Education: Giving our young people the kind of qualification they need

Saturday 2 November 2013 13:30

We hear so much nowadays about the need to find a way to measure how our education systems work. In England, for example, the government has just instituted a major educational reform that will see GCSEs graded in 9 levels to replace the antiquated 8 point scale. What’s even more shocking is that the old system of designating student achievement by letters (G- A*), which everyone must recognise as a way of masking the actual real world function of the metric, is to be replaced by a straightforward numerical system with 9 as the top grade. This new scale will make it easier for bosses to work out who is at the top and who is at the bottom. To say someone got a 9 in English, for example, is a much better indicator of achievement than to say they got an A. Bosses are plain-speakers and like things explained to them in plain language.

However, I feel this change, revolutionary though it is, does not go far enough. There already exists a perfectly good numerical scale that would serve to provide a real world understandable equivalent to a student’s achievement at the end of education and would be much more readily appreciated by bosses.


The ideal real-world equivalent of grading an examination would be to benchmark a student''s knowledge against a currency. So, instead of saying that after x years in the system a student has achieved a ''pass'', a ‘d’ or whatever, terms that have no real-world equivalent, we could say that he has earned 50c or 55c, etc.

Now we have a proper metric by which to understand the fruits of education. Furthermore because of currency exchange benchmarks in the real world, we have a metric of international equivalence. Our student''s 50c can be measured against an American student''s achievements by the simple expedient of applying the prevailing exchange rate, which, of course, reflects the real world value of education over there. By applying the Reuters spot rate for today, for example, I can tell you that British Pound GCSE value of 50p is equivalent to an American Dollar rate of 67.4. It is no accident that this figure represents the European point of view as regards the American education system - their grade inflation is worse than ours.

So now we have a real market in educational qualifications. Naturally downstream benefits will follow. First and foremost we will need an international organisation to administer the system. We will need a regulator. The international organisation will commission local organisations within the nation state to study, localise and administer the system. A series of international conferences will be necessary. I anticipate a synergy between financial institutions and educational institutions.

The system will reveal the true value of our education, because we all know that the free market is the only way to value anything. And it will be regulated by the financial regulator so we can expect the whole process to be fair, open, transparent and accountable. In fact, now that i think of it, the banking regulator is surely the ideal figure to guarantee that essential trustworthyness.