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Flaws in the Education Bill

Following the release of a list of "less ideal" A-levels by the Russell Group, Sean Glas contemplates the consequences of raising the age of compulsory education

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Flaws in the education bill

Following the release of a list of "less ideal" A-levels by the Russell Group, Sean Glas contemplates the consequences of raising the age of compulsory education.

Taking rights and responsibilities away from younger members of our generation seems to be a theme of New Labour's. The increase in the legal smoking age and the muted rise of the minimum age for taking a driving test are just a couple of examples. However, the attempt to raise the school leaving age is misguided paternalism towards the young at a whole new level. It's not that there is anything wrong with aspiring to having a larger skilled workforce, in fact it's a fundamentally worthy aim. Nevertheless, education for teenagers based solely on compulsion is ineffective, immoral and unnecessary; and compulsion is at the very heart of Gordon Brown's educational opportunity Bill.

The abject failure of forcing secondary school students to learn that which feels both irrelevant and inconsequential to their future will have been experienced by many an ex-comprehensive school student now studying at York. Symptoms include disruptive behaviour in the classroom, a general disdain for academic achievement and students writing nothing in exams. These examples are endemic within the UK schools and a direct result of the flawed principles upon which the education of young adults in this country is based.

Once a youth reaches an age where their classroom behaviour cannot be shaped by intimidation from the teacher, in my experience around 14, all effective techniques of educating must be based on persuasion and appealing either to an individual's desire to learn or the relevance of a subject in pursuing personal goals. As such the idea that a 16 to 18 year old can be compelled to carry on with conventional education appears absurd. Particularly since under-motivated teenagers are much more likely to pick the "easy" A-levels recently dismissed by the Russell Group. There is nothing wrong with instead, taking time out to get a job, go travelling or volunteer and decide what you want to do with your life. Essentially a person should be able to partake in education and training at any point in their lives. From both society and the individual's point of view the only time real value for money is achieved, is when the student makes a conscious decision to learn, not a default choice of last resort.

Whilst I can accept the desire to increase involvement in higher education, countries such as Sweden show that high participation 90% needn't involve compulsion. Furthermore I find the idea that people only a few years younger than me should not be given choices, simply because they may make the wrong one, to be condescending and dangerous. Respect and responsibility seem to be things that all politicians crave, yet they are only attainable if you give people ownership and control of their lives at an early age. Let people make decisions, let people make mistakes and then, from their own experiences they will make the right choices. More citizenship will be taught that way than a compulsory GCSE.

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1 Comment

jenni Posted on Monday 18 Jan 2021

heyyyyyyyy sean this is a amazing piece of writing you must of put outstanding effort into it. it is amazing!!!!! from your lovely little sister


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