The last wheeze appears to be to take a leaf out of the Thomas Gradgrind book of education, make learning less interesting and more about exams and, most importantly, replace letters with numbers.
A sceptic might suggest that the zeal with which Mr Gove jumps on a new set of reform proposals, usually just minutes after the last set has been dropped, is an indication of someone who is desperate to cement their place in history (this is the man who wanted his name in all Bibles distributed to schools, remember). He must beware the danger, however, that how he imagines he would be remembered may not correlate with reality and this fact of history could haunt him.
Anyway we can now reveal, exclusively, that other reform proposals have been drawn up for his consideration by a high-powered consultative panel on education consisting of newspaper columnists and taxi drivers.
Here are the other schemes he is considering, with a handy guide to the likelihood of Gove adopting them. For old time’s sake, the rating of likelihood is A* to G.
New programme of mandatory work experience. Children will be forced to endure work experience at the age of 14 and will have a limited choice of appropriate trades to select from. Those attending Free Schools and Academies will be able to choose from the likes of international travel consultant and stock market analyst, while those in state schools must choose between chimney sweep and stitching football balls in a sweat shop. A further option for state school pupils, of work experience as a miner, was ruled out when it was recalled that the Tory Party closed all the pits 30 years ago. Likelihood: A
Abolish league tables. Do this and immediately reduce the pressure on schools to get top grades or face vilification. Then see if, just maybe, the end of this obsession with ranking schools by the grades attained might just reduce an incentive to make exams ‘easier’. Maybe, while we’re at it, see if the reduction of competition between educational establishments may just help raise standards everywhere. Likelihood: G
Changes to the Religious Education curriculum. The new syllabus to include a study of people with a god complex and the negative impact this could have on society. Likelihood: C
Talk to people who may have valuable input. You know, like teachers. Likelihood: G
Ensure that other stupid ideas are withdrawn when people are distracted. For instance, if a daft suggestion about childcare ratios is to be dropped, refuse to confirm it until a day when other reforms – which the right wing media will be happier to talk about – are announced. Likelihood: A
Find another way of cementing your place in history. Instead of constantly messing with pupils’ education to try to get yourself remembered, do a streak in the middle of the next Queen’s Speech. You won’t be forgotten may just increase your popularity. Likelihood: C
Acknowledge the world has changed in the last 30 years. Consider the possibility that the reason exam grades have continued to improve might be down to better teaching methods and, just maybe, have a connection to minor improvements in the access to information and education resources for all. Is it at all possible that the internet has played a part in better grades? Not everyone is an MP, some people will go online for good reasons. Likelihood: G
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