Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Sign of Failure?

Rather than discuss the Budget today before it has happened, I will wait until tomorrow and look back at what vote-grabbing measures Gordon Brown has sent our way. He will always deny that it's an election Budget, but he would be a fool not to use it to his advantage in setting himself up as a better leader of Labour.

Instead, I will take a brief look at this interesting story that broke yesterday, on how universities plan to use more "access tests" in future.

Essentially, their argument is that it's very difficult to distinguish between A-grade candidates now. I have some sympathy: people are doing better, teaching is improving, the modular nature of the A-level means resits can be targeted, and sadly, children are now being taught with simply the exam in mind, as a result of our total exam culture.

But the problem here is that there was a solution on the cards, one which had the backing of everyone across the educational establishment. Yes, it was that good old report by Mike Tomlinson that was shelved last month by the government. But they decided that they couldn't possibly tinker with the "Gold Standard!" that is A-Levels, especially with an election just around the corner. Oh no.

Of course, they have selective memories, as they "tinkered" with A-Levels when they introduced Curriculum 2000, bringing in the AS-Level.

It is still remarkable that they never pushed ahead with this. The reforms for a diploma were a simple solution, embraced by all, and could easily have been implemented thanks to the strength of the Labour majority. Yet they decided, entirely voluntarily, that they couldn't upset the applecart. The excuses given at the time were pathetic and they mostly came back to the usual "Gold Standard!" rubbish.

But we all know why.

Nothing beats a good election to focus the minds of a government. It's just a shame that this time they were focused the wrong way.


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