I find myself contemplating education and the politics of education these past thirty years.I am not going to delve deep into the subject here but I heard a refreshing opinion today that is along the lines I have been thinking myself these past twenty years. Successive governments have pushed educators to get targets for children achieving this that and the other at x-age. Now I think the educators have been brainwashed or battered into submission and believe the hype themselves.I heard Sir Chris Woodhead a former head of OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills)http://www.ofsted.gov.uk calling for the school leaving age to be brought back down to the age of fourteen. I should make mention of the fact that Sir Chris Woodhead is currently chairman of a for-profit schools company called Cognita.
Fourteen I think is the age I could have left school in the later years of the 1960’s had I not been going on to further education. Back in those days there were many more apprenticeship schemes and major employers than is the case these days. It was also the time of high growth and productivity before the downturn around the corner in the mid 1970’s and almost extinct by the 1980’s with the exception of hi-tech, chemical and nuclear industries.
Though I left school to study electronics and ended up a casino manager, other friends who left for apprenticeships at fourteen finished there apprenticeships as draughtsman, instrument-makers, etc and went on to become butchers and teachers. Friends who followed neither the further education nor apprenticeship routes also ended up as casino mangers, butchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.I think I heard it said in the interview that the government was looking to educated half the school population to degree level.
Well to my mind, that is stupidity. If half a prospective labour force who are educated to the same level and the jobs are not there at the end of the education course you will merely have an unemployed labour force who believe they have been educated to take on better positions than are available to them. Add to this the funding of their studies being done through a series of loans that they need not start paying back until they are earning x-amount of wages. It would seem to me they have a few options but here are two I like firstly, as a student go through with the education get the degree and if no job at the end of it, go abroad get a job and citizenship of the country where the job is based and do not repay the study loans. Secondly, drop out of the education system just before your finals get a job doing what you want here or abroad. Try different things perhaps setting up a business or a band, travelling the world on temporary contracts, but if working here keep an eye on the earnings threshold that, you would have start paying back your study loans.
Either of these options will do considerable damage to the economy here in later years. So be prepared for the youth of those to times to consider you as having had things easy in your day. The people in government will all be at the end of their working lives with nice bank balances so no need to worry about them.
Thinking about it, these options are also open to those who might chose to leave school without going on to further education irrespective of the school leaving age being reduced.
Not yet a grumpy oldman.