Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lowest common denominator

One of the biggest flaws in attempts to bring 'equality' into being by law is that it works all too well. The problem being that it's the equality of the lowest common denominator. Where a system will be trumpeted by politicians as being fair, what you end up with is a second class system rather than a first class one.
The country’s brightest pupils are being held back by comprehensives which fail to push them to achieve the top grades needed for the best universities, the chief inspector of schools has warned.
Sir Michael Wilshaw has ordered an urgent “rapid response survey” of how state schools teach the most able children. It will be the most extensive investigation of gifted and talented provision undertaken by the watchdog.
The “landmark” report, to be published in the spring, will address fears that children who get top marks in primary school are being let down by some secondary school teachers who leave them to coast rather than stretch them to achieve the best exam results.
The report was disclosed after league tables showed that hundreds of secondary schools did not produce a single pupil with high enough grades in tough academic subjects to win a place at elite universities.
Inspectors will investigate concerns that bright pupils who are taught in mixed ability classes are failing to be stretched and that schools are entering clever children too early for GCSE exams so that they gain only the C grades that count in league tables and are not pushed to the full extent of their abilities.
And that's equality for you in a nutshell, where the needs of the many are holding back our best and brightest because the system forces them (unless they are very lucky) into an environment where they aren't stretched because their teachers are struggling to cope with the not so bright. Because of moves towards equality social mobility has stagnated in the UK, where the brightest used to be able to get a good education at a grammar school and hence go to a (state paid) university degree course and improve their prospects and give themselves a better life. They have been left to wallow in boredom by the system only to find if they do make it to university their degrees have devalued by countless other degrees on offer and they have a mountain of debt to repay too.
It doesn't matter what the Ofsted chief wants, it's unlikely that he or the government will be able to break a culture of failure that goes back to the 1970's (at least) where equality has become equality of failure, rather than opportunity for success.
Perhaps this has been deliberate as many suspect, to create a society of worker drones subservient to the 'master class' of well educated intelligentsia. Though I rather doubt they'll like the end result, such ego trips usually end up with revolt and the elimination of the haves by the have nots. Then again why attribute to malice where sheer stupidity provides a reasonable answer. Well meaning stupidity perhaps, but still stupidity.
Perhaps in the end we will have to admit that the system itself is broken irreparably and rebuild from the ground up, though I suspect politicians will continue to tinker around the edges for decades yet.
Still at least they achieved equality.

1 annotations:

Lee said...

It happened to me over thirty years ago. Being academically bright I was bored and tormented at the local comprehensive school.