Employment and Skills

Education and the Four Yorkshire men

Education and the Four Yorkshire men

It is not often that a thirty year old joke becomes a relevant commentary of the contemporary political environment, but I can’t help feel that Monty Python’s Four Yorkshire men sketch is increasingly becoming an accurate description of UK Education Policy.

During the Monty Python sketch, four Yorkshire men complain about modern society, how things were so much harder when they were young and ultimately better.  It seems that this is how the education system is currently viewed by some policy makers.

For years the Government and stakeholders have been saying that exams are getting too easy and today Ofqual confirmed this in a series of reports.  It is therefore likely that in response, exams will be made harder.  It is not just the curriculum which has received criticism; teachers have been getting a hard time of it as well.  There have been calls from the Education Committee to place teachers on a payment by results system, the manner in which this will be measured hasn’t been agreed but it will probably focus on exam results.

So harder exams and better teachers, sounds like a great plan, however there is one major issue with this proposal.

The current system has been criticised time and time again as being too academically focused, leaving young people completely unprepared for work.  Will a system which will put even greater pressure on teachers to deliver higher grades in more difficult assessments give any scope to develop other skills such as time management, interpersonal skills, adaptability and creativity? Probably not.

What must be achieved is a way of quantifying educational attainment and encouraging a well-rounded education system which will allow teachers to develop the skills amongst their pupils which can’t actually be tested in conventional ways.  Instead the proof will lie in the employability of school leavers.

Let’s not be like the four Yorkshire men let’s look forward and create a new system which allows young people to effectively engage in a rapidly changing and evolving economy.

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