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Educational policy Essay

On Tuesday May eleventh, 2010 David Cameron became the British Prime Minister after forming a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. This followed five days of negotiation as the general election had produced a hung parliament. While the Conservatives were the largest party, they held an inadequate number of seats to meet the threshold for majority rule, and so formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, (guardian.co.uk, 2010). Even prior to becoming Prime Minister, David Cameron spoke at length on the Conservatives’ education election manifesto by announcing plans to attract the most educated professional teachers into the classroom. Central to his party’s focus on education was his party’s desires to improve the standard of teacher’s education, he said, “The most important thing that will determine if a child succeeds is not their background, the curricula, the type of school or the amount of funding, it’s the teacher,” (dailymail.co.uk, 2010).

This paper intends to examine the evolution of the Academy school system under the current coalition government, make a comparison between the current the education policy under the coalition government and the tripartite system of the 1944 Butler Education Act. It will examine the effects of both systems on the pupils within them, whether in fact pupils will benefit from the Academy and free school systems or is it the case that there are also be some pupils who are disadvantaged by this system. There will also be an examination of what will happen to pupils who are not educated in either the academy or free school systems and the influence that market forces will have on the establishment and success of schools. Education is the delivery of knowledge, skills and information from teachers to students; the process of becoming an educated person, (Carr & Kemmis, 1986). Education promotes the abilities to perceive accurately, think critically and act effectively to achieve self-selected goals and aspirations, (Gelber Cannon, 2011). It allows individuals to map their experiences and provides a variety of reliable routes for individual’s to return to optimal states when they find themselves facing difficult decisions and life events.

Crucially in modern era, education itself is seen as a vital resource for global economies, in fact most first world economies are characterised as ‘learning economies’, (Tze-Chang, 2011). It is the acquisition and retention of knowledge that drives global economies which, in previous generations, were based entirely on pure market forces, (Avis, 1996). Consequently an economy based exclusively on market forces would be unable sustain learning and innovation, (Morgan, 1997). For modern economies to flourish they must develop a combination of a ‘learning economy’ with market forces, (Beckett & Hager, 2002). It is for these reasons that successive governments have recognised the essential value of a higher educated population and have improve the way in which the population is taught from school age right throughout life, (Wolf & Evans, 2011). Even Prior to the Coalition Government taking power, there had been a move towards Neoliberal ideology from the previous two governments.

From 1997 New Labour brought about changes within educational policies that Tony Blair stated were part of the ‘Third Way’. This was intended to evolve social democratic ideals into encompassing the Neo-liberalism that had been prevalent for the decade under Thatcher’s Government, (Hill,2001). Neo-liberalism attempts to evolve away from social democratic principles such, redistributive policy, taxing the very wealthy, defending equal opportunities with a strongly proactive sense of achieving more equal outcomes, relying on the high standard qualifications of professional groups (such as teachers) and regulating these professionals in the interests of equal opportunities. Neo-liberalism focuses on the continuation of the national curriculum which has had a strong influence from central
government. So for instance, Margaret Thatcher insisted that events of the previous twenty years had not to be included in history lessons, (Thatcher, 1980). Even today many teachers believe the national curriculum prevents them encouraging creativity and innovation, focusing on a narrow curriculum and a strict testing regime, (McCormick & Burn, 2011).

Neo-liberalism encourages the competition of schooling through supporting market forces with the spread of selective `specialist schools’, (Hursh, 2005). New Labour called these ‘Modernising’ comprehensive education’ by encouraging ‘selection and diversity’, (Kassem et al, 2006). One important area of neo-liberal ideology is marrying of private organisations with public services such as education; New Labour termed these `creating new partnerships’, (Clarke et al, 2000). These ideologies question of `standards’ achieved in school tests expecting that education focus on achieving good test results and making these a requirement for entry into Higher Education, (Rowden, 2011). There are concerns that neo-liberal education policies increase in inequalities in terms of social class, (Hill, 2003).

In many ways the new school systems will create winners, those who attend new inspiring buildings that are full to the brim with facilities and opportunities for the pupils, however there will also be losers, those who continue to attend buildings possibly built in the 1950’s with teachers who are not amongst the highly paid or highly educated, (Griffiths, 2007). Investment by the private sector, (which is prone to the nuances of market forces) and reduction in public spending on education is considered `increased public expenditure’, from a neoliberal approach, (Goodwin, 2011). The Importance of Teaching, The Schools White Paper 2010, was published 24th November 2010, its intention was to improve the standard of education for teachers and allowing head teachers to recruit and set pay for the highest educated teachers.

Following this the Coalition formulated their plans for the future of education in the UK. This would in some respects follow on from New Labour’s neo liberalistic approach of including private organisations in the creation of new ‘Academy Schools’, (Gunter & Forrester, 2008). The first academies were introduced under the Labour government in 2002, (Higher Standards, 2005). Academy schools are independent from local education authorities and are state funded with assistance from external organisations; these can include businesses, charities or other governmental bodies. The idea followed the inception of charter schools in USA, (Budde, 1988). They were also influenced in part by the Swedish School system. Charter schools are American schools which are independent from their ‘public school system’, (Finn et al, 2000).

They were intended to allow the schools themselves more freedom to be more innovative, while being accountable to local education boards for improved student achievement. Charter schools were meant to create partnerships between educators, parents and students. Many Charter Schools began in the 1990’s; however there has been widespread criticism of the Charter school system. One criticism is that funding has in fact not followed the schools, which were often built within deprived areas. This in fact has meant that many have actually lost funding and have gone into administration, (Buckley & Schneider, 2007). Kunskapsskolan schools were established in Sweden in 1999, it translates into ‘Knowledge School’s and currently operates 30 secondary schools in Sweden. Kunskapsskolan schools are privately managed, non-selective and non-fee paying, with funding for these schools provided by the Swedish government, (Eiken, 2011). The Kunskapsskolan model in Sweden has produced higher than average results and is currently the model behind a number of the UK academy schools.

The Kunskapsskolan model was based on personalised learning with every student following a long-term learning and attainment plan which is formulated between the student and the student’s Personal Tutor and their parents. The learning plan was designed to ensure that every student achieves the very best results that he or she is capable of. Kunskapsskolan students are offered the opportunity to work at their own pace, using their own learning style to achieve their own goals and those set by accrediting bodies. Parents are encouraged to actively engage in their children’s education, participate in setting goals and are able to monitor their child’s progress through online reporting systems, (Ball, 2008). New Labour intended that the establishment of academies would drive up standards by replacing failing schools in struggling education authorities, (Chitty, 2009). Under New Labour’s guidelines the academy schools could be established only if they held a sponsor and could raise two million pounds in independent funding. The government would then contribute £25 million, (Pennell & West, 2007).

The academy would then run the school outside of the local education authority’s (LEA) funding control, but still operate within all the national requirements for curriculum and standards, (Griggs ,2010). The Coalition Government has greatly expanded the number of Academy schools. The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, initially asked every head teacher in England if they would be interested in achieving academy status. By 31st August 2010, 170 mainstream schools had made an application to convert to academy status and as of 1st April 2012 there are 1776 academies in the UK, (education.gov.uk, 2012). The Academies Bill opened up the possibility of applying for Academy status to all schools and no longer required these schools to hold sponsorships or raise the initial £2 million, (Wilson, 2011).

All other schools, irrespective of their ‘Ofsted’ rating, were also able to apply to become academies if they are part of a group which includes a high performing school or if they join an existing successful academy trust. For the first time since its inception primary schools are also permitted to apply for Academy school status, (Bassett et al, 2012). Ofsted refers to the acronym used for the Office for Standards in Education. It monitors and is the overall regulatory body for the provision childminding, child day care, children’s centres, children’s social care, state schools, independent schools (including Academy schools) and teacher training providers, colleges and learning and skills providers in England, (ofsted.gov.uk, 2012).

It also monitors the work of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Following this, The Coalition Government introduced The Education Bill into the House of Commons on Wednesday 26th January 2011 and received Royal Assent on 15th November 2011, (legislation.gov.uk, 2011). The Education Act specified that from now on all new maintained schools must be setup as either an academy or ‘free schools’. So in effect there will be no new state schools, (Needham et al, 2006). Prior to this they launched a new initiative to introduce what they termed ‘Free School’s into the education arena. Free schools are proposed and governed by local community groups such as groups of parents, faith groups or other interested parties.

They are free at source to parents and are all-ability state-funded schools set up in response by local people to meet the needs of local communities and in order to improve education for children in their community, (Leo et al, 2010). The first Free Schools opened in September 2011. Alongside Academies and Free schools, The Government also proposed other types of secondary educational settings governed by local community groups such as the University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools were launched. The process of creating a free school begins with the Secretary of State entering into an Academy Arrangement with a person, group of people, or an organisation. These arrangements usually take the form of an “Academy Agreement”.

In this agreement, the government agrees to provide funds for the school in exchange for certain undertakings, including that the school provides provision for children with special educational needs and different abilities. that the curriculum is balanced and broadly based, that in the case of secondary schools, they provide an emphasis in a particular subject such as sport, science or the arts, and that the pupils are drawn wholly or mainly from the area in which the school is located, (Gunter, 2011). One concern voiced is the claim that Academy schools will be completely outside of the control of not only education authorities but national overarching governmental control, (Woods, 2011).

However even the regular state schools have increasingly less control by local education authorities and it is certainly the case that successive reforms over the past two decades have given all schools much greater autonomy, (Bangs et al, 2010). Most legislation that governs schools is currently derived from national government or national bodies, such as the national curriculum or Standard Assessment Tests, Ofsted, or government legislation on issues such as safeguarding or Every Child Matters, (Field, 2010). Local education authorities, in fact have increasingly less control over individual schools. LEA’s continue to be responsible for the provision of school places, sitting appeals when a child does not gain a place at their chosen school and taking responsibility when a school fails, (Bradley & Taylor, 2010). LEA’s also continue to have responsibility for the provision of educational psychologists and special educational needs support.

Nonetheless, Academy schools system does provide an increasing amount of freedom not only for head teachers and teachers, in what they teach, how they are structured, pay structures, freedom to adapt the national curriculum and the freedom to vary the length of the school day and how the school sets its holidays, (Bassett et al, 2010) They also offer freedom to pupils in the sorts of the subjects they study and even in fact the kinds of examinations they gain, for instance, the English baccalaureate, (Taylor, 2010) When asked by the BBC’s Mike Baker in 2010, “what exactly makes an academy different?” The Former Schools Commissioner, Sir Bruce Liddington, stated that they are more, “a state of mind more than anything else”, (bbc.co.uk, 2010). Sir Bruce Liddington is the director-general of E-Act (formerly Edutrust Academies Charitable Trust), which is responsible 14 academies and free schools which aim to target the education of children in Britain’s most deprived areas.

However critics have voiced concerns in regards to E-Act’s expansion plans in that they wish to create a “super-chain” of 250 academy and free schools within five years. There has also been criticism of how these schools will be run and the way market practices will influence the teaching, such as buying and selling of intellectual property, (guardian.co.uk, 2011). The Education Secretary, Michael Gove has stated that “outstanding” schools may possibly no longer have to undergo the Ofsted inspection, freeing them to concentrate solely on education and not preparing for audits. He has also made the link between “outstanding” schools and Academy schools, by allowing all “outstanding” schools to automatically achieve Academy status. Clearly this equates academies with quality, (Dept. of Education, 2010). New academy schools will not be able to select purely on ability, however Grammar schools which have converted to Academy status can continue to do so, (Miller, 2011). Nonetheless Academies can and do select according to the behaviour of the child, (Sales et al, 2010). Much available research points to there being an increase in challenging behaviours amongst children and young people who come from deprived backgrounds, (Wickham, 2011).

Michael Gove himself stated, in a speech at Durand Academy in London, ‘There is a direct line to deprivation which begins when children are failed in primary because their behaviour is not policed with proper boundaries and they are not taught how to read properly. When these young people arrive in secondary school they cannot follow the curriculum and cover up their failure with a show of bravado, acting up in class’, (politics.co.uk, 2011). Michael Gove also made the link between children who have no positive male role model in their lives and, ‘the Educational underclass’, who he believed would ultimately continue on to become, ‘NEETS’ (not in education, employment or training), again making the links between behaviour and social and economic deprivation, (Attewell & Newman, 2011). The attempt to bring children out of poverty and encourage participation in education has been a central theme for the Neo-liberalism policies of the Coalition Government and the previous New Labour Government, (Hall, 2011).

However it was the Coalition Government alone who expanded on the idea of the Academy Schools to Include ‘Free Schools’ and the thinking behind such proposals as the University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools. Free Schools are a recent concept introduced by the Coalition Government, making it possible for the first time parents, teachers, faith groups, charities and businesses to set up their own schools, (Morris, 2011). They are non-fee paying and supported by government. Free schools are subject to the School Admissions Code of Practice, other than that they are permitted to accept only those children they chose. The government has stated that Free Schools must meet the same admissions criteria as the National Admissions Code, however they will have the flexibility to select based on their own criteria. These types of schools are an extension of the existing Academies Programme. Free schools are expected to offer a broad and balanced curriculum. They are still subject to Ofsted inspections and are expected to comply with standard performance measures, (education.gov.uk, 2011)

The first 24 free schools opened in autumn 2011. They represent the most overtly market-oriented policy as part of the neo-liberal Coalition government’s school reform policies in England. There is some degree controversy, as these schools are led by market forces and again to achieve success will be motivated to accept only children from a particular group (for instance those of a particular faith). This could lead to some democratic discrimination if they are not made to be fully accountable in terms of the application process, the governance of free schools, and their effect on local authorities, (Hatcher, 2011).

There are also some concerns that some free schools will be run for profit. So for example, it was reported in The Guardian Newspaper,(guardian.co.uk, 2012), that the head of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch; who is currently being investigated on charges of telephone hacking had had secret meetings with The Education Secretary Michael Gove expressed an interest in applying to set up a free school, (guardian.co.uk, 2012). One example of a free school will be the Phoenix Free School in Oldham which was conceived by Tom Burkard, a former teacher and military instructor.

The school itself will be run by ex-military staff and will have a focus on discipline. Burkard says the school will teach children between the ages of 11years and 18years, and will encourage high standards of behaviour, literacy and numeracy, (localschoolsnetwork.org.uk, 2012). University Technical Colleges are described as a new concept in education which offers secondary age pupils from age 14years to 19years olds vocational courses at specialist colleges. There initially proposed by New Labour but had cross party support. The former education secretary, Lord Kenneth Baker proposed them as a means to promote the concept prepare younger people for work. He said, “We want to forge a partnership between vocational education and universities, further education colleges and employers.” Each university technical college (UTC) will be sponsored by a university or college of further education. They will develop their own specialism, usually to reflect the university’s area of excellence.

The colleges are intended to be small, with numbers no more than 800 students. Funding is intended to come from sponsorship and from government. The university will not be required to provide funds; however, their assistance is needed for curriculum development, teaching support and guiding student’s education progression. These sorts of courses are intended to reflect a normal weekday and the students will embark on high quality vocational courses rather than purely academic ones. However, there is a requirement that the pupils continue have a background in academic study. Following post sixteen education, the pupils can progress onto apprenticeships utilising support from local employers for day placements with the most up to date equipment. This enhances the employment experience of students and is intended to encourage the development of a work ethic. Pupils can progress on to study for diplomas, A-levels other related qualifications, (edge.co.uk, 2012).

There have been some concerns voiced about the UTCs. For instance, John Bangs who is the head of education at the National Union of Teachers, fears this could lead to reintroducing widespread selection at 14, “Academies and UTCs are predicators of the kind of pessimism that kids are forever destined for one or other route. It sorts the sheep from the goats, which I’m very opposed to”, (guardian.co.uk, 2010). But Professor Alison Halstead, who is heading a UTC sponsored by Aston University, due to open in 2012, says fears are unfounded. “Nobody wants academic selection. This type of technical institution is not going to be suitable for all youngsters, and, if it’s not, there are 76 other schools in this area to choose from”. However the Department of Education has strict selection criteria which currently allow UTC’s to select only 10% of pupil admissions based on their aptitude and states that all of new the new school types must comply with the School Admissions Code, (Clegg, 2011).

The Studio School is a yet another new concept in education, which seeks to address the growing gap between the skills, and knowledge that young people require to succeed, and those that the current education system provides. Studio Schools are designed for 14-19 year olds of all abilities. They are small schools for 300 students; and with year-round opening and a 9-5 working day, the emphasis will be on creating an environment more like a workplace than a school, (Fuller & Unwin, 2011). Working closely with local employers, Studio Schools will offer a range of academic and vocational qualifications including GCSEs in English, Maths and Science, as well as paid work placements linked directly to employment opportunities in the local area. Students will gain a broad range of employability and life skills through the skills framework, and will have the option to go on to university, further training, and into employment.

There are also the concerns that these sorts of education facilities, like the free schools could have influence from market forces, (Bonell et al, 2011). Evidence in the past has suggested that this has a negative effect on children’s education and reduces their life choices in later life, (Gorard, 1997). As mentioned previously, many of the Charter Schools in USA have since failed many because they failed to attract the investment of businesses. The reasons for this are diverse, however some commentators highlight that many were developed within deprived inner city areas. Business ventures did initially contribute funding to set these schools up but ultimately withdrew support as the area’s the schools were built in, were not in positions to sustain market involvement. It appeared that many were unlikely to become self-sustaining without on-going support from philanthropic communities, (Minow, 2000). It is the frailty of involving market forces into education that causes concerns for many.

There are also issues as regards future life choice, for example, would a child whose school was funding entirely by a bank and who experienced the full weight of that bank’s marketing focuses, make another choice as regards their banking when they reached adulthood, (Adkins, 1999)? With all these new types of education structures there appears to be central themes of freedom and flexibility for teachers and head teachers with new opportunities for children, however alongside this there are concerns that these schools will create divisions within the education system. Also what of the children who will not get the opportunity to attend one of these new types of schools? Will they ‘suffer’ from attending less prestigious schools? What of teachers who do not hold prestigious qualifications? Although the new schools are not able to select purely on intellect, they can make some selections which state schools cannot, they can also select out children who have behavioural problems.

As has been discussed earlier, this does tend to discriminate against children from deprived backgrounds and these were part of the criticisms that the ‘tripartite system of education’ was charged with in the 1960’s In 1944 The Butler Act brought about radical changes for the British Education System with the basic aim was to give every pupil an equal opportunity to develop his or her talents and abilities to the full, within a free system of state education, (Dent ,1948). For the first time the structure of Education in England and Wales was divided into three stages; Primary schools which taught children from 5years old up to the age of 11years, secondary from the age of 11years until 15years (This was increased to 16years from 1973) and then finally optional post-16yrs education in either an academic setting and on to Higher education or vocational qualifications via the further education route.

The most important aspect of this was that for the first time, free secondary education became compulsory for all. At the time the Butler Education Act received cross party support, (Boyle, 1972). The Butler Act proposed three different types of schools; grammar schools (which were intended for the most academic of children), secondary technical schools (which were intended for children who were gifted in the arts, technology or crafts) and secondary modern schools (For everyone else). This became known as the tripartite system. The tripartite system did allow for a small number of schools to combine all three types of school into one ‘Comprehensive system’, however in reality this did not happen, (Francis, 1995).

Pupils were assessed by a tests called ‘the eleven plus’ which was administered to them at age 11years. This was a once only test after their 11th birthday. The system was intended to allocate pupils to the schools best suited to their “abilities and aptitudes”. However increasingly there were many criticisms directed at this system. For instance, the once only test decided a child’s future, the late developers, or children who were ill on the day, children with dyslexia or social problems were expected to achieve the same as any other child. It was almost certainly true that the test which was given by more or less exclusively middle class teachers was biased towards middle class children, for example it might ask a question which related to classical composers, something a middle class child would be more likely to answer right than a working class child, (Moore,1996).

The intention had been that there would be parity of esteem between the three types of school, with none holding a more prestigious position than the other two. However, there were often only two types of school available in practice, those pupils classed as ‘Technical’ were denied the opportunity to attend Secondary Technical schools as very few were built. As a result Technical children went to Secondary Modern schools, (Elder, 1965). It was official policy to mark down female scores, so girls on the borderline of the academic threshold were denied a Grammar school education just because of their gender which resulted in them going to Secondary Moderns, (Deem, 1981). In effect, these meant that it became a one opportunity to pass or fail the eleven plus. Those who passed were granted the opportunity to attend Grammar schools, those who failed would be forced to attend Secondary Moderns, (Hendrick, 1997). Ultimately the result that vast majority of children went to Secondary Modern schools, (around seventy percent), and only about five percent were accepted into Secondary Technical schools.

Consequently the majority of children were automatically considered to have ‘failed’ the eleven plus, (Simon, 1986). Middle class children certainly derived the most benefit out of the tripartite system, and this was directly at the expense of the working class. Children from middle class homes were more likely to be focused to achieve within education, (Tomlinson, 1991). Middle class children were taught and tested by mostly middle class teachers which asked questions about experiences they were familiar with, (Welford, 1968). Working class children, in particular experienced the democratic prejudice that has more recently been a major criticism of the New Academy school system.

For instance the eleven plus was seen as culturally biased towards the middle class; questions related to table place settings for example, something a middle class child would be more likely to be aware of than a working class child, (Marwick, 2003). Children attending the Secondary modern schools were not intended to achieve academic success or enter into the professions. Curriculums were developed out of the interests of local employers, such as manufacturers and agriculture and consequently taught subjects with a practical dimension. As there was no external examinations to be taken at the end of the pupil’s education and pupils were not under pressure to achieve, (Heath, 1984). There was a possibility of staying on for a further year and in the 1950s there was a growing tendency to do so.

Those who continued into the 5th year could sit the General Certificate of Education (GCE) and a very small number did continue on to Higher education and the professions, (Little & Westergaard 1964). However this system did change things for many school children. It ensured secondary education was free for all and one of the results of the Act was to educate and mobilise women and the working class for the first time ever (Thompson, 2000). The Tripartite System was abolished by the new Labour government of 1974 and The 1976 Education Act finally ended any selection of pupils by ability thus officially ending the Tripartite System, (Aldrich, 2002). Although certainly there are a small number of Grammar schools who continue to operate and continue to select based entirely on ability.

This is in part due to The Thatcher government allowing selection once again in 1979, and it was used increasingly by individual schools eager to choose the best pupils, (Chitty, 1989). In 1986 the first City Technology Colleges were proposed, arguably inspired by the Technical schools. Although currently there have no further attempts made to restore the Tripartite System, the perceived failure of the Comprehensive System gave New Labour and currently the Coalition Government the impetus to propose “Beacon Schools”, “Advanced Schools” and an “escalator” or “ladder” of schools, (Brighouse, 2003). So will the new school systems create disparity? Certainly for pupils attending Academies do appear to gain much more from their state school counterparts; often built in brand new or newly renovated buildings, with smart new uniforms, lots of facilities and the best, most engaged and most highly paid teachers, (Gewirtz, 2009).

As was discussed earlier, there has been a move by the Coalition Government to increase professional standing amongst teachers, by only allowing those with a first class honours degree to even enter the profession, (education.gov.uk, 2012). As a consequence these young teachers will obviously be sought after and will be attracted to the schools that pay the most, (Avis, 2011). Clearly Academy Schools, who can set their own pay scales, are more likely to attract the best educated teachers, (Lupton, 2011). So what of the rest? Michael Gove has often made the link between non-academy schools and ‘failure’. Immediately thrusting these children in a position of being ‘written off’ as ‘no hopers’ and failures; destined to a life of being a NEET or ending up in youth custody, (politics.co.uk, 212).

Will these children in the future, become ‘the rest’ who under the tri-partite system ended up in secondary modern schools, those who were never quite good enough to meet the standards for a grammar school education? In April 2012, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers’ union (NASUWT) meeting for its annual conference voiced concerns that academies will be used to dismantle national teacher’s pay agreements and will attack the stability of existing state schools, (bbc.co.uk, 2012). Michael Gove has also suggested that organisations of individuals who oppose the changes in the school systems are, “happy with failure”, (bbc.co.uk, 2012). However in fact, the Academy school system itself has not produced the outstanding educational results expected, (Barker,2012 ). Barker (2012) stated that the changes in the school system were more likely to, ‘provoke a crisis than to sustain the last government’s drive for improved effectiveness’.

There have also been other anxieties voiced by individuals, such as the celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver who accused the Government of attempting to make profits from school children by de-regulating school meals and allowing schools to utilise private companies and his biggest worry, fast food outlets to provide meals for school children, (bbc.co.uk, 2010). For British society to compete in the Global market place, it has to continue to educate its young people. The United Kingdom (UK) can no longer rely on its manufacturing base or the products of commonwealth nations. In the future the UK’s most saleable commodity will be its knowledge. Any Government will need to invest in its young people, encouraging in them a desire to learn and stimulate participation. The UK’s current market is dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance. For these services to continue to maintain the prestigious place they hold globally they must supported by continued innovation from information technology, architecture, science and the arts. However education is vital not just for the contributions the next generation will provide in creating wealth but as a part of human life in of itself.

The importance of education to children and to British life is beyond question. It therefore should continue to attract the highest levels of investment from Government. Government’s led by individuals who most understand what it means to teach children; teachers. Teachers should be the ones to set standards, not big businesses. Children should be encouraged to participate because school is a place where they can feel valued and happy. Schools should ensure safety, not just within buildings or against school bullies but free from the influence of market forces. Governments should encourage parity across all schools and not attempt to make links between certain types of school and failure. The tripartite system benefitted one group of children with the exclusion all others. Modern education policies should not continue to do the same, because as Ghandi said, ‘You must be the Change you wish to see in the world’.

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