If you are passionate about education or development this is an article that might shock you if you have not come across the phenomenon before. The Guardian has posted an article claiming that some secondary schools are manipulating various aspects of the GCSE process to maximise the volumes of children who achieve the standard target of 5 GCSEs at Grade C and above. The paper claims this goes to the extent of emphasising resources on special “target intervention groups” or TIGs which consist of borderline C/D students at the detriment of other, more or less academically achieving students. In addition by choosing a potentially soft option Btec award for some students (counting as 2 GCSEs in the final analysis) and its accompanying low level of external scrutiny on the 100% assessed coursework, some schools are clearly trying to present a more successful educational picture than actually exists.
Or are they?
If you are a business minded person all this makes sense. By opening schools up to more market influences, running them like small businesses, their success depends on how well those exam scores come up. In which case the MD/CEO (See head teacher) has every right to seek every competitive edge to maximise on income and success even at the cost to local competitors. In short the short-long term survival of the school has become the focus of the schools output and not the quality of the education of the pupils within.
To me this suggests that our schools are coming closer to the capitalist ideal – it’s now up to the pupil and the parent to get the best out of the school and the education system, not for the system to provide the best opportunities. You can see this reflected in many companies’ approach to staff development – you get the basics but if you want to go any further, then that is entirely down to you. The function of the school is to be attractive to consumers (Parents and the Government in this case) in order to ensure its continuing profitability (which for a school can be measured in a variety of ways). In essence as a western liberal capitalist democracy we have little to complain about here.
I know I bang on about it a considerable amount, but this adds fuel to the argument of getting Education away from politicians and to redefine its connection with society because here is a perfect example of how society and political ideology have a negative impact on our children.