Industrialised Education

My secondary school has recently instilled a crackdown on the uniform policy, provoking a lot of unrest amongst the students throughout the year groups. As someone who takes pride in individuality, believing that allowing young people to express themselves is a core ingredient to a better quality of life, the clone-like, oppressive and unnecessary enforcement of such uniform rules has really hit home. In conjunction with this, it is clear that the UK’s approach to education is invariably industrialised and archaic, instilling hierarchy and authority, with the absence of creativity and individuality.

Our current education system was designed during the industrial revolution, ignoring the concept of uniqueness. Uniform is a form of oppression. It is enforced to differentiate between those obeying and those to be obeyed. Therefore, a strict uniform policy that is currently being forced upon students in my school, is inadvertently instilling the extreme right wing notion of permanent hierarchy. The senior staff at my school retaliated saying that uniform ‘promotes equality’, which made me chuckle. Yes, there is physical quality between students through looking the same, but what about spiritual equality? Surely giving students the equal ability to express themselves and portray themselves in a way which they are most content with, promotes freedom. Moreover, I can speak on behalf of many, that by being able to express myself and feel unique, I am a more effective learner, more willing to obey authority that allows me the freedom to be myself and instils a generally more accepting and diverse atmosphere. The argument to suggest that uniform creates an absence of bullying based on materialistic wealth is frankly hypocritical. Through a normalisation of clone-like synchronisation, it is creating a more divisive attitude towards various faiths, styles, cultures and interests, due to the absence of familiarisation and acceptance. This is inherently industrialized. Schools are fizzling out every aspect of individuality of our students, diminishing the creativity and imagination essential to success.


Industrialistion endeavours to specifically produce obedient workers; the training to obey authority and follow instructions is deeply engrained in schools today. Linking to Illich’s de-schooling theory, the monotonous structure of examinations, lecturing and a consensus level of progress to follow is designed to determine success through one vehicle, making anyone who does not suit this style of testing, a failure. The industrial age of factory workers based success on the ability to follow instructions, however, in today’s society, success quintessentially derives from the ability to be creative and different. The memory-based inauthenticity of the education process is superfluous, examining students on their ability to retain information, which is inevitably forgotten imminently after the exam is finished. The skills of creativity and innovation are barely associated with one’s ability to memorise the equation of momentum of a moving object (or whatever useless information I had to engrain into my brain during Physics GCSE), meaning students are being stressed and tested on things that literally do not matter to their desired career path.

The lack of autonomy advocated by schools is failing to prepare our students for adulthood. Every aspect of a student’s life is controlled by the school. In the real world, people need to effectively manage their own time to suit individual needs, which inevitably differ between all individuals. The generalisation of a year group as a whole fails to suit all students, which is why a class can contain a huge variety of academic progress and achievement. Being in year 13, my school allows us to have Wednesdays off school. However, for some students this privilege has been taken away, due to an ‘inadequacy’ of grades and progress. It is extremely oppressive and unjust to give certain students this advantage and not others, purely based on academic success, when it is the school system itself that disables certain students to progress as quickly as others. This meritocratic approach to scholastic achievement is extremely harmful to students’ self-esteem, as well as disabling a true representation of the adult world. By instilling the idea that success comes from following orders and not from critical thinking or imagination, our archaic education system is failing us.

To conclude, it is clear that the only way our education system can be saved is through intensive reform, ensuring creativity is measured and valued as much as academic achievement. The infrastructure of our schools is built on industrialisation and meritocratic order-taking that merely hinders the independency of our students.

Angel Witney


Why Grammar Schools are the Worst Thing Ever

As you may know, Theresa May loves Grammar schools and wants to introduce more as part of her 2017 manifesto pledge. I myself go to a Grammar School and live in a constituency where the 11+ is a huge make or break in a young person’s life (or it is perceived to be that way). Some may say it is hypocritical of me to attend a Grammar school whilst I’m sat here ready to bash them, but it is for that very essence that they are detrimental; by being the ‘better option’, Grammar schools are essentially destroying kids’ social mobility and chances to a great education.

Firstly, it is an extreme amount of pressure to put on children as young as 10 years old. I have been helping my little brother with tuition in preparation for his 11+ test this year, whereby he has gotten so upset and frustrated over the possibility of failing, due to the immense superiority Grammar schools appear to have over comprehensives. Similar to the SATs uproar earlier this year, it is unbelievably unfair to engrain the idea that if you do not pass the 11+ you have ‘failed’. This perception gives young children a negative view of education, making them less likely to reach their full potential. In conjunction with the SATs debate, children flourish at different rates, and it is hasty to section children off as ‘smart enough’ to attend Grammar schools and promotes a sense of educational elitism from a young age.

This essence of educational elitism withstands as you inspect pupils of Grammar Schools. Being a Grammar school student for the past 6 years, it must be said that remarks regarding local Comprehensive students as more poorly educated have circulated. The worst part about this is that it is true (which I will come to later), but the fact that students visually recognise this and in some cases, gives them a sense of self- aggrandisement, is inhibiting our young peoples’ tolerance.


It has to be mentioned that the majority of Grammar School students are middle class, due to their ability to afford tuition in order for them to pass the 11+. This in itself separates those with and without money, and then brings in social elitism and class as an issue of Grammar Schools. The physical separation between classes promotes a lack of social mobility as working class and middle class pupils are less able to mix and are less likely to respect each other. Not only this but it literally puts a price on a better education; the fact is that families with money are more likely to have a child pass the 11+ than a family without money, with a child of the same ability. Is it me, or is that a bit fucked up? Having free schools seems all great on the surface but once again, nothing comes for free in good old Britain. This kind of thing stays with kids for the rest of their lives and will encourage a less cooperative and equality- driven nation. It has to be said that not all Grammar school students are middle class but it usually is the majority.

Now, to touch upon what I mentioned earlier; Grammar Schools do provide a better education, and this is what makes them the worst thing ever. Teachers are more attracted to work at schools with pupils who want to learn and would be easier to teach, which is the general case with Grammar School pupils. This means that better teaching staff are usually employed by Grammar Schools, and Comprehensives have the left overs. Bit shit isn’t it? So first of all these students ‘fail’ the 11+ and have a downgraded view of education and then they get the crappier teachers who hardly motivate them to find a love for learning. It is like the education system sets up anyone not in the top 10% (when they were 10 years old may I reiterate) for a poor education.

My sister who is 16, goes to a Comprehensive school and has virtually no student support system when it comes to her studies. I compared her school to mine in this aspect, whereby the Grammar school I attend offers subject drop-in sessions at lunch, revision workshops for exams and practically spoon-feeds how to get into university. My sister’s Comprehensive has none of this. I am not bashing Grammar Schools to sound ungrateful, believe me, my school has provided me with a great education, but I cannot ignore the fact that it is extremely unfair for this level of support for students to only be available to the ‘top 10%’, when there are so many pupils prevented from fulfilling their potential due to the UK’s schooling.

Now, I don’t want to make Grammar School kids look like the villain here, because they too suffer the side effects of our poisoned education system. The immense pressure put on students at my school is horrific; it is not even enforced in order to motivate students, it is purely for statistics. This year my school disabled all students who did not get a D grade in their AS exams to carry on the subject to A2. A levels are fucking hard so this rule affected around 20% of pupils. This meant that some girls had to retake the year at another school or only do 1 or 2 A levels, corrupting the future plans of many. This doesn’t sound too drastic but it is more the fact that the school only did this to obtain a high ranking and favourable grade statistics. Despite the fact my school has an immense support system in terms of academia, this is blatantly motivated by the idea of better results. This said pressure has resulted in mental health issues across the ages, mostly regarding stress and anxieties revolving around exams, soothed by the unhelpful voice of a single school councillor who simply reiterates to “take time to yourself”.

My solution: scrap them. Every single school should have the resources Grammar schools provide, and this should not be inhibited by class, money or a stupid exam that measures a 10 year old child’s intellect. Why enforce an ideology of educational elitism when it hinders both sides from flourishing, when equality is obviously a better solution.

Angel Witney