Thursday 7 April 2011

Dream School?

Last night, owing to circumstances beyond my control, I found myself watching Jamie's Dream School, the jaw-dropping 'reality show' in which the endlessly irritating but well-intentioned Oliver tries to 'rescue' teenagers who have been failed by the school system - not to mention, in most cases, their families and themselves. The aim, oddly, is to get them back into education, though it's hard to see why. Whatever its intentions, the series has done one thing spectacularly well - exposed the utter rottenness of a system that can take over the 'education' of children for ten years and, at great expense to the taxpayer, turn them out not only uneducated but also to all appearances uneducable and unemployable. What, you might well ask, have the teachers been doing with them? Presumably acting merely as custodians and classroom riot controllers, certainly not going so far as to teach them anything (least of all how to behave). To judge by the wet dishcloth of a headmaster who hovers over the Dream School experiment, little or nothing has been offered in the way of discipline or structure - the very things these unfortunate children need to lift them out of their circumstances and preoccupations, offering an oasis of order in otherwise chaotic lives, and opening up the prospect of - yes - social mobility, the Coalition's latest buzz phrase. This was how the Victorians turned even less promising human material into literate youngsters capable of learning and of holding down a job. This was indeed how the class-blind, background-blind grammar schools gave children from poor and troubled backgrounds a way out - a ladder. Now all that has gone, replaced by the 'child-centred', child-failing orthodoxies of the 'education' establishment. The behaviour, attitude and wilful ignorance on show in Dream School demonstrate the results all too graphically. In the light of which, this story should come as no surprise...


  1. I'm convinced that education after the age of 11 is wasted on a great many who would be more suited to vocational training. Obsessed with results (on which their finances hang) schools are massaging the figures. For example, schools have a great incentive to get children from a D to a C and commit resources to doing that. However, there's not so much incentive to get a child from a C to a B, or a B to an A. And if your child is struggling, you might as well give up any hope that the school will help them.

    As for behaviour, I can tell you stories which would make you question whether the army shouldn't be sent into some schools.

  2. Hieronimus Bosch is alive and well and working as a TV producer, a peek inside bedlam.
    The teaching profession obviously with some notable exceptions was for years unsackable, union besotted and myopic. One S Williams started the nose dive, education hit the deck some years ago, my Norwegian and German friends gasp in horror.
    I well remember years ago, one of the teachers union poo-bahs standing up at a conference and saying that his members were not prepared to turn out fodder for industry, he was the one with the Welsh accent.

  3. "What, you might well ask, have the teachers been doing with them?"

    This is the question that has always puzzled me, particularly when one sees those statistics of the number of urchins leaving school barely able (or indeed wholly unable) to read and write and do arithmetic - you know, the very basics. To an outsider, this is incomprehensible. Don't the teachers notice?

    I can only assume that the nurturing of "self esteem" is now an absolute priority. So you end up with kids who are thick but have a sense of overweening entitlement.

  4. I fear you're right, Frank - and Malty - and Anonymous - and I think the only hope is Gove's 'free schools' wheeze, but the chances of that getting past the various vested interests are slim indeed. So the govt will no doubt go on bullying the universities to take more and more semiliterate applicants and give them remedial English lessons - while Oxford and Cambridge do the sensible thing and go independent. Hell, handcart, etc.