Education Regression? Return to Victorian methods.

Filed under: Education,Innovation,Politics — lenand @ 7:34 am
Tags: ,

Two recent ‘innovations’ in education both seem rather regressive – at least in time.  Teach First and Tuition Fees.

Innovation 1

My grandmother was a Pupil Teacher in the time of Queen Victoria.  I suppose it was a form of apprenticeship for clever girls who acted as classroom assistants.  They learned on the job, studied at night school, and subsequently became qualified teachers.  At the time I doubt if there were any opportunities in higher education affordable to the majority of families.

What is the innovation a century later?  Clever adults with good motivation and qualifications teach first in classes without any teaching qualifications. They attend training courses and the objective is to become a qualified teacher, on the job.  There is a vast difference in how the programme operates – I am just comparing the principle.  People passing through the scheme will have done far more teaching practice than graduates following traditional Post Graduate Certificates of Education courses.

Innovation 2

My mother was also a clever child.  She obtained good A Levels in the late twenties.  She had the ability to go up to university for a three year degree with some of her classmates, but not the finances.  There were no grants or loans available for fees or living costs (this is hearsay for which I would need corroboration).   The family were able to scratch together enough for a two year teacher training course.  After 1945 it was possible for state grants to fund both tuition and maintenance at a university.  What a fantastic opportunity for academically gifted children!

The innovation (sick) is to turn the clock back to the depression of the thirties.  We are back into an era where wealth in the family is more important than natural ability.  Perhaps we will soon be asking school leavers to stay on and become pupil teachers.

Is it time to rethink of the higher educational policy of the country?  British education is well respected round the world and attract enormous numbers of well funded foreign students, but it risks disenfranchising too many poorer citizens.  It may be stretching a point as a Quarkside topic, but the governance of the UK’s education system may not achieve the outcomes intended.


1 Comment »

  1. The grants system worked well whilst a relatively small percentage of students, normally the accademically gifted ones, even considered going to university. Tony Blair’s policy of 50% of school leavers going on to further education, a policy designed to reduce the jobless figures, promoted the notion that everybody had the right no matter how dubious their qualifications. This of course is completely financially unsustainable and the results predictable. Hopefully the outcome will be to encourage more inventive approaches to personal funding.

    Comment by Allen — 01/12/2010 @ 8:58 am | Reply

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