The Plastic Hippo

August 24, 2010

Illegally blonde

Filed under: Education,Media,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 8:06 pm

If the press coverage of A level and GCSE results is to be believed, the only people capable of achieving A* are blonde, pretty and female. Some papers depicted the occasional dark complexion and even more rarely, a boy, but most hacks and picture editors simply cannot resist an image of clever popsies hugging each other, preferable showing a bit of leg and embonpoint. For those who did not make the grade or the finals of the beauty pageant, help is at hand from our own dear Walsall council.

It seems that our council regard anything less than a C as a qualification to embark on a life of crime as that is the only career opportunity open to the educationally challenged. Accordingly, 10 lucky artful dodgers are being given the chance to “taste” plumbing, building and plastering in an initiative to “keep them out of trouble”. So it’s the building site or prison for you my lad.

Like most councils, Walsall loves acronyms, so the YJS as part of the IYPSS will deliver CSCS status and hopefully C&G Level 1 to NEETs via IAG advisors embedded in the YJS funded by the IPESG. Have you got that, kids?

On paper, this seems to be an excellent idea as one thing Walsall is not short of is young people who have been failed by the education system and lack qualifications, a job and, more importantly, hope or ambition. If successful, the scheme could be expanded to include career opportunities as a librarian, care worker, swimming pool attendant, local government lower grade worker or parking enforcement officer. This would enable disadvantaged young people to compete with the record numbers of A* types in the scramble for non-existent jobs. Sadly, the young criminals who did not achieve anything above C will find the doors of universities firmly closed. But, so will many of the photogenic blonde beauties as there are not enough undergraduate places available. Banking, politics, girl bands and tax-evasion beckons.

No less a mighty intellect than council leader Mike Bird offered this insight into how his council regards young people who have been spared the rigours of academic challenge. He said:
“By showing young people there is a route to a brighter future through employment and further training it is hoped we can prevent them entering the criminal justice system.”
This breath-taking, patronising and totally incorrect assumption that a failure to reach an arbitrary and fallacious academic target results in criminality comes from a “leader” determined to cut jobs.

So, work means freedom, or “Arbeit macht frei” as stated about 70 years ago, but where are the jobs in these days of recruitment freezes, redundancy and the cancellation of building projects such as BSF? Perhaps in the YJS, IYPSS or IPESG.

There will be misguided and erroneous claims that the GCSE has been dumbed down to allow government off the hook for allowing education to stagnate and “prove” that standards are rising. Those claims are ridiculous and all credit and congratulations should be directed at the nearly 70% of young people, be they blonde, beautiful or not, who achieved A* to C and the 25% gaining A or A*. There will be those that will attempt to claim credit for this remarkable success, but the results were achieved in spite of and not due to government, councils and the likes of Serco. Imagine what young people could achieve without these obstacles.

Apart from the Birmingham Mail who ran the extraordinary story of four Asian students from Handsworth who gained 64 good GCSEs between them, the printed press have not performed well. Given the unhealthy and disturbing obsession with young girls displayed by certain newspaper editors, perhaps the hacks should return to their natural stereotyped habitat of the building site. There is a course available in Walsall.


For the dullards who have failed to keep up, here is a glossary:

YJS – Youth Justice Service
IYPSS – Integrated Young People’s Support Service
CSCS – Certified Strengths and Conditioning Specialist
C&G – City and Guilds
NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training
IAG – Information, Advice and Guidance
IPESG – Improving Participation and Engagement Steering Group
BSF – B*st*rds Stopped the Funding

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