11 Apr

Audible Fog

This morning I found myself in a cloud of audible fog. This phenomenon was produced by Glenys Stacey in an interview on The Today Programme. Ms Stacey is the Chief Regulator at the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (OFQUAL), one of the many quangos which managed to escape David Cameron’s promised “bonfire of the quangos.” OFQUAL is meant to ensure that the  qualifications awarded in state edukashun are up to scratch or, as they say, “to deliver standards.” Out of the fog there came the Chief Regulator’s intonation, suitable for the dreariness of the subject and the earliness of the hour, on a bureaucratic monotone. Not surprising since Ms Stacey is a career bureaucrat with impeccable credentials. She has been Chief Executive of Standards for England, held high place at Animal health and the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Courts Committee as well as on the Criminal Causes Review Commission.

Grief, you need stamina for a career like that…

Time was when we were possessed by the idea that teaching in English schools ought to have some connection, however tenuous, with the English language. But Ms Stacey speaks English only as a foreign language. She talked of “meaningful thresholds” and about students as if they were inanimate objects, saying, “We need people that can go into a lab…”

My interest thus stimulated, I stepped over the threshold and into OFQUAL’s website and discovered that the whole department is illiterate – thus representative, you might say, of the edukashun “system” which it oversees. Among the myriad infelicities and desecrations lurking on their site, I found that they are keen on “driving up the standards” in a milieu where certain things are “different than.”

OFQUAL’s site says, “Governments make education policy.”

Quite: that’s the trouble.