.... when the products of the system are not deemed qualified enough to stack shelves or to waft a box of detergent in front of a bar code reader at Tesco. Sir Terry Leahy says the standards are "woefully low" and he should know - being the boss of Britain's biggest private employer.
I suppose some will argue that those in the education system - such as the inspectors, teachers and exam markers - have a much better insight into the real state of education, but those people are terribly biased towards a system which generally they support thanks to the default political stance of your average "educationalist" (i.e. raving Marxist).
The boss of Tesco knows the reality, though and the reality is that schools are churning out dross these days. Quite often it is dross with 4 or 5 GCSEs, but frankly those are virtually worthless qualifications. The vast majority of school leavers who go on to university spend the first year of their life in tertiary education doing remedial work to bring them up to the standard required to study for a degree - something which the sixth form of a secondary school is supposed to prepare them for!
I know it's set in the USA, but do you remember the film "The Graduate"? Yes, I know it had little to do with education - well, formal academic education, anyway - but Dustin Hoffman played a character called Benjamin who had just attained a bachelors degree (I can't remember what in). He was just coming up to his 21st birthday.
The character was pretty unremarkable - he was certainly no prodigy - just your average everyday graduate of those times and the average graduate in England back then was also around the 21 mark. These days - what with gap years before they start, remedial years when they do start and more gap years during their time at university - the average age of a graduate is likely to be two or three years older - and yet they appear less able than their sixties and seventies equivalents.
Our entire education system is in a dire state - from primary through to university it is failing to deliver the standards required and is falling well below the standards of 30 years ago. The reason is obvious. Education stopped being a process for preparing children for the world of work and became a tool for indoctrinating children into the left wing political dominance.
Even in that sense, though, there are signs that education is failing. Not only are more and more school leavers lacking in the basic skills which were once taken for granted it is also becoming apparent, to me anyway, that many of those school leavers (including many that left school some time ago) are increasingly disillusioned with the left wing world view that has been foisted upon them and are turning to conservatism.
Generally they tend to be from white "working class" backgrounds - the very people the left was supposed to support, but who were long ago abandoned in favour of more appreciative "victim groups" such as immigrants, gays and feminists. The working class of Britain has always been socially conservative and, I suspect, will always remain so. The fact that they have been failed so abysmally by all our mainstream parties is the reason why so-called "far-right" parties such as the BNP are starting to prosper. The truth is that the BNP offer left wing politics with social conservatism - something which the white working class is bound to find attractive after so many decades of being sacrificed for the causes of minorities.