Decent education has had its chips, the government has decided to take out-saucing into a new dimension. We're to have have A levels run and designed by Ronald McDonald. I can see it now, rows of students turning over their exam papers and all removing the gherkin, placing it carefully to the side.
The exams, QCAs, are likely to acquire their own disparaging nick names soon enough. My money is on 'quick, cheap arsewipers' but you may have your own thoughts.
There's nothing wrong with vocational education but there has to be some concern that this kind of cheap and cheerful corporation pleaser is not the best route for those hoping to develop transferable skills.
As the Telegraph points out "Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment research at the University of Buckingham, cast doubts on the validity of such qualifications outside the companies in question. He said: “Employees may find they are locked into that business because these awards don't have credibility outside the company, like GCSEs, A levels or NVQs do. The qualifications would be more valuable to holders if they were awarded by an independent body.”"
Susan says "Vocational courses - fine. Let's have more electricians, plumbers and young engineers equipped with the skills they need. But yet again this Government is kow-towing to the CBI and following a corporate agenda... Something ironic, isn't there , about lecturing the nation on obesity - and offering academic studies in quarter-pounders and how to serve them better."
Susan is not the only blogger concerned that this is more about the short term desires of the CBI than the interests of the young. The ever interesting Janine says "The CBI approves, deputy director-general John Cridland saying that the move is ‘a significant milestone on the road to reforming qualifications so that they better reflect the skills and competencies employers and employees need.’ And there you have it – this is about what employers need;"
Norfolk Blogger rightly has words of warning against the snobbery doled out to those with dead end pointless jobs, but I'd say it's possible to oppose the company in the interests of the workers. After all there are few kids growing up hoping in their heart of hearts to be MacDonalds workers, and those that do need immediate re-education. We need fulfilling work, as well as proper pay and conditions, after all we spend half our waking life at our employer's beck and call.
Business may want to dictate the curriculum, and the government may want to let them but I wonder if this by-passes the discussion about what education is for. Is it to deliver vacuum packed units to the production line of life, or is it to help develop critical, thinking humans who can strive and desire - who can make this a place worth living in.
What values are flybe, the budget airline, to teach its charges? When we have Network Rail teaching good management, whose version of good management will we get?
The way I see it we do need an education system that prepares us for the world of work. One that develops skills and develops the soul. One that tells us what a union card is for, and informs us of what to do when our health and safety is put in jeopardy by our employer. As it stands we get a very one sided preparation for the workplace.
Alas, both Tory and Labour governments have consistently failed this generation of school kids by placing their development in the hands of an ever more casualised and privatised system. One that sees three gold stars on your MacDonalds badge as the ultimate achievement "ordinary people" can hope for.
Dave says "Guess which schools will be putting up the candidates for McA-levels? Gordon Brown may be doing all he can to talk up the fast food chain’s initiative, but somehow I don’t expect that the certificates will ever be prominently featured on his sons’ CVs." Damn right.
For the Brown's of this world the small fry of the Earth are simply there to fill the supersized coffers of the richest on the planet. We should reject these proposals out of hand - and when they're off the table we should ask this government, ever so politely, "would you like a kick up the arse with that?"