The Observer last Sunday has it about right – in part at least. The implication is that while politicians bicker over ‘policy’, important aspects of the education system desperately need fixing.
The truth is that on the major issues of teaching children to read, write and do basic maths, this government’s record is very poor indeed. There’s no hiding when even the Observer cannot resist reminding us of the stark facts:
Last year, around 90,000 pupils left school without five GCSEs of any grade. Since 1997, around 1 million teenagers have left school with no meaningful qualification. Up to 10,000 children every year drop out of school by the age of 14. Many of those young people are unemployable: 18.3% of all 16- to 25-year-olds in Britain are currently out of work.
The article goes on to accuse both major parties of failing to address the problem. This week has seen more of the latest government initiatives unveiled: parental entitlements, five-year ‘MOTs’ for serving teachers, scrapping the Strategies, and masters degrees for NQTs – a good slogan for a demo, but slack educational thinking!
Most worrying of all is the planned promise to give children falling behind in reading, writing and maths one-to-one tuition. The BBC this morning reports that ‘legally enforceable guarantees’ for one-to-one and small group teaching may become statutory. We all know where this is going: more money for Reading Recovery! The good news is that it really doesn’t look as if Balls has the money to finance it.
Where the effort and the money should be placed is in making sure we get these things right first time round – by guaranteeing that reading, writing and basic maths are taught properly in the first place.
We live in hope!