Government Targets


Would doctors save fewer lives without government targets? Would the Police catch fewer criminals without government targets?

Recent headlines:


'Frontline police officers are calling for an end to the "target-driven culture" they say is forcing them to make arrests for petty offences'

Read more on the BBC News Website


'Patients are being put at risk by the government's strict targets to get them treated speedily in hospital Accident and Emergency Departments, according to doctors'

Read more on the BBC News Website

Too Late

NHS targets may have led to 1200 deaths in mid-Staffordshire according to a report by the Healthcare Commission.

Doctors were diverted away from seriously ill patients, in order to treat ones with minor problems, to make the trust look better because they were in danger of breaching the Government's four-hour waiting time target.

The trust was more concerned with hitting targets, gaining Foundation Trust status and PR marketing and had "lost sight" of its responsibilities for patient care, the report said. It is not clear how many patients died as a direct result of the failures but the Commission found that mortality rates in emergency care were between 27 per cent and 45 per cent higher than would be expected, equating to between 400 and 1,200 'excess' deaths.

Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Healthcare Commission, said the report is a "shocking story" and that there were failures at almost every stage of care of emergency patients. "There is no doubt that patients will have suffered and some of them will have died as a result," he said. "Trusts must always put the safety of patients first. Targets or an application for foundation trust status do not lessen a board's responsibility to its patients' safety." Yesterday the Healthcare Commission concluded this was not that case. The report stated that staff members claimed care of patients had become secondary to government-imposed targets.

Nurses were threatened with the sack because of the number of breaches of the target to treat A&E patients within four hours and felt they were "in the firing line".

Patients in danger of breaching the target were put in a 'clinical decision unit' which was a "dumping ground" for patients in order to "stop the clock" on the waiting time.

"Government targets have directly impaired safe clinical practice and money and greed for Foundation Trust benefits has taken priority over patients' lives."

Read more on the Telegraph News Website


As for schools - it's all about numbers now not children. The pressure on schools to move further up the league tables is so great that many Headteachers no longer care about the all-round development and welfare of individual students but only on schemes to increase the school's 'points' and thereby meet their targets. As a secondary school teacher myelf I can say that teachers now spend considerable time and effort collecting data, setting targets, analysing data, and dreaming up intervention strategies to boost the performance of students who may fall short of their individual targets. You may think this sounds good until you understand how the targets are generated...

At age 11 little Johnny sits 3 short tests in English, Maths and Science. His whole future should now be set in stone - at least that's what we're asked to believe. His results are put into an equation and - as if by magic - a predicted grade appears for History say (yes - I know he didn't set a test in History - but we're told it's a very clever equation!). This predicted grade doesn't mean much of course - after all it's based on the average performance of many students none of whom have been tested in History. And yet it is this grade which is used as a 'target' for Johnny even though Johnny may well do better than average or less well than average in History for all sorts of reasons. And if Johnny looks like he won't reach his target the school is expected to create and implement an 'intervention strategy' to make sure he reaches his 'target'. Forget those students performing better than average who may need stretching. Forget those weaker students who are trying really hard and need some encouragement. We're only interested in Johnny because 5 years earlier he sat short tests in 3 other subjects so we know what he should be achieving in History today. And if he doesn't reach his target grade?.....his teacher will be called to account. Well somebody must be to blame.

Click to read A Fairy Tale

Okay - this is going off at a tangent somewhat - but while we're talking schools what about GRADE INFLATION?

The A-level pass rate in England is now 96.9%, up for the 25th year in a row - 25th!!! A-levels have become 'the exam you cannot fail'. 

So many students now achieve grade A (e.g. 44% of maths entries get an A!) that universities can no longer distinguish between the good and the best. How is this possible? The Guardian reports: 'Ministers say the increase in the number of top grades awarded is down to better teaching practices rather than the exams being easier to pass'. Well I'm a teacher and I say that's flippin' nonsense!

In my subject - Physics - the exam is still flippin' hard (officially THE hardest A-level) but I am in no doubt that it is easier to pass than ever before. This is echoed by the Campaign for Real Education who say; 'Students who would normally have struggled with 'O' level physics at the standard of 30 years ago, are able to pass the 'A' level physics of today with good grades.'

The solution? Make the exams harder - as they should be? No - lets introduce an A* grade instead (as was done a few years ago for GCSE's). Brilliant! In a few years time when half the students are achieving A* grades we can introduce the A** grade and then, perhaps, an A*** a few years after that. It won't be long before ALL students get a grade A of some sort!

My Image

Maths Progress Over The Years

Teaching Maths in 1970

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.
What is his profit?

Teaching Maths in 1980

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or £80.
What is his profit?

Teaching Maths in 1990

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is £80.
Did he make a profit?

Teaching Maths in 2000

A logger sells a truckload of timber for £100.
His cost of production is £80 and his profit is £20.
Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Maths in

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands.
He does this so he can make a profit of £20.
What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers. )