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Posh and posher indeed

Andrew Neil | 11:18 UK time, Thursday, 17 March 2011

 

A new report from the much respected international think-tank of rich countries, the OECD, sheds light on some of the social mobility and education themes I touched on in my recent BBC2 documentary Posh & Posher.

It's a long report but worth the study and I look forward to your comments. Its main conclusion is that:

"Despite sharply rising school spending per pupil during the last 10 years, improvements in schooling outcomes have been limited in the United Kingdom."

How can that be, I hear you ask? The last Labour government doubled per capita spending on pupils and regularly pointed to improving exam results as the fruit of its investment. But the OECD confronts the controversial issue of grade inflation and comes to this conclusion:

"Official test scores and grades in England show systematically and significantly better performance than international and independent tests . The measures used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) . show significant increases in quality over time, while the measures based on cognitive tests not used for grading show declines or minimal improvements ...

"The share of A-level entries awarded grade A has risen continuously for 18 years and has roughly trebled since 1980 ... independent surveys of cognitive skills do not support this development." 

The OECD report gives cause to look again at the annually improving GCSE and A-level results. It concludes that pupils' actual performance has been "static" and "uneven".

The report also says that, despite the huge increase in resources devoted to state schools, success remains "strongly related to parents' income and background." The OECD concludes that:

"Incomes and educational outcomes are unevenly distributed in the UK compared to many other OECD countries and intergenerational social mobility is low ... schooling out comes in the UK are among the more unequal in the OECD area. This leaves many students from weaker socio-economic backgrounds with insufficient levels of competence, which hampers their chances in the labour market and higher education."


In plain English, the OECD is saying that despite increasing spending on education from £36 billion a year to £71 billion over the last 10 years or so, we are still seriously failing to open up opportunity to poor kids. Indeed, social immobility might even be on the increase:

"Disadvantaged children seemed to perform worse in 2006 than in 2001, while the impact of parents' incomes on six-year-olds' cognitive and non-cognitive skills has if anything increased recently."

Posh & posher indeed.

Andrew on the One Show (January 20) talking about Posh and Posher

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Preparing to take the Further Maths A-level in 1994 with access to two decades worth of previous papers and the booklets with the marking scheme to consult (yes, I was at a private school), it was abundantly clear that each year either the questions became easier or the grade boundaries were lowered (or sometimes both). For my Physics A-level our teacher began by giving us the previous year's syllabus and told us ours was the same but without the entire Electronics section (one of five sections).

    Grade inflation has no doubt continued, exacerbated by schools' concern about slipping down league tables. This creates an incentive for schools to select exam boards which they consider to offer the easiest examinations, intensifying the lowering of standards.

    If education had improved as much as government figures suggest, we would surely be worrying about unemployment for those in their later working years rather than youth unemployment.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just popping this in to ensure the thread gets at least 2 comments before being closed.

    1 would be embarrassing... for someone.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good Afternoon Andrew,

    if only there were more like you. I do not mean to flatter but so many interested parties stay silent, and I have always wanted to ask the 'experts' on the Daily Politics, who funds you. It was not so long ago that scientific advisers lost their jobs because they dared to disagree. It is the same with education. Everythings great, which possibly explains why our universities seem to be full of foreign students. The teachers are grossly over paid, and if paid on results then they are no different to the bankers. Look at the grades see how I have improved the results, more pay follows.

    There are a few subjects which ought to be made available in all the schools, the Psychology, Economics, Philosophy, and Politics. The only trouble is who would teach the subjects, because everybody would be up in arms about bias. People would complain about indoctrination, as though young people can't 'think'. The main problem is economics, where people think that it can be taught without any moral aspect, well it is because people split morality, and politics, from economics that the country has ended up in the sorry state it has. We are told that none of the experts saw the crash coming, it was because they were 'experts' all taught the same that they did not see it coming, well some of us did see the crash coming, and it all started in 1987, where the BP privaitization was too big to fail, with the Kuwait Investment Office buying the shares, and we all know what happened to Kuwait don't we.

    Andrew nothing is too big to fail, and your piece on posh and posher has shown to me just how the big education system has failed, miserably, and for those affected in the future, tragically.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't know why you bother, Mr Neil. It'll be closed for comments before any discussion can get going.

    Or is that the idea?

  • Comment number 5.

    Have to admire the mods here vs here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2011/03/the_bbc_and_private_investigat.html

    It's all relative, mind.

  • Comment number 6.

    I sense that you are looking for a very complicated answer to this, because the truth would be far less palatable. Britain has changed substantially in the last 13 years and a something for nothing culture has grown up. There is no real poverty in the UK, as we would know it in places like India, but there is a poverty of aspiration amongst our population. This is particularly evident in those households who have generations of people who have never worked. The generous welfare system has ensured that there is no reason for these people to pass any kind of aspiration to do better onto their children. This is the first problem.

    Added to this, the state system of education in Britain is now very poor. Bright children are held back in the name of equality to all. Exams have been made easier to accommodate this problem, producing results which are no proof whatsoever of the students ability. Degrees in easy subjects, that are of no use to an employer are then taken, the hard subjects, that are needed, ignored because of the lack of capable students to undertake them. Thus employers have to look for skilled workers from abroad to fill the jobs that cannot be filled by home grown students.

    As education in the state system has declined so has the quality of the teachers that it produces. These teachers do not have the skill themselves, in knowledge to pass onto their pupils, with any particular success, and cannot often even keep discipline in the classroom. Of course, these teachers live in denial of the problems to fit their own political agenda. Teaching is longer a vocation, as it once was.

    The get rich culture sees people no longer aspire to being a teacher, doctor or any of these professions that once were respected. Being a celebrity is of much more interest to some, as these people are not only well off, but admired in our society. Education is much less valued as the tool to take people from working class roots. Yet it is the only possible way for social mobility, in most cases for people from less well off backgrounds.

    So it is a real mixed bag, but comes basically down to poor parents, bad state education, lack of aspiration and Governments which will not accept that we cannot all be equal, some have the ability to excel, but the system is letting them down.

    Therefore private education will continue to produce the best results, were competition is not a dirty word, where parents demand the best for their children and aspiration to achieve is encouraged.



  • Comment number 7.

    So, what are you getting at, Andrew? That if you want a decent education for your kids, not just some rubber-stamped token effort at teaching them how to pass exams, you're going to have to get your cheque book out?

    Isnt the answer obvious? Just throwing money at it isnt the answer! You have to ENSURE standards are raised and kept high, not just stick some apparatchik with no educational experience in a toothless NGO which just rubber-stamps exam grade-creep. The target was get them to pass exams. So, what do they do? Lower the bar so its prizes for everyone. Great. Now the standard is lower than Estonia, but, hey, the public have just been scammed into thinking so long as theres loadsamoney in it, and they say our kids are getting A* grades by the bus load, everything must be alright, yes? Er... No. Isnt that why we're constantly importing most of our workforce and piling everyone else onto the scrapheap? 80% of new jobs in the last 6 months have gone to candidates from overseas. Obviously, the output from our vaunted state education system isnt up to standard enough for our own companies. How did that happen?

    Maybe if you chaps in the fourth estate, during 13 years of schmoozing the last lot, would have been better placed actually articulating the concerns of your public rather than kissing their behinds in return for easy stories from Campbell and Co?

    Maybe this would have resulted in slightly less sub-optimally educated adults going on to produce even more educationally sub-optimal kids, if they give a flying fig about their kids education at all? What do you expect? Dumbed down breeds further dumbed down... no great surprise.

    And meanwhile, the solution is to get rid of all the hated posh, get rid of all the hated bankers, get rid of the hated tories, get rid of their hated elitist private schools.... then everything will be alright wont it?

    Then we can all be dumbed down and ignorant and poor together. True equality. First world player to banana republic in just over a decade. Brilliant.

    Tell you what, lets vote the Eds back in so they can finish the job off, eh?

  • Comment number 8.

    #6

    If anybody seriously thinks that the something for nothing culture has only developed over the last 13 years then they really have had their head in the sand. My grandparents lived on a council estate in plymouth, and as a young boy my parents explained about council estates, and joblessness, and poverty, and I thought then that there is never something for nothing, or in modern parlance, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    I have always thought that socialism needs people to be kept in poverty, and if the education system can be manipulated to keep people ignorant, and in poverty, then so be it, but it is not good enough. However, I have yet to see the solution to the problem, maybe some real hardship might help, because then the children will say that is not the life I want to lead, tipping their forelocks to the state, rather than the charitable Lady of the Manor. I will tip my forelock to nobody, not after the life my forebearers suffered.

  • Comment number 9.

    Anyone who took A Levels over 20 years ago, then studied by proxy with the next generation can vouch for the fact that there is less rigour in the examinations today. Sciences are taught in a less analytic more descriptive manner, which does a disservice to the pupils who are not stretched to their full capability.

    I agree with Fubar that simply throwing money at education is not the answer. Much of the money has gone into staff remuneration - teaching is a very attractive option these days, having security of tenure and paying better than research or industry in many cases. That is not to say that we don't want well paid teachers - teaching can certainly attract good quality candidates these days.

    The problem is not one of resource all schools have better qualified teachers and facilities than in my era, it is difficult to get a handle on why the outcome is not better.

  • Comment number 10.

    7 Fubar

    "80% of new jobs in the last 6 months have gone to candidates from overseas."

    Maybe half the problem is complacency. We still believe that we are better than everyone else and the truth is of course we're not.

    We believe that because we are better than those from Eastern Europe because 'we' have more money and 'they' live in the "second" world. The truth is somwhat different when it comes to Education.

    Point can be endorsed by some people thinking that the English still have the best football team in the world, except we haven't won anything since 1966.

    Lets start now. We are not the best educated nation we do not have the best armed forces and our police are found wanting. We are not world leaders when it comes to the financial service industries or manufacturing. I think we are pretty good when it comes to winning gold medals for cycling.

    Once we start telling some home truths and how we are seen by the rest of the world can start to re-build - collectively.

    In the meantime I know where my breads buttered and will continue to employ Eastern Europeans who at least speak English.





  • Comment number 11.

    9#

    Simple, innit coats? Prizes for all. Lower the bar, lower the standard to the point that all but the most dim can be graded as average or above and by the time the idiots realise they've been had, its too late. Money's been spent, kids gone through the system, stats are out saying "millions of your kids have benefitted from our largesse, look at all these fab new schools, great results.... nah, dont worry about 20% of them being unemployed, its all the tories and the bankers fault."

  • Comment number 12.

    Mr N @ 10

    There is more than a grain of truth in what you say - we are struggling to cast off our mantel of superiority. As for the football some people are just delusional.

    PS was I dreaming or did you really blog about vacuuming a swimming pool?


    Fubar@11

    Well I wouldn't put it that way but I get your drift!

    As for the youth unemployment that is down partly to young people not being "work ready" but also down to reduced opportunities due to our declining manufacturing base.









  • Comment number 13.

    Let's just face the simple truth that the state education system has failed. No matter how much money is spent it just won't work. This is not to say there are not good state schools but more that the entire methodology has collapsed.

    It has taken us more than thirteen years to reach this point as the process of decline has been inexorably slow.

    The real problem is that education has been abandoned and social policy made pre-eminent. Good education is worth its weight in gold, bad education is worse than no education.

    Until we go back to educating our children matters will not improve. Some youngsters take to learning like a duck to water, others appreciate the benefit of practical skills. Academic and practial skills are of equal value so there is no need for hierarchies. All must be made able to read, write and reckon; after that just leave them with good teachers, good instructors providing a positive environment for the children to become themselves.

    Leave it to them to organise the future society as it will belong to them.

  • Comment number 14.

    catch22 8

    That is not the something for nothing culture I am talking about. I think the World has moved on from then catch.

  • Comment number 15.

    Meninwhitecoats 9

    I was surprised by your post because it is at odds with what you were trying to say to me the other day. You first claimed that the education system still produced British World Class engineers and scientists. When in fact some Universities say they would have to close these departments, if foreign students were not allowed in any more. Then you claimed that the teachers were to blame for diverting students into easier subjects, to achieve higher grades. Yet now you say teaching can atrract very good candidates these days. Where from, they mostly go through the state system as well. Some teachers these days even have difficulty in spelling to any standard.

    Your whole attitude at the time of your post to me was one of defending the education system, when I criticised it, now that seems to have changed.

  • Comment number 16.

    12 Coats

    Hoovering swimming pools - Erm according to one of our more esteemed bloggers it's theraputic, which is a little strange as I thought this was a branch of medicine concerned with treatment of disease. However according to another of our esteemed bloggers I'm jealous, bitter or envious (can't remember precisely which) because I don't own a swimming pool or a hoover (can't remember which). The problem is Coats that if I own either a swimming pool or a hoover at my young tender age then I really wouldn't have anything to look forward to in later life and might as well end it all now. Having given this a great deal of thought, as you can imagine, the perfect age to own a swimming pool and a hoover (can't have one without the other) is 76 or is 96? Have to check my calculations.

    I bet the Mods are pleased that we're back!

  • Comment number 17.

    13. At 5:27pm on 17 Mar 2011, stanilic wrote:

    "Let's just face the simple truth that the state education system has failed."

    Stanilic, well the good news is that the govenment have now come up with their own plan which will probably cost approximately 71bn over the next ten years. Lets see what happens now eh. Feeling confident?

  • Comment number 18.

    6. At 2:01pm on 17 Mar 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:

    "Britain has changed substantially in the last 13 years and a something for nothing culture has grown up."

    8. At 3:42pm on 17 Mar 2011, Catch22 wrote:
    #6

    "If anybody seriously thinks that the something for nothing culture has only developed over the last 13 years then they really have had their head in the sand."

    14. At 5:35pm on 17 Mar 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:
    catch22 8

    That is not the something for nothing culture I am talking about. I think the World has moved on from then catch.


    Here, I'm afraid, we must leave it. Just run out of time, back to the studio.




  • Comment number 19.

    Grade inflation has certainly occurred – it’s easier to get a top grade now than it was a couple of decades ago. This is not, in and of itself, a problem (it doesn’t mean per se that standards have fallen - it only means one has to allow for it in order to assess which way standards have moved and to what extent) but it’s not to be encouraged since it muddies the waters as regards how we’re doing. Only surefire way to prevent it is to award grades on a quota basis – top 5% get an A, next 20% a B etc – and perhaps we should consider moving in this direction.

    We should also (IMO) be looking to move away from ‘teach to the test’ – this dumbs down the learning process at state and private schools alike.

    There are then two major problems highlighted in Andrew’s blog – (a) that overall standards haven’t improved by anything like the increase in investment in schools (perhaps haven’t improved at all), and (b) it remains depressingly the case (far more so for the UK than for comparable countries) that the main determinant of a child’s educational attainment is parental wealth.

    These two things are linked – this is obvious – but less clear is how so.

    One thing we can conclude beyond reasonable doubt is it’s not a matter of money. Well it is - parental money as per (b) above– but not money pumped into schools. The spend per state school pupil has rocketed in recent years but outcomes haven’t followed suit. And same with the private schools – they spend over double (per pupil) compared to the state sector and yet, when one allows for their disproportionately affluent and able intake, the evidence is that their results are no better on the whole than the state sector.

    So, big spend on (and in) schools doesn’t get results – this looks true and it’s a general truth, not one just related to the state sector.

    Educational outcomes are driven by parental wealth. Let’s roll with this – admit that it’s the case – and ask ourselves a couple of questions: (1) Are we happy to accept this as our status quo? If we are, what measures can we take which will act on this determinant (parental wealth) so as to create higher general educational standards. (2) Or are we NOT happy to accept that parental wealth will continue to be the driver of educational attainment? If we aren’t, what measures can we take to break (or at least loosen) the link?

  • Comment number 20.

    The something for nothing culture started with the establishment of the welfare state. It was always going to unravel, we ought to go back to the philosophical position of the Greeks, everybody ought to earn their right to citizenship, especially now that a woman has been convicted of slavery, in Britain, I mean you can't make it up.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why , oh why are all these discussions so often centred around standards at the far end of our educational system. Is it possible that the money is being spent in the wrong places rather than on the wrong things? Getting genuinely improved results at O and A level would be a walk over if you could improve attainment lower down the food chain. Lower the better. It's the Toddler playgroups, Surestart, Kindergarten, Early Years that need a concentration of effort and resources. Great oak trees from little acorns grow.

  • Comment number 22.

    Saga@19
    I agree, a good post devoid of politics - so how do we go forward from here?

    Susan@15
    I try whenever possible to look on the positive, I do wish we placed more emphasis on encouraging excellence and stand by my statement that we produce world class scientists and engineers. Even in my day the first semester at university was spent getting everyone up to the same standard to take account of the variations in educational standards - I guess the same is done today.

    Any system has to be balanced to serve both ends of the spectrum - personally I don't think we stretch the best pupils at secondary education but maybe the less able benefit from that system more. I am sure there are ways and means round this - having selected questions that differentiate the very best students from the mainstream.

    Anyhow must go, need to order a Hoover for Mr N before his next birthday...

  • Comment number 23.

    Good Evening Andrew,

    listened on Radio 4 Today where there was a conversation between a philosopher and a scientist. The scientific reason for our existance was that it was an accident. So much for the wonders of science. I prefer philosophy any day. In the meantime let's bomb Libya, now what sort of education system has led to this simple solution to a problem.

  • Comment number 24.

    IDB @ 21

    That sounds a reasonable supposition. Formative years. Has early years education NOT been invested in to the same extent then? Guess not, it's a bit of a poor relation as you say. There's that awful stat which says by the age of six or something, the reading age of a child from a poor background is - on average - two years lower than that of a child from an affluent background. As long as this is the case it wouldn't seem to matter too much, as regards equal opportunities, precisely how we choose to organise and fund secondary and tertiary education.

    Coats @ 22

    No politics? Better fix that then! As to 'way forward', there's IDB's point on early years focus (and Frank Field's 'early intervention' ideas?) and then viz my two questions: I answer no and yes respectively, which leaves me looking for measures which will lessen the impact of parental wealth on educational outcomes. I want to see all our children educated together - a good local school for everybody - strong and motivated teachers, a balanced curriculum, then hands off and let it percolate.

  • Comment number 25.

    Meninwhitecoats 22

    It surprises me, therefore, that you do not know your subject much better then. There has been a crisis in science subjects for some years. Even in 2005 it was identified that Britain was not producing enough good scientists, this the Labour Government denied at the time. It was thought then that many of the industries which relied on recruitment of scientists would leave Britain.

    Today it is recognised that schools are failing to ensure the UK has the next generation of new scientists. The curriculum is not demanding enough and standards have been lowered to exclude mathematical skills.

    As to engineering, I know from my own experience that good engineers are now not home grown. Many jobs are left unfilled until a suitable candidate can be obtained from abroad. Older workers are asked to stay on longer to try and fill the gaps.

    As I said earlier, many Universities would have to close down the departments for teaching these subjects if a lot of foreign students are prevented from coming to Britain.

    So you can keep saying it be it would not be true.

  • Comment number 26.

    Saga:

    "Grade inflation has certainly occurred – it’s easier to get a top grade now than it was a couple of decades ago. This is not, in and of itself, a problem (it doesn’t mean per se that standards have fallen - it only means one has to allow for it in order to assess which way standards have moved and to what extent)"

    So has it happened or hasnt it? Is it a problem or isnt it? Talk about verbal gymnastics. HOW is it easier to get a top grade than it was a couple of decades ago, if standards have NOT slipped AND/OR the grades been dumbed down to a "prizes for all" standard? Theres only one way standards HAVE moved and thats DOWN.

    "but it’s not to be encouraged since it muddies the waters as regards how we’re doing."

    In other words, sweep it under the carpet, dont let the plebs find out...

    "Only surefire way to prevent it is to award grades on a quota basis – top 5% get an A, next 20% a B etc – and perhaps we should consider moving in this direction."

    What, a case of those who's papers get marked first get the higher grades regardless of their performance? Are you positively insane? Quotas have not exactly been a shining success in politics, what the hell makes you think you can decide the educational outcomes and life chances of future generations based on blinkin' quotas????

    "We should also (IMO) be looking to move away from ‘teach to the test’ – this dumbs down the learning process at state and private schools alike."

    Glad you acknowledge that this is where we are and that it DOES happen. At long chuffin' last! Thirteen years and a doubled budget to come to this.

    "There are then two major problems highlighted in Andrew’s blog – (a) that overall standards haven’t improved by anything like the increase in investment in schools (perhaps haven’t improved at all), and (b) it remains depressingly the case (far more so for the UK than for comparable countries) that the main determinant of a child’s educational attainment is parental wealth."

    It was almost certainly always thus.

    "These two things are linked – this is obvious – but less clear is how so."

    Because?

    "One thing we can conclude beyond reasonable doubt is it’s not a matter of money. Well it is - parental money as per (b) above– but not money pumped into schools. The spend per state school pupil has rocketed in recent years but outcomes haven’t followed suit."

    So, "education, education, education" was indeed, hollow.

    "And same with the private schools – they spend over double (per pupil) compared to the state sector and yet, when one allows for their disproportionately affluent and able intake, the evidence is that their results are no better on the whole than the state sector."

    And you reach this conclusion how? So if they're no better, how can wealth still be a determining factor? If a parent pours money into a kids education at a private school or buys extra tuition and you say, well the end results make no difference, how can their wealth be a determining factor on their educational life chances? You cant have it both ways. It either makes a difference or it doesnt.

    "So, big spend on (and in) schools doesn’t get results – this looks true and it’s a general truth, not one just related to the state sector."

    Mmmm. Not convinced yet. "Because Saga says so" isnt good enough reason to swallow that particular pill.

    "Educational outcomes are driven by parental wealth."

    But you just said it makes no difference!!! Which is it, man????


    "Let’s roll with this – admit that it’s the case – and ask ourselves a couple of questions: (1) Are we happy to accept this as our status quo? If we are, what measures can we take which will act on this determinant (parental wealth) so as to create higher general educational standards. (2) Or are we NOT happy to accept that parental wealth will continue to be the driver of educational attainment? If we aren’t, what measures can we take to break (or at least loosen) the link?"

    Man, talk about confused. All its about, deep down is taking "parental wealth" out of the equation, by depriving anybody of wealth. Wealth is a sin, wealth is theft, wealth is unfair, wealth is verboten. For christs sake, stop dancing around the issues and admit it. You and like minds are not content with anyone else who is not of like minds being affluent and they must be stopped by any means possible. If that means being in it for the long game and torpedoing their kids education so that they eventually turn into - and subsequently breed - the same bottle throwing drug taking, knife carrying, benefit dependent mouth breathers that the underclass churns out by the train load, then so be it. This way, your self appointed elite stays pure and untainted by other schools of thought.

    Add in an open door immigration policy and the whole idea only takes about thirteen years or so to bear fruit. Another five years of it sees the plan reach its critical mass.

  • Comment number 27.

    24/21#

    Reason being is that if you're a crap parent, you're a crap parent. Surestart has been a success, but not amongst the underclass, because they cannot be @rsed to use it. Its been taken over by the lower-middle class aspirant sharp-elbowed lot and has done well. And considering how things are measured these days, it will show that the bottom 10%, who it really should have (and probably was) been aimed at are still not getting with the programme. Then again, if you're going to pay this lot to sit around and breed and do nothing else, what do you expect? What possible gain is there for them to educate the kids that they only had to get their toes on the council housing ladder in the first place, or were too ignorant of the fact that if you do it for the first time standing up, actually, you DO run the high risk of conceiving, regardless of what your best mate at school might say?

  • Comment number 28.

    Last week was one of the school's parent-teacher evenings.

    Now my kids are in serious exam mode I have started to pay a lot more attention (than before, to my shame), and was already a little concerned at what I was reading in the curriculum/teaching notes/past exams/marking notes, where there seemed two near mutually-exclusive lines progressing, in 'complement'... one to give 'the system' what they want for the student to get a good grade, and the other attempting to confer an education that will stand up on the world stage.

    That seems a duplication of effort and added complication hardly fair on a keen but stressed out teen.

    On the whole I have been more than impressed with the attitude of most teachers at our secondary, now academy. But class sizes and the dark cloud that is box-ticking seems ever-present to make even the strongest will bend to even greater burdens.

    I was rocked slightly by an eager teacher pointing to my son's target grade and not enthusing about the benefits to him of exceeding it, but more the school gaining brownie points.

    Coinciding with a legacy from their Gran making it past probate, my wife and I are now looking at other options. Left it late, but in my twilight years if I can improve my family's passage better starboard home from now on... I won't hesitate.

    Just like more than a few multiple standard pols and their supporters in certain media, I suspect.

  • Comment number 29.

    Fubar @ 26

    Oh dear. Evidence of that high entropy brain of yours. A remarkable mix of misunderstanding (either deliberately or otherwise) virtually every point I make, plus a good dose of the usual compulsion to blame anything and everything about everything and anything on the policies of the last Labour government.

    Plucking a couple of things from the mire:

    1. Grade Inflation. I say it HAS happened and it's not a good thing since it clouds the picture on standards. I also point out it doesn't mean per se that standards have dropped. For example, if it's 20% easier to get an 'A' and 20% more kids DO get an 'A', then this is no real movement either way. A straightforward point which you ought to be able to grasp with ease.

    2. The 'quota' marking system. You have the wrong end of the stick - it's not the first x% papers marked which get an 'A', it's the top x% after all have been marked. You see how this would act against grade inflation? Good news. Not saying we should definitely switch to this method, just saying it's a relevant option when discussing grade inflation.

    3. Don't know why you write as if my dim view of 'teach to the test' is something dragged out of me recently and like blood from a stone. I've made this point a few times - TTTT is not a high quality learning experience. Afflicts both sectors (state and private) and maybe it's a little bit to do with the 'something for nothing' point mentioned by Susan and others. I don't know.

    4. The evidence that private schools' better results are mainly (perhaps wholly) attributable to their pupil intake being skewed towards the more able and advantaged comes from that OECD study which JR Pesky is always toting around. It looks reasonably solid and although it challenges one aspect of my argument against private schools - that they constitute the straightforward buying of educational advantage - since it means the 'advantage' is not so clear - I on the whole think it's correct. And since the private schools sector spends over double per pupil compared to the state sector (yet doesn't get better results once one has allowed for the skewed pupil intake) this is further evidence, to add to the fact that state sector standards have not risen in line with money spent, that simply pouring money into education is not a silver bullet.

    5. But no, this doesn't mean Blair's prioritisation of education - and his 3 Es mantra - was 'hollow' or that it was wrong to upgrade our schools infrastructure and facilities. It merely means that the problem requires more than just money.

    6. The precise nature of the link between the two issues highlighted in Andrew's blog - (i) that standards haven't improved in line with investment and (ii) that in this country, far more so than in others, it's parental wealth which drives educational outcomes - the precise nature of the link is difficult to fathom and I'm open to ideas. That they are linked seems to me to be overwhelmingly likely.

    7. So, as I say, we're left asking ourselves if we're happy to tolerate a situation where (here more than elsewhere) parental wealth and social background to a very great extent determine how well a child does at school. Not so much because they go to a private school - the majority of these affluent and able kids would probably in most cases do just as well, maybe better, at a state school - but due to other factors. One can be sanguine about it (sounds like you are) but if you hold egalitarian views as I do, it's a big big problem.

    8. Hence I'm looking for measures which will break the link - or loosen it rather, since it will always be there to some degree.

  • Comment number 30.

    1. Grade Inflation. I say it HAS happened and it's not a good thing since it clouds the picture on standards. I also point out it doesn't mean per se that standards have dropped. For example, if it's 20% easier to get an 'A' and 20% more kids DO get an 'A', then this is no real movement either way. A straightforward point which you ought to be able to grasp with ease.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I do get it Saga, youre saying standards havent risen, so how the hell can it be 20% easier to get an A if the standard of education hasnt gone UP? It has to go down for the same kids to be able to suddenly post a 20% increase in their results!

    Quit flanneling and just admit it!

  • Comment number 31.

    "One can be sanguine about it (sounds like you are) but if you hold egalitarian views as I do, it's a big big problem."

    Because as I said. Wealth outside of the circle of like minds is theft, verboten, yadda yadda yadda. "Tough On Wealth, Tough On The Causes Of Wealth."

  • Comment number 32.

    Good morning each & Andrew.

    [Oops, I have come upon this a little late. Must check back more often.]

    I blame television. Less of it equals more progress on all fronts. [popular and populist television]

    From decreasing attention-span to increased attention given to sound bites and the stretching, padding-out and gimmickry of factual programming.
    We all are being trained down and educated not one bit.

    "spending per pupil"

    Is the above phrase anything other than lazy thinking prettily parcelled?
    Is it the 'chicken' or the 'egg'?
    In reducing all of life and therefore all of Politics to a numbers game we soon rely upon and respond to the numbers and not to actual life-situation.
    In thinking about matters education and outcome my mind is filled with the image of the teats on a sow. If much effort is put into increasing the size of the litter: progress must also be made on the teat-supply side. -Which is a circle that cannot be squared.- So the milk is said to be enriched resulting in the neat equation that "shazzam" a fraction of a teat per piglet will yield the desired increase in productivity 'outcome'.

    It is as if we have achieved the best-of-all-possible-worlds and that all we need do from here on in is manage the situation. Wrong, in my view. Wrong too, in the (back of) the minds of many others.
    But, We seem stuck as to our response, which results in our enquiring: "How can we manage improvement?" We cannot.
    (sigh)
    We, as a country, as a system of Government and as a world are grinding to a terrible halt. We can no longer simply seek answers to the problems that result from our seeking answers to the problems that result...
    We must again attend to the Question. "Sum, cogito." (?)
    In short, for me, this means Democracy, bottom-up.
    The rest is mere 'chatter'.

  • Comment number 33.

    Lots of interesting contributions. You make some valid points for discussion but they tend to get lost in in the viscious language and unjustified slurs against various groups of people that you seem to think threaten you. I say that because I can't imagine how your life's experience could have led you to such vehement expressions. I see no hope down that road.
    You criticise those who you say resort to 'Baby eating tories' type justifications and then serve up a banquet of your own re the 'underclass'. Time to think again?
    All parents love their children and want 'the best for them' is a platitude, but to believe that destructive/abusive behaviour towards children is not spread throughout society is also, IME, misleading.
    The answer is education;the question is how?

  • Comment number 34.

    sagamix 29

    Well, well, there we have it, you are now saying that the brightest and the most able do come from wealthy backgrounds. I hope you also realise that you are also saying that, even if they did not go to private school but state school instead, they would still be the most able. Some admission that is.

    It is not true, wealth does not buy you a good brain. There are probably as many able children in state school as private. However, what good education can give you is the ability to reach your full potential with the ability you have. That is where state school falls down. It does not help children reach their full potential, it is a one size fits all. Nothing whatsoever to do with wealth.

    Just doing away with private schools will not improve the state school system one bit. Since you believe children from wealthy backgrounds would still do better, it would not improve social mobility either. The state system needs to be lifted to the excellence of the private schools. Nothing else will make any difference. Parent skills need to be improved as well, so that working class kids get the aspiration to achieve once again.

    Your prejudice against certain sections of society colours your whole view of life. The only people you disadvantage by your ridiculous ideas, is working class children themselves. I also resent your belief that wealthy children will always do better, coming from a working class background myself.

    In this day and age anyone can succeed if they want to, from any background. The only thing stopping them is state education itself, and the other problems I highlight in my other post. There is now no class ceiling for those that achieve. I have never been treated any different by privately educated people, in fact their support has been invaluable to this working class kid.

  • Comment number 35.

    "I do get it Saga" - fubar @ 30

    Possibly, but you're hiding it well if so.

    One more time:

    Grade inflation of itself is NOT evidence of falling educational standards. All it means is it's easier to get an 'A' now than it used to be, thus there being considerably more of them awarded is to a great extent - and perhaps wholly - down to this. If it's x% easier to get an 'A' and x% more of them are achieved, then that prima facie indicates only that standards have neither improved nor declined.

    It muddies the waters on standards evaluation between time periods, therefore, and that's why it's not a good thing - not because it any sense proves that standards are falling.

    And one could largely prevent it by, say, awarding an 'A' grade only to the top (for the sake of argument) 5% of papers in each subject. Then 5% will achieve this each year, no more no less. Course, this wouldn't mean standards weren't falling (or rising) - since this year's top 5% could be better or worse than last year's - but it WOULD act against grade inflation in the generally accepted meaning of the term; that it's way easier to get a top grade now than it used to be, that they're gratuitously awarded, that far too many are given out. It will largely prevent this since it is always, if you think about it, pretty much as hard (or as easy) to get into the top 5% in one year as in another.

    We there on grade inflation?

  • Comment number 36.

    "Because as I said. Wealth outside of the circle of like minds is theft, verboten, yadda yadda yadda. "Tough On Wealth, Tough On The Causes Of Wealth."" - fubar @ 31

    ?

    Egalitarian beliefs (at least true ones such as mine) are about reducing inequalities of opportunity and of outcome in society. Your pathology about 'New Labour' prevents you considering or discussing the issue properly - which is a shame.

  • Comment number 37.

    susan @ 34

    You're pitting half-baked, feeble-minded sentiment against hard evidence.

    1. There is a strong and positive correlation between affluent background and educational outcomes. Please see Andrew's blog - this one.

    2. And the evidence is that the 'better' results of the private schools are mainly to do with their intake being heavily skewed in that direction. OECD study.

    3. And yes - your question - such children do outperform at state schools too.

    4. But there are more of them (as a proportion) in the private sector, thus we loop back to 2 above.

    You seem to be saying - ARE saying, in fact - that a private education is miles better than a state one, and yet you're happy that only a small minority of people (those who can afford it) are able to access this. You're therefore signing off merrily on a wholesale purchasing of educational advantage by the privileged few. This is not a respectable position, so I suggest you'd be better off accepting the more complex truth that outcomes are more linked to social background than whether you go private or not.

  • Comment number 38.

    "You criticise those who you say resort to 'Baby eating tories' type justifications and then serve up a banquet of your own re the 'underclass'. Time to think again?"

    Are you saying we dont have an underclass, then IDBI? That its all just a figment of the right wing's imagination?

    Its the left who use these guys as a lever, who ride on their backs in order to get votes mate, not the right. If they mean as much to the left as they claim they do, then surely they could have done a bit more for them during the last thirteen years apart from abandoning them to the BNP....

  • Comment number 39.

    35#

    Still dancing around the houses, I see. I've got more chance of knitting fog than getting a straight answer. Anyway. Gotta drive back to England this afternoon, so.... TTFN....

  • Comment number 40.

    Susan,

    If you'd prefer to keep this 'clean', don't worry about a tetchy retort to my 37 - although do please read it and digest - but instead answer me the following:

    If, as you believe, a private school education in this country is genuinely and significantly superior to a state school one, why is this? What is it that they do so much better than the state sector?

    And are those things (whatever you come up with) realistically importable into the state sector at an affordable cost?

    Good answer will score you loads.

  • Comment number 41.

    Don't feel you need to post something just for the sake of it, Fubar (39). You either understand the 'grade inflation' point now (which is great) or you still don't - in which case we can revisit at some point. I have patience to burn.

  • Comment number 42.


    Susan
    We seem to be going round in circles on this issue so let’s start again.

  • • It is true that fewer pupils have been taking pure science subjects at school, this does not reflect on their ability to do science but is more likely due to them taking softer options that are now available.
    • I would agree that A Levels are not as rigorous as previously, they have a much broader base but I assume those that go on to university soon acquire the analytic and mathematical skills required.
    • It is difficult to attract people into engineering because the profession does not have the same kudos as a career in law, medicine or finance although the training is at an equally high academic level. As I mentioned on Andrew’s previous blog an Indian engineer commented that they were esteemed at home in India but regarded as one step up from a mechanic in the UK. Many graduates may choose to ply their trade abroad where their skills are more highly valued.
    • Universities do attract foreign students [and the money that comes with them], who choose to study alongside UK students in our excellent universities, which are internationally recognised.

  • I am happy to say science is starting to engage people again – people like Brian Cox capture the imagination of non scientists and both Andrew Marr and Melvyn Bragg champion science in their radio programmes in particular on a philosophical level and they make the point that a classical education that excludes science is now considered incomplete.
    I think there is every reason to be optimistic about the future training of scientists and engineers.
  • Comment number 43.

    Sagamix 37

    Acutally this is what you said;

    7. So, as I say, we're left asking ourselves if we're happy to tolerate a situation where (here more than elsewhere) parental wealth and social background to a very great extent determine how well a child does at school. Not so much because they go to a private school - the majority of these affluent and able kids would probably in most cases do just as well, maybe better, at a state school - but due to other factors. One can be sanguine about it (sounds like you are) but if you hold egalitarian views as I do, it's a big big problem.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    No matter how much you try to worm out of it. You make it very clear that you believe children from wealthy backgrounds would always do much better, whether at private school or state school, because they are more able. That is your conclusion. I am telling you straight, ability has nothing to do with wealth, it is to do with how that potential is exploited by the education system.

    If you shut down every private system in Britain, it would make not one bit of difference to the state system, except it would be overloaded and would not cope. It is state education itself which has to change to meet the needs of, not only the economy but social mobility. The brightest and the best, are being overlooked in the state system in an effort to keep working class people down, and this stupid idea Labour has of equality. Of course we all know why, it is a means for Labour to continue using working class people as voting fodder. Too much knowledge would soon see people drift away from the Labour vote.

    You have no understanding of the problems of working class people, you have no idea what happens to disadvantaged children on council estates these days. Their only means of escape is through good education, you would deny them that chance by not pulling the state system up to meet excellence, but pulling the excellence down to state level. God save us from these over privileged people, who have milked the system themselves, and then try to tell us Council kids what we need.


  • Comment number 44.

    Idont Believeit 33

    We have already told you the reasons and the answers, but you will just not accept it. This is either your own political views which do not allow you to, or you have no knowledge of the problem.

    Not all parents realise that they using distructive behaviour towards their children. However, to deny there is now an underclass in Britain, would be very blinkered indeed. These people have children they do not care about, let alone take an interest in their future or education. These are feral children, ignored by their parents and on reaching school cause disruption for other children, as the teachers cannot discipline them. If you do not know of these problems and the rise in gangs in Britain, you must have been living on another planet. These children leave school with little education and the generous welfare system takes care of them whilst they produce more children. They aspire to nothing beyond the next benefit cheque and think the rest of society should take care of them. They usually vote Labour.

    BTW Platitude seems to be a favourite word with you guys on the left.

  • Comment number 45.

    meninwhitecoats 42

    No coats it is yourself that is being disingenuous nothing to do with going round in circles. You have now moderated your view from not only the first post you sent to me on another blog. To another view at the start of this one, and then to a more moderate one now.

    However, you are still wrong, engineers are thought a lot of, proper engineers, I mean. Anyone, these days can call themselves an engineer through the fast track that Labour introduced, but unfortunately they cannot do the job required. So foreign engineers are brought in to do the vacant jobs.

    In science students take softer options as you put it, because they do not have the standard in the subject to go higher.

    There is a crisis in both professions, to get skilled workers.

    Thats the truth and my view has been consistent, which is more than can be said for yours. You just go with the crowd.

  • Comment number 46.

    susan @ 43

    "No matter how much you try to worm out of it. You make it very clear that you believe children from wealthy backgrounds always do much better, whether at private school or state school, because they are more able."

    Correct. Not that every single child from an affluent background will always do better in school than every single child from a poor background - that would be a patently ridiculous thing to say - but yes and on the whole, the evidence seems to indicate that parental affluence is a bigger driver of educational outcomes in this country than anything else. Certainly way more influential than whether or not you go private.

    More able, btw, doesn't necessarily and principally mean bigger brains, higher IQs. Although I'm sure there is a correlation between wealth and innate intelligence - since one's intelligence is heavily influenced by that of one's parents, and if they're wealthy it's likely (although not certain of course) that they, or at least one of them, will have been successful in something, and one reason (albeit far from the only reason) for success in life is, in turn, intelligence. So - yes - a correlation there, I'd have thought, but not a massively strong one. The degree of 'ableness' (academically) is a nature nurture mix. The nature bit we've just covered, the genes, but the nurture aspect probably dominates. So here we're talking about the other things which tend to come with an affluent background - ambition, expectations, confidence, home facilities, this sort of good stuff. Not always and in all cases (again please note), but highly and positively correlated. We're not micro-talking about any one individual, remember, we're looking at things at the macro level. All adds up to the academic 'ability' of a child.

    So, no, much as I like the notion of 'worming my way out' of something, I feel no need to in this case.

  • Comment number 47.

    "Are you saying we dont have an underclass, then IDBI? That its all just a figment of the right wing's imagination?" Fubar_S @38
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    You've no idea, Fubar. You paint a grotesque caricature and spray paint it liberally and indiscriminately on a sizable group of people. Thankfully there are many on the right who would fail to recognise or agree to your analysis. Lazy shorthand of the type you so often and rightly rail against.
    Life is immeasurable better in so many ways than it was 150 years ago. Many of those improvements have been hard won by campaigners, activists, politicians etc from the different parties left and right. How very dare you lump them all together as useless parasites whose only drive is to secure their own self interest. They also serve who only walk the streets in their spare time and leaflet.
    Anyhoo, back to the topic. Let's try a different approach. The english state school system is a product of its origins. A cheap utilitarian version of 'real' education meant for the greater part to provide a minimal level of useful skills to render the lower classes useful and compliant. Discuss.

  • Comment number 48.

    "The brightest and the best, are being overlooked in the state system in an effort to keep working class people down, and this stupid idea Labour has of equality. Of course we all know why, it is a means for Labour to continue using working class people as voting fodder. Too much knowledge would soon see people drift away from the Labour vote." - SC @ 43

    Susan, these are the thoughtless musings of somebody struggling with a pathological hatred of the Labour Party. It's like Saunders but without the lurid, low rent language (and for that at least, I'm duly grateful). You're seriously of the opinion that the problems in our education system are restricted to the state sector and that they arise because Labour, afraid that bright working class kids if educated well will vote Tory, deliberately hold them back?

    C'mon. That's just not a sensible or sober view.

  • Comment number 49.

    45 Susan

    Chill out will you - I was just trying to find some common ground with you but it clearly is not worth the effort.

    Previously you have said that IYO the reason Britain does not produce top scientists and engineers is because there is a lack of raw talent - and that the young people are not clever enough to take these degrees.

    It is nothing to do with young people being clever enough or there being a lack of raw talent - the subjects became unfashionable and fewer students took the courses or pursued better remunerated careers.

    I don't apologise for trying to talk things up a bit there are too many Jeremiahs like you continually running things down and choosing to look at the bleakest outlook. Trying looking on the bright side of life for a change.


  • Comment number 50.

    Susan @34

    "I have never been treated any different by privately educated people, in fact their support has been invaluable to this working class kid. "

    ....ever thought you are being patronised?

  • Comment number 51.

    Okay, when I’m Czar, here is what I do:

    As to what happens in schools (primary and secondary), I work towards a simple model of a good local school to which all children in the catchment area go. I discourage the private opt out so we get, as far as possible, all our children educated together.

    No discrimination by intake on grounds of ability, gender, or of things like religion. We’re secular and we’re ‘all in this together’ as regards our schools.

    But a sensible and appropriate level of streaming such that teaching pace can be tailored to suit. Also a balanced and flexible curriculum – academic and practical and vocational.

    Rigor in exams and the marking thereof. An end to grade inflation.

    Schools staffed with good and motivated teachers – pay them well but weed out those who aren’t up to it.

    Fund well generally in order to ensure quality facilities and infrastructure. But don’t overdo this – pay due attention to real impact on real outcomes.

    Some direction of effort and resource to under-privileged areas, and to the subjects (e.g. science, maths, languages) which our economy benefits most from.

    A tertiary sector (university and other) which is funded by the government and by employers but NOT by the student.

    And that’s it – now leave it be and let it deliver.

    Which it won’t – not to the extent we want it to – since what happens outside school is just as important, maybe more so, than what happens inside (discussion above re link between social background and educational attainment). If we do nothing here, my system will increase overall standards but it won’t usher in anything close to equal opportunities.

    So in tandem with our new education model, I bring in a raft of policies designed to reduce material inequality.

    What I’m doing here is, rather than fighting the link between wealth and educational attainment, I’m using it; if the link is true – and it is – then by reducing inequality of income and wealth in society I’ll be reducing inequality in educational outcomes. And reduced inequality in educational outcomes means further reduced inequality in income and wealth in society. Since the better educated you are, the better your chance of getting on. And so on and so forth.

    I’ve now replaced the current vicious circle with a virtuous one.

    Ah bisto.

  • Comment number 52.

    Susan_Croft @44
    Forgive me, Susan. If I'd known I was discussing something with people who know the 'answers' I could have saved myself a lot of time and typing. As a primary teacher for nearly forty years spent in schools that entertain your 'underclass' I thought I might be able to contribute something of use. But clearly not if you already know the answers. It's all very well having the answers but not if your asking the wrong questions.
    Once people generally believed that the world was flat (well it was obvious.). The earth was the centre of the solar system (ordained by the earthly representative of a divine being). To think otherwise was just silly. Couldn't be. Out of the question. "Excuse me, but..." said the scientist. The rest is history.
    So I'm afraid I have far too much to do (as someone is fond of saying) to waste my time on someone who already knows the answer to a problem which despite many peoples efforts over the last 140 years or so remains unsolved. Either you're the cleverest clever person who ever clevered in Extremelycleverland or you've missed something.

  • Comment number 53.

    meninwhitecoats 49

    I have said all I am going to say to you coats, and your remark at 50, says all that people need to know about you.

    I am very respected for what I do, otherwise I would not be in the position I am, this is something I would like for other working class kids. Most of the people I have worked for in the beginning, where privately educated and very supportive of my career. The only time I have ever been patronised, is by you actually, who know very little, but make out you know a lot.

    I do look on the bright side, I am pretty certain I will catch you out again, because you do it so often, thats the bright side. People who change opinions to suit the audience, always do.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Life is better in so many ways than it was 150 years ago." - IDB @ 47

    Yes. And - the really good news - it will be almost certainly be better by far in 150 years than it is now. And so on. Even in fifty years, there'll be scientific and technological innovations which will have revolutionised (in a good way) everyday life in this country in ways that we cannot imagine. Just looking back over my own (still reasonably short) adult lifetime, I see incredible improvements. I find this a comforting thought; one to set against all the 'we've screwed up the future for our children' talk around debt burden and climate change and supposed great moral decline.

  • Comment number 55.

    sagamix 48

    I wish that were true but its not. I don't have a dislike of the Labour movement as such, I have a dislike of what it has become. The only time we saw anything of the Labour Party, when I was a kid, living on a council estate, was when they wanted our vote. Nothing ever changed, even though most voted Labour. Nothing has changed since. At least at that time, education could still be relied on to give you a start at another future, even thats gone now.

    However, that post in your language means, 'I have no answer for you Susan'.

  • Comment number 56.

    "I am very respected for what I do" - susan @ 53

    No, I can assure you that you're not. Most of the stuff you come out with on these BBC politics blogs has the very opposite effect.

  • Comment number 57.

    Idon't Believeit 52

    And nor do I.

    You deliberately missed the point, Fubar and I had already said what we thought the problems were. You then went on to ask the question again. You contributed nothing to the debate. Except of course, the platitude, all parents want the best for their kids. Really insightful, for a what was it, primary teacher.

  • Comment number 58.

    17 Mr. N

    `Feeling confident?'

    Not at all.

    I am only confident that the ruling hierachies in this great and wonderful country of ours will continue to massage their self-importance with money accrued from the hard graft of the down-trodden taxpayer.

    PS I enjoyed your Message 10: very pertinent.

  • Comment number 59.

    susan @ 55

    I answered you clearly at 46. You, on the other hand, seem unable to address post 40. One could be forgiven for thinking that your wherewithal to discuss this (and indeed all other) political issues is limited to posting brainless tosh and then, if challenged, or even merely invited to develop in some way, reposting the same thing endless times, or just referring people back to the first one - the 'tosh original' as it were - plus a series of risible, self admiring references to yourself as being working class and now successful (lol), before flouncing off in a bit of a huff. Only to pop up again in no time at all on another thread with the same old drivel. It's blogging, Jim, but not as we know it.

  • Comment number 60.

    sagamix 56

    Well I did mean in my job actually. However, that remark coming from you, is a positive for me. Bit of a poor retort though Saga, are you losing your touch, thats school boy stuff, or are you getting a bit tetchy.

  • Comment number 61.

    "Well I did mean in my job actually" - susan @ 60

    Mmm. But see, the more you tell us about how you're extremely respected in your job, the less probable it is that you are. A kind of paradox.

  • Comment number 62.

    sagamix 59

    I am not in a huff unlike your goodself. If you think I write tosh and as you have said you have no respect for me, why would you want me to answer your questions. I have told you what I believe, what more do you want.

    As to being successful, relatively speaking, yes, I suppose so. However, I am pretty certain there are kids out there in the state system much brighter than me, who are being denied the chance. That is what concerns me.

    Your never answer posts which ask questions, so coming from you thats a bit rich, don't you think?.

  • Comment number 63.

    sagamix 61

    That was in reply to a nasty post to me, as you well know. Trying to represent it as something it is not is below you.

    You may believe whatever you like, it bothers me not.

    BTW I never said extremely, I said I am respected for what I do.

  • Comment number 64.

    "You never answer posts which ask questions" - sc @ 62

    Correction, I always answer questions. Latest example: I answered your questions (about the link between affluence and educational outcomes) at 37 and at 46. By contrast, my question to you - a sickeningly fair and reasonable one - at post 40 remains untouched. Think we know why.

    Respect you? I don't know you, so I can't say whether I would or I wouldn't. Probably I would; I respect most people. But all you are on here is a set of bizarre and primitive opinions on a screen - even those I'd respect more (or at least a tiny bit) if you showed even a semblence of being able to defend them.

  • Comment number 65.

    "I never said extremely, I said I am respected for what I do." - 63

    Indeed you didn't say the E word - sorry (!) to misquote. You said (53) that you are 'very' respected. For what you do.

    And I wonder, Susan. I wonder if you truly are.

  • Comment number 66.

    Susan_Croft @omniscience
    Here is what I posted.
    "All parents love their children and want 'the best for them' is a platitude, but to believe that destructive/abusive behaviour towards children is not spread throughout society is also, IME, misleading."

    And here is your version of it.
    You contributed nothing to the debate. Except of course, the platitude, all parents want the best for their kids. Really insightful, for a what was it, primary teacher.

    I'm happy for other bloggers to draw their own conclusions.

  • Comment number 67.

    53 Susan
    "I am pretty certain I will catch you out again" - For goodness sake catch me out at what?

    In any case modifying one's opinions from time to time [not that I have on this subject] is an entirely sensible thing to do, as one becomes aware of more information. I don't work from a script words may change from post to post but you read far too much into the smallest variation.

    Anyhow why are we falling out when we could be discussing Saga's grand plan? - a far more worthy topic of discussion.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi Andrew, I`ve lost my recording of Posh and Posher, where can i get another copy of it. Perhaps it will be shown again?

  • Comment number 69.

    Idont Believeit 66

    I am content with that. I see nothing in your original post which would help reach any conclusions about education.

    meninwhitecoats 67

    I said it was my last word and it was. You have turned and turned again on your opinions about education, as I said, depending on the audience.

    Sagamix various.

    I can only tell you what I know as a working class person, with regard to education and using state education. Nothing that has been said has changed my views from 6, which was my original post. I doubt very much whether it be Labour or coalition this problem of education will be turned around anytime soon to the benefit of state students from what I have seen.

    The only person I feel sorry for is Andrew Neil trying to make sense of a series of posts, which started off quite sensibly and ended as usual in mayhem. Of which I am heartily fed up with.

    I am on my way out, for hopefully a good time, so a good night to everyone.


  • Comment number 70.

    "I can only tell you what I know" - sc @ 69

    A truer statement you have never made. I just wish it weren't so very little. We'll chat again no doubt - if we're not careful.

  • Comment number 71.

    40 Saga

    I'll give it a bash.

    The private School system provides leaders. Prime Ministers, Heads of Finance and Heads of Industries. The education of a Private school is geared up with expectancy that every pupil will lead rather than be led.

    "Born to lead or Born to think you lead" comes to mind immediately.






  • Comment number 72.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    Mr N@71
    Sadly that is true - maybe expectations and aspirations are the differences between the sectors. In AN's original programme it was astounding to see the confidence and motivation of the Westminster pupils - they were ready for a seamless transition into the ruling class.

    Czarga @51
    I do thinking raising expectations and supplying role models also has a part to play in all this to show that things can be possible even for the poorest families. When the family unit has no history of succeeding in the workplace it is hard for young people to see outside their current situation.

    As you know from previous discussions one of my objections to having to go to the local school is the lack of interaction between different social groups [particularly in the poorest areas] where kids are stuck where they live and have no chance of experiencing different ways of life.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a teacher of over thirty years and an A Level examiner for over a decade, I'm afraid that the malaise runs far deeper than spending. The anti-intellectualisation of our culture and media has destroyed the motivation of young people to learn or work hard at anything. Answers are expected quickly by a google search or wikipedia entry, despite the fact that the student does not realise that it may or may not be accurate. However, subjects themselves have become debased: History is a modern PC version; Geography is environmentalism and even science is presented in a simplistic way. In a batch of two hundred exam scripts you would be very lucky to find 20 which are of the requisite standard, and very few outstanding. Youngsters have very poor general knowledge and are brainwashed into introducing meaningless platitudes by their teachers whose only motivation is results and personal advancement as against education. Ironically, those students who do succeed tend to come from Grammar schools and the private sector in England and the Welsh medium sector in Wales. These are institutions where teaching has remained fairly traditional and has retained the fairly basic tenets of being able to write about and learn a body of knowledge. The demise of the grammar schools, whatever their elitist/meritocratic demeanour, heralded a decline in the education of at least two generations of children which I witnessed during a long career. When I compare this to the strong intellectual element in the children of colliers and steel workers in the grammar schools of forty years ago, I very much fear for the future of our society.

  • Comment number 75.

    Privilege has always bought advancement, and will continue to do so.

    The demise of the meritocracy may be the result of the failed policy of left-wing egalitarianism, which in educational output, has resulted in constantly lowering standards of competence.

    This has and still does manifest itself in an over reliance on worthless paper qualifications, coupled with the political will of recent governments to encourage and enable a policy of ‘degrees for all’, without regard to inherent aptitude.

    The proliferation of universities during the time of the previous government, with scant regard to providing for a practical and vocational skills-based workforce, is an unrealistic policy, both socially and economically.

    The emphasis on Tony Blair’s vision of university places for 50% is naïve and of little use when many of the student population still do not possess competent levels of literacy and numeracy on leaving school.

    We are churning out a stream of quasi-literate individuals, of whom the vast majority are unable to compete with a privately educated Oxbridge elite.

    The solution is the redistribution of resources from overburdened higher education, towards effective practical and developmental education during school years, and major investment in vocational and skills training.

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