Say what you like about the educational establishment, the Blob, it is a winner. From prime ministers Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May, under education secretaries from Keith Joseph to Justine Greening, the Blob has fought and won battle after battle in its crusade to reach its goal. This, largely, boils down to achieving equality of outcome for young people regardless of individual aptitude. Fairness, justice and equality – is its seductive but dishonest mantra. Anyone who challenges the dogma is labelled a ‘fascist’ or, even worse, ‘Tory scum’.
Most pupils have been successfully brainwashed by the message. Seventy five per cent of them voted for the saintly figure of Jeremy Corbyn, according to a Times Educational Supplement survey of mock general election results in schools across the country.
The dissolution of most grammar schools and the abolition of the grammar school exam (GCE ‘O’-Level) in favour of ‘one-size-fits-all’ bog standard comps and the all-ability exam that almost no one can fail (GCSE) should be listed as among the Blob’s most substantial victories. Today’s mania for political correctness in the classroom, often at the expense of robbing children of a childhood, is yet another climactic success.
Where governments have tried to fight back as, recently, over wasteful school spending, the testing of 7-year-olds or more credible exam grades at GCSE, it has been routinely defeated and humiliated.
Too often, Ofsted inspectors act as ‘enforcers’ for the Blob rather than as ‘guardians’ of educational quality. They have presided over the whole debacle for decades. Theirs has been the great betrayal. Why, they even declare that most schools these days are ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
There is one opponent, however, that has never lost a confrontation with the Blob. Someone who strikes genuine fear into the heart of the educational establishment, although the Blob will try to deny that he exists. I am referring, of course, to ‘Colonel Truth and Reality’ – to the undeniable ‘facts’ of educational underperformance and pupil betrayal.
Last week, a CBI/Pearson survey found that around a third of firms are unhappy with the basic literacy and numeracy levels of graduates. These youngsters are supposed to be our best and brightest! Employers are equally concerned about “attitudes and behaviours of self-management and resilience”.
Given that, according to the OECD, attainment in our school system trails so far behind the best in the world and that our school leavers, uniquely in the world, are less skilled than their grandparents, the findings of the CBI/Pearson survey should not come as a surprise. The Blob, unsurprisingly, is not keen for us to know too much about non-Blob-generated evidence, and nor is the Government.
In the end, though, ‘Colonel Truth and Reality’ will win through, as he always does. He cannot be denied, abused and ignored forever.