Dear John Patten: To the Education Secretary from a confused 16-year-old student

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
I've been reading about your plans to introduce a more demanding starred grade at A-level, and I have an idea. You should market it as a board game, and get it in the stores in time for the Christmas rush. Demotivate The Nation's Youth would sit nicely between Monopoly and Battleship on the shelves at Hamleys. The object is to reprimand the increasing number of students getting As at A-level. I'm just a bit confused because I thought it was Tory philosophy to reward people who do well. You'll have to explain the rules more slowly to those of us who aren't so bright.

Is it like Snakes and Ladders, where you work very, very hard for something and then have it taken away from you? I was just getting used to the game as it was: if you are clever and put in a lot of effort, you do well. Was it that too many people were winning and you got bored?

The problem with board games is that some people take them so seriously. Some teenagers get caught up in the Grades game as if their whole future depended on it.

I know you worry about cheating: the two groups you seem to mistrust most are young people and clever people. This is a perfect opportunity to punish them both. But don't you think it's possible that students are getting better grades because they're working harder? Perhaps they've been trained by the GCSE coursework system to discipline themselves. GCSEs mean you have to work consistently throughout the course, rather than just for the exam. They make students think for themselves more than O-levels did so that they are less afraid to voice their opinions. One of these, offered by a very clever girl in my history class, is that your educational reforms are designed to keep the nation's youth ignorant so that they'll keep this government in power. (Some rude children even say that your hairstyle should disqualify you from dictating intelligence tests.)

So you're absolutely right - regulate us all, have us doing a national curriculum and then exams where we regurgitate what you tell us. That will stop sparks of inspiration and creativity and put the high fliers in their place. You want universities to look for starred grades rather than just stinky little As. Which is another rule I don't understand: your intention is to reverse falling standards, but you want fewer people to go to university. I suppose you're just trying to save money. Thrifty Mr P.

And don't worry about investing too much in your new board game. You wouldn't have to put too much money into it - just provide one board between 17 children. I, my fellow students and the teachers who have worked so hard to get us good grades all look forward to playing your game.

I hope it does work as an entertainment, because it sure is a terrible idea for an education system.

(Photograph omitted)

Comments