Wednesday 20 October 2004

"Higher" education

On a very busy day here in the West Wing of the Bloghouse I must thank Andrew Duffin for drawing my attention to this article by the excellent Fraser Nelson of the Scotsman. Mr Nelson is calling for a mass introduction of education vouchers in Scotland along the lines of what has happened in Sweden, a country normally praised by our leftist establishment. The only thing I have to add is in connection with this statement:
This is a political decision: the money is already there to buy a far better system. In Glasgow, for example, it costs £4,800 a year to educate a child at secondary school: Hutcheson’s Grammar School charges £6,500 a year. The difference is £30 a week - something any working-class parent would pay, given the chance.
If most of Scotland's schools were privatised the dramatic extension of market share would bring about a large reduction in costs. It is very likely that fees per capita would be considerably less than £6,500 a year. The "working-class parent" would probably have to find nothing like £30 a week. Besides that, an excellent article and as someone who is the proud holder of five Highers (English, Maths, Science, French and History) I do rather fancy the idea of them pushing the A-level into the dustbin of history. David Starkey please note!


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David Malloch
Away from Stuart and Andrews Swedish talk, if I may. 
I found the article interesting, though ultimately a bit depressing because I know that the Red Front running Holyrood are not going to allow it to happen. After all the left has never approved of the proletariat getting ideas above their station (which a good education gives you), and as any ‘good’ Socialist will tell you, excellence in education is simply a way the elite’s keep working class children out. 
Secondly I think Fraser Nelson overestimates the standards in Scottish Education. Yes things are bad in England, but they are worse in Scotland! The Scottish Higher is certainly no gold standard. While I am sure David Farrer’s Highers are a laudable achievement, judging by his photograph he clearly got these a good few years ago. Unlike Fraser Nelson who is a fairly young man and likely took his is in an era when standards had declined. 
Standards in education have been driven down over the years, in Scotland and England, and they have been driven down by the left wing teaching establishments of both countries. And you must not underestimate their determination to drive them down even further.  
The only difference is that in England they face this fact, while here in Scotland we are fond of burying our heads in the sand. Remember the exam which 300,000 passed and ONE person failed?

23 October 2004, 21:44:39 GMT+01:00
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Interesting article. 
However, there is one big problem Andrew: nowhere does it say anything about "it being extraordinarily difficult for Swedish women of child-bearing age to get jobs unless they are employed already." 
Did you make that up? 
One big consequence of the ridiculously generous maternity (and, importantly, paternity) benefits is that it makes young women super keen to get on to the job ladder, and as far up it as possible, BEFORE they get pregnant. (The benefits are far less generous for the unemployed). 
Hence, young Swedish women are very hard-nosed, unsentimental, focused and get-up-and-go. Viking culture lives on: Swedish women could eat Scottish women for breakfast. Metaphorically speaking, in a business sense.

22 October 2004, 14:35:46 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
Here is where I got that tit-bit of fiction.,3604,1309724,00.html 
The Grauniad has an agenda, of course - and how - but it doesn't look SO badly researched.

22 October 2004, 13:39:46 GMT+01:00
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-"have resulted in it being extraordinarily difficult for Swedish women of child-bearing age to get jobs unless they are employed already" 
Where did you get that tit-bit of fiction? As a regular reader of the Swedish press I have never once heard of this phenonomen. 
Of course it causes distortion of the labour market, as do many other aspects of labour-market law in Sweden. However, it is worth pointing out that female unemployment is lower than in Scotland, and Swedish women have well and truly busted the glass ceiling. In fact Sweden is so female-oriented that men occasionally feel hard-done-by. 
I only mentioned it in its relation to rising population and GDP figures, and hence rising demand for schooling.

22 October 2004, 13:07:36 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Andrew Duffin
Oops only half-edited. But you know what I mean.

22 October 2004, 12:33:35 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
Stuart - it's worth noting that those amazingly generous benefits and that vast amount of time off work have resulted in it being extraordinarily difficult for Swedish women of child-bearing age to get jobs unless they are employed already. Employers seem just them as trouble and cost, oddly enough. Of course, I realise this wouldn't apply to the public sector!

22 October 2004, 12:33:05 GMT+01:00
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Astute analysis by Nelson and yourself. I have food for thought. 
Although Sweden is undoubtedly "the most left-wing country in Europe" it does differ from Scotland in at least two key ways: 
1. its economy is flourishing 
2. its population is growing dramatically (just passed 9 million) 
These two facts are not unrelated. 
25% of Swedes are either immigrants themselves or have at least one parent who is an immigrant (higher than the USA.) Native Swedes are reproducing fast too, partly due to amazingly generous paternity and maternity benefits, including vast amounts of leave from work. 
Walking along Nordic pavements is often an exercise in pram-dodging. Hence: 
-"When this happened in Sweden, the threat of decline was reversed: schools sprang up in rural communities, class sizes shrank." 
Of course they need more teachers and schools! Cos they had more pupils! 
But the "friskolor" (free schools), introduced by vouchers, are very much a controversial, minority hobby (often an ethnic-minority hobby.) 
The wealthy still send their kids to "internatskolor" (private schools) and the vast majority send their kids to the usual state schools (which appear, to a man on the street, to be vastly superior to Scottish state schools). 
Friskolor have been hit by many scandals, especially those run by christian and muslim fundamentalists. 
-"In the strange political inversion which is Scottish politics, it is the Conservatives who are now calling for the Swedish system. It should have been Labour. The problem is that, now that the Tories want it, everyone else will attack it." 
I'm afraid the man is right. As soon as the Tories adopt a policy, it is the kiss of death. So abhored are they by the general populace in Scotland.

20 October 2004, 22:12:24 GMT+01:00