The Department of Education (DoE) is at it again! That is, clumsy policies from the top. The latest Sats results are so poor as to be meaningless, [Sats in this country are for children and quite different from college-entrance Sats in America.] Having dumbed down school exams for the past 30 years in order to show apparently good results, the DoE is now fast reversing the other way. And all this with the same teachers whose qualifications have also been dumbed down in the past 30 years!
The results of the new ‘corrected’ version of Sats tests reveal that only 53% of children passed the “three Rs” compared with 80% in last year. The reason is that the “three Rs” have now become four Rs. Besides reading, writing and maths there is now a test involving grammar, punctuation and spelling. It is this fourth subject, seemingly a ‘natural’ partner to the other three, that’s turned out to be the real killer.
It’s no wonder when 11 year-old children are asked to deal with “conditional conjunctival phrases” and non-conditional non-conjunctival” — sentence analyses that some professional writers have already said have floored them. This is rather like saying that no-one can be a good botanist unless they know the full Latin names of all the flowers they know or like a chemist can’t be a good one if he can’t real off the full Mendeleev’s periodic table of elements at a moment’s notice.
We can leave this fourth subject alone — to be dealt with by the higher flying students with a need to write with precision in later years. Better still, why do we need to treat education as a state function? It was originally brought about — by count von Bismark in 19th century Germany — in order to condition children’s minds towards obedience to the state. It was copied by this country — in the heyday of the British Empire — for the same reason. Education ought to be released to parental choice.