As the GCSE fiasco rumbles on like some enormous “elephant in the room”, I find myself having to decide on a possible topic for my thesis. In theory this shouldn’t be too difficult. I’m a keen pedagogue and had always seen this as an opportunity to research ways of closing the attainment gap between the have and have nots in our society – the ones the OECD highlighted in their recent report showing the high level of social segregation in our education system (Mr Gove is normally very eloquent on OECD findings but seemed very quiet on this one!). However, my level of disgust and anger over recent announcements and the deplorable way the future of our youth is being tainted by the toxic rhetoric coming out of Sanctuary buildings; has left me with a desire to examine exactly how destructive our politicians have been to our education system.
Let me make it clear. I am no fan of Michael Gove, but I wasn’t of Ed Balls, either. My experience has been that our politicians have all treated the Education system as a political handball, slinging it from extreme to extreme in order to gain perceived political capital. They have engaged in a policy churn that has left the country without consensus on the role and aims of education; without confidence in the qualification system and without faith that they will allow the system to operate without constant interference. Our teachers are demoralised, parents are deeply confused as their personal experiences of schools don’t match the tag lines in the Daily Gove and they have driven the system to a point where we are operating a standards agenda without consistent standards.
It is also deeply unsettling to see key posts filled by political appointees, and policy announcements in the pages of one of the Murdoch’s papers. In addition, it is wrong in a democratic society for one man, in a minority party of Government, to wield so much power over the most important brief, in terms of our future prosperity as a nation. It is ugly and sad but, somehow, wholly predictable.
So, I need to decide. Pedagogy or policy impact…….answers on a postcard!