School’s A Scandal

The Accused

Messrs. Peter Peacock and Charles Clarke

The Charge

That they wantonly and negligently stand by and do nothing while our Education system lurches from crisis to crisis, leading to a dumbing-down of academic and social standards.

Case for the Prosecution

I have some questions. What has happened to our Education system? Why have examinations become so easy? Why are so many people being admitted to our universities to partake in courses that are unspeakably crass and ill-considered? Why do I increasingly see our educational institutions brimful of thick, badly-behaved little toads brandishing a clutch of unutterably useless, paper qualifications? Standard Grade Foundation Level? Have you ever witnessed this? The foundation level paper for French asks candidates to

– write their name (that’s worth 30%)

– choose the capital city of France from a list including Paris, New York and London (that’s worth 50%)

– and to ask what you would normally do with a baguette (that’s obviously worth the remaining 20%, a fact I mention for the benefit of anyone reading this who is practising for their Higher Mathematics examination and in need of a bit of arithmetical revision)

I know what I would do with it. It would involve the action of insertion, the nether parts of both Charles Clarke and Peter Peacock and swift movement. Clearly the baguette would need to be halved prior to insertion to meet its twin target, roasting notwithstanding, a feat best achieved by slicing the aforementioned baguette into two equal pieces; a fact I mention for the benefit of anyone reading this who is practising for their Higher Mathematics examination and in need of a bit of problem-solving revision with a geometrical slant.

A foundation or general pass standard grade says only one word to me. And that word is ‘loser’. But, I hear you opine, does it not say to you ‘This kid has worked d____d hard and while he may not be the sharpest tool in the shed at least he shows willingness and some kind of dedication so why not give him a chance, your honour?’

No. It does not.

If you are unfortunate enough to have received one of these pieces of paper as reward for your academic efforts and are reading this then I have two things to say to you. Firstly, it is not going to get you a job or prove your worth or persuade anyone that you will ever amount to anything worthwhile. Secondly, do you understand a single word of what I am saying? No. I didn’t think so. I make no apologies for saying it again because it most certainly bears repetition. Loser.

I have completely had this to the back teeth. Life is not easy. A lot of it is about achievement and reaching milestones. It’s about competition. It’s about proving your abilities to yourself and to other people who then make some key decisions about what is going to happen to you. It may be an employer giving you your first job or a bank manager giving you a loan to start a small business. If you are not good enough then you fail. Simple as that.

So why do we so readily shirk from failing these delinquents at school? Failure is as failure does. There would seem to me to be little point in deluding these perpetually under-achieving little ticks by falsely raising their hopes and engendering in their midst any illusion of adequacy by awarding them a meaningless, low-value qualification. Why, there are even awards for turning up! Excuse me? But is it not a legal requirement for a child to attend school? Yet, we feel a need to reward them with a certificate for doing what is required of them by the law! Why not go the whole hog and present them with a certificate for tying their own shoelaces, keeping themselves clean or remembering to breathe out after they have breathed in?

Let us now do what needs to be done. Consign them to the dustbin of academic natural selection at the first opportunity and stop them wasting the time of their fellow students and those poor saps who have taken it upon themselves to try and teach them something. Teach them something! Don’t make me laugh! The majority of our schools are no longer the seat of learning or groves of academe that we may remember from our youth. No more the chewed pencil and the furrowed brow! Our schools have become a haven for vicious little thugs who are given free rein to wield their particular brand of malice against staff and pupils alike, safe in the knowledge that any attempt to properly counter this behaviour will invoke castigation, under the banner of social inclusion, from shrewish, withered, badly-dressed, lentil-eating women who wouldn’t know the touch of a man from a washing machine and would have less chance of bearing a child of their own than Sister Wendy Beckett. At Lent.

Let them leave school unqualified and enter the world of the criminal, the layabout or the tradesperson. Better still, remove them now to a place where they can follow their own muse. An establishment like Guantanamo Bay, perhaps, far removed from the strictures of the Social Worker, the Curriculum Enhancement Officer or the Child Psychologist, has some obvious attractions. Let us allow the more academically-able to flourish and remove from a hard-pressed professional teaching staff the spectre of bullying, aggression and malevolence that invariably accompanies the low-life academic loser throughout his school ‘career’.

It’s not like the country is short of qualified graduates. It is bursting to the gunwhales with 21-year old media studies graduates all trying to get a job with the BBC on the strength of a 3000-word essay on “Alfie Moon: urban zeitgeist”. Yet you try and get hold of a reliable plumber.

There is little point in trying to run a country with only scientists. History shows that the humble hunchback also has his place.

The prosecution rests.

Case for the Defence

Record numbers of students are now applying for university places.

Verdict

Guilty as charged.

Sentence

I hereby decree that Mr Peter Peacock and Mr Charles Clarke should be taken from this court to a place of execution, otherwise known as an inner-city secondary school, and there be subjected to ritual abuse, verbal and physical assault, disrespect, bullying and teachers’ whining until they see some sense. I would also warn them that I would not expect to see them up before me a second time.