Education

Education is the route to opportunity and prosperity. Successive governments have never given education the top priority it deserves. Our objective must be the delivery of a first-class education for all, regardless of location or background. Any attainment gap is unacceptable.

The Peoples Party must:
double education funding to £290bn, an average of over £25,000 per pupil to transform education at all levels
establish all “state” schools as independent charitable trusts, freeing them to manage to make the best use of resources, using the best schools as role models
improve the status and skills set of teachers, paying professional salaries for the professionals that outstanding teaching demands
ensure that schools are led and managed in the most effective ways
encourage local businesses to support and sponsor schools
introduce a new ethos that makes education both flexible and relevant, equipping pupils to get the best from tomorrow’s opportunities, rather than concentrating on the traditional input based subject by subject approach
ensure the curriculum is valuable for the modern world, financial literacy and the use of spreadsheets are, for instance, more useful for most children than algebra and trigonometry
encourage a “work ready” approach, giving pupils the skills, they need to maximise their employability, trainability and life chances
ensure pupils are taught essential life skills ranging from first aid, to administration, to DIY and cooking
appreciate the need to embrace the opportunities of artificial intelligence in education and beyond
make education fun and engaging at all levels. It is vital to inspire children at an early age, to find ways to pull out their intelligence and skills to ensure that they get the most from school
make STEM integral to school life
learn from international best practices to foster excellence in educational outcomes
adopt a new system of assessing achievement such as the US’s SATs and GPAs to replace A levels and GCSEs concentrating on the “real world” skills that pupils need in the 21st century, removing formal testing at 16
introduce three 13 week terms and one 12 week term. Apart from a week over Christmas and New Year, abolish set school holidays with parents taking children out of school to suit their holiday arrangements
lengthen the school day to up to 6pm for primary school children, and later for secondary school pupils
encourage competitive sport, music, art, with a full range of “extracurricular” activities integral to the school day
ensure school meals are excellent, to include breakfast, lunch and dinner and make them free for all
invest far greater resources in early childhood, giving children the best possible start in their first five years
ensure every child has a full-time place in a kindergarten from 1 year old, facilitating parents returning to work while also encouraging workplace flexibility concerning childcare
make schools knowledge and resource centres for their communities, with superb facilities, open seven days a week. Ensure the facilities are used much more intensively, providing educational opportunities throughout life
encourage the making things, with every pupil producing a Maker Portfolio
stimulate vocational education
encourage people to pursue teaching as a “second career” so that the benefit of their work/life experience is passed on. Abolish the need for teaching qualifications for mature teachers, focusing on inspiring pupils to achieve and succeed. The idea is “those that can do, and then they teach”
abolish all university tuition charges, reintroduce student grants and “wipe clean” existing student debt, which in some cases, can lead to people paying more in ‘tax” than they take home
reduce the number and increase the quality of university courses. Encourage other routes to post 18 qualifications such as a National Construction Corps to give vital skills in building, plumbing and electrical work
allow parents who choose to pay for education to offset school fees against education tax
never allow education to be disrupted in the way it has been over the pandemic
make a British liberal education available worldwide with a free global online school called “Open School”, modelled on the Open University concept

Investing in education must be at the core of the government’s philosophy. Education is vitally important to ensure prosperity and opportunity. It is key to closing the UK’s productivity gap with other countries.

In Britain, we have some of the best schools in the world. With a few exceptions these are private schools, which charge fees way in excess of what state schools receive per pupil. This results in massive disparities in resources, facilities and attainment, with most children denied life chances and our country all the poorer because of the lost potential. With the funding schools receive, it is amazing what is achieved but as the saying goes “you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” Imagine what schools will deliver when resources are dramatically increased.

Money is not the sole driver of success, very significant changes are also required to what and how students are taught, together with strict discipline and better leadership of schools to maximise potential. Our focus must be on understanding how each child is intelligent and then helping them make the best of their skills.

Transforming education offers hope. So many of the problems we face today, whether they be poverty, ill health, crime or even debacles such as Brexit, are down to failures of education. Education enables people to understand matters and make informed decisions and judgements.

We must understand that investing more at the front end of life gives far greater returns in individual and national prosperity later, not to mention the significant savings in not paying to address problems caused by educational failure. In short, for every £1 spent on education, much more is generated or saved.

For every citizen, an excellent education is indispensable for a happy, prosperous and fulfilled life. It is essential if we are to make real progress in reversing our nation’s relative decline.