BY FRANK HAVILAND
Once the envy of the world, British Education has lost its way of late. While we still have world-class institutions, almost three quarters of Britain’s universities have slipped down the world rankings. This is not a coincidence.
Education has been on the slide for decades now, something successive administrations have desperately tried to quell with soundbites. For John Major it was ‘back to basics’, which was well-intentioned but beset by sex scandals. When it came to Tony Blair it was ‘education, education, education’, and to be fair, Blair’s dream of half the population going to university has finally been achieved.
And yet, every reliable indicator of scholastic achievement highlights Britain’s decline. We do not for instance threaten the PISA top ten International School Rankings on any metric. The reasons for which are multi-faceted, yet transparent for anyone who dares to look.
For starters, sending half the population to university is insane; in 1960 it was just five percent, which was probably nearer the mark. To accommodate such vast change, degrees have had to be dramatically watered down to ensure thickos could graduate. Not only has this resulted in catastrophic devaluation of degrees themselves (worth just half what they were 20 years ago), but a state where university is financially injudicious for at least a quarter of all those attending.
At the same time, Britain has witnessed the demise of grammar schools. In the mid-1960s there were over 1,200, catering for 25% of state school pupils. In England now, there are a mere 163. The price of equality in terms of education has been a marked decrease in social mobility.
A chronic lack of discipline remains the elephant in the classroom, with teachers powerless to stop disruptive pupils, and exclusions almost impossible to achieve. It is no surprise that Asia (where tradition still rules) dominates on all measures of academic achievement. Discipline is high, as is the work ethic and respect for teachers; the results are hard to argue with.
I would add a fourth component, which is that in Britain it is no longer possible to actually teach anything. Any teacher naïve enough to attempt instruction is on a sticky wicket from the outset. Why bother, when you are likely to be suspended for ‘misgendering’ students while praising them, sacked for making a joke in front of them, or simply forced to quit after telling them off for late homework?
The situation is not much better for students either. In UK schools, thinking for yourself is now the most dangerous thing you can do. You get suspended for saying there are only two genders, disqualified from exams for considering Halal slaughter ‘absolutely disgusting’, or banned from school altogether if you’re a girl choosing to wear a skirt.
It doesn’t help that the entire canon is racist as well. You can’t teach maths, because that’s racist. Science is unfortunately racist too, and history, well I think we all know where we stand with that.
Then there’s the war on language itself, which begins in the classroom – by now an almost exclusively left-wing, and over-feminised domain. Toddlers are branded ‘racist’ for saying ‘yuk’ when trying spicy food for the first time. Pupils are no longer called ‘girls’ on the pretext of ‘inclusivity’, and are banned from using ‘sexist’ language, such as ‘man up’.
Assuming our children even make it to university, they are unlikely to encounter words like ‘genius’, ‘flair’ or ‘brilliance’, for fear of gender inequality. They are marked down for using outrageous words like ‘mankind’, ‘workmanship’, and ‘she’, while their campuses are routinely purged of disgusting utterances like ‘girls’, ‘waitress’ and ‘fireman’. Instead of encouraging discussion, undergraduates are given trigger warnings for set texts, and gender-neutral bathrooms to run to when reality gets too much.
It is set against such a depressing background that good news finally arrives, all the way from Down Under. The Australian Government has put its flip-flop down, and decided to completely reform its higher education funding.
From next year, the government’s contribution towards fees will vary depending on the economic viability of the degree: STEM subjects will get a considerable boost, alongside teaching and nursing, whereas anyone opting for a degree in Kangaroo Patriarchy, Bush Tucker Feminism or Marsupial Intersectionality will see around a 90% drop in government funding.
This is precisely the kind of forward thinking which ought to be the focus of any potential Boris educational reform, and something Gavin Williamson would be well-advised to look into.
I’ve always said Britain lost all our best people in the ‘pilgrimage’ to Botany Bay. Two and a half centuries later, it appears our antipodean cousins may just be starting the fightback we in Britain so desperately need. And for all those claiming this spells the death of the humanities, I couldn’t give a Castlemaine XXXX.