The Brits have taken voc ed to new lows. In an effort to encourage teens to sign up for courses more suited to their abilities, education officials have expanded the number of courses that count toward "league tables," i.e. how schools are evaluated and compared. But it's not just shop and home ec that made it onto the expanded list; now pottery, cake decorating, flower arranging, and fake tanning make the cut, too. A diploma in "tanning treatments," for which students are taught how to operate sun beds and apply a fake tan without streaks, is now worth 45 points--the same as an "A" in an advanced math course. That's like creating Advanced Placement basket weaving and counting the scads of 5s scored on its exam towards the school's overall performance. But more than inflated school attainment measures is the worry that students will neglect traditional qualifications--core subjects--in favor of these easy "A" classes. Luckily, exam watchdog Ofqual has brought the matter to light. Enjoy the fake rays while they last, young Brits; tomorrow, perhaps, you'll again have to head to the Costa del Sol to obtain that grade-A tan.

"Now tanning courses are 'equal' to maths A-level," by Laura Clark, Daily Mail, February 17, 2009

"Courses in tanning 'worth the same as A-level maths' in school league tables,", February 17, 2009

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