Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lock up the mother and leave nothing to chance

I read an amusing story in the Daily Telegraph today. Somewhere in Berkshire, a mother has been placed on curfew and tagged. Her crime? She failed to stop her daughter’s persistent truancy. As a result, the fun-loving mum will not be allowed out at night. Before I tell you what amused me so much, a few side issues:

1) why should she be held responsible for her daughter’s truancy when she has no right even to be told if the selfsame underage daughter was seeking an abortion?

2) what would placing her under curfew at night achieve? Surely, if at all she were to be compelled to force her daughter to attend school, her efforts should be concentrated on the daylight hours. I assume the school her daughter attends operates during the day?

Anyway, what amused me greatly was the reaction of Carol Horne (for that is her name). She declared that she was not bothered about her daughter missing school, as in her view, getting a job was "a matter of luck, not exam results".

And she is right. Standards in education are falling despite increases in Government spending. To compensate for that, exams are now so easy to pass that an A-level certificate is hardly worth anything in the workplace. Late last year, the National Audit Office had the cheek to suggest that employers might want to invest in literacy and numeracy classes for their employees. And university tutors are finding that they have to offer remedial classes in essay writing and the like to first-year students.

I doubt that La Horne had these considerations in mind when she made her declaration, but that notwithstanding, her statement is uncomfortably close to the truth. How does a potential employer distinguish between today’s semi-literate school leavers, all of whom waving a a sheaf of Grade A* GCSE and A-Level certificates? Might as well toss a coin.
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