School Should Be Out At 13

It’s more or less official then – our schools are crap.  No one will dare say this of course, though it’s long been obvious they turn out illiterate, innumerate and unemployable hordes we might once have used as factory and cannon fodder.  Teaching the ones ‘equipped’ with qualifications at university is tough enough, though we gave that up long ago and went into extended child-minding mode.

It’s time for radical reform, but as most of us are the domesticated products of this system we celebrate the fact that an increasingly tiny number do any foreign languages by taking the credit for the numbers of children speaking other languages because they learn them at home.  Current ‘answers’ include bringing in more specialist literacy teachers, and answer so barkingly obvious we should lose all faith in a system that couldn’t spark this off long ago.

It’s time to stop the rot.  Our primary schools do a fair child-minding job and we should reform them to take kids at two and keep them until thirteen (the age my father left – he became a headmaster).  Some staff from secondary schools would be redeployed in this, to get into basic literacy, numeracy and IT skilling and provide a real academic input for brighter kids and help with learning disability.  Kids would all leave these schools at the end of what is currently year 2 in our secondary schools.  These schools would remain small enough for the head and other staff to know the kids reasonably well.

At thirteen, we should stop regarding people as children in need of child-minding and instead insist on their development as adults.  They should move into a programme of supervised work – my preference is for a form of international service across the EU and any other trading blocks prepared to sign up.  Everyone should have to do this and should be paid for it on a scale reaching a living wage at 18.

The underlying idea should be to create resourceful human beings, not teenagers dependant on whatever trash, like i-Phones, that are ‘cool’ in their peer and advertising formed reference groups.  Much of current post-13 education should be reformed to provide support and learning services based in home delivery and using modern techniques.  Television and the Internet should be full of basic learning material for all interested to access.

What are now secondary schools (FE etc.) and universities should become a much greater part of the communities they are local to, including their sport and cultural functions.  The way we deliver and assess achievement would have to change and we would have to encourage de-schooling attitudes and what we judge as academic success and employability.

Employability has to take into account what real skill levels are possible and provide work for them.  We have to stop de-humanising people  who can really do little more than fill in pot holes – much as I don’t want to teach such people complex frequency distribution mathematics, I do want to value them as I value myself as far as I can manage that.

One place for good jobs for those doing well through our best and public schools and university is the Bimbo Broadcasting Corporation (pretty much all current media).  If anything demonstrates what our education system is really promoting, it’s surely these clowns and ten percent of people enslaving the rest of us through a massive accumulation of wealth.  The dress well (who should care), speak well and network well – just like any set of vile exploiters in a medieval court, and the reporting is as biased to rich toadying and the entertainment still based in the royal soap operas levelled to the Queen Vic.  This is more or less it.  Good stuff is generally at the margins.  If my own life review is anything to go by, the more education we’ve had, the worse things have become.  ‘Dad’s Army’ was hardly an Oxbridge product!

We are also schooling people to massive unfitness and who couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.  I want to see peace, but I’m not dumb enough to believe we don’t need to be prepared to defend a better way of life.  I’d want to see out military involved in international service.  Indeed, I’d like to see a ‘war footing’ to get these changes through – one directed to something other than our sad history in war itself, and to stop wars being organised by a tiny few as  part of the way they exploit the rest of us.

I would largely go for an international service scheme to help us sort out the current economic mess that has us in debt peonage.  There is no clever scheme that can do this – when economics makes sense it makes moral sense not a mathematical one relying on clown versions of human nature.  We need some new belief.

What I’m suggesting is an increase in the educational content of life achieved by de-schooling.  If we worry about welfare dependancy, I think we should worry about school dependency and the kind of ‘thinking’ that always crap bankers to think they are worth more than someone who fill in pot holes.  We need to get away from one dollar one vote and bring about a system that doesn’t work on the fear of unemployment or the  promise of great riches.

Finland has a much better school system than we have.  We aren’t even smart enough to copy that!




The Country Needs New Management

We have repeatedly been told that educational standards have been rising in this country.  Anyone daring to contradict this has been accused of deriding the hard work of pupils “achieving”  5 GCSEs and the ever increasing number of A levels. The usual array of statistics was in place to “prove” the “improvement” in standards. Those familiar with police recorded statistics and the odd BCS material that show consistent lowering of certain aspects of crime, year on year, will note the similarities.

Management has been held to be one of the UK’s failings ever since I can remember.  Various reports came up with the obvious and stupid conclusion that we needed business schools.  We have over 50 now, teaching utter crap in the main.  These were boot polishing schools for piss poor bureaucrats long before we copied the Americans.

The Mail publishes some tired crap from employers that I’ve seen all my career too.  Schools and universities don’t produce the candidates they need.

This is usually not put down to thew young people themselves, but the educators.  I don’t agree.  The fault lies in the kids in part, in the governments that have all lied to us and the collapse of standards amongst educators and the creeps who manage in education.

The problem starts in thinking we can teach anything complicated to most people.  Most people can’t even learn basic science, and maths at GCSE is trivial.  School leavers are usually utterly unsuited to university education and unable to learn independently – they have been schooled into this incompetence.

We need to change our attitudes towards education.  It isn’t good for everyone and is a lot to do with child minding at Primary levels – so much so some kids cannot make the transfer even to Secondary and yet remain in ‘school’ until 18 in FE colleges and do a further three useless years at university before becoming secretaries who can’t spell.

The essential problem is management getting into everything and pretending a good job is being done as standards drop to the floor.  I can’t think of a single industry we have ‘saved’, ‘created’ and all the rest through management.  There’s more evidence we “managed” the conditions that created the riots than that we are properly managing the country, education or crime.

We might define management as something that is ‘against democracy’ – OK in the individual firm but bad when we reach the point where we can’t democratically direct policy because the rich will run away with ‘their’ money.

Education, education, education – one word, three repeated lies

I first heard ‘education, education, education’ in East Germany (DDR) at some dreadful conference.  The academic was droning on and referring to a speech by a DDR politburo minister in the 1950s.  At dinner, a long way from prying ears, she apologised and told a very different story to the one for public consumption.  I didn’t see Blair in the DDR audience, but had the same reaction hearing him bleating out the same , though thankfully shorter speech years later.  There was no dinner for him to roll his eyes at me either, though he did that to us all at the drop of a hat.  The key element in Nulabour education planning concerned bullshit performance management, something they clearly did with crime figures and everything else.  To do this you create a well-paid nomenclature and make its well-paid interests match those of government targets.  ACPO is the paradigm case, but documentaries have revealed the same in health, care, schools and pretty much all sectors.

Against international standards, our schools are failing (OECD reports).  Yet we have been told they were improving.  More and more kids get qualifications, yet are really falling behind international standards on literacy and numeracy.  Crime is forever falling, yet no one really believes this.  No one really believes the educational bull either, with 8% of kids privately educated and loads more got into the right schools through house-buying and other dodges.

Finland has a much better school system than the UK.  There is no private education you can pay for there, everyone gets free school meals and education is genuinely comprehensive until 16.  Teachers are very well trained.  You can see, before we look at what they do in classrooms and getting kids out of them more often, that we have a very different culture.  This is also before we think of how much money we waste in sending so many to university.  Talk of copying the Finns is hapless unless we understand the aims of their education system and what they think society is about.

We now have people across our public sector paid to lie about its ‘success’.  The culture is one of juking statistics.  We have become stupidly millennial on leadership to the point where we will have to pay £200K for every head teacher to ensure standards across the nation.  Our responses look increasingly like the means of producing 10-fold crop yields under Mao – dumping all the fertiliser in one place for a success story whilst ignoring the general famine.  Bung a couple of million into Liverpool to do something about Cash-in-Transit robberies and cut them down to size, whilst they go up in Manchester and Cheshire.

We should be listening much more directly to teachers, cops, pupils and victims to get a proper hang on what the problems are, cutting out these ‘performance managers’ and their costs.  Instead, the only outlet is blogging.  I enjoyed my time in Finland and think their schools better than ours.  Their cops were less insular and more pleasant too.  Yet I’d also likely be dead from alcohol excess by now if I was a male Finn.  International comparisons require a lot of knowledge to be effective.  I should have asked whether many of their secondary schools were full of bullying louts from problem families that neither teachers nor police could deal with, or racial tensions.

We should be finding out what is wrong with our system before looking to Finland or Korea.  Our teachers will know most of it.  They need asking in a direct and confidential manner, not one that will expose them to an Ofsted black mark.  Our inspection culture needs to end, as it now involves one set of bureaucrats providing the ‘information’ another requires.  We see this across varieties of management by objectives systems, appraisals and other clapped-out dross that needs sweeping from our organisations.  It all started long before Nulabour and we have a generation of a hands-off, promoted class with no critical perspective and excellence attitudes that are patronising, arrogant and corrupt.

The aim should be to put our teachers back in charge of our schools, our police on our streets, people in work and recognise that we can tell whether this is all happening or not.  We need an end to fictional politics, even if the Finnish school model is attractive it is fictional to make out it can transfer here, and a distraction from the investigation needed into our own failings.