The educational establishment, having long ago abandoned its traditional ethos, does not much care about the standard of education, so long as it is equal for all.
Following the release of A level results two weeks ago (which I commented on here), many have heralded the narrowing gap between private and state school students receiving top grades, such that the chasm is at its lowest in a decade.
I would agree such news was worth celebrating if: the value of exams was as high, if not higher, than it has been in the past; the gap had narrowed as a result of students in state schools doing better than their counterparts a decade ago (rather than the students in private schools doing worse) and if this rise in state school achievement was a result of all state school pupils being given the tools required to propel educationally, as opposed to a select few with rich parents.
The news that the achievement gap has narrowed FAILS on each of three measures.
Firstly, the value of GCSEs and A levels has fallen greatly in recent (and, indeed, not-so-recent) decades. I have written much on this over the past few weeks, so direct you to the following articles for fear of repeating myself here:
‘A set of British A levels was once equal to a degree from America. One must now question whether it is worth even the paper it is written on.’@MWCurzon comments on the lowering of grade boundaries by #OCR and #Edexcel. #alevelresults2019https://t.co/WOCvQcEsie
— Bournbrook Magazine (@bournbrookmag) August 14, 2019
'Knowledge-based teaching allows students at Michaela to reach their full potentials. That this is denied to other students across the country is a national disgrace.'@MWCurzon on #GCSEResults2019. @Miss_Snuffyhttps://t.co/vXMWe856iN
— Bournbrook Magazine (@bournbrookmag) August 23, 2019
Secondly, the narrowing of the achievement gap has occurred largely (if not completely) not because state school students are now performing better but because private school students are performing less well. The percentage of private pupils achieving A* and A grades has fallen by 6.3 points in the last decade, from 52 per cent to 45.7 per cent, according to the Independent Schools Council. Meanwhile, the number of state school pupils being awarded high grades has also fallen, by 1.5 per cent, from 27 per cent in 2010 to 25.5 per cent this year. In sum, ALL students are doing worse. This is hardly ‘encouraging’, as the Editor in Chief of the Good Schools Guide suggests it is. I will discuss this twisted mentality shortly, but before I do…
Thirdly, even taking the positive reporting on its own terms, and supposing the narrowing gap is a good thing, this has occurred not because all state students are receiving proper, rigorous educations but because a select few, with rich parents, are. As I have highlighted before:
The Sutton Trust (2017) found that ‘the catchment area of a top 500 [comprehensive] school [today attracts] a premium of around 20% compared to house prices elsewhere in the same local authority.’ In other words, to get your child into one of these higher-quality, non-fee paying, non-selective schools, you must be able to afford to live in a house £46,000 more expensive on average than others in the surrounding area. Unsurprisingly, though regrettably, this means that ‘43% of pupils at England’s outstanding secondaries are from the wealthiest 20% of families’ (Teach First, 2017).
That rich parents can pay for their children to get higher-than-average education in an exclusive comprehensive school rather than a private school is not a matter to celebrate.
As I alluded to earlier in this article, the egalitarian left prefer equality of outcome over achievement, even if this outcome is equally lower. The notion that a student can excel above others is sacrilege to the modern educational ethos, characterised, as Times columnist points out in her 1996 book of the same title, by the four words All Must Have Prizes. What about the feelings of those who achieve less educationally? – proponents of this culture ask.
The results of this have been made clear: worse education for all. Unless the establishment ditches its egalitarian instincts, we will continue down its destructive path and see the decline and fall of the British mind.
Photo from Pexels.