‘Education is like trying to run up a down escalator’

If Michael Gove gets his way, more teenagers will fail their GCSEs and A-levels.  Gove intends to make exam questions harder which will mean pass rates will fall after increasing every year for a decade.  At GCSE level, coursework will be phased out and more emphasis placed on written tests. Modularisation will be ended and schools will return to linear, end of course assessment. 

The Independent (22/2/12) quotes Gove on his intentions. He says that ‘Education is like trying to run up a down escalator’, strangely the same phrase we use in our book ‘Lost Generation? New  strategies for youth and education’ 


 For Gove ‘there will be years when, because we are going to make exams tougher, the number of people passing will fall. There are headteachers who have been peddling the wrong approach to teaching for too long, who are going to lose their jobs’

Unlike Gove, ‘we confront economic realities to show how the recession has intensified longer term changes in the relationship between education qualifications and the labour market. Even if there is a partial recovery, there will be a ratchet effect which will raise the bar to worthwhile employment at the same time as qualification inflation continues to devalue all qualifications with the effect that participating in education is like running up a down escalator.

Rather than the endless opportunities offered by the “knowledge economy”, for many young people – even many of those with qualifications – casualised, low-wage, contract and unskilled jobs are increasingly the only ones available; if they can find those! So, any increase in ‘high skilled’ and well-remunerated professional and managerial employment has not been able to absorb the increase in the level of educational credentials held by the population. The corollary is that people are overqualified for most jobs that remain.’ (p. 3 introduction)

Patrick Ainley and Martin Allen                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrVncCFG8rY

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