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Can Gove pass crucial test?

Byline: Joe Riley

AT LONG last, it''s back to school for properly graded A-Levels that matter, rather than amassing record numbers of so-called star grades that count for nought with many universities and future employers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has thankfully taken the big stick to a system which is producing degree-course students who cannot properly read, write or do basic arithmetic.

Some struggle to put a sentence together. Spelling and grammar have been devalued, and courses broken down into bite-sized modules which can be taken repeatedly to add to the kidology of achievement.

A-Levels (and GCSEs) have been dumbed down to suit a no failure agenda as part of a wider social engineering programme which has signally failed to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Is it any wonder that 60% of further education tutors are having to set up remedial lessons, because spoon-fed school pupils are lacking basic skills? Translated into hard economic fact, by the age of 15, British pupils are two years behind those in Shanghai in their ability to carry out research and to frame arguments. Not what''s needed to raise the future UK economy from its knees.

And all the more reason for as quick a fix as possible, with more credible A-Levels - set by experienced academic panels and not Whitehall mandarins chasing superleague pretence - being taught by September, 2014, and exam-tested by 2016.

Under the present system, too many exams are geared to box-ticking formula teaching, rather than truly testing a pupil''s personal intelligence to solve problems and develop theories through their own initiative.

For far too long, there has been a head-in-theclouds political notion of a prizes-for-all education system.

But, ultimately, who''s kidding whom? Like it or not, rigorous selection - not lowest common denominator evaluation - will always be what matters most to universities and businesses seeking to take on the best possible recruits.

Anyone in denial of this home truth is merely putting off the day when they have to join the real world.

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TESTING TIME: Education secretary Michael Gove - on a learning curve
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 5, 2012
Words:344
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