Up until about 1987, the CSE and GCE ‘O’ level syllabi were in operation in both secondary schools and further education colleges. These qualifications gave all learners a rigorous education in all subjects, even for those taking the lesser examination at CSE level, thus preparing them for the rigours of the GCE ‘A’ level and degree subjects at universities and polytechnics alike.
During 1988, the much easier GCSE examination was brought into effect in England, doing away with up to 30% of the topics studied in the old ‘O’ level Mathematics course which, as a 43 year old Mathematician and Engineer with two degrees to my name, I am qualified to comment upon.
The topics that have been examined in the GCSE Mathematics examination ever since 1988 have been made excessively easy to answer with, for example, quadratic graphs along with their scaled axes almost completely drawn for the student being examined. Other examples of areas where the syllabus was dumbed down are:
- exponential numbers and functions
- differential and integral calculus
- integration of functions, in order to determine areas under curves.
- radian angular measure.
All these important topics have been deferred into the first or second year of the ‘A’ level.
These issues are only a few of the things I can think of but it is clear that the GCSE Mathematics examination contains no rigour at all, even after all the massive debates over the years about this problem, along with mediocre and piecemeal attempts to rectify this un-educative examination. There is absolutely no comparison between the GCSE and pre-1988 syllabi and examinations at all.
It seems to me that politicians from all the three main established Westminster parties, along with the ‘woolly’ and liberal educationalists, have deliberately sought to not only disenfranchise and deskill a large proportion of English people, but prevent them from moving up the social and economic ladder, as part of some great experiment or even conspiracy to maintain both political ideologies and the status quo of the ruling class.
Furthermore, to add insult to injury, these policies have resulted in creating a huge sub-class of people right across the Country. These are the disaffected learners, both young and old, who I have had to personally struggle in vain to teach over the last 17 years, with very little positive outcome with regards to their basic education. Many of them cannot perform the most basic of operations, such as the multiplication of two simple numbers or even simple division, which they should have learnt at primary school. Many cannot even distinguish between the perimeter of a regular two-dimensional object, such as a square, and its area. When I suggested to two female interviewers, recently, after my application to teach Functional Skills Mathematics at a college in Leeds, that I might even attempt to gently introduce the notion of the circumference of a circle to those learning Landscape Architecture, the two women displayed a considerable air of agitation. Their words of astonishment were, ‘oh they wouldn’t understand that’. I was consequently rejected as a candidate, largely because they felt that I would be better suited to teaching at a higher level.
However, my feeling is that learners, whilst finding certain concepts difficult, need to be pushed that extra mile, otherwise they will never learn, or be able to think for themselves and progress in order to thus contribute to both society and the economy. This notion seems to be a complete anathema to many educationalists and bosses within schools, further education settings and Westminster.
Also, the added problem of membership of the European Union, together with the principle of Open Borders, thus allowing many unskilled immigrants to come and live and work here, has simply not helped either. Now these immigrants are flooding in to Britain, despite the efforts to curb this problem by the governing leadership, and such an influx is having a further knock on effect in British society.
For example, many commentators have alluded to these Europeans’ acquisition of the indigenous population’s jobs for even lower pay in many cases. This has caused a further squeeze on British society, therefore disenfranchising our natives even more, leading to a whole new set of problems, including a huge decline in society, an abandonment of British values, a damaged economy, an ever higher population resulting in a squeeze in housing and total breaking point in the National Health Service.
It is now becoming more likely that I for one will refrain from returning to teaching many of these individuals in society, as without a complete change of Government, and at least a complete change of policy, things are only going to get worse in every respect.
In particular, the whole political and educational establishment needs to completely change its attitude to the education of learners, through school and college up to ‘A’ level standard. Michael Gove’s efforts to bring back the old ‘O’ level syllabi was a noble attempt to re-instate real rigour into all subjects, thereby giving learners a complete chance to realise their dreams of something better. I am not convinced at the moment that the re-vamped GCSEs, commencing in 2016, will be any more challenging than anything that has gone before them – we will have to wait and see on that matter.
Another aspect for re-invigorating British society must be the immediate withdrawal from Europe, as soon as possible, so that any current or future Government is able to prevent much immigration from this autocratic and law imposing union, with the result of an improvement in British values for all people living here.
I do believe that no current Westminster political party will put these policies into effect and, even if the Conservatives do maintain their promise of a referendum after the 2015 general election, should they win, that Cameron will make every attempt to avoid withdrawal from Europe, by lying through the skin of his teeth to the British electorate, just as he has always done so before.
It is clear to me, given all these issues, that it is now time for a change in British politics and that UKIP is by far the best political party that can effectively deliver the policies that this Country so desperately needs and deserves.