“How have we gone from Top of the class to dunce in 60 years? That is the question about the education system that the Telegraph journalist asks. I would like to tell you some facts which will make the matter clear.
I used to have a friend who had been a Communist, but like many of them he made a “U turn” and joined us. He told me that in 1959 he was running a cell of six Communists in the Midlands. Now those Communists were not bushy haired, wild eyed terrorists, they were all ordinary people – the town surveyor, town librarian etc. When that hypocrite Harold Macmillan decided to “open up” education. (I meant dumbing down and inserting weak subjects into the curriculum”). My friend told me that they had received orders from Communist Headquarters that his whole cell should leave their present employment, and go into the education system – not only as teachers, but as administrators. This duly took place and the educational level immediately began to go further and further down.
One of the important institutions were the new Teacher Training Colleges. A friend of mine, who was in the Education Department at that time, was sent to a Teacher Training College to investigate why the college had made a statement which was clearly untrue. The reply from the college was “There is no truth”.
The educational level of any academic institution depends considerably on its level of grades, and the left wing educational system that now controls school grades dumbed them down. Previously only 5% of students received a 1st or an A. Now 15% or more succeed both at school level and university level. The government has been pressing universities to accept state school pupils. Sometime ago I attended a lunch at Cambridge with several distinguished Dons. Half way through the lunch the Don sitting opposite to me said half of his students didn’t know what they were doing and they had no business being there. Somewhat surprised I asked the other Dons for their opinions. They said three quarters of their students had no business being there.
Some years ago the newspapers reported that a black family leaving England had decided to go back to Barbados together with their children. As soon as they arrived, they put the children into school, and they were amazed to learn that the children had to be put back because the educational standard in the English educational system was lower than the standard in Barbados. In a recent survey of school children, half of them didn’t know where Edinburgh was, many thought that Cromwell fought in the First World War and several thought that Hitler was on our side in the Second World War. But the most terrifying result occurred when The Times gave a test, not for students, but for school teachers. The questions were not very testing – “What is the capital of West Germany”? “How do you spell the word embarrass”? Yet less than half of the teachers got the questions right. But there was one question that everyone got right which was “Who was Nelson Mandella”?
So it is clear that the standard in the UK cannot improve unless standards are raised considerably.