The month of August is now behind us and students have unsealed the dreaded envelopes to reveal life changing results. Though grades are, as Jeremy Clarkson modestly reminds us every year on Twitter, not the cornerstone of career success.
Unsurprisingly after years of grade hyperinflation, the A Level and GCSE results were a resounding disappointment. Students scored lower than last year, when 28.9% achieved top grades thanks to generous teacher assessments. The false paradise of widespread academic success, created by grade inflation, has now ended.
Yearly hysteria over these results distract us from the serious public debate needed to be had regarding the future of our education system – why are kids these days leaving school with such little knowledge?
A common belief, now held by the establishment, is that the decision to shut schools over lockdown was a catastrophic error. Staggering statistics released by reliable sources discovered that pupils in England lost a maximum of 110 days of school. This was higher in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where it was 119, and the highest in Wales at 124.
The data supports the view that the lethal lockdowns were a tragic mistake and directly responsible for wrecking education. Or was it?
Governments, schools and teachers, for years, have been deluding themselves into believing the false narrative that our children are well educated.
In the words of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est, this is the old lie.
Education deteriorated in the early 1960s when the cultural revolution accelerated. Social egalitarians destroyed grammar schools and replaced them with a new, equality-driven comprehensive system. A system that prioritised equality of outcome over traditional learning and discipline.
Comprehensives, unlike merits-based grammar schools, hold back the most intelligent, whilst at the same time, keeping the struggling deprived of knowledge.
The system is motivated by a socialist desire for equality. However, there is nothing equal about a system that uses your catchment area and class to determine the likelihood of getting into a good school. Surely one that is entirely skills-focused is more equal?
An insightful article in the Conservative Home highlighted how ‘in 1959, 60% of children in grammar schools in Yorkshire were the children of manual workers, at a point when 40% of pupils aged 15 nationwide were in grammars’.
You may therefore be bewildered to know that it was the aspirational Margaret Thatcher who established more comprehensives than any other Secretary of State for Education. She was also responsible for introducing the national curriculum and the dreadful GCSE qualification. Interestingly, she would later regret this, telling us in her memoir that the Conservatives had been “bitten by the bug of comprehensivisation”.
Selection by ability was incompatible with Harold Wilson’s Labour Party, which is why he kickstarted the destruction of grammar schools. Though, even he admitted they were a success and said they would be scrapped ‘over his dead body’ – which was obviously a lie.
It was Blair, who once said in 2006 that he “would never ban grammar schools”, that banned the creation of new grammar schools in the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act. Today, more than 90% of secondary age children attend a comprehensive school.
There are many reasons to bring back grammar schools. Not only does it allow for more productive lessons and better quality learning, they also create an environment in which education is the centre of attention – rather than equality, diversity and social engineering. The quality of grammar schools were so strong that a set of English A Levels had once been compared to an American college degree.
Not long ago, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak announced they would lift the ban on new grammar schools. Whether you choose to believe them is your prerogative. I warn you not to be deceived by the red meat that was ferociously flung at Tory members in a desperation to get the top job.
Theresa May did the same in September 2016 when she promised she would reintroduce grammar schools and reverse Blair’s ban. This never happened.
Blair recently suggested replacing GCSE and A Level exams with regular assessments. Perhaps he wants to make exams even easier? This is the wrong form of reform required.
Having gone through the education system myself, I will agree with Blair about the need to abolish GCSEs. The current curriculum taught to kids has been infiltrated with woke diatribe and content designed to indoctrinate generations with leftist propaganda.
Lessons are no longer about passing down knowledge from our forefathers. Instead, they are more concerned about teaching Climate Change GCSEs, identitarian politics in PSHE and anti-British hogwash in history.
Having completed the History GCSE myself, I became aware of the anti-patriotic content and the unhinged grading system where English analysis is superior to historical knowledge. It is, for instance, possible to leave 11 years of secondary education without knowing about the British empire or the English Civil Wars. Infact, ask the average teenager about Oliver Cromwell and you will be met with a face of pure perplexion. .
Ultimately, whilst education was damaged by the lockdowns and lack of exams, it has not altered the fact that our education system was already substandard.
Extensive education reform is something that should be seriously considered by the next Prime Minister. Grammar schools, rigorous testing, and tougher discipline, should all be on the cards if we wish to overturn the shambles of a system we currently have.