Meanwhile over at what really matters…

Well below the big headline on the latest torrid twist with Gerry Adams’ grim mugshot  at the top, lurks the unassuming headline “NI trailing in English and Maths”.

This is the local version of the big OECD report on educational performance in England and NI which concludes that today’s kids are less well educated in the basics than their grandparents (people like me). And yes there’s a paradox here.” Northern Ireland is ‘best in Europe’ at primary maths. But that in turn is doubtful according to the literacy and numeracy reviewer.  What a mess! What’s the plan for improving standards out of savings from school closures? Anybody know? Anybody care when you’ve big stuff like parades to sound off about?


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  • sherdy

    It seems we’re not well enough educated to write about the things that matter in our lives, but if we can remember primary maths like 1690, possibly that’s all that matters.

  • “What a mess! What’s the plan for improving standards out of savings from school closures?”

    ‘Putting Pupils First: Embedding Area Planning’ is the Ministerial slogan yet it’s the vested interests that are at the front of the queue and it’s mainly the schools under the guardianship of the Boards that are in receipt of the cosh; the Catholic, Integrated and Voluntary Grammar sectors opted out. The recent prize-day report from the headmistress of Coleraine High School doesn’t pull its punches and some of its contents could have been lifted from my NALIL blogs.

    The latest rumour from the struggling process to replace the five Education and Library Boards by a single Education and Skills Authority is that ESA may not go ahead but if it does it would have regional offices. In short, ESA would be an additional layer of bureaucracy and the regional offices would probably be subjected to even less scrutiny than the current ELBs.

  • Brian Walker

    Yes Nevin, the Coleraine example shows how inadequate is the area planning process

  • David Crookes

    Very few A level students today could pass an A level mathematics or Latin paper from forty years ago.

    During the last forty years children’s orthography, grammar, and ability to calculate have degenerated appallingly.

    Their education has been ultimately supervised by an enormous bureaucracy of boards, advisers, inspectors, theoreticians, and jargonizing pseudo-academics who regard knowledge with contempt, who blether about “skills”, and who require the massive generation of useless paperwork.

    I should love to know what the wonderful “skills” have done for the nation, let alone for their possessors.

    If you want to improve education, liquidate the evil, useless tapeworms of educationism. You will save many millions of pounds every year.

    As long as the tapeworms are allowed to keep drawing their salaries, I refuse to believe in an economic crisis.

  • NI political discussion on education has been ideologically obsessed with ‘selection’. Yet selection or not, does the question really matter if kids are leaving primary education without basic reading and numeracy. It is primary education where effort needs to be be focused and stop wasting money on political change that misses the point.

  • The Raven

    “…or Latin paper…”

    Is it still even taught? I certainly did it up to and including GCSE in 1990, but I don’t believe anywhere does it now. And more’s the pity – it was a great grounding for the three other languages I did in my academic career.

  • David Crookes

    A small number of schools in NI still teach Latin, Raven, including MCB. Yes, it was an excellent grounding for the study of other languages, among other things. It also helped us to speak and write correct English.

    Nowadays people often click their tongues in annoyance when you complain about someone using incorrect English. “What does it matter if the language in incorrect, so long as you know what it means?” they ask. Then they buy a new house, and sign a contract, and pay a solicitor one or two or three thousand pounds to make sure that the language is correct.

    Not long ago we had the British Foreign Secretary saying, “The immediate instinct of the Prime Minister and I was clear.” At around the same time we had a member of the British House of Lords saying, “I felt it was my duty to help in any way I could both he and the Labour Party.”

    Quare comeejins. Of course both gentlemen probably abound in wonderful “skills” that you and I are unable to appreciate.

  • “Not long ago we had the British Foreign Secretary saying”

    “The British Foreign Secretary said recently” is so much neater, David 😉

  • Barnshee

    “Not long ago we had the British Foreign Secretary saying”

    “The British Foreign Secretary said recently” is so much neater, David ;)”

    May be neater but it loses the the opportunity of vocal tone to nuance “not long ago we had the (ungrammatical) British Foreign Secretary saying”….

  • cynic2

    I have a suggestion.

    Why don’t we simply wipe out the whole infrastructure and free up the schools using the money saved to increase their budgets. Let anyone / parents group who wants set up a school and pay on capitation. Enforce an 80% cut in staff in the Department

    Have one team of inspectors who simply rigorously monitor performance and attainment. Give Head Teachers control of everything including budgets and salaries.

    I know it will never happen as all those Councillors, clerics, hangers on will have nothing to fill their day or, in some cases, wallet. It would also destroy at a stroke the Shinners power to destroy the system.

  • David Crookes

    Nervin, neater than what? “We had” is aphetic for “we had to endure”, or “we were presented with the spectacle of”, as if Cicero in one of his letters were to say “tum tibi dicit”. What you say is not what I wanted to say.

    Years ago one of the ‘style consultants’ or ‘house readers’ at OUP crossed out the word “extensibility”, which I had used in reference to the slide of a Renaissance trombone, and wrote in “possible extension”. The loser who throttled my text thought that I had made the word up. Of course he or she never bothered to check the OED.

    A S Byatt was complaining not long ago about the sort of wet-behind-the-ears ‘editor’ who goes through her carefully crafted prose and changes all the WHICHes into THATs.

    Cynic2, go for it. Wipe out the useless and malign infrastructure called educationism. Death to the evil juggernauts of jargon.

  • Well, I’ve checked the OED, David, and it defines ‘aphetic’ as a the loss of a vowel at the beginning of a word eg esquire > squire.

  • David Crookes

    OK, Nevin, I was using the word humorously in the general sense of the Greek word ἄφεσις, but in truth I’m well and truly caught, so I apologize to you heartily!

  • Does “neater” mean “better”? It ain’t necessarily so,Joe.

    HT to Ira G.

  • David, does this Greek work not refer to a different type of sentence? 😉

  • David Crookes

    Nevin, I’m compelled to fall back upon the dictum of one Dumpty, H.

    Thanks for not taking any nonsense. Most of my other friends fall asleep when I go into lexical mode.

    Let me be serious for a moment in case Brian annihilates us both by breathing out a great sheet of flame. One of my best friends said to me sadly twenty years ago, ‘I was brought up at a time when there was very little money around, and my children have been brought up in an age of plenty, yet I have had to face the fact that my children will never be anywhere near as well-educated as myself.’

  • David, thanks for introducing me to a domain that’s new to me; I enjoyed the challenge 🙂

    There’s stuff being done in our name in the educational realm that needs a strong light shone on it; some folks have even contacted the ombudsman but the latter may lack the scrutinising tools necessary to expose any shenanigans. As so often in the past, the guard-dogs may lack both bark and bite.