We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Courage Estelle! Help is at hand.

A ‘Bear Of Very Little Brain’ such as I does not quite follow every twist and turn of the A-Level scandal, but the story goes something like this: the government wants more students in higher education for good reasons and bad. So the government puts direct and indirect pressure on the exam boards to make the exams easier by changing their mark schemes and structures. This manouevre is kept secret; they would like us to think that they have made students cleverer by good magic. The ruse does not work. As grades go up and up people start to talk about “dumbing down.” Finally the jump in the number of A grades is so embarrassing that the exam board start secretly moving the goalposts. This is a betrayal of trust: even if the level of achievement necessary for a good grade is objectively set too low, once the board has publicly stated the criteria it is bound to stick to them as part of its contract. To secretly mark students down is close to libel.

What a mess, hey? What’s a poor Education Minister to do? In an article called Estelle, here is your way out of this mess the Telegraph’s John Clare puts forward his advice to the beleaguered Estelle Morris.

But I’ve got some even better advice. I know a breathtakingly simple way for Estelle to get out of this mess entirely. It’s this: Get out of this mess entirely, Estelle! Yes! It’s that easy! Kick over your ministerial desk, make a barbecue of all your papers, hurl your dispatch box over the balustrade of the magnificent interior balcony of Sanctuary Buildings, and be gone and free within the hour. I don’t just mean resign. I mean make your last act the complete and inalienable renunciation of government interference in A Levels, AS Levels, right through to X, Y and Z Levels, with every record so much as touching upon the subject shredded or electronically wiped to make sure your courageous decision sticks. Because government interference is the only cause of all this mess and government butting out is the only cure.

2 comments to Courage Estelle! Help is at hand.

  • Yes. I was sitting discussing World News etc in the chip shop this lunchtime and saying “Never mind darling, maybe you can do the International Baccalaureat instead if you want”, and apparently this is exactly what some schools are now planning.

  • Dan Compton

    For sure one option is to adopt the IB (Iinternational Baccalaureat). Some of the better (ie more elite) schools in this country have been teaching it for years.

    Let me tell you though I did this system 1993-95 and it is hard….. very hard and there is a lot more required than just completing bloody tough exams. It hasn’t got any easier since I did it either.

    That is why some schools have chosen it, but for most – no way. I just can’t see them coping with it as students would have to compete with elite (and i mean the very best) students from other countries.

    The United World Colleges (there are about 20) teach only the IB and are it’s biggest customer by far. The students that go to these colleges are either from privilidged backgrounds, or more likely in most, colleges students with scholarships who are high achievers but don’t have the means to go to the other top schools. They are effectively funded by the fee paying students and from the UWC trust.

    Nelson Mandela and Queen Noor are key figures involved in promoting the movement and I believe Mandela is the UWC chairman.