We Don't Need No Education

Following on from the story blaming Labour for the decrease in marriage, here's another one stirring up criticism of education under Labour.

The piece starts off as standard fare about a test set up by Learndirect, the Government funded organisation that helps people attain basic qualifications and skills. The test was similar to one I had to take before being allowed to do the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). I was a bit miffed as I have quite a few formal qualifications but hey ho, we all had to do it. Mine actually went on for about an hour and got progressively harder. It reached GCSE standard and I had a headache afterwards. I was pleased to get the top marks ever at the centre (how modest, Eric). I also understand that such tests are given to long term unemployed jobseekers regardless of whether they have a PhD or nothing.

The questions used in the article are quite simple but I know from experience that it is easy to make elementary errors (you should see me mark the board at darts).

Although the piece is in a quite light-hearted vein, there is a serious problem with basic literacy in the UK and shows the great divide between those with qualifications and those without. There is a separate argument over the standard of examinations and possible downgrading of qualifications but I shall leave that for another time.

This is not a new phenomenon; not even a Nu-Labour phenomenon. That doesn't stop the DM sheep from obeying the whistle. I love it when people talk about failing educational standards and then commit semantic suicide in the comments section. Any mistakes I make are of course down to typos or the German beer I was drinking.

My problem is not with the article; it says very little and is a mere window filler. It is written by Laura Clarke, who usually writes on education. This is merely regurgitating a press release and is more suitable for a local free sheet.

Learndirect is an admirable concept. Its remit is outlined on its website:

  • learndirect has been developed by Ufi (University for industry) with a remit from government to provide high quality post-16 learning which:
    Reaches those with few or no skills and qualifications who are unlikely to participate in traditional forms of learning;
    Equips people with the skills they need for employability, thereby strengthening the skills of the workforce and increasing productivity;
    Is delivered innovatively through the use of new technologies.
Note that the organisation deals with school leavers, a lot of whom are well past the leaving age. The problem of adult literacy has been with us for some time. In the 1970s there was the TV programme On The Move. The story attracted 50 (mostly) sneering comments:

  • I am over 60 and found this quiz to be childishly simple. Another example of how Labour has devalued education in England to the point where it is virtually non-existent.- Paul Ward, Beijing, China

So childishly simple that you didn't read the accompanying article. Where does it say that only people educated under Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan and Blair were tested? If you look at it logically only a few people who started school in say 1997 would be eligible for learndirect courses.

Although the study, conducted by Manchester University, does not specifically say that it targeted those on learndirect courses, it is clear that it is ADULTS that are targeted.

  • And I had thought that young Americans were stupid! Stupidity seems to be and issue in the UK, as well. If a 60 year old male can answer these trivial questions without a pause, what is wrong with the younger generation? I suspect that government education is at fault. I'm sure that George Orwell would have agreed.- Cliff, Duluth, Minnesota USA
I got all the questions right but if you asked me, 'What the hell is this American Idiot on about?', I'd have a problem. George Orwell?

  • Having just scanned through these mentally (including the so-called 'maths')before seven in the morning (I get up before six every day), I am astounded. What age groups of pupils are we talking about? The maths questions look nothing like the quadratic equations, trigonometry and basic Calculus we were expected to be competent in thirty-five years ago at the age of sixteen.- Dr Mike Bent, Spain
Doc, read the story and you'll see there is no mention of pupils. what is your doctorate in? Sangria drinking? The article is about BASIC numeracy and literacy which are useful in everyday life. If you wish to show off about how you studied calculus, be good as to post a comment in a relevant section. English comprehension wasn't your strongest subject. Truly remarkable example of shouting your mouth out without engaging the brain. Doh!

  • This is the result of 10 years of Blair's efforts at "education, education, education". It's totally pathetic.- Mark, England
This is only part of Mark's wisdom. He tells us how clever he is in the rest of it. So clever that he cannot do the maths - if I am 5 in 1997, Mark, in 2007 how old am I? Prick!

Hang on, what's this?

  • Well, I got all the English questions correct but only 3 out of 8 for maths. I've always struggled with maths and I don't think it was helped by the fact that back in the 80s I had very poor teachers in secondary school from the second year onwards.- Sassie, Scotland

But surely, and help me out here Mark, Labour lost power in 1979 and didn't retake No. 10 until May 2007. Maybe the teachers were educated under Labour then.

The last word, I think, should go to Charlie.

  • re: what time do you get home after the pictures?I always stop off for some chips on the way home so I added 15 minutes to my answer- Charlie, London