I would like to reform the education system in a way that allows for higher standards without empowering new bureaucracies to monitor all schools. In one of Chris Woodhead’s books, he speaks of how inspections are carried out in triplicate. The inspectors come, and then the inspectors of the inspectors, and the inspectors of the inspectors of the inspectors—as there is more than one body involved with monitoring schools. I believe parents should buy the school education they need for their children, and have the right to sue the school if the school does not teach well. For example, if the school does not use the “phonics” method of teaching reading, a good case to sue the school is created. By putting power in the hands of the consumers, the fact that the teachers are in the main left-wing extremists can be circumvented. To sue a failing school is a very different approach to the regulatory regimes in place now: the quality of education should be a question between the school and the parents, without regulatory bodies involved.
I have some detailed policy prescriptions. I would close down all the LEAs tomorrow and enter the names of all their employees on a Bureaucratic Parasites’ Register (BPR)- and cancel their pensions for lack of interest. People on the BPR would be subject to a lifetime ban on working in the public sector. The BPR wouldn’t be a quango, but simply an Internet list of all those so banned. There would be no secret register to pay to search: the information would be permanently in the public domain on a website.
The whole education system should be privatised or handed over to existing management and the state should get out of the sector. Basically, vouchers should replace school funding, but the vouchers should be set at a level that requires every parent to pay something. Clearly the poorest would get a voucher covering 90% of the cost, but they ought to pay at least something in order to take interest in what goes on in the school. Teachers’ salaries are determined on a school-by-school basis. Schools that underperform simply have no choose other than to cut salaries.
Beyond that, every school would be selective, and there should be no national curriculum, and school inspectorates should be closed down (and their employees entered on the BPR). The state should confine itself to monitoring exam syllabuses and marking schedules. As long as the exams are tough, presumably the schools have to raise their game. By ensuring that real content is on the exam papers, ideally set to be similar to those of the 1950s, schools simply have to teach better in order to have their little charges pass the exams.
I would introduce a baccalaureate of 1000 points. Maximum 10 subjects of 100 points each. Pupils only entered for 5 subjects can only get 500 points and so are missing out on 50% of the marks to start with. This is so that those bright students who can do 10 exams get a higher overall mark. No one scoring under 700 goes on to A level and university. The Bacc would be as follows:
1. Latin 100 marks (to include Caesar, Vergilius etc)
2. Modern language 100 marks (to include an oral)
3. English language 100 (to include tough requirements on grammar). Children who can’t spell or use the subjunctive score very badly here.
4. English literature 100 (purely consisting of Shakespeare and the Greats – basically the syllabus would require knowledge of so many Classic works, there would be no time to teach PC works.)
5. RE – knowledge of the Prayerbook and one of the Gospels of the Authorised Version of the Bible required. No Islamic or alternative option available.
6.History or Geography – knowledge of facts required to pass. Geography is about geography and not about social exclusion. History requires much more than knowledge of slavery and the Holocaust. Exam questions like “imagine you are a slave; write down your feelings” are simply deleted from exam papers: the study of slavery has a place, but this sort of “exam question” is a nonsense.
7.At least one science. There is no such thing as “double science”. Biology, physics and chemistry are separate options.
8.Mathematics – at least as rigorous as the 1950s O level.
9 and 10 – a choice of additional languages, humanities and sciences, music etc.
Schools that did not teach Latin would see their children unable to score more than 900. Schools that didn’t teach any language, Latin or modern, would see their children unable to score more than 800. Schools that taught PC books would see their children fail the English literature component. Schools that taught Islam in the RE component would see their children fail on knowledge of the Christian tradition.
But it makes no sense to monitor what happens in each class. Set the exam syllabuses and marking schedules so hard that the only way of passing is to teach a traditional curriculum – but let the schools do what they like. The Baccalaureate league table would lead to parental pressure. Parents would have the legal right to sue the schools if they felt they were not teaching the good stuff. The idea would be to make it very hard for anyone not in the top 2% of pupils to score more than 900 under this baccalaureate. A criminal investigation of the exam boards would ensue whenever more than 2% of pupils scored more than 900. As I said, no one scoring under 700 goes on to A levels. The wheat is sorted from the chaff.
Let me add that the number of people with qualifications is too high in the UK. The certificates they have are often meaningless. We have seen graduates required for jobs that previously were done by those with A levels and now for jobs previously done by those with O levels. We saw recently how a girl with GCSEs and A levels committed suicide because she was unable to find a job. It is simply wrong to create a system where degrees are required for jobs that technically do not demand anything other than good English and arithmetic. Why is a degree required to work in a travel agents’ office? Indeed, why are A levels required? The job technically does not require any qualifications at all.
We need to substantially reduce the numbers with A levels and degrees, not in order to take opportunity away from people, but in order to restore it. Most of these degrees are nothing more than a detailed grilling in left-wing propaganda anyway. The teacher training colleges should be closed down (and their employees entered on the BPR) and schools required to conduct their own training.
* Compulsory education abolished. Home schooling and no schooling become fully acceptable—and no supervision of home-schooled children is carried out.
* All coursework for exams abolished. Everything is on the final exam with no appeal allowed. Pupils can sit the entire year again and then take the exams the following year – no public funding for repeating a year would be available; parents would have to pay the full tuition fee.
* Corporal punishment – 6 of the best – introduced in all schools. Parents are not permitted to object.
* Schools required to keep order and prevent bullying – the headmaster subject to criminal charges (abetting violence among pupils in his care) if he doesn’t. Parents can also sue the schools if the headmaster fails to keep order in the school.
* School league tables remain in existence: schools are judged on the exam results of all children in their care, including those entered for no exams, so the current bureaucratic fraud of labelling children dyslexic, attention-deficit and dyscalculic, comes to an end
* Hectoring the children on multiculturalism becomes a criminal offence. The Crown Prosecution Service plays no role in such prosecutions. Parents initiate prosecutions themselves on a “no win, no fee” basis.
* Hectoring the children on support for “gay” sexuality becomes a criminal offence (=Section 28 restored).
* Sex education criminalised.
* The child measurement programme is cancelled – measuring children’s weight at schools is defined as a human rights abuse.
* Normal food reintroduced in school canteens.
* Christian assemblies required in all schools, required of demographic composition.
* School uniform standards enforced. Parents of schools where girls are no longer required to wear skirts can sue the schools.
* The Criminal Records Bureau checks are ended. Schools are required to be open to the general public. Padlocking children behind locked doors out of a misplaced security panic is defined as false imprisonment—a criminal offence.