Fear not, you have not landed in unknown territory or on some virus-infected virtual planet. It’s me, and even when blue in the face I’m safe (to most people – I’m not making any promises here). I usually write on some writerly-related topic, but today I’ve reached THE BOILING POINT.
So my advice is – leave now if you don’t want to hear me moan. I mean grumble. GRUMBLE. British-style, fully-fledged, miserable whining.
This post is in protest of the schools’ habits of placing their pupils/students firmly between the proverbial rock and the hard place. Forgive my ignorance – perhaps the law has changed somewhat – but last time I looked education was supposedly free in the UK up to the happy age of 16 (changed to 18 this year).
So why, oh, why are children told to supply from their own pockets the articles without which they cannot hope to qualify?
Why do we have to educate our children to explain to their teachers that they may not have a dictaphone, for example, just lying around the house, or the odd photo printer. Why is the identical book we bought for a fraction of the price not as good as the one the school sells to the children (must have this book).
Why are the children expected to supply the equipment necessary for a drama exam? If the school has a drama department with drama teachers and aides and sets, why can’t the props be used by the children? And costumes, too? And please don’t tell me they don’t have to have these. Props and costumes form part of the final mark, right alongside acting and choreography and directing. Without them, the children cannot hope to achieve the full mark, no matter how well prepared they may be. That was £30, by the way, plus an old blanket that could be ripped to shreds for the purpose of the drama exam alone.
During the same week, for the photography exam, besides the portfolios developed throughout the school year (books must be bought from the school, camera – £££ – student’s own, props and printing provided by the student) another £10.50 is required, simply for printing services during the exam. The school’s printing services. Printing is expensive, no one knows this better than the parents of an art student, so why make it an obligatory part of the exam structure, then? Oh, but it’s not obligatory, you say? Well, no. Unless you aim for full marks. Then you have no choice but to pay. What parent wouldn’t give their child the chance of an equal footing? They have us there, then.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not moaning about the amounts involved – hell, I’ve donated more than that to the school in question without being asked to – I just have a problem with the principle. The moment you make a section of the assessment process dependent on cash, you are introducing a divide over which less well-off children cannot step. No matter how eager, how enthusiastic and how talented they may be, you are sending the message loud and clear: of course you’ll succeed. All you need is cash.
Thank you, UK education system, for teaching our children this valuable lesson. Some will succeed, some will give up. The brighter ones will find their niche abroad. And when this country is completely devoid of talent, don’t come moaning to me. You’ve been warned.
If you’d like to grumble back, please do. I cannot wait to tell you more!