Saturday, October 08, 2011


I've just been reading the local council magazine. It is bursting with pride at the high standard of educational results in this council area, the best in Scotland. I can't argue with that given that was the reason I moved to East Ren in the first place. The whole education system, however, needs an overhaul - to help the kids, to help academics and also prospective employers.

Records have been broken once again both in Marcel's high school and the local catholic high. Between 30 and 40% of the pupils last session received 5 A Highers. That represents 128 kids in one school alone! Now, the kids have not become major geniuses since my day when two or three pupils a year got straight As in a state school (in the same council area). Indeed many who did not achieve straight As went on to 1st class honours degrees and PhDs.

In my day if you got five As, you knew becoming, say, a top surgeon was within your grasp. The country does not need 128 top surgeons coming out of every school in East Ren and while some of these kids will be capable of that, others, with the same results on paper, would have found university courses hard in my day.

This current system is helping no one. The kid who gets 5 As at 70% believes he's as capable as the one who gets 5 at 95%. Why wouldn't he? This is giving the child unrealistic expectations in a country with high youth unemployment. The (overworked) academic (of which I know many given my line of employment) has no way of seeing which 10 of the 130 kids are to be admitted to the hardest courses so are forced to waste weeks interviewing kids with again, no way of differentiating between good and brilliant. Introvert and brilliant get rejected in favour of average but extrovert and courses, where fees are about to be high, are failed left, right and centre. The employer has the same issue.

I believe it would be less cruel to go back to a system where fewer people received top marks - set the A barrier at 95% if necessary, so we have a way of seeing real genius. I would much rather my kids received realistic grades that reflected their true abilities than they became one of a not-very exclusive club!

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