Private universities are 'odious'. When redefining words won't do... just be bastards. And your chance to be an Ofsted inspector.
Grayling and the new private university
University of Buckingham is, so far, the only private UK university, charging £9,000 per year fees before everyone else jumped on the fee bandwagon. However, later this year, the New College of the Humanities will open in London. A private, £18,000 per year university, it will offer a broad 'liberal arts' education, in two-year degrees, accredited by the University of London. It has 'star' lecturers like Richard Dawkins and Niall Ferguson. Supporters want such private universities to become the 'ivy league' comparable to Harvard, Yale et al in the US. Apparently all this shite about the 'Russell Group', '1994 group' and the 'pre-1992' wasn't elitist enough already.
Philosopher AC Grayling, you-know, the one who's the rent-a-philosopher for every TV and radio show looking for a philosopher for a soundbite, will be the 'master' of the college. He was on TV defending the private model and the charging of obscene fees.
So how would something like this be regulated? Well, obviously, in the first instance, by Twitter and Facebook! Isn't that how all universities are accessed? Grayling is so down with the kids that he recognises that by counting LIKES and RETWEETS of students, him and his cronies will have a good handle on whether his very rich customers, because that's what they are, are getting their £18,000 pounds a year worth of education. Watch the interview, I can't tell whether it's a witty aside before discussing market success and external validation as checks, or whether it is Grayling's genuine attempt at having his 'finger on the pulse'.
Terry Eagleton was spot-on last year in his criticism of Grayling's programme as 'odious' and points out that while UK students and HE workers are being shafted by cuts, closures, and astronomical fees, opportunists like Grayling, Dawkins and Ferguson will be abandoning ship to educate the EVEN RICHER:
"British universities, plundered of resources by the bankers and financiers they educated, are not best served by a bunch of prima donnas jumping ship and creaming off the bright and loaded. It is as though a group of medics in a hard-pressed public hospital were to down scalpels and slink off to start a lucrative private clinic. Grayling and his friends are taking advantage of a crumbling university system to rake off money from the rich. As such, they are betraying all those academics who have been fighting the cuts for the sake of their students."
If Grayling was really worried about student's value for money in light of up to £9,000 per-year fees elsewhere, why isn't he, as a 'public intellectual' denouncing the cuts, standing on pickets lines on November 30, and actually fighting for education? Answer of course is he doesn't give a shit. For someone who deems himself enough of an expert on Marx to be a panellist on In Our Time's celebration of Marx as the 'greatest philosopher of all time', and who describes himself as 'almost pinko' he's certainly doing a good job of convincing us that he's as much a money-grabbing parasite as anything else.
Grayling's private project would be disgusting at any time, but at a time of the destruction of the very idea of an open, free public education system, it is particularly offensive, being parasitic on another publicly-funded university. Many others will jump on this bandwagon. As Eagleton says, this is the 'thin end of a very ugly wedge'.
If you can't redefine a word, just get rid of it - Scrapping 'satisfactory'
'Satisfactory'. It's a word. It has a meaning, according to an online dictionary:
"fulfilling all demands or requirements"
No room for argument there, 'fulfilling all demands or requirements'. Straightforward.
It's been the case for a while that Ofsted, and schools by default, had been attempting to redefine this word. Apparently it simply wasn't satisfactory enough to be 'satisfactory', despite the word having a clear meaning. 'Satisfactory' is in fact... 'RUBBISH'. Contrary to its accepted meaning, there are special, secret, hidden demands and requirements. So everyone who was satisfactory... was not.
Apparently it has now become clear that this attempt at redefinition was fucking stupid. So, will Michael Wilshaw and his crew wise-up and be more realistic? Maybe less judgemental? Naaaaaahhhhh. Where a school would have been 'satisfactory', Wilshaw says they will now 'require improvement'. So, getting on with one of the shittest jobs there is, with high stress levels and a suicide rate 30-40% above the population average, is not enough.
What will this 'improvement' look like? Well, these gradings are like chasing shadows. I know friends who've visited 'outstanding' schools and said the teaching was horrendous. I trained in a school that I loved, that kids liked, that went straight into 'special measures' (this is like being Ofstedded, but forever), while other schools have gone from 'outstanding' to 'failing' in as little as four years.
What will 'require improvement' mean for school workers? Well, since it means Oftsed won't fuck off and leave you alone, you can expect a visit the next year. That will mean everyone getting shit. Heads getting shit from governors and sponsors (in academies), managers getting shit from heads, and everyone else getting shit from the managers for not being 'good enough'. Expect target-setting to become the focus of EVERYTHING. Forget interesting lessons, results are what matters, 'progression' is what matters, box ticking is what matters. You can expect every single department meeting, staff training, year meeting to mention Ofsted and their nauseating criteria.
Wilshaw apparently doesn't even know the standards of the body he's now head of. Leaving aside the fact that judgements, league-tables, and ratings are disgusting, meritiocratic competitive nonsense, an 'outstanding' school, I'm to believe is marked by 'high staff morale' according to old Ofsted ratings, which probably still apply unless they've been changed in the three weeks Wilshaw's been in office. Remember Wilshaw's revolting comment that 'if staff morale is low you are doing something right'? Doesn't quite give you the picture of a 'good' or 'outstanding' school, does it? Jesus, 'good', 'outstanding'... I can't escape those words even at home! Schools are graded like that. Students are graded like that. Teachers are graded like that. They roll off the tongue of arse-licking sycophantic careerists like the worthless subjective throwaway terms they are.
Your chance to be one of Her Majesty's Inspectors.
Ever dreamed of being an Ofsted inspector? Well, play the OFSTED INSPECTOR GAME!
Now's YOUR chance to be Michael Wilshaw - please give this blog post a grade. It's good practice for me.
[S]SATISFACTORY[/S] REQUIRES IMPROVEMENT
Remember to give me the 'SHIT SANDWICH' in your feedback - two 'positive' comments with a big fat negative criticism for my 'performance management' review in the middle! Remember to include vacuous, inane comments like 'we're about learning' and 'at the end of the day, this is about the kids' too.