Monday, 2 August 2010

Why the Coalition must make good on Tony Blair's broken promise to reform education

There were three articles in yesterday’s The Sunday Times, which underlined my conviction that successive governments have failed in their duty of care to the country’s children. But New Labour which arrived in 1997 with Tony Blair's promise its priorities would be "education, education, and education" carries the greatest burden of guilt because its defeat earlier this year brought the curtain down on 13 years of wasted opportunities and muddled thinking. Money was spent but not wisely.
Starting with the oldest age group the headline Top firms forced to reject ‘barely literate graduates’ tells its own sad story of crumbling educational standards.
Then we have Chris Woodhead’s education column; he is a former chief inspector of schools. He challenges current theory, which sees teachers “more interested in soliciting the thoughts and opinions and feelings of their pupils than they are in initiating them into the riches of our cultural inheritance.”
Woodhead’s position is summed up in the sub-headline Children need to learn facts before they can have their own opinions.
Thank goodness when I was taught King Lear at school we analysed the text rather than discuss how Cordelia would have felt being rejected by her father.
The educational system in the UK is crying out for fresh thinking. The third article offers a glimmer of hope because it focused on Frank Field. He is the Labour MP appointed by Coalition leader David Cameron to head an inquiry into poverty and life chances.
Years before he was chosen by Tony Blair with “thinking the unthinkable” on welfare –and was given the heave-ho when he did.
It looks as though Field has come to the conclusion there is only one way to break the cycle of deprivation that is producing successive generations of unsocialised ill-educated children who leave school incapable of holding down a job. In the long-term it would be cheaper for the state to pay low-income single mothers – where they wish – to stay home and help steer their kids to gainful employment rather than a prison record.
It’s a long shot that Field will get the backing to finance the initiative because of its short-term cost and radical nature. To its shame the Labour government ever wary of infuriating the right-wing press helped low-income, single mothers as with the expansion of Sure Start Children's Centres but persisted with the goal of getting them and back into the workplace.

1 comment:

  1. "Education, education, education," GC, says Jaffa. To include 'How not to become a single mother'.


What do you think? GC