By Mark Wallace
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The nature of the politics curriculum itself hasn't yet been explored, though. Today, the Telegraph features a must-read piece by 18-year-old A-level pupil Carola Binney, who reveals quite how skewed politics courses have become.
The full piece is here, but here are a few choice extracts:
"…what the exam board Edexcel has to say on the subject of Conservative ideology in its most recent A-level Government and Politics syllabus is downright scandalous. Alongside some recognisable Tory tenets – such as “reform is preferable to revolution” – we were taught that the Conservative viewpoint consists of a “fear of diversity” and support for “social and state authoritarianism”."
Not only does conservatism get an officially-sanctioned kicking, socialism gets an easy ride:
"The equivalent entry on socialism contains such feel-good phrases as “social stability and cohesion, social justice, happiness and personal development” and doesn’t get any darker than a perfunctory mention of “conflict as a motor of history”. Which one would you pick?"
Making teachers deliver such biased and partial ideological pictures is bad enough, but pupils sitting the exams have to produce answers to fit such a skewed world-view, too. Helpfully, the exam board publish lists of arguments which will receive marks:
"Not one of the five suggestions given as a potential answer to the question “Why has the Coalition government tried to reform the benefits system?” mentions improving lives by freeing people from the welfare trap; four are variations on “cutting costs”. The marking scheme for the question “ 'The Coalition government’s deficit-reduction programme goes too far, too fast. Discuss” provides nine bullet points in support and one against: hardly a discussion."
As I've written before, there are encouraging signs that younger voters are more supportive of conservative principles, particularly when it comes to public spending and the welfare state. It seems that the exam boards, as well as the teaching unions, are doing their best to counteract that shift with biased curricula like this.