Sure they know trig, but can they tan?

British schools are evaluated based on how many students pass their A-level tests in courses such as literature, history, science, math, cake decorating, pottery, flower arranging and tanning, reports The Telegraph.

A certificate of merit in tanning — “students are taught how to operate sunbeds and applya fake tan without streaking” — is worth 45 points in school evaluations, known as league tables. “This is equal to an A grade in one of the six units that make up an A-level in a subject such as maths,” notes The Telegraph. The school also gets 45 points for students who earn certificates in self-tanning, cake decoration, pottery and flower-arranging. 

The intention of ministers in widening the range of qualifications in league tables was to encourage schools to sign pupils up for courses more suited to their ability, thereby encouraging them to stay in education or training.

That self-tanning course will prepare students for . . . unemployment?

Voc ed gone nuts, says Education Gadfly.

Whenever I think the U.S. education system is nuts, the Brits make me feel like we’re not so bad.

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  1. lking4truth says:

    Everybody knows you don’t take “Flower Arranging” in the spring…its too tough…You got Valentines day, then Mother’s day,…not to mention Graduation…Wait till the fall semester, and all you got to do is deliver poinsettias for Christmas.

  2. The module in tanning is part of the course of a BTEC or possibly a GNVQ in beauty therapy. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think a beauty therapist should be able to apply tanning products and use a tanning bed. But of course, if you want to laugh at the idea of occupational training, then please go ahead.

  3. I have a friend whose mother insisted that she go to beauty school after high school. She did, but then she went to get a BA in studio art.

    She opened a small business and was in the black after one year (eat that, General Motors,) makes jewelry to get through the lean months, and more or less supports her family (three children and a husband who is trying to become an art instructor at the local community college.)

  4. Brandyjane says:

    The article above sounds kind of crazy, but I’m all for more vocational training in high school. We have to get beyond the idea that college is for everyone. There should be plenty of good jobs out there for smart, motivated people who don’t necessarily want to spend (at least) four more years of their lives in school. (Personally I would be a professional student if I had unlimited funds, go back to graduate school, and get degrees in everything! But I’m just a geek that way.)

  5. Hmmm, unless there’s more to a self-tanning process than described in the article (or than what I’ve read in a magazine article titled something like “Self-tanning made easy!”) the points really seem too high. I don’t think that self-tanning is so complicated or time-consuming as to be the mental equivalent of 1/6th of a full A-level maths course.
    But I do think that arts and crafts courses like pottery can be made demanding enough to be worth so many points. And “cake-decorating” sounds like a tastier version of art. At least if all goes wrong the student can eat their exam paper. 🙂

  6. Robert Wright says:

    “Whenever I think the U.S. education system is nuts, the Brits make me feel like we’re not so bad.”

    So true.

    Maybe we should stop hiring Anglo-American teachers.

    As a GATE teacher, I once had to turn in a report on how I planned to “differentiate instruction” and boost “self-esteem.”

    I turned in the report only after being hounded to do so.

    To boost self-esteem, I planned to set aside one day a week where I wouldn’t call my students ass-holes. For greater affect, I would increase the number of times I called them that the other four days of the week.

    To differentiate instruction, all writing assignments were to be in the form of cake decorating. Students were to provide their own cakes and work wasn’t expected to be returned.

    Year after year I turned in the same report which satisfied the district’s coordinator’s need to receive this paperwork from each GATE teacher.

  7. Dick Eagleson says:


    Seriously, though, one should not underestimate the importance of providing more well-trained tannists to service so notoriously melanin-challenged a population as that of the U.K. We Californians, especially, should think twice before making fun of people living in high latitudes who lack our abundant sunshine. 😉

  8. It is fascinating that nobody has discussed the value of vocational training. Instead you have used it as a chance to laugh at something you are ignorant of.

  9. It’s even more fascinating the you’re trying to foist off the notion that a certificate in tanning is part of the math curriculum.

    Perhaps you’re being ignored because even a cursory reading of the article reveals pretty plainly that you’re deliberately trying to obfuscate the issue.

  10. I think one of the biggest mistakes made in education is to assume that EVERYONE must be college bound. While school must offer college prep programs to all, not every kid has the desire or the abilities to succeed in college. Our colleges are full of kids taking remedial classes when they would be much better served by a good vocational program. We need electricians, plumbers, mechanics and machinists just as much as we do doctors, teachers and engineers. I am tired of every parents pushing their kid to be an engineer. I personally know engineers with twenty plus years of experience and graduate degrees that are unemployed. But I also know of jobs that go begging for mechanics and journeymen technicians. Isn’t it about time we stop trying to increase our own status by pushing our kids into situations for which they are not fit?