David's views: Education
Education is one of the most important functions of government. It can help society in many different ways by paving the way to a good career; by helping provide social cohesion; and by providing enjoyment through learning.
Education can give a good start in life and for most children it is the main route to a successful career. Yet in 21st century Britain too many children still leave school either with a low level of attainment or without any qualifications.
Education is central to making sure the countries workforce is up to meeting the challenge of the international marketplace. Yet in Britain economic growth and prosperity has been consistently held back in each economic upturn by a lack of skills in key areas of the economy.
Education can provide help and understanding with life's problems, whether this is in being a good parent; having successful personal relationships or managing your personal finances. Yet today's emphasis on academic performance with high levels of examination from an early age leaves little room to teach the non-academic life skills that children need.
Education can also provide enjoyment and improve social cohesion as people learn more about the world they live in with its different people and cultures. Yet education for this purpose is only accessed by a limited section of society.
So my views are:
To improve the educational attainment that children get in school a number of changes to the current system are required:-
- Class sizes should be in the range of 15 to 25 pupils to allow the teacher and teaching assistants to give as much individual teaching time to each pupil.
- School finances much must work with the average number of pupils in a class of 20 pupils per class currently the number has to be 30 pupils per class.
- The Tomlinson Report on examination reform must be fully implemented, with the replacement of the current GCSE and 'A' level exams with a School Diploma that contains either all academic subjects, all vocational subjects or a mixture of both.
- A proper School Diploma will give this country for the first time a school examination system that will allow all pupils to reach their full potential. It will also keep the interest of pupils for whom the current over academic approach offers little in the way of training for future career interests they have.
- Schools need to be kept at a smaller size, less than 1000 pupils, so that pupils can get a proper sense of identity and belonging to the school. I believe this would help greatly with school discipline.
To ensure the countries workforce is up the challenges of a 21st century global economy the following should happen :-
- The number of places on further education and degree courses should be set a minimum level to meet the demands of the workplace. Currently the demand is too much pupil rather than employer led. The result is too many pupils taking courses for which there is no job for them at the end and too many employers experiencing skill shortages.
- Further Education Colleges and Universities need to work much closer with employers not only to improve the numbers of pupils doing the courses the marketplace requires but also to improve the course content. This is being done to some extent but much more can to be done in this area.
To help provide and understanding with life's problems changes to the current system are required:-
- The availability of courses in subjects like personal financial management, parent skills, understanding different cultures needs to be improved greatly. These subjects should be available for both that people who wish to and people who need to study them.
- People who have debt problems, child care issues or racial issues could be sent, by the courts if necessary, to at least face the problems they have - even if personally accepting that they have a problem is still an issue in itself.
- More schools should be accessible to teach these subjects in the evening. There would also be a benefit at all in having whole family classes for things personal financial education.
The bottom line:
- Good education is very important for the economic, social and cultural success in any country. In Britain today there is a lack of political vision in how education could be used in both the short and longer term to improve society as a whole. This must change for Britain to improve.