An educational musing

Since I was contacted with regard to my general views on education I thought I would share my response:

I cannot speak for the whole of the Labour Party, but I can tell you where I stand on education.

I guess I am a little old fashioned but ultimately I want an education that works for everyone. This means, in my humble opinion, universal comprehensive education.

I do not think that selection works, and I think all children should be in schools together. This does not mean I want to scrap streaming by ability, although for some subjects this is not relevant anyway.

I like the idea of parents supporting their local schools. This is good for children as this would encourage them to walk (exercise), and would encourage sociableness. Living near one’s school mates has to help in encouraging kids off their sofas, away from keyboards, and actually being out and about and more active.

It would also help end the traffic nightmare that is the daily school run.

I want education paid for out of general taxation, although I think we have to also accept that some element of tuition fee is required. I will be pushing for a drop though.

I am unhappy with school league tables. I think assessment is fine and should be used to measure success within a school – pitting one school against another is wrong.

I support the Anti-Academy Alliance. Schools should not become businesses, nor should they be the plaything of the rich, or those with an agenda.

I am no educator, and my formal education ended we I reached sixteen. Yet, I liked it when the exam system was changed to take more account of coursework because I could see that not everyone was suited to examinations, and an off-day for those who were could also see failure when success was within reach.

I like breakfast clubs and free school meals. I do not like playing fields being sold off. I like to have goals that maximise attendance at universities. I like financial incentives that encourage poorer families to stick with formal education. I do not like that apprenticeships and vocational courses being seen as second-rate.

I also think that business and enterprise should be encouraged. Businesses must have faith in the education system, and this system must ensure their clientele is fit for purpose as regards to the world of work.

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2 Responses to An educational musing

  1. … accept that some element of tuition fee is required. I will be pushing for a drop though.

    How do you respond to the argument that a drop in tuition fees:
    – does not help the poor as they are unlikely to have to pay back their tuition fee loans anyway
    – makes little difference to the rich who don’t notice the difference – but hey every little helps!

    The real issue is how students from less well off backgrounds fund their immediate day to day living – and this is surely an issue of “cost of living”.

    To cover rent, food, travel and any other living costs, students can borrow up to £5,555 outside London and £7,751 for students in London.

    Not to beat about the bush, it’s not going to be enough, and the assumption is that parents will contribute the rest.

    But parents might not have enough money either. A survey from financial data firm Experian in the autumn showed many parents have to find an extra £5,000 per year – and many are struggling. Many families don’t have much spare disposable income.

    And unlike the deferred debt of the tuition fee, the costs of rent, food, books and travel have to be paid in upfront cash. …

    There are grants – but they don’t stretch far up the income levels. If parents’ combined incomes reach more than £42,600 the amount of grant on offer is zero.
    BBC : Are we missing the real student loan story?

    Those who are supported by “Bank of Mum and Dad”, don’t have to work whilst supposedly studying “full-time” – and probably do better as a result and this probably translates into early career opportunities.

    If “Bank of Mum and Dad” can’t support your cost of living costs, you have to take one (or more) jobs, may not be able to attend all your academic commitments and have to study whilst tired. This probably results in poorer grades and reduced job prospects – and yet these are the people with crippling loans taken out to support their living costs. Deferred tuition fees are an irrelevance.

  2. I also think that business and enterprise should be encouraged. Businesses must have faith in the education system, and this system must ensure their clientele is fit for purpose as regards to the world of work.

    When I was at school (1960s/1970s) the idea was that schools educated and then businesses trained*. Nowadays it seems that businesses expect schools (and colleges/universities) to do both!

    Schools should not be the servant or plaything of businesses and should not have to dance to their tune.

    Businesses should accept that it is their responsibility to train people to do jobs – and if they are worried about losing people that they have trained, perhaps they should look at whether they offer the sort of terms and conditions necessary to retain staff that they have trained.

    * If unsure of the difference between education and training, consider the difference between sex education and sex training!

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