Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Despite a doubling in the amount spent per primary and secondary pupil, attainment levels have remained flat"

Sound familiar? Detroit or DC? No. Scotland. The Leftist idea that money is the solution to everything constantly fails but they never lose faith in it. And they accuse business of being money-mad!

Analysis by Reform Scotland shows that despite a doubling in the amount spent per primary and secondary pupil, attainment levels have remained flat. “It is clear from the research that the extra spending is simply not delivering value for money,” Geoff Mawdsley, director of Reform Scotland, said. “Put another way, billions of pounds have been spent in the last decade to little or no effect.” While spending per pupil has risen from £2,092 to £4,638 at primary level and from £3,194 to £6,326 at secondary schools, the proportion of those gaining five good grades at the end of fourth year has fallen from 47 per cent to 46 per cent.

Reform Scotland also claimed that data it had obtained showed that pupils in England who had been lagging behind Scotland in 1998 are now ahead, with the number achieving equivalent grades rising from 36 per cent to 48 per cent. The Scottish education system has long been regarded as among the best in the world, but the report claims that this view is now a myth.

Mr Mawdsley called on the Scottish government to publish more information about pupils' performance. “Using the measure of the pupils attaining five good grades by S4, including maths and English, would be a good start,” he said.

Reform Scotland also urged ministers to look at best practice from other countries and said that the government should consider a report it published this year, in which it argued for parents to be given more power to choose which school to send their children to. The report said that parents from poor backgrounds should be given credits of up to £10,000 to allow them to send their children to independent schools.

Responding to the latest report, Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “This shows that the way devolution has been administered has not provided value for money for Scots. Politicians who only have the power to spend money without having to worry about where it comes from are never going to be as responsible as those who have to keep an eye on the income side of the ledger.”

The report provoked a furious response from a former Scottish minister in the previous Labour-Lib Dem Executive, who said: “Reform Scotland has produced a series of reports, none of which has contained any original research or thought. It is simply regurgitating right-wing ideas which have failed in Scotland in the past. To call them a think-tank is an abuse of the word ‘think'.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “There is no doubt that Scotland can do better in education performance. That is why we are now embarking on the biggest reform in education for a generation.”

Reform Scotland's report comes as a former Labour economic adviser claimed that devolution has had an adverse effect on public services in Scotland. John McLaren, who worked for the late First Minister Donald Dewar, also said that the education system had been particularly affected, with performance lagging behind that in England. His report commissioned by The Sunday Times to mark the tenth anniversary of devolution said: “One can tentatively conclude that government being closer to the people has not led to improved relative performance in Scotland. In fact it may have had the opposite effect.”

Both reports' findings were dismissed by Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the teaching union Educational Institute of Scotland, who said: “Scotland continues to send a higher proportion of pupils on to higher education than England does, and if things were as bad as is being made out that wouldn't be happening.” [Would that be because there are substantial tuition fees in England but none in Scotland? Never trust a Leftist to give you the full facts]


British Teenagers don't know how to write a letter, say education chiefs

Letter writing is becoming a lost art, according to education chiefs. They said teenagers are increasingly unlikely to be able to address a letter correctly, spell 'sincerely' or sign off with their name. Basic punctuation is being abandoned as emails, text messages and gossip magazine-style 'cliches' take over. It is feared that youngsters will be handicapped by their failings, particularly when applying for jobs.

The problems were highlighted by the country's largest exam board, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, in a series of reports on last summer's English GCSEs. In one question, candidates were found lacking when asked to address a letter to a Government minister about education.

'There were surprisingly few who: put an address, included a date, wrote an appropriate salutation, signed off appropriately and consistently with the salutation, included the name of the sender,' the report said.

Of another paper, which also called for the writing of a letter, the alliance said: 'The misuse or lack of capital letters were the commonest errors, an error often compounded by poor hand-writing and illegibility. Initial letters in sentences are frequently written in lower case; random capitals are used throughout the response, and the personal pronoun "I" is written in lower case. 'Inaccurate sentence structure where punctuation is almost entirely lacking, or where sentences are loose and lack accurate sentence breaks abounded.'

Meanwhile, examiners at Oxford and Cambridge have warned about the death of the apostrophe due to increased use of text messaging. They criticised pupils' limited vocabularies, which left them 'trapped firmly in the world of magazine-speak and dully predictable cliche; such as "you will love it".'

Examiners agreed that 'sentence construction, spelling and boundary punctuation were becoming less reliable'. Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: 'Everyone from time to time needs to be able to write a formal letter. It is worrying if children aren't picking this up as it will essentially handicap them in future.'


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