The thing is, we all know that it is a massive pile of horseshit; amongst other things, and as I have said many times, the fact that we need to have an A* grade shows how hopelessly debased our education system is.
And every year, to accompany those reports about how wonderfully our children are doing when taught for the ever-increasingly easy test, we get articles giving a dose of the real world.
THE literacy and numeracy of new employees have tumbled over the past decade despite Labour’s £28 billion increase in education spending, according to research by a leading employers’ organisation.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) found 71% of its members believed the writing abilities of new employees had worsened, while 60% believed numeracy had also declined; 52% reported a worsening of the basic ability to communicate.
With the exam results season under way, more than 60% of directors now think GCSEs and A-levels are less demanding than a decade ago. Overall, only 27% believe schools have got better.
The wonder is, of course, that anyone believes that schools have got better. Still, no doubt John Bangs will pop up and tell the Institute of Directors that they are wrong and they shouldn't "denigrate the high quality of education in England's schools".
A-level results to be released this Thursday are expected to show the number of passes going above 97% and the proportion of A grades rising slightly from last year’s 25.3%, the 11th successive annual rise.
Truly, our education system is impressive, is it not? Wow, all those passes, all those As, all worth less than fuck-all. And it's cost us a lot too.
According to the IoD report, to be published this week, the results of Labour’s education policies fall far short of what might be expected, given the surge in school spending. In 1997-8, £48 billion was devoted to education, rising to £76.3 billion in the current year, an increase of nearly 60% when adjusted for inflation.
When will people realise that how the money is spent is far more important than how much is spent and, frankly, the state is a shit provider of services. And, as I have said before, when you fuck up someone's education, you fuck up their entire life.
Privatise the schools, allow anyone to start one, introduce vouchers and let parents choose which school their children go to. Because whilst schools are in the gift of the government, whilst education is tailored to fit the state's prejudices, education will always be used as a political football; and whilst education is used as a political football, the big losers are the young people whose lives are ruined.
UPDATE: this excellent comment is worth taking note of too.
I had a student at my university a couple of years ago who had attended a very prestigious girls' boarding school and had come away with a clutch of A and A* grades. Now, my university generally has seven applicants for each place and is a member of the Russell Group. Taken together - the high quality of the university and the expensive education - you could be forgiven for expecting her to be a high attainer.
Sadly, in fact, she was borderline illiterate - she could barely spell, had no understanding of punctuation and simply did not understand grammar as a concept. I was later to discover through conversations with colleagues that this was not unusual - the school she had attended had some time ago abandoned real teaching in favour of exam preparation with the result that many of their students (whose parents had put forth a considerable investment) were simply not capable of reading or writing, let alone thinking, at an adult level while, simultaneously, winning spectacular passes at the A Level.
This is one example but it is coming to be the rule more than the exception. The emphasis of the A Level and the Higher is on box-ticking and regurgitation while, at the same, markers are instructed to ignore spelling and gramamtical problems. We have reached the point where, in answer to an A Level History essay question, you could pass simply by making a list of factoids. Then these students are passed up to universities where they have one of two experiences: either they attend a worthless institution where their shortcomings are ignored, which has the result that their expensive degree has the same worth as their secondary school education (i.e., none); or they attend a decent university where they are marked fairly in accordance with ability (inc. their ability to spell) and find themselves struggling even to pass.
In all of this, the greatest victims are the pupils themselves who have been given a second-rate education. Their parents, though, are also victims having laid out money (either through fees or taxation) for an education that their child has not received. And the country as a whole is also a victim because our cultural and intellectual life degrades as suddenly, and for the first time in centuries, we have an entire generation of children whom we have deliberately trained to be test-passing morons illiterate and barely capable of logical thought.
It is beyond me how anyone in academia or, indeed, in education generally can look at Labour's record and not want to pull a Seung-Hui Cho at the Dept. of Edumucation. And, as I typed that, I realised just how Orwellian the tag is - a Department of Education whose whole purpose is to make children stupider.
For what it is worth, by the time that I left Eton, a more box-ticking mentality had also entered the consciousness; not entirely coincidentally this came about when the league tables also came in.