With some help from the Jackson 5:
The proposal to classify English universities as Gold, Silver or Bronze is a stroke of genius. The perfect expression of the English obsession with ranking. So obvious, one wonders why we’re not already doing it. Let’s not wait until 2018; we should get rid of all those confusing numbers and measures right now. It’s time to get down to the clear, understandable descriptors we’re all familiar with from competitive sport. It’s as simple as do re mi.
Look at any university and you know straight away whether it’s top, middle or bottom. The Gold universities are full of Gold students with Gold grades in Gold-standard qualifications in Gold subjects being taught by Gold academics on Gold courses. There’s really no need to pore over statistics on retention, employment rates and student satisfaction when it can all be summed up in a single word. People can make things so complicated. It’s as easy as A, B, C, one, two, three, baby, you and me.
In education as in life, there’s a top, a middle and a bottom. Just like in that sketch with John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. There are top universities just as there are top people and we can’t all be Gold can we? We’d have nothing to aim for without a nice simple ranking where we all know our place. It’s so lovely when some of the top Silvers occasionaly move up to Gold and particularly heart-warming when a Bronze hauls themselves up to Silver. And if some of the little Bronzes sometimes get a bit chippy and say it’s all unfair, they’re just jealous because, like Ronnie Corbett, they know they’re not good enough. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.
But why stop with universities? Gold shines through at all stages in education. Our new selective secondary schools should be the Gold Grammars, with high performing academies and free schools becoming Silver institutions and everyone else languishing in a Bronze Age. The new grading will help us all make sense of the confusing choice and diversity of schools. A buh-buh buh buh-buh.
University for all (September 2016)
Your dogma, my principles (September 2016)
Is social mobility enough? (April 2015)
Re-imagining the university (February 2015)
‘Hindering’ subjects and ‘bad’ universities (October 2014)
Meeting the widening participation challenge (July 2014)
Unashamedly egalitarian (February 2014)