Hope and glory

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The Independent Online

Pity poor Estelle Morris. Hardly a fortnight in the job and our Education Secretary comes up with a nifty wheeze that might actually do a bit of good. Given that some pupils are never going to become geniuses, why not encourage excellence in non-academic work by rewarding their achievements with a graduation ceremony. It might make them feel better about themselves – and even persuade some not to leave school at 16.

Try telling that to the unions, however. For them, this is just one more gimmick, meaning extra work in a dubious cause. "Mind-boggling stupidity" was one gracious epithet conferred on the plan. And, supreme sin, it's something the Americans do.

Paradoxically, however, this American import would stir our deepest patriotic juices. Let's go for the whole corny package: brightly coloured robes, mortar boards, valedictorians, commencement speeches and, of course, the rendition of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, obligatory at every high school from Maine to Mississippi. Who knows, given that every other device to make us better students has failed, non-academic graduation ceremonies might yet turn us into a Land of Hope and Glory.

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