The Education Deceptions

Not so much a blog as a repository of thoughts on an absurd and unjust state education system.

The education system, in spider web form….

The national curriculum: a discriminatory device that does not meet most children’s educational needs (or their special educational needs).

Key points:

  • Under the Equality Act 2010, disability is the only ‘protected characteristic’ for which it may be necessary to treat people differently in order to avoid treating them less favourably and thereby discriminating against them. 
  • In one core component, the education system is blind to this duty.  Under the subterfuge of ‘entitlement’, the system treats all children the same by insisting that those who have a mental impairment (one of the types of disability) and those who have ‘significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age’ (some of whom will have a disability) must follow exactly the same curriculum as all other children for the whole of their compulsory schooling. 
  • It is only possible for a pre-determined proportion of children to reach the government’s headline measures of attainment: the exam system does not assess against any criteria or standards – it is a simple ranking exercise.  By definition, those with ‘significantly greater difficulty in learning’ or with disabilities have a much smaller chance of succeeding in such a competition.
  • All such children are being treated ‘less favourably’ because they are included only in order to serve as ballast to illustrate the relative success of those who do reach the government’s headline attainment measures.
  • The pre-eminence of the national curriculum is such that children’s special educational needs are not expressed in terms of their individual learning development needs, but in terms of their access to the curriculum (however inappropriate to their needs that curriculum might be).

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After 11 years of intensive cultivation….

The Education Deceptions: Ofsted Part 1The Observation of the Unobservable

‘Imagine that you’re attending a hospital outpatient department for a routine medical procedure and just before it starts (or maybe it’s started) someone enters the room and explains that he or she is an inspector who is there to observe how much your health improves during the course of the procedure and hence how well the practitioner has performed his or her task.’

Well….’exactly that sort of approach to inspection – based on the observation of the unobservable – has been standard practice in the parallel world of education, where for many years inspectors from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) claimed to be able to ‘see’ the learning that children achieved during the course of a lesson, or just part of a lesson….’

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Not quite as it seems

The Education Deceptions: The Devil’s Educational Glossary, A-L

Academy: A school that has been turned into a cash cow for private enterprise.

Assessment: That part of the educational process in which the raw product, having been weighed and measured at the outset to determine its potential future yield and then cultivated, is squeezed and the juice that it exudes is measured and recorded. 

Catch up: At its simplest, the implausible but improbably durable idea that children who have missed some time in school should make good on all of the learning missed, but in their own time and without unnecessary fripperies such as the input or guidance of the teachers whose lessons they were not able to attend.

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The failure of one local authority’s SEND services – and how the SEND Commissioner lifts the lid on the ‘why’.

‘…BCC is in danger of losing sight of its general responsibilities to children as per the Children Act 2004.  There has been an absence of obvious and strategic “organisational love” for the city’s most vulnerable children.’

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The SEND Review 2022 – When is a review not a review?

The SEND Review began life with a DfE call for evidence asking stakeholders and interested parties to offer their thoughts and ideas on how the remarkably complex current funding arrangements for SEND could be revised – without increasing the global funding amount – to produce better outcomes.

This is equivalent to holding a consultation process, amidst the sounds of sirens and klaxons, to examine whether arranging an insufficient number of somewhat dilapidated lifeboats into a different configuration would be likely to improve outcomes for passengers. (‘If we dispense with life jackets we could fit more passengers into the lifeboats – what do you think?’)

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The Forgotten Third (or so) – Geoff Barton

‘England’s is an education system that treats a significant portion of each year group as expendable ‘ballast’ whose primary function is to illustrate the success of their more highly ranked contemporaries, without regard to the reduction in life chances for those in the ballast group.’

‘Grimly surreal as it may seem to the uninitiated, this level of collateral damage is an accepted part of the process for determining the distribution of grades. In other words, we judge the success of our education system by the number of young people who don’t gain that national ‘pass’. Few other high-performing jurisdictions would think that sensible or morally acceptable.’

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The Education Deceptions: Ofsted Part 2, New Framework, New Issues

‘With the prestidigitation of a conjuror (‘watch the judgment, keep your eyes on the judgment at all times’), Ofsted then deftly whisked away the inspection judgment that referred to ‘the quality of learning’ and replaced it with something more general and open to interpretation (that is to say woollier and more contentious).’

‘Ofsted claims that the revised inspection framework is ‘the most researched, evidence-based and tested framework in Ofsted’s history’, so its validity should be unquestionable.  But it isn’t.’

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The Education Deceptions: The Devil’s Educational Glossary M-Z

Multi-Academy Trust

A private enterprise group that has acquired a whole herd of cash cows, making up into a very nice little earner indeed, and never mind the olfactory and climatic effects of the resultant methane emissions.


A passage of text which serves as the rhetoric in ‘rhetoric-reality gap’, describing practices that are not always observed, in practice.

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