Friday, 31 July 2015

Falling standards

"Children living in poverty are less likely to be able to read well at school than their classmates. 1 in 5 children from poor families in Scotland leaves primary school unable to read well, a level four times as high as that of pupils from better off households."

Notice that that means 1 in 20 children from better off families leaves primary school unable to read well, but that statistic is conveniently allowed to drop off the radar. It is the gap that we are expected to pay attention to - not Getting it Right for Every Child - because this gap is going to be used to make some pretty big statements. Here is one:

"Not reading well can cut short children’s chances in life, and makes Scotland less fair and less prosperous."

So the poor are to be blamed for Scotland`s educational and economic decline and we must all rally together to do something about it. That is the message.

A little bit of history exposes the lie.

My father, who died in the Spring, was brought up by his grandmother in Glasgow which had once been called the `workshop of the world.` They went through the years of economic depression and he would sometimes attend school in his bare feet. They lived in the worst housing in Europe and rickets and other health problems associated with poverty were rife. He left school at 14 alongside his classmates and started an apprenticeship - they still existed in those days. He was expected to support his grandmother way into adulthood and throughout the war.

Everybody could read, and did so for pleasure - people had their favourite authors - and they could read in order to learn.  As well as that, they could do mental arithmetic in their heads and their handwriting was clear and legible. There was no pulling the wool over their eyes because they could talk politics for hours.

Poverty has nothing to do with the deteriorating standards in education  today because it is being systematically dismantled right under our noses. It is being called transformational change or some other fuzzy title like social inclusion. Neither does reading well ensure economic success for certain populations when the system is being deliberately collapsed through austerity.

The truth is, the ruling classes do not require educated workers for zero hours contracts. With the computing facilities they have available today, what is needed are confused and compliant workers too frightened to resist. There is no place for many young people in this brave new world - certainly no apprenticeships for 14 year olds - so young people must be kept longer and longer in a stupefying education that leaves one in five unable to read fluently.

While all this is going on, these same young people will be watched and monitored very closely through the Named Person scheme. It all fits.

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