In pursuit of a budget surplus so as to continue the fragile capitalist system, the Conservative government is reducing spending by cutting education. Apart from the obvious consequences of falling standards, witnessed in my own school (St Thomas Moore Academy in Newcastle) with the worst set of A-level results since 2005, and a mass exodus of teachers there are also unforeseen consequences. One of these has been the huge financial strain upon the exam boards which provide GCSE and GCE exams to students nationwide. Reforms to education have left these organisations with their own budget deficits as revenue from exam entries has been reduced and government support for the registered charities has dried up.
This has prompted the exam boards to consider the hiking of fees so as to make up for the losses they are now suffering. In the midst of capitalism’s greatest crisis, no stone is left unturned as the bourgeoisie intends to squeeze every penny to protect its class supremacy. It will be the education system and therefore the state which will have to pay this difference, ironically contradicting the aim of Osborne’s austerity. However, this may not be the only consequence with regards to exam boards struggling to survive.
The entire exam system of schools might have to be overhauled as it is simply becoming unprofitable to continue the current system. Already exam boards such as OCR are considering dropping the offer of exams in other languages, such as Polish or Bengali, as these have low entries and are therefore inefficient to run. This may perpetuate inequality for children of migrant backgrounds, already struggling to adjust to a new environment and now contending with an unfair disadvantage in examinations. Another consequence of reducing the amount of papers offered is job losses, something which appears to be marking the Tory’s first term in office as a majority since 1997. Edexcel is expected cut 500 jobs in the near future.
We should support any calls to renationalise the exam boards. This is an obvious retort to the bosses of these companies, who are only invested to make a killing on education – the real reason behind the cuts to unprofitable services. But we should also point out that nationalisation in itself is not a solution. Indeed, on a capitalist basis the cuts to exam boards would just come from the Tories in the form of austerity measures rather than the bosses in the form of profitability savings.
As with all the contradictions and problems of capitalism, there is but one solution; political and economic revolution based upon the philosophy of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Reforms may temporarily correct our education system but until we have a system which completely takes the profit incentive out of education then we will always face similar problems in the future. Education must be about the betterment and empowerment of masses, not for the training of those masses as ‘model employees’.
by Keelan Kellegher, St Thomas More Academy Political Discussion Group