Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

Blair might just fall off his 'high wire'

Patrick Wintour of The Guardian is supposed to be close to New Labour's inner counsels and so the revelation in his piece today are really interesting:
a) concessions have not succeeded in winning over enough rebels on education.
b)Blair is still intent on keeping his new trust schools independent of local authorities.
This means he faces a possibility of falling from that high wire and actually having to resign if his proposals are rejected in forthcoming votes. Add to that the strong possibility that he faces a possibly equally powerful rebellion over identity cards, and we could yet see Gordon Brown chairing the Cabinet by the autumn. The option of winning through Conservative support I do not perceive as a realistic option unless Blair throws caution to the winds and accepts his legacy will be that of the 'Ramsay McBlair' of New Labour.

Whilst on the subject of education(see post for 3rd February) I was struck by the piece in the THES today-reported in the Guardian- that in a survey of 250 admissions officers at 16 universities: 'undergraduates are less numerate, less literate and less knowelgeable than ever before. Tutors bemoaned new students' lack of 'independenct thought, 'fear of numbers' and their expectation to be 'told the answers'. My contacts in the treaching profession confirm this to be true of pre-university entrants too.

Comments:
I don't think it's quite fair to generalise in such a way about students.
 
Maybe it is unfair but it is based on a survey of 250 people whose job it is to control admissions. They should know if anyone does about shifting trends in student abilities.
 
Perhaps, but the implication of the article is that students are to blame. Instead, we should look at the system - in three years, I have had 54 exams at about 1.5-2 hours each. Is this right?
 
In response I'm no advocate of the examination system-though maybe 'anonymous' could suggest a better means of assessment- but this survey focused on the skill levels of students entering HE and expressed concerns, suggesting the problem lies earlier on in the educational 'elevator'.
 
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