Education Reform Ahead in the UK?

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Education in the UK may be on the verge of a seismic shift if the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility and leading think-tank Centre Forum are put into practice. In a move away from the stultifying obsession with rote learning and grades, pupils would also also be graded using non-academic criteria. Pupils would be issued with school leaving certificates that would detail their contribution to school life – including membership of sports clubs, work experience placements, community work and attitudes toward education.

How this reformist proposal will sit with the draconian zeal of Neo-Govian educational principles is something only time will tell. If – as is sadly the case at the moment – education continues to be kicked around as a political football, true reform will remain as distant as David Moyes’ Man Utd from the Champions League places. That the origins of this proposal comes from a crossbench source is heartening and highlights education as something apart, which exists above the mud slinging of traditional politics.

The report is also timely as it marks a response to what employers have been saying for some time – that the “soft skills” of young people must be improved upon if they are to thrive in the workplace. John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry has been quick to lend his backing to the proposals. His “we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want” seems like a very enlightened response and chimes with the work that we at Peace Child International are doing on building young people’s employability skills.

Over the last couple of weeks our Work the Change programme has reached out to more than 400 young people in the UK. What sets Work the Change apart is that it is delivered by 6th formers who take time out of their busy schedules to help their younger peers in year 10. This peer-to-peer methodology allows the 6th formers to translate the programme’s content into terms that their younger peers can relate to. The younger students gain skills in areas such as CV writing, time management, and interviews – all essential for entering the world of work. Not to be left out the 6th formers thrive on the responsibility and emerge from the programme with a new found confidence.

If education gets reduced to the lowest common denominator of exam based drudgery, pupils will miss out on such moments. Moments that populate the imagination and the memories of those slightly older, moments that help the individual identify their uniqueness and realise that they are more than just a tiny cog in education’s great machine. Education is for everyone it is about time that the education system was too.

For more on Work the Change please visit www.peacechild.org/workthechange

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