And still they come, bravely and selflessly pouring over the top in service of their generously remunerated editors who have never seen the inside of a state secondary school, to bring readers who must be beginning to tire of the subject yet more unequivocal support for Michael “Oiky” Gove and his ill-thought-out proposal to take the examination system back over 25 years.
Maybe not such a visionary after all
In justifying this line, they cite opinion polls – never the best measure of respondents’ actual understanding – as showing support for the idea of reintroducing the “O” level and something sounding rather like the CSE as a replacement for GCSEs. But the questions asked, and how they are structured, is not told, and this is important: if voters are given the idea that standards will rise, of course they will show support.
For this is another of those ideas that is simple in its articulation, while showing that it is potentially disastrous, and that much of the froth generated in its support is simply wrong-headed and full of falsehood and misinformation, is less straightforward. So it will enjoy a few days’ support, until the weight of real world information, backed with the historical reality, cause Gove and his cheerleaders to think again.
A quick studio visit before hopping on the District Line
That thought, though, has not been allowed to enter the world of the fawning pundits who are still lining up to praise the Education Secretary, typified by Matthew d’Ancona at the Maily Telegraph, who talks of “an aggressive Conservative proposal being unleashed”, and that “The sheer swashbuckling surprise thrilled Tory MPs”. Michael Gove is not appearing as Errol Flynn at a cinema near you.
It’s no better over at the Daily Mail, where the Vagina Monologue has once more wheeled out Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips to talk of a “stunning set of proposals” and that “welfare and education account for a very high proportion of Britain’s grievous slide into demoralisation and decline”, before she loses it completely, froths at the mouth and falls over backwards.
Only Suzanne Moore – who of course also contributes to the deeply subversive Guardian – appears to bring a little reality to proceedings, as she records her lack of total satisfaction with the current situation, but does not buy into the Gove proposals, telling “His convictions are real but deeply wrong”. She would rather fix what needs fixing, which the return of the “O” level guarantees not at all.
But what of that OECD ranking that has supposedly “plummeted”? Well, these have only been going since 2000 – 15 years after GCSEs were introduced. The UK’s position declined between 2006 and 2009, which, given the length of a pupil’s secondary education, cannot be tied directly to the GCSE, nor to any governing political party. That is why so many have misgivings about Gove’s ideas.
If only the pundits would look before leaping. It was ever thus.