- When one’s daughter has far more top-grade GCSEs than fingers and thumbs,
- when her A-levels are all grade A and in English, History and Geography, with an AO in Pure Maths.
- Oxford interviewed her, and turned her down — twice,
for Malcolm to wave Michael Gove in today’s Observer at her is an invitation to audition a rant.
All animals are not equal
Gove’s point is silly-season stuff:
“Every A-level is assumed to be of equal value when it comes to measuring school performance, but universities are explicit that they don’t consider every A-level to be equally rigorous,” he writes.
“Cambridge, the LSE and others have warned prospective students that taking ‘softer’ A-levels such as media studies and dance will count against applicants at admission time.”
Well, Queen Anne is dead these few years; and there’s nothing new there. It was thus half-a-century gone. The grammar schools (where Malcolm started his pedagogy) knew the score: three straight sciences or, for Arts entry, a combination of languages, including the two Classics, English, History and Economics.
Even Gove can distinguish apples and oranges. In time he may even recognise that the academic kraals of post-codes CM2 and WC2A 2AE are hardly exclusive in regarding Dance as a dubious pointer for straight academic deskwork.
And that anything with “Studies” as the substantive term is less than a clincher.
Motes and beams
Counting A-levels for useless league tables and what the Russell Group of universities consider scholastic merit are not the same, Mike. If you’ve just spotted that, you’re a very slow learner. So why are you taking £1250 an hour from the Times for your great thoughts?
Or, of course, it could be that Tory HQ has ordered all hands to the pumps, any bailer will do, to keep the sinking dinghy afloat, having been broached last week by the backwash from the US healthcare “debate”. Desperate measures are needed, even in the dog days of the silly season. Crank up the Gove; and hope for calmer water.
So, the last, snide snorter from aforementioned daughter (celebrated in earlier postings as the “pert young piece“), came in the form of a question:
“D’you know Cameron’s A-levels?”
“Get this, then: History of Art, History, and Economics with Politics.”
“History and History of Art count as two subjects, right? Is History of Art a ‘Hard’ subject, in Gove’s book? My school wouldn’t look at it for a serious A-level choice: it’s for poncy Etonians and deficient princes. And he couldn’t even do proper Economics. Huh!”
Amazing, isn’t it, how many such moments have to be punctuated by a slammed door.
By the way, the pert young piece’s contempt extends to Geography. This she characterises as:
- GCSE: colouring in;
- A-level: shading in;
- Degree-level: cross-hatching.
Don’t call her, Mr Gove: she’s already e-mailed you.