Ms. Millar on education


The numbers of pupils in comprehensive schools has steadily increased since the mid-1960s and in that period standards have risen continuously. Around six times as many pupils get five good GCSEs as did in 1968.

Given that GCSEs were introduced in 1988 (1986 they started being taught, \’88 was first examination year) I find that to be, well, not quite true. Garbled bloody nonsense in fact.

Five times as many go on to university and

The expansion of university is not an advertisement, nor of course a condemnation, of the comprehensive school system. It\’s an expansion of the universities, no more.

Myth 2: Local authorities run schools This ridiculous statement is used repeatedly by politicians who should know better, especially if they are Conservatives, as it was their party that introduced Local Management of Schools in 1988, removed direct financial control from local authorities and decentralised power to heads and governing bodies, who have been able to allocate resources, recruit staff and make decisions about subjects and exams ever since.

So, your whining about how academies remove local democratic control has no basis then?

Myth 3: Autonomy leads to higher standards Autonomy alone is not a golden bullet. Ask the Swedes, who have seen their country slip down the international league tables since they introduced more \”free\” schools. The most recent DfE performance tables, and successive reports from Ofsted\’s chief inspectors, show clearly there is very little difference overall in either results or inspection grades for academies and maintained schools in similar circumstances. Indeed, on several key indicators, maintained schools outperform academies with similar intakes. This is not to suggest that academies haven\’t improved, simply to point out that maintained schools have improved at the same rate. It is a mystery why ministers, who are responsible for both, won\’t take credit for that.

Snigger. So, since the introduction of academies standards have improved. This shows that the introduction of academies has not improved schools in what manner?

Take it futher: we generally assume that competition improves all participants in a market. One supermarket getting better gets those competing with it to buck up their act: however owned or managed.

Ms. Millar\’s prejudices are not impressive, are they?



24 thoughts on “Ms. Millar on education”

  1. Still have never been told what qualifies Millar to spout off about education, other than that she is a “campaigner”. Being the “partner” of a former soft-porn producer ? Having children ? Being a loudmouth ?

    None of the above gives her the right to enforce her views on the rest of us.

    Alan Douglas

  2. Why doesn’t she just rely on the polite, humble, literate and numerate comprehensive school leavers we see all around us to make her point for her?

    Oh. Right.

  3. The depressing reality is that these morons actually seem to believe the guff about GCSEs and university entry.

    On her analysis private schools have improved far more (if you take the percentage of A grades achieved). What it actually represents is a massive decline in standards.

    That reminds me, now that we have agreed that there was a massive decline in standards, can we de-employ all the lying education twats who assured us year after year that standards were not falling. I particularly liked the idiot who claimed that since the material tested and the way it was tested had changed it was impossible to be certain what had happened to standards – even as universities complained about the education level of their first year undergraduates. They have now all been proven to be liars. Can we have their heads please?

  4. GCSE exams started in 1986. I know, I sat a Physics GCSE exam in that year. This was the only GCSE; the others were O levels. If you got a good enough mark it counted as an O level.

  5. As a teacher myself, I’d have to take issue with the entire idea that more pupils getting more GCSEs is in itself proof that, ‘standards have risen continuously’. No one outside the ‘bubble’ has ever believed this, but this hasn’t stopped bigoted cretins inside it spouting it as if it were gospel.

  6. “massive decline in standards” … hmmm. The courses and exams have been changed to be broader, which is good.

    In the old days, which were not very long ago, half of all pupils (my dad) left with nothing.

    The O levels and A levels were very find qualifications, but they were not designed for half the population, which was bad.

    Nowadays most kids leave with something, better than the old days.

    Not saying its perfect, just that it was worse before.

  7. It the old days, when I did O levels, the less academically able did CSEs. A CSE grade 1 counted as an O level grade C.

    Shortly before the introduction of GCSEs, the O level grade scale was revamped (that is, inflated) so that what had been an E became a C and Ds and Es were awarded to candidates who would previously have failed. It’s worth bearing that in mind when considering claims that standards have been maintained.

  8. ….. Autonomy alone is not a golden bullet…..

    Nobody with a firm understanding of the world in which we live would ever even look for a golden bullet (probably banned under UN conventions, as it would explode on impact)

    As someone once said, there are no solutions only trade offs.

    Only and idiot would claim that just because something does not solve all our problems, it might not have some value.

  9. Johnny bonk. It is true that a certain amount of grade inflation was helpful. The lack of formal qualifications prevented people from getting jobs that they were otherwise qualified to do. However, too much inflation reduces the value of the qualifications and makes it difficult to distinguish quality at the top end. Given that more than 50% of entries from private and grammar schools achieve A grades the signal to noise ratio is terrible.

  10. Johnny Bonk: “In the old days, which were not very long ago, half of all pupils (my dad) left with nothing.”

    These days, he’d leave with some certificates. Would he be any brighter in reality?

  11. Johnny Bonk: What do you use more each day? Your paper qualifications, or actually being able to read and write?

  12. PaulB

    And now we have Foundation and Higher levels in GCSEs. The maximum grade you can get at Foundation level is a C……CSEs aren’t dead, they are just redefined.

  13. All we want fro the qualifications system is:

    1. To know how much the student has learned and
    2. Where they sit in relation to heir peers

    In 2, it helps nobody if hey are all bunched anywhere on qualifications the scale, even the top, no mater what we call it, and that goes for the so called saviour of the Baccalaureate.

    The problem of 1 is in part intergenerational, we all believe those following us aren’t as well trained or educated as we were.

  14. The state education sector must be in fine fettle: only 17 teachers were removed for incompetence in the 10 years to 2011.

  15. Out of interest, has anyone produced statistics on how many of each sort of degree/subject were taken each year?

    The ones from the US show that there has been huge growth in degrees, but not many in hard sciences.

  16. “Nowadays most kids leave with something, better than the old days.”

    Translation: all must have prizes.

  17. MMJ, PISA is primarily cross country, and comparisons over time are difficult and since it only started in 95, somewhat short term. They do not give us any idea whether academies are good or bad. There are a few clues about comprehensive education – the comparisons within the results show a long tail of underachievement in reading for example, which in the words of the report does not compare well to high performing countries. (In science and reading, but not maths, where the gap is less – although the fall in competence in the highest percentiles in maths suggest dumbing down is a problem).

  18. ““Nowadays most kids leave with something, better than the old days.”

    Translation: all must have prizes.”

    Indeed. It is quite bizarre that anyone could conclude that an exam that changes so that people who wouldn’t have passed it now can somehow means standards have improved.

    Virtually no front line teacher believes this (it is impossible especially for those who remember what it was like) – even the staunch Labour supporters.

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