Today brings confirmation
that No.10 has not stood in the way of Vince Cable appointing Les Ebdon as the new director of fair access. Ebdon’s appointment is depressing for several reasons. First, Cable has ridden
roughshod over the objections of the BIS select committee to his choice. So much for all of the coalition’s talk about respecting parliament — this is executive arrogance at its worst.
Second, Ebdon represents the mindset that has done so much damage to British education in the past 50 years. It is worrying that he does not seem to appreciate that the biggest ‘root
cause’ of poorer pupils not getting into top universities is the quality of state schooling in deprived areas. His appointment will send a chill down the spine of every academically elite
university in the country. The former vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire will now be sitting in judgement on their admissions’ policies.
Finally, it shows how this country — or certainly its governing establishment — haven’t yet woken up the challenges we are going to have to face in competing in the global economy
in the twenty-first century. In South Korea, children are being pushed so hard that the government has had to "http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/opinion/sunday/building-self-control-the-american-way.html">hire inspectors to enforce a 10pm curfew on tutoring. In Britain, we’re appointing a man who
defends Mickey Mouse courses to oversee university access.