Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, says schools should teach children to obey the law. Current guidelines are to help children make an "informed decision" whether to obey it or break it.
Could our state education system follow the financial system into a downward spiral of chaos? There are similarities, so perhaps it could.
The financial system was brought down by faulty mathematical models and over-optimistic forecasts. And, of course, incompetent managers and regulators, who failed to use their common sense.
The state education system is run on similar lines: incompetent optimists are promoted beyond their capabilities and anyone with the courage to say, ‘Hold on, this doesn’t make sense’ is marginalised.
Content has been removed from the curriculum to be replaced by politically correct, value-changing psychobabble. National tests and exams have been dumbed down so they are completely unreliable. Any
school that tries to uphold an ethos of good discipline and high standards is undermined by ministerial policies, such as complicated admission codes to ensure it takes its share of difficult pupils.
The pretence of ‘social justice’ is used to compel top universities to offer places to ill-prepared students so their standards are driven down. And the truth is hidden by ineffective regulators such as Ofsted
and Ofqual, who meekly accept the manipulation of raw results – all helped by self-seeking politicians who hold the power, but cleverly shield themselves and their allies from honest accountability.
In 1999, the Department for Education (now the Department for Children, Schools and Families) and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority published a ‘statement of values in education’. The
statement appeared in official handbooks for teachers under four headings: The Self, Society, Relationships and The Environment. It stated that: ‘We should make truth, integrity, honesty and goodwill
priorities in public and private life.’
So why is there so much misinformation, deceit, dishonesty and ill-will in the state educational establishment, as anyone who regularly deals with it will know?
Perhaps the answer is that politicians have encouraged a culture of deceit among the producers (the establishment) to ensure that the ‘consumers’ (young people and their parents) do not know the truth about the mismanagement and downright dishonesty that is endemic in the system?
Yet, as Peter Oborne pointed out in his book, The Rise of Political Lying (Simon and Schuster, 2005), good government is impossible in a culture of deceit and spin. Nor is it possible when objective evidence is suppressed.
Incidentally, the ‘statement of values in education’ also recommends that educationists should ‘help people to know about the law and legal processes’. It urges that everyone should ‘respect the rule of law and encourage others to do so.’
The key point here is that no-one is being told to obey the law. The recommendation is that people should know ‘about’ the law, then make their own ‘informed decision’ whether or not to obey it. But if responsible adults obfuscate like this, how can anyone expect young people, with little knowledge or experience, to know what to do? It’s easy to ‘respect’ something and still ignore it – which as exactly what happens in the real world.
There’s another, wider question here: to what extent do Conservative politicians and their officials, especially at the local level, ‘make truth, integrity, honesty and goodwill priorities in public and private life’?
Central government is too big and powerful. But how many local councillors seriously encourage more freedom for individual schools? And how many have now become so caught up in the socialist culture of misinformation and deceit that they, too, are struggling to maintain the confidence of the public they are supposed to be serving?
Do they work for the system or the public that elected them?
With notable exceptions, the signs are not auspicious.