Send for the accountant…..

I see that the Secretary of State for International Development, accountant Justine Greening, has been causing a stir by using her accountancy background to scrutinise budgets and ensure that value is being delivered across the various programmes that she is now responsible for.

Of course, as an accountant, she is going through the department’s spending line by line. Using her accountancy skills and training, she has already identified a number of areas of waste (as well as the odd mismatched debit and credit no doubt) and she is clearly on track to ensure that all who are involved in international development will be accountable for their actions (or at least their expenditure).

Did I mention she was an accountant? Just checking…

I hope you all noticed the one key word in the above. No not the “a” word but the “v” word. Value.

Clichés come and go but it seems that accountants are still regarded as focussed number crunchers unable to look beyond a column of figures. However, good accountants, particularly those that become Finance Directors, spend their lives disproving Oscar Wilde’s comment about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Did I mention I was an accountant……?

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Talking of value, barely has the dust settled on another round of exam results, and the inevitable debate on standards that followed, than our coalition government have finally put egos aside and outlined a new “more rigorous” exam system for 16 year olds, the “English Bac”.

Meanwhile anybody who thinks that GCSEs are dumbed down and meaningless clearly has not been talking to the students whose D grade achievement in English, thanks to the boundaries being moved at the last minute, means that their lives are potentially blighted for ever.

Fortunately my daughters are too old to become guinea pigs in this latest Department of Education experiment re effective exams, although there seems to have been sufficient changes in course content and assessment processes during their years in the system for me to think that the education department clearly sees itself as one gigantic scientific laboratory.

The new “one exam takes all (but don’t call it an O level)” is due to be introduced in 2015 (so that it can no doubt be ditched as a result of the election due to take place that year). However I was extremely perturbed to read certain commentators suggest that there would need to be an alternative exam for “less able” students.

The cauldron that contained the Paralympic flame has barely cooled and already a term that we all hoped had been consigned to the waste bin is being bandied about without any thought for its impact or meaning.

These “less able” students, who in days gone by would have taken CSEs, could do things then with a football that I could only dream of (and no doubt now have DIY skills that my wife can only dream of).

The reality is that some students, through no fault of their own, are not suited to academic study. Most of them however will have talents in other areas that a high quality and rigorous education system would identify and nurture. This issue does not seem to be sufficiently addressed under the new proposals.

Education is a lifelong and varied process which individual people benefit from and value in different ways. There it is. That word value again. Send for the accountant….

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