There\’s a solution to this you know

UK trails Poland and Bulgaria on adults educated to A-level standard

Lecturers\’ union says European data shows Britain risks languishing in \’mid-table obscurity\’ due to rising cost of learning

We should therefore reduce the cost of learning by paying lecturers less and having fewer of them.

There, job done.

Not quite what I\’d expect the lecturer\’s union to suggest but…..

12 comments on “There\’s a solution to this you know

  1. And how do we know what the correct percentage of adults educated to A-Level standard is?

    Perhaps Bulgaria and Poland are overdoing it?

  2. But Britain’s ranking in standardised tests is falling too. As the Union nicely points out.

    So we have too many expensive teachers who are not teaching a surprisingly small number of students well.

    The solution must start with a purge of teachers then. What else to do with the over paid and incompetent?

  3. Who cares about international rankings? Who gave them the right to judge our philosophical ideas of education.

    I’m also pretty sure the claim is untrue. A levels represent quite a high standard of knowledge in the subject in question – equivalent to what is studied in the first or second year of university in most countries. Most countries force young people to study a “broad curriculum” (I fear we may go this way too if we are not careful), which means that they do not have time to acquire serious knowledge about things that interest them until years later.

  4. fjfjfj – “Who cares about international rankings?”

    Quite a lot of people actually. It is the only way to work out how well we are doing. That and a comparison with the private sector. The only real question is what metric to use. This is not a good metric. Well it is for the Unions as it is just a count of how many people do twelve or so years of school – so plays into their demands for more teachers. But that doesn’t mean the idea itself is wrong.

    “Who gave them the right to judge our philosophical ideas of education.”

    Them being who? The Poles? They aren’t. The Union? Well apart from it being, you know, their job and all, that’s a good question.

    “I’m also pretty sure the claim is untrue. A levels represent quite a high standard of knowledge in the subject in question – equivalent to what is studied in the first or second year of university in most countries.”

    Ha! Thank you for that. I needed a good laugh. In my experience what is studied in the second and third year in most British universities is about what the final year of high school teaches elsewhere. Not as much as they used to, of course. Germany seems to have gutted their high schools lately. But compared to Japan or or Hong Kong or Taiwan? A Levels are a national embarrassment.

    “Most countries force young people to study a “broad curriculum” (I fear we may go this way too if we are not careful), which means that they do not have time to acquire serious knowledge about things that interest them until years later.”

    Whereas we let students spend the last three years of their High School studying total rubbish and pretending it is an education – General Studies for instance. Add a non-subject like A Level English and Spanish to that and we pretend that the pretty little Deb who has three A levels, well, has three A levels. There is a hell of a lot to be said for a generalised education. Mostly revolving around the fact that we would compare like-with-like and at 16 students are too young, callow and naive to decide how they want to cripple the rest of their lives.

  5. There is a problem with league tables. Some people can’t resist wanting to be at the top. Some will even fiddle figures (exam passes in the UK) and enact spendthrift policies (wanting 50% of school leavers into university) to improve their standing in a superficial way. They always want something to crow about even if it is as mundane as broadband speeds.

    Serf’s question of whether Poland and Bulgaria might be overdoing it is an appropriate one. Are the resources put into moving up a league table justifiable when compared to the returns you can expect from them and the tying up of those resources in the meantime? With university degrees for example, a large supply of them diminishes the past advantages of having one.

  6. yes, reducing the quantity and quality of teachers sure sounds like a way of improving teaching.

  7. Not enough A-level students “due to rising cost of learning”?

    But we don’t charge fees for A-levels (at least not for the typical 16-19 year old who they’re aimed at).

    So even if the costs are going up, they’re being paid by the government, not the students who are deciding not to do A-levels.

  8. As for the “rising cost of learning”, there is huge waste in the current system.

    I calculated that if it wasn’t for the regulatory costs, we could do an entire degree for total fees of £6,000, pay the staff more to get decent people, and still make a profit – a huge reduction on the £27,000 current cost.

    I don’t know about A-level teaching, but I suspect it’s got similar inefficiencies to universities.

  9. There was a significant fall in the standard of A when New Labour introduced the A/S level exam. My son came home and*complained* to me that the A/S level Chemistry textbook and the new A level textbook were jointly only two-thirds of the size of the old A level chemistry textbook. And that is without accounting for any overlap between the two books.
    When did fjfjfj take A levels? Forty years ago A level maths did correspond to first or second years at American universities but I doubt that is true these days.

  10. Current A-level Maths is a pathetic joke. Far from being a rigorous test of basic mathematical ability, a typical exam is a collection of problems you could work out in your head while waiting for the bus. The Cambridge STEP exam is still pretty tough, but of course its raison d’etre is purely as a magnifying glass to screen all the applicants they get with thoroughly meaningless A* grades. I’d like to think that 25 years ago when I took my A-levels there was still a decent bit of rigour, but I fear the rot had set in even there. It wasn’t a huge problem as we all got a crash course the first few weeks of my physics degree in things like multivariate calculus (line, surface and volume integrals, Stokes’, Green’s, Gauss’ etc. theorems), differential equations, complex analysis and so on, so we were all singing from the same hymn sheet. These days, you don’t touch that sort of stuff until 2nd year. God knows when they have time to study things like group theory and differential geometry. At Masters level, I guess.

  11. Just looked at the current A-level syllabus. It IS a joke.
    I remember studying complex numbers, Euler’s theorem and Taylor’s series, and at O-level doing differentiation and integration.

    That was 25 years ago, and as an above poster has noted, I too noticed that the rot had set in even then. I noticed a distinct easing in the difficulty of the A-level papers between 1980 and 1989 – all of which I did in preparation for the 1989 exam.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the best academic school results currently to be found in China, Taiwan, Japan… Quelle surprise.

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