Ian Nash notes further egregious examples of misreporting of inspection evidence, here .
What do you think the papers should have said?
If you are looking for the journalists most guilty of making cheap shots that denigrate broad vocational, further and adult education, look no further that the ministers’ own scriptwriters.
When it came to the press and media’s largely uncritical acceptance of the Coalition Government’s Wolf Review of 14-19 vocational qualifications or new Labour’s policies axing 1.4m adult learning places in colleges over two years, it wasn’t, as we usually hear “the Sun wot did it”.
It was a Department for Education briefing for Michael Gove, Education Secretary, that fed the media derogatory remarks about “fish husbandry” and “nail technology”, even though these are rarely if ever taught in schools at GCSE level. And it was Alan Johnson, the education secretary, who said in 1996 that the government would fund “more plumbing and less Pilates” in further education colleges, words that signalled the slashing of resources and closure of general adult learning courses.
When the Policy Consortium this week asked a selection of college staff where they thought such sneering remarks came from, they invariably assumed journalists were citing the official reports and inquiries behind policy moves. But, go through the full Wolf report and government response and you’ll find no such references.
Why is this so important? Isn’t it just media knock-about stuff to get grab the reader’s attention? Up to a point Lord Copper. But it also distracts and diverts attention from the critical debate that is, or rather should be, the function of the Fourth Estate. It takes the eye of the lazy or over-worked journalist off the ball.
It is not new but it is getting worse, judging by what you tell us. As the perspicacious poet Humbert Wolfe said: “You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”
Hence it is What The Papers Should Have Said that matters most and is too often lost in debate on education reforms. So we have decided to keep a watching brief, to report such offenses regularly in this column. See here for the full list.
If you come across cases of things left unsaid that should be said and you want us to highlight them, contact us here and we will do our best to expose them.