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British Education System

Favourite bugbear of MrP, Thande, and many other British members on the forum - most of whom went through it. Technically the term 'British Education System' is a misnomer, as Scotland has its own education system separate to that of England and Wales. And it's probably a lot better, as usual. McBastards.

So what's wrong with it?

As “everything” is perhaps a little too vague, some bullet points follow.

  • Lack of the teaching of English grammar, and especially the theory of grammar, at any point, due to insane ideological decisions in the 1970s. Grammar has recently made a comeback in British schools, but most of the British members attended at a time when sod-all was taught, and anything they know on the subject comes from studying foreign languages.
  • History and geography syllabuses at Key Stages 3 and 4 that somehow manage to spend five years teaching absolutely nothing relevant to anything. There are sometimes arguments on the forum about whether it is better to teach social history (yawn) versus military and political history (yay!) but it is generally considered that the BES is crap at teaching both, anyway.
  • “The Exams Are Getting Easier” - in fact this common soundbite is an insult to all the young people now doing exams, and members who recently went through them can assure you that if they're easier now, in the past they must have been bloody impossible. The real truth behind this complaint is just that the exams at A-level are covering progressively less and less material. Politicians also react impulsively to tabloid headlines by unnecessarily messing around with the exam system every year, thus meaning that teachers and pupils have to spend time coping with the changes - and, of course, thus spend less time actually doing work and learning things. This continuous tampering has meant that the most prestigious British universities have now given up on trying to estimate a student's quality from their exam results, and now set their own entrance exams - thus rendering A-levels pretty much irrelevant in the first place.
  • Exam boards buggering it up: Almost all British exam boards are known for making really horrendous mistakes, like providing impossible-to-answer maths questions, or printing the answers to the questions on the back of the paper by accident.
  • Coursework: partly because of the absurdity of a system designed to teach independent working, but one in which all teachers provide in-depth supervision at all times, and no wonder, because their own performance reviews depend on it. And partly because it is used as an excuse for continuous misandry in the media.
  • University policy: New Labour came up with the bright idea that, for some insane reason, the country needs 50% of its school leavers in university. Of course, the current system is incapable of coping with such numbers, so the response was to 1) get hold of a load of new, pisspoor universities (often converted from excellent technical colleges that were doing their job properly); and 2) charge all the students ridiculous, American-level top-up tuition fees which disenfranchises half the people Labour wanted to send there in the first place, and saddles the rest with enormous debts for most of their working career. Of course, many students who almost find themselves forced into university by the system end up doing rather pointless degrees just because they're easy (hence the tabloid phrase 'Mickey Mouse degrees'), totally contradicting Labour's aim of creating a generation of highly qualified British people in order to use knowledge as a trading commodity in the global community. This also means that the fact of having a degree is worth a lot less than it was ten years ago, because there are many more people with degrees and most of them are not in anything important or relevant. This means that a lot of jobs that only required a degree-level qualification ten years ago now demand a PhD. Which means people have to spend longer in education and get saddled with even LARGER debts. Nice one, Tony…


Criticism of the BES is (usually) only directed at the crazed politicians who have buggered it up for the past forty years, and occasionally at the appropriately named NUT (National Union of Teachers) which appears to be controlled by a cabal of 1970s intellectuals. It is not intended to impugn the honour, dedication or skills of the large number of British teachers who are quietly getting on in the job in the face of a rising tide of problems.


There is a perpetual game of one-downmanship on the forum between the Britons and people from other countries who claim that their education systems are terrible - usually the Americans, but sometimes Europeans and others. As we all know, the only education system that actually works is Singapore's.

offtopic/british_education_system.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)