The man who promised us, ‘Education, education, education,’ as the main priority of his government has failed again. Blair along with forever changing line up of education secretaries has again been branded a hazard to our children. The new crisis in hand for our Labour government evolves our youngsters within Primary education. The recent report has revealed that the number of children who can read and write properly has fallen in the last three years, as almost 250,000 seven year olds are not hitting required standards, for the second year running.
In English only 75% have reached the required standards, leaving government hopes of 85% English pass rate for 11 year olds by 2002 in tatters. The report has shown three tenths of Primary school children are behind in reading from as young as seven. Four tenths our poor at writing, leading to one quarter of eleven year olds being classed as semi-literate! Chief school inspector Mr David bell has described the situation as disastrous and has said, ‘I don’t think we could possibly be happy with what primary schools are achieving. ‘
These chilling figures reported by Ofsted are causing concern amongst parents throughout the country. Although Mr Bell is claiming the route of this problem is due to the teachers and Heads of the schools. As it has been suggested that one in ten of our head teachers are ‘weak’, that’s a figure just over 2,000 that are simply not up to the job. If the leaders of the schools are ‘weak’ what hope does it hold for our teachers? Although Heads are saying they are being used a scapegoats Mr Bell insists that they are to blame, ‘They lack knowledge and skill.
‘ This standard is simply not adequate as the government has admitted. This has left other parties, including the Liberals suggesting an education reform and the Tories claming the situation has reached crisis level. Although PM Tony Blair has barely mentioned the report, and went ahead with a speech on education standards. This new crisis has fallen into the hands of Estelle Morris’ successor Charles Clarke. The Education Secretary has been told by Ofsted the targets set for 2004 will not be achievable.
This will make his job even harder as situations are just being passed on with each new education secretary. Along with Primary education being seen as a shambles Ms Morris has left the problems of AS and A level system with Mr Clarke. After last years mark fixing fiasco new guide lines need to be set to stop this embarrassing situation recurring. That saw up to 4,194 candidates having their A-level grades increased in 2002. As well as the A-level marking situation causing problems it now seems that AS and A-level lecturers are unhappy with the system.
They are calling for a return to a system such as the old one qualification of the A-level over two years. Suggesting that it’s simply too much for students. These measures come just two years after curriculum 2000 was introduced, bringing in the AS and A2 exams. Although now former chief inspector of England schools, Mr Tomlinson, has been asked to make a report suggesting ways of maintaining the A-levels standards and credibility. Universities are unhappy with a possible move to re-secure the A-level as they feel by keeping the name it will cause confusion.
The A-level was first introduced in 1951 and has changed dramatically. This in turn effects what people feel constitutes as an A-level in standards they require, which worries the Universities. Who have also been affected by Labours education crisis due to the clearance procedure after the mess-up with A-level marking. The last thing on the agenda for Labour in terms of education is the staffing shortage in Primary and Senior schools. At the start of the academic year many school remained closed due to staffing shortages. And it appears this situation to is getting worse.
As a survey for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teacher suggested that nearly 63% of teachers have considered leaving their jobs within the past 5 years. And in another survey for the National Opinion Poll of 1,007 NASUWT members discovered that 30% felt that no political party had the right education policies. In conclusion it seams that all areas of or education system our in danger and have been effected, all that is left to say is good luck Charles Clarke, who now has the mammoth task of getting things on track. A job that both David Blunkett and Estelle Morris have failed to achieve.