Sunday, 23 October 2011

Historians will look at our education policies and declare us mad

The other day, I was chatting to someone in their final year at private school who’s applying for university places next year.

Apparently there’s a section on the UCAS form where you can furnish details of your parents’ educational background, i.e. you can put down the sort of schools they attended. As at least one of the parents of my young interlocutor had been to private school, the applicant had decided to leave that section blank, in case it counted against them.

I propose that, in future, applicants should be asked to answer a number of extra boxes. There could be one for candidates whose parents have spent in prison. The longer the “bird”, and the more heinous the crime(s), the more points awarded.

I presume there’s already a section for candidates to declare whether they’ve ever met their father, or whether they even know who he is. If the latter is the case, you get to read Astrophysics at Cambridge (whether or not you can spell “Astrophysics” or “Cambridge”).

“Parental employment record” could be a third extra choice. If both of your parents have eschewed any form of gainful employment in favour of living off state charity all their lives (supplemented by crime, of course) then the candidate will be guaranteed a place to read Anthropology at Balliol or Theology at Teddy Hall – they can take their pick.

Another section could deal with housing: if your parents have shown sufficient resolve not to demean themselves by ever getting on the property ladder – but have chosen instead to live in council accommodation paid for by the rest of us – you could probably bypass the need for a standard degree and get stuck into a PhD at any university of your choice straight out of school. If your parents do not live in standard housing, but, as members of the travelling community, live in a self-created trailer-park slum on the edges of some delightful Cotswold Village, you will be awarded a PhD in the subject of your choice without the need to spend six years of your life at a seat of Higher Learning.

If your parents are functionally illiterate and from a non-Nordic effnick (new official spelling) background, you will be appointed head of an Oxbridge college without further delay.

If the applicant ticks all of the above boxes and can in addition prove that they have severe learning difflikitees, they will be appointed Secretary of State for Education.

If either of your parents went to private school, attended an Oxbridge College, have never been in trouble with the law, have never accepted charity from the staae, have always been employed, and own their own home, and you get decent A-level grades, you will – if you’re very fortunate – be offered the opportunity to study Afro-Caribbean and Gender Studies at the University of Chavtown at a cost of £27,000 in tuition fees. After completing your course, you won’t be able to get a job because you didn’t go to a decent university.

Can’t say fairer than that!

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