Packing more bags

I blogged before about the UK citizenship test, that many UK citizens would fail.

Since then I came across this piece, on Labour Home of all places, describing the realities of the test process for would-be citizens. (I should add that it was the test’s location in Islington, not the article’s location on Labour Home, that led me to this!)

It’s a long piece, but well worth reading in full. Julia Svetlichnaja is a highly-educated woman who has lived here for 15 years, but she ‘failed’.

The applicants are treated in a degrading way – no privacy, no loo breaks, rude staff – as if trying to put the would-be citizens off from the start. Do the agency have targets for how many people pass? or how few?

Then there’s the questions. As Ms Svetlichnaja says, the test is “all about how to navigate through endless policies and rules, clauses and exemptions, it was all very instrumental; questions did not seek any understanding of what society is about, only how to obey the rules.”

As I blogged before, I failed the sample citizenship test and it sounds as if I would fail the real one too. Take this question:

The guidebook repeatedly assures the reader that medical treatment is free, courtesy of the NHS. An innocuous clause states: “Your GP can also refer you for specialist treatment if you have specialist needs.” When asked in the Test if specialist treatment was free, I answered yes. The answer is no.

Well then the answer is wrong. Or is this a sneak preview of future NHS policy?

Even if the results of the test are a ‘fail’ there is no need to make the experience so awful. Courtesy costs nothing (and the applicants are paying each time). The guide to citizenship makes much of Britain’s tradition of tolerance and respect. How shaming that our newest potential citizens experience the opposite.


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