What's the problem? Nail technology or league tables?
I've heard quite enough about 'Mickey Mouse' qualifications today -- and what Mr Gove and his friends are doing to clean this little mess up. No longer will schools be able to count a BTEC in Fish Husbandry as the equivalent of 2 GCSEs. And you won't be able to count a Horse Care diploma, or Health and Social Care, as equal to 4 GCSEs. The same goes for Nail Technology . . . . I have to confess, I'm not quite sure what this is, how many kids ever took the subject, or how many GCSEs it counted as. Certainly not one of my own specialist subjects, as anyone who has ever looked at my nails will confirm.
The argument is clear. Schools were using these non-academic qualifications to scoop up GCSE equivalents, and so creep up the league tables . . . which was fine, except the pupils soon found that, when they went on the job market, fish husbandry didnt have quite the same selling value as History and French, or Physics and Chemistry.
True, I'm sure. But isn't the problem the league tables, not the subjects.
Give any intelligent group of people (such as school teachers are) a competitive rank order, with funding implications and some pretty arbitrary rules, and they'll soon find a way to work the system. if it's not Nail Tech, then it's the other obvious trick of pouring resources into trying to push kids who might be in the running for a D in GCSE up to a C -- rather than push the As up to an A* (because it's much more valuable in League Table terms to up your proportion of kids with 5 GCSEs at C or above, than to up your proportion of A*s).
So change the rules, get rid of the Nail Technology route to success, and they'll find another way to get the best out of the system. And anyone for whom Fish Husbandry might have been exactly the right course will now presumably be persuaded out of it.
Of course they'll find another way. It's exactly what hundreds of university departments are currently doing, after all,in trying to get the best out of the REF.
And Doctors have been at it for years. We all know how they do it. If the rule is that a certain percentage of people have to get an appointment in 48 hours, then you have a rule which only allows most people even to request an appointment on the same day (that way you can get a perfect score)... and god help anyone who wants to plan ahead and get an appointment for 10 days time.
The fault isn't the doctors' or the lecturers' or the teachers'. It's what the league table culture forces them to do. That's what needs to be done away with.