Reforming the education system

The main issues of mainstream education today concern lack of vocational/creative courses, lack of teachers and motivation to study.

Firstly not everyone is academic; there should be more options/choices available for pupils in both primary and secondary schools to study creative practical vocational courses such as gardening, photography, cooking, dance, singing, drama, music, arts and crafts, textiles and fashions etc.

These courses should be embedded in the curriculum.

There should be more options given to students who find taking exams difficult and cannot sit exams due to special needs or they find they are not capable of doing exams. Options such as taking course work rather than exams would benefit the pupils and should be made Compulsory.

I think forcing students to sit exams is very wrong, as each individual is different and teachers should be able to understand and asses their students capabilities/abilities/skills far better rather than forcing them to take exams when they might excel in course work.

There should be far more and more emphasis on apprenticeships and vocational courses after leaving school, because not everyone is academic and going to universities is not the only option. After all universities are very expensive and money making institutions.

I also think the government needs to push on more apprenticeship schemes and encourage all creative companies/businesses to advocate more vocational courses/training for young people who don’t want to study a degree and who are not academic. Many young people are creative and want to pursue creative careers so giving them more apprenticeships and vocational courses will help them achieve their personal careers/goals.

More support should be offered to for young people who want to become entrepreneurs and choose to start up their own businesses rather than going to university too in terms of being given  advice on how to set business up and how to get access to funding etc.

Teachers also need to undergo more training to become good inspirational teachers for their pupils and deliver great lessons to make them not only educational but also fun and interactive. As these days attention span is limited for both children and adults who can’t soak up much knowledge and who also find it difficult to consume lots of information by reading or being spoken too as they might be more of a visual learner. Some of the examples of Interactive tools could be showing more visual videos, pictures rather than huge amount of texts, team work activities, interactive educational games, solving puzzles etc.

Also everyone learns at their own space and time, there should be more support available for all types of learners with special needs or conditions/disabilities.

No pupil should also be forced or made to make only good grades, as these days employers look for skills rather than grades, no one should be forced to excel and as everyone learns at their own space and time and must remember not everyone is academic, more support should be available for all creative learners out there.

PSHE classes for example should offer employment training, how to write Cover letters, CVs and prepare for job interviews in the real world etc.

The potential problems with this education policy could be financial, budgets to build the grammar schools and spaces, increase of population number of pupils in classes and recruitment of teachers. Also Introducing new grammar schools and academies and removing state schools can affect the resources and making sure poorer students get the same equal education in academies could prove an issue as many areas where there are economic advantages in which parents cannot afford to send their children to attend grammar schools and academies where prices of resources might be too expensive such as school trips, fees for extracurricular classes etc. In relation to John Kingdom’s multiple streams analysis there is both an economic and social problem to this policy as not everyone comes from an affluent background and socially there is also a class problem where different parts of UK support policies from different parties. Thus there is disparity and social disintegration where half of the country would be split in their views with some supporting the new education policy while others against and the disagreement of polarity comes with the divide between rich and poor in UK.

The proposal is aimed at and can appeal to half of the public’s views taking in consideration opinions from School Pupils, Teachers, Head Teachers of state schools, families, parents, School Governors, Youth Workers etc. on what they think about state schools all being changed into Grammar Schools/Academies as some have organised meetings on this in local councils and BBC news has documented views on the school officials opinions and school leadership governing board on what they think about this new policy and how this will affect the country as a whole.  Relating this policy back to the John Kingdom’s theory of multiple streams the proposal processes are formed from initial ideas generated, debated, revised, and adopted for serious consideration in order to implement change, reformation for the school state system in UK is a clear example of a policy stemmed from an idea and became a reality as some parts of UK has already transformed schools into academies and according to Ofsted they are doing extremely well.

The Politics is changing climate and mood of the policy is labour in favour of this policy Theresa May has set out or opposing the policy.

Education is seen as a tough challenge as some have opposed the ideas of grammar schools and academies. Not everyone agrees with Theresa’s may’s policies on education and the idea of every school becoming an academy has not resided well within poorer communities and areas of UK overall.  Among those opposing the expansion of grammars is Joanne Bartley, of Kent Education Network, who said: “As a parent in Kent I see the many problems with our county’s 11-plus system, from pressure to tutor, to stress for children, to issues with schools that aren’t quite the same as comprehensive schools.” (Guardian, 2016)

Grammar schools are unfair. Principled parents must refuse to encourage them. She reiterated her plans to allow faith schools, universities and independent schools to become more involved in the state sector. “We want universities to have more of a role in working with state schools, we want to change the rules around faith schools so we see more faith schools opening, we want the independent sector to give more support to the state sector in various ways,” she said. (Guardian, 2016)

The rise of number of students in a classroom has been an issue in trying to get more qualified teachers to create interactive lessons for pupils to engage more with learning but within a mass number proves a challenge so the resources of limited staff and teachers are putting a strain on schools themselves.

Also the recruitment of getting good teachers has proved a challenge too as not many younger generation such as university leavers and graduates want to teach or go into teaching as salaries are being cut and having to work longer hours and getting teachers to make learning interesting for pupils to excel in their subjects as well as not everyone is seen as academic and prefer to learn practically or in a more creative way.

In one of the biggest reforms to education policy since the introduction of the national curriculum, May in September announced a new generation of selective schools, reversing Tony Blair’s 1998 ban on grammars. (Guardian, 2016)

May heaped praise on the educational achievements of selective education. She said: “Sadly, too many children in this country today are still at schools that are not good or outstanding. What I am pleased to say is that those of you who are here who are heads of grammar schools represent a part of the education sector that is almost universally good or outstanding. (Guardian, 2016)

“As we look at ensuring that we increase the capacity of school places, that we increase the number of good school places across the country for children to give them those opportunities, it is to me obvious that we must look at grammar schools.” (Guardian, 2016)

“We also have to recognise that in this country we have selection, but it is selection by house price and ability to pay. What we want to ensure is that children get the best possible opportunity in life through the best possible education regardless of the means of their parents’ ability to pay. That means taking off that legislative brake on the opening of new grammar schools or the expansion of new grammar schools.” (Guardian, 2016)

Also the Women’s Business Council identified a clear need to invest in the futures of girls and young women. A key part of this is encouraging more girls to take up non-traditional subjects that could lead to careers in areas such as engineering and IT and more technical studies as well.  

Overall mainstream education needs to improve with employing and recruiting more teachers who know how to adapt and teach in different teaching styles and methods to make learning more fun, interactive and enjoyable.

Neelam Shah is currently a freelance Data Lead Researcher for Research and Development, a freelance Academic Health Researcher/Writer for Knowledge Links, Freelance Proof Reader for London Skills Network and Adhoc Ranstad Disability Support Worker as well as a Short term freelance Project Manager for Read a Book for Charity. In her spare time she genuinely loves to volunteer, campaign for human and animal welfare and environmental rights, write blogs/articles, visit museums, travel, hiking, baking and reading.

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