating the system.
Apparently middle-class parents are obsessed with Ofsted reports and league tables, and are colonising the best primary schools, forcing poorer children into failing schools and ruining their chances in life.
The Review recommends that catchment areas should be scrapped because only wealthy parents can afford to buy houses next to the best primaries. Instead, oversubscribed schools would use a lottery system. It says "Some aspects of primary education are geared in favour of helping higher income groups. Current admissions policies favour parents who not only know how to use published information about school standards such as Ofsted inspections and performance tables but can also afford to choose exactly where to live."
Dr.McNally told The Times that schools should be banned from choosing pupils according to where they live. "They could still give preferential treatment to siblings of pupils already at the school, but then there should be a lottery system," she said. "Quite how far children could be bussed to other schools would need to be worked out, but the local authority could organise some help with that."
She admitted that scrapping catchment areas would upset a lot of people, "particularly those who had bought houses near schools". Boy, she can say that again. Silly cow.
"Quite how far children could be bussed to other schools would need to be worked out, but the local authority could organise some help with that"? What kind of world do these people live in? Do they seriously think that with an airy wave of the hand they can commit local authorities to huge swathes of extra expenditure, bussing thousands of children to schools miles away just to suit their own vision of social equality - which, as usual in this country, means levelling everyone down to the standards of the weakest, and stifling the earnest attempts of ordinary people to improve their lot and that of their children?
One is reminded of the battle going on in South Tees, where the NHS is threatening to withdraw all of Colette Mills' cancer treatment if she pays for an extra drug - because it would mean she might be getting better treatment than the woman in the next bed, and we can't have that, can we? They'd rather she died, probably, so long as they could pat themselves on the back and say "Well, we didn't do our best exactly, we could have done a lot better in fact, but we did the same for her as we do for everyone else, so that'll have to do".
And the great irony of the Cambridge Primary Review is that the "problem" - if indeed it is a problem, the fact that some schools are perceived as better than others and that parents are well aware of it - is entirely of their own making. It wasn't the schools that insisted that they should be inspected practically to death by Ofsted, and that the goalposts should be regularly moved so that neither the schools nor the inspectors ever know exactly what they're supposed to be doing (I was at one time, briefly, a qualified Ofsted inspector, so I know that whereof I speak).
It wasn't the schools who invented SATS, and league tables. They just wanted to quietly get on with their job, same as they've always done.
Nor was it the schools' idea that all this information and comparison, much of it quite spurious, should be made public. It wasn't the schools that courted "parent power". It wasn't the schools who invented the concept of the "business solution", the quasi-economic competition between one school and the next.
No, it was our government and their parasite education advisers that created this mess. It's they who are responsible for a demoralised, ineffective schools' system. For headmasters and headmistresses without teeth, and classroom teachers who can't control their classes because they've nothing to control them with. For parents who are so desperate to keep their children out of the hands of the hoodies and the bullies that they'll scrimp and save to buy a house in a more expensive area.
But of course, it's all the parents' fault, isn't it? Whatever goes wrong in this country, at the end of the day the solution is always to introduce sanctions to force ordinary, law-abiding, respectable people to change their habits, even if it was the government that encouraged them to adopt those habits in the first place. Our political and executive masters and the people who advise them are weak-kneed, muddle-headed, totally immune to any lessons from the past, completely determined that because they are "responsible" they must know better than the rest of us, and it's the rest of us who pay the price for their wicked incompetence.
I'd like to make an offer to Stephen Machin and Sandra McNally, should they chance to read this. I used to be a teacher, I worked in education most of my life, and I still know quite a lot of teachers and heads. It would be no problem at all to arrange for you to come and teach in a local school for a week or two. Let's see just how qualified you are to pontificate to the rest of us about how to run our kids' lives.
Or alternatively you could just stick your heads up your own arses and pontificate from there.
Oh, how silly of me, you're already doing that …
The GOS says: The mind boggles. What do these people do for brains?
What about all these buses, taking the children to schools on the other side of town? What about the increase in traffic jams they'll cause? What about all the 4x4s doing a school run three times as long each morning? What about the extra car travel parents will have to undertake every time there's a parents' evening or a school play? How will kids be able to attend after-school activities?
Come to that, you thoughtless tosspots, what about …
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