Grumpy Old Sod Dot Com - an internet voice for the exasperated. Sick of the nanny state? Pissed off with politicians? Annoyed by newspapers? Irate with the internet? Tell us about it!

Send us an email
Go back
11th September 2013: The world's gone mad and I'm the only one who knows
13th August 2013: Black is white. Fact. End of.
11th August 2013: Electric cars, not as green as they're painted?
18th June 2013: Wrinklies unite, you have nothing to lose but your walking frames!
17th May 2013: Some actual FACTS about climate change (for a change) from actual scientists ...
10th May 2013: An article about that poison gas, carbon dioxide, and other scientific facts (not) ...
10th May 2013: We need to see past the sex and look at the crimes: is justice being served?
8th May 2013: So, who would you trust to treat your haemorrhoids, Theresa May?
8th May 2013: Why should citizens in the 21st Century fear the law so much?
30th April 2013: What the GOS says today, the rest of the world realises tomorrow ...
30th April 2013: You couldn't make it up, could you? Luckily you don't need to ...
29th April 2013: a vote for NONE OF THE ABOVE, because THE ABOVE are crap ...
28th April 2013: what goes around, comes around?
19th April 2013: everyone's a victim these days ...
10th April 2013: Thatcher is dead; long live Thatcher!
8th April 2013: Poor people are such a nuisance. Just give them loads of money and they'll go away ...
26th March 2013: Censorship is alive and well and coming for you ...
25th March 2013: Just do your job properly, is that too much to ask?
25th March 2013: So, what do you think caused your heterosexuality?
20th March 2013: Feminists - puritans, hypocrites or just plain stupid?
18th March 2013: How Nazi Germany paved the way for modern governance?
13th March 2013: Time we all grew up and lived in the real world ...
12th March 2013: Hindenburg crash mystery solved? - don't you believe it!
6th March 2013: Is this the real GOS?
5th March 2013: All that's wrong with taxes
25th February 2013: The self-seeking MP who is trying to bring Britain down ...
24th February 2013: Why can't newspapers just tell the truth?
22nd February 2013: Trial by jury - a radical proposal
13th February 2013: A little verse for two very old people ...
6th February 2013: It's not us after all, it's worms
6th February 2013: Now here's a powerful argument FOR gay marriage ...
4th February 2013: There's no such thing as equality because we're not all the same ...
28th January 2013: Global Warming isn't over - IT'S HIDING!
25th January 2013: Global Warmers: mad, bad and dangerous to know ...
25th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
19th January 2013: We STILL haven't got our heads straight about gays ...
16th January 2013: Bullying ego-trippers, not animal lovers ...
11th January 2013: What it's like being English ...
7th January 2013: Bleat, bleat, if it saves the life of just one child ...
7th January 2013: How best to put it? 'Up yours, Argentina'?
7th January 2013: Chucking even more of other people's money around ...
6th January 2013: Chucking other people's money around ...
30th December 2012: The BBC is just crap, basically ...
30th December 2012: We mourn the passing of a genuine Grumpy Old Sod ...
30th December 2012: How an official body sets out to ruin Christmas ...
16th December 2012: Why should we pardon Alan Turing when he did nothing wrong?
15th December 2012: When will social workers face up to their REAL responsibility?
15th December 2012: Unfair trading by a firm in Bognor Regis ...
14th December 2012: Now the company that sells your data is pretending to act as watchdog ...
7th December 2012: There's a war between cars and bikes, apparently, and  most of us never noticed!
26th November 2012: The bottom line - social workers are just plain stupid ...
20th November 2012: So, David Eyke was right all along, then?
15th November 2012: MPs don't mind dishing it out, but when it's them in the firing line ...
14th November 2012: The BBC has a policy, it seems, about which truths it wants to tell ...
12th November 2012: Big Brother, coming to a school near you ...
9th November 2012: Yet another celebrity who thinks, like Jimmy Saville, that he can behave just as he likes because he's famous ...
5th November 2012: Whose roads are they, anyway? After all, we paid for them ...
7th May 2012: How politicians could end droughts at a stroke if they chose ...
6th May 2012: The BBC, still determined to keep us in a fog of ignorance ...
2nd May 2012: A sense of proportion lacking?
24th April 2012: Told you so, told you so, told you so ...
15th April 2012: Aah, sweet ickle polar bears in danger, aah ...
15th April 2012: An open letter to Anglian Water ...
30th March 2012: Now they want to cure us if we don't believe their lies ...
28th February 2012: Just how useful is a degree? Not very.
27th February 2012: ... so many ways to die ...
15th February 2012: DO go to Jamaica because you definitely WON'T get murdered with a machete. Ms Fox says so ...
31st January 2012: We don't make anything any more
27th January 2012: There's always a word for it, they say, and if there isn't we'll invent one
26th January 2012: Literary criticism on GOS? How posh!
12th December 2011: Plain speaking by a scientist about the global warming fraud
9th December 2011: Who trusts scientists? Apart from the BBC, of course?
7th December 2011: All in all, not a good week for British justice ...
9th November 2011: Well what d'you know, the law really IS a bit of an ass ...

 

 
Captain Grumpy's bedtime reading. You can buy them too, if you think you're grumpy enough!
More Grumpy Old Sods on the net

 

 
Older stuff
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
This article appeared in the Telegraph the other day. Written by Francis Gilbert, a serving teacher, it reveals the true state of British education - as if we didn't already know ...
 

 
The parent sobbed openly at the reception of the secondary school where I teach: "But it's not fair! You have to let her in!" Our secretary had to ask our caretakers to escort her off the premises. But she wasn't surprised. Every year, she gets hundreds of calls from panic-stricken parents wanting to know why their child didn't get into our over-subscribed comprehensive. Every year, she says the same thing: read the instructions in the admissions booklet very, very carefully. There's no way she can explain such a complex process over the phone. If she did, she'd never go home.
 
I teach in a very popular, co-educational comprehensive in outer London which gains some of the best results in the country. In common with many similar institutions, every year, over 400 applicants don't get an offer of a place. Much as we would like to take them, we have only one place for every three children applying. This year was no different: there were hundreds of bitterly disappointed families.
 
It's little consolation, but they might comfort themselves with the knowledge that they are not alone. On National Offer Day earlier this week, where parents discovered whether their child had been successful in applying for a place at secondary school, one fifth of parents didn't get their child into the school of their choice. In counties such as Kent, nearly a third of parents failed to get their preferred school.
 
It's no wonder thousands of parents are furious. A report from the London School of Economics published this week suggests that the whole system is in a state of chaos, with schools flagrantly flouting the rules asking parents for personal information including marital status, occupation and even children's hobbies and parents themselves being bamboozled by the arcane bureaucracy involved.
 
As a parent, teacher and writer who has researched this subject for years, I can only concur with the LSE's report. The central problem is that there is no consistency in the system: the rules or "admissions criteria" by which schools admit their pupils differ from school to school. There are a host of different rules when applying to grammar schools, academies, faith-schools, specialist schools and plain-old bog standard comprehensives.
 
If you're applying to a faith school, you usually have to prove you've attended church regularly for a number of years, live within the parish and have a glowing reference from your local vicar or priest. If you're going for a specialist school, you'll get preferential treatment if you can prove your child has an "aptitude" in that specialism. For example, schools that specialise in sports will often need to see references from coaches and team leaders. For grammar schools, you'll need to pay for a private tutor so that your child will excel in the 11-plus exam. And if you're going for a good local comp, you might have to consider selling your house and moving closer to the school or lying about your address, which increasingly parents are doing.
 
But even moving near a good school can backfire. Take Katie, who moved house so she could be near the only popular school in her area, a faith-based school which specialised in languages. She thought she had everything covered the attendance at church, the vicar's references, the proof that her son has an aptitude for languages only to find that in the year of her application her local authority switched to a lottery system: all the schools were allocated randomly. As a result, her application failed. She is now faced with the absurd prospect of having to drive her son miles away to a sink school, despite the fact that she lives next door to an excellent one. All her hard work was for nothing. "This Government has ruined my family's life," she told me, trying to hold back the tears.
 
Time and again, conscientious parents who have fought so hard to get their children into good schools have had their best laid plans smashed by idiotic Labour legislation.
 
But it isn't only the school admissions system that the Government has broken. It's the exam system as well. Since they arrived in 1997, Labour apparatchiks have done nothing but interfere with exams. Each new initiative has made things worse. The Sats exams for seven, 11 and 14-year-olds have been mired in controversy from the start, with claims from parents and teachers that they are irrelevant and put pupils under unnecessary pressure.
 
The situation was so bad last summer, when swathes of Sats papers were lost and thousands denied their results, that the Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, abandoned Sats for 14-year-olds and indicated that he was even considering scrapping the exam for all ages a ghastly admission of defeat.
 
Even more seriously, A-levels and GCSEs have lost their credibility. The Government trumpets that the number of pupils gaining five A*-C grades at GCSE has risen from 44 per cent to 65 per cent since 1995, but any teacher knows this supposed improvement is nonsense. Recent research by Durham and Cambridge universities shows that the exams have become so dumbed down that these statistics are meaningless and that far from fostering real learning, the exam system has made our children less intelligent than they were in the 1970s, when far less was spent on education.
 
Meanwhile, the world education rankings run by the respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the only really trustworthy league table there is shows Britain slipping from fourth to 14th for reading and from eighth to 24th for Maths. Put simply, most children from Europe and the Far East outperform our pupils every time even in English.
 
Our exam system has become such a joke that many schools are giving up on it. Just this week, one of our top independent schools, Manchester Grammar, decided to abandon GCSEs, on the grounds that they were too easy, and to replace them with the International GCSE (IGCSE). In a letter to parents, the head poured scorn on the new GCSEs that the Government is introducing this September, observing that they threaten teachers' abilities to do their jobs well: they are stuffed full of easy questions and coursework.
 
Quite why the Government is bringing back coursework when its own investigations have uncovered widespread cheating and plagiarism appears a mystery until you realise that coursework significantly boosts results. In other words, the revamp of GCSEs is a cynical ploy to manipulate the statistics. But as any experienced teacher knows, coursework has a corrupting effect upon pupils because it makes them believe they can cheat their way to the top.
 
A real educational apartheid is developing between the independent schools who are abandoning the government's testing regime and the rest of us in the state sector who are lumbered with it. Clearly, children who take the wrong GCSEs haven't a hope of getting into the top universities because they haven't had the opportunity to gain respected qualifications.
 
One of the consequences of the Government decimating our exam system is that the process by which students apply for university has become farcical. The fact of the matter is that our best universities have lost faith in GCSEs and A-levels and have introduced their own tests. As a result, students have to fill in a barrage of forms, write a personal statement and take numerous A-level exams before gaining a place, and are also compelled to take exams set by the suspicious universities particularly for popular courses such as medicine.
 
To make matters worse, the university admissions procedure is so haphazard that there is no uniformity over when the universities make their offers. So students are required to accept or reject an offer before they've heard back from all the places to which they have applied. Having been tested to the point of extinction, these poor students are frequently forced to sign up for inferior courses, even though they may have gained places on better ones. As with school admissions, one suspects this is a cynical ploy to make sure that the inferior universities are filled with students.
 
Our education system is failing on all counts: it is shockingly unfair, riddled with incompetence and corruption, and benefits no one but the bureaucrats. But while the pen-pushers enjoy enormous power and over-inflated wages, parents can see no end to their misery. Too many parents have watched helplessly as their children's education has gone down the drain: too many children have endured mediocre schools, taken too many worthless GCSEs, and saddled themselves with crippling debts to gain worthless degrees that lead nowhere but the dole queue.
 
Despite the phoney propaganda the Government peddles, Labour's incessant meddling, monstrous dumbing down and moronic self-righteousness have consigned our schools to the scrap heap. It pains me to say it, but our education system is as crisis-ridden as our banks.
 

 
The GOS says: There's a book by Francis Gilbert, "Parent Power: the complete guide to getting the best education for your child"
 

 
Grumpy Old Sod.com - homepage
 

 
Use this Yahoo Search box to find more grumpy places,
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Copyright © 2009 The GOS
 
This site created and maintained by PlainSite
Grumpy Old Sod.com - homepage

 

Captain Grumpy's
Favourites
- some older posts

 
Campaign
 
Proposal
 
Burglars
 
Defence
 
ID cards
 
Old folk
 
Hairy man
 
Democracy
 
Mud
 
The NHS
 
Violence
 
Effluent
 
Respect
 
Litter
 
Weapons
 
The church
 
Blame
 
Parenting
 
Paedophiles
 
The Pope
 
Punishing
 
Racism
 
Scientists
 
Smoking
 
Stupidity
 
Swimming
 
Envirocrap
 
Spying