Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brown's's mostly Balls!

Here's a little vignette to warm the cockles of your heart - or not, as the case may be!

This concerns my wife's younger sister's daughter, my niece I suppose, although I do not know much about her as she is a very morose teenager with little or no communications skills. She hardly ever (actually, never) interacts with me on the few occasions I have met her. Apparently, she is a strongly committed vegetarian who wants to work with animals. Fair enough. However, she has had an undistinguished academic experience at school and consequently only has a few GCSEs at A to C level - in fact, mostly at 'C' or below. But she was sufficiently motivated to stay on at school in the sixth-form. Good for her you might say.

But, by last Christmas she became de-motivated and dropped out of school. Now, I am not sure what happened to cause this, other than it appears the workload she and her fellow students were given was so minimal that they spent more time on "home study" than in actual lessons. (Amazing! When I was in the sixth-form we were expected to spend all day in school attending classes or studying in the library.)

So, how does she spend her time these days? Well, she has signed on at the local Job Centre Plus so she can claim job seekers allowance. (Whether she passes on any of these payments to her parents who are still funding her I do not know.) She says she is going to apply for a further education course in September which will help her gain the basic qualifications she needs if she wants to work with animals in the future.

Her aunt (Mrs Ted - who is of the old school, like me) suggested to her the other day that she might consider looking around for a job instead of sitting around on her (thin) arse all day and sponging off her parents. (Pulls no punches, does Mrs T!)

We heard today that she was called in for her fortnightly interview with Job Centre Plus and they had found her the ideal job. Two hours office cleaning on Sundays paying £5.00 per hour which would be deducted from her JSA!

So there we have it. This is Brown's Britain. A 17 year-old girl, not particularly academically inclined or interested, encouraged to stay on in an education system that is unable to deliver what she is capable of achieving; a Government-run job placement service that doesn't have any real jobs to offer; and a generation of under-educated and under-achieving young people who are not equipped with the skills and aptitudes that they will need to create a brighter future for themselves.

And then we have Ed Balls saying it's nonsense to say GCSEs are not sufficiently rigorous. Not only is he and Brown deluded but they will stand accused "in the court of public opinion" of perpetuating the underclass generation.

Shame on them!


subrosa said...

Oh Ted, if it wasn't so serious a subject it would be amusing.

In the latter part of my career I dealt with teenagers like your niece (they always wanted to work with children or animals) and this reminds me of those days. Not particularly happy days because it was evident, even under Maggie Thatcher, that the English comprehensive system was failing far too many youngsters.

I can't speak for the English system these days but the Scottish system has also been on the slide in recent years with more and more young people being encouraged to stay on at school rather than go into the world and broaden their horizons. Aren't 6th formers paid to stay on? I think somewhere I read they receive £30.

It can't be easy being an uncle but your wife is doing a good job of being an aunt :)

Ted Foan said...

Subrosa - I do worry about some of our young people and their life chances they will get. Politicians of all hues have tinkered with the education system and bodged most of what they have introduced over the last 30 years or so.

Paying kids to stay on at school speaks more about the convoluted tax credit system that Labour has introduced and the need to bribe parents as well as the kids.

You're right about Mrs T - she won't accept less than 100% effort from our 12 year-old son who is doing well because he is attending a comprehensive that still maintains the ethos of the old-style grammar schools. And it's working!

North Shore Boy said...

The rise of Chinese manufacturing amongst other things means that British industry does not require as much factory fodder as it did in the past.

Our whole society (not just schools etc) has never needed produce as many people who can think for and look after themselves in a highly interconnected global economy.

In the old days we used grammar schools to produce just enough people to populate the ranks of middle management and provincial solicitors and doctors offices. Everyone else (apart from the public school toffs who were in charge) spent their days pretending to work down the local factory or mine.

The solution? Eradicate Socialism. Focus on teaching business skills, science, and technology in schools. Stop paying benefits to scroungers. Bring back Maggie.