Having an education system that provides the children of the country with a good and suitable education is the key to any nation’s ability to be productive and have the ability to grow both economically and socially. If we sit and look purely at statistics that the education system has been turning out then we would think that the UK education system is fantastic as the results are just going up and up. However this is something that if you talk to any academic in a university they will simply say is not true, if anything the education system is dumbing down to the lowest common denominator which makes those above average look rather good.
My own experience of this was during doing my law degree, which I did as a mature student; one of the optional modules was on International Criminal Law. Which we naturally covered the Nuremberg and Japanese war crimes trials and about 60% of the class had no idea what they were; and when the tutor said well if you don’t know what they are to go and read up on them there was outrage. Because these people had been spoon feed up till then on how to pass an exam. Now this to me says there is something wrong with how we are teaching people in the UK, and something needs to change.
But this leaves us with a problem as the current system is set up to treat everyone the same in that we have a comprehensive education system where the very brightest are in the same system with those who are not as smart. It is this attitude that everyone can be anything they want to be which is in my opinion wrong. We should be encouraging the children to be the best they can be and not setting one against the other.
I would personally propose a three tier education system, with an increase in the number of grammar schools to encourage the academically gifted to push themselves in an environment set up for academia. To produce the new Doctors, Lawyers, scientists of tomorrow in an environment that is conducive to this.
I would maintain a middle level of education which would focus on a mixture of academic and practical skills. So these children got a well-rounded education which could see them go off to university if they wanted but would equally leave them in a position where they could go off and pick up a trade become an electrician or a carpenter or something along those lines.
Then in my third tier it would be for those people who naturally struggle with academic work, and it would focus on teaching them practical life skills give them a basic understanding in English, Maths and Science but teaching them that you don’t have to be smart to be a success. You could have these people being taught bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing, cookery, dressmaking ect.
This New Labour idea that everyone should go to university is well stupid. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to university but we need to change social attitudes so that success is not measured in how many qualifications someone has or hasn’t got. As a country to be success full needs a varied mix of people with all skills; with this current attitude to education we will start to lose those important skills.
We need to instil in to children that being a Chief or a Plumber is as important to society as being a Doctor or a Nurse. Get rid of this stigma that exists that just because someone uses their hands and not a computer that their job is somehow lesser.
So let’s bring back grammar schools for the bright, and encourage the rest to explore options to broaden their horizons and explore other options for employment. 100 years ago to become an apprentice for a skilled artisan was a prized thing; we should look to the past for how to improve the future.
The principles behind the NHS are great, its one example in society where everyone is considered equal regardless of job, creed, sexuality or gender. It’s supposed to be a place where we can all access health care for free when we need it.
However in today’s modern world the NHS has become a lumbering dinosaur burdened by bureaucracy and red tape. If you look at the staffing figures you’ll see that of the 1.4 million people employed by the NHS only 700,000 are clinical staff like doctors, nurses and physical therapists. Under Thatcher and Major we saw a small number of non-clinical staff, which once 1997 came was rapidly increased to the place where we now have a 50/50 split of clinical/non-clinical staff. Not once in any of the private sector companies I have worked for has there been an imbalance like that.
If we want an NHS for another +60 years then we need to act now and bring the service in to the twenty first century; as there is no point in having a twentieth century company working in the twenty first century.
The NHS needs modernisation, and if that means to get the best possible services for the people of the country we have to involve private companies then we should embrace that. After all the surgeons doing the operations in the private sector are the same surgeons who also work for the NHS. If these private companies bring down the cost of having operations done, with the same people doing them, then again surely that is the best thing for the NHS. If we can save billions of the NHS budget and redirect that money to clinical staff it’s win win.
The labour opposition to the reform of the health service is opposition for opposition’s sake. In their own manifesto for 2010 they said the following;
“We will support an active role for the independent sector working alongside the NHS in the provision of care, particularly where they bring innovation,”
So they themselves have said that the private sector working within the NHS is a good thing as they can bring in new ideas. Yet now in opposition they are looking to score cheap political points by opposing the very thing that they would have done had they been elected.
So we are now faced with two options, we can support the reform of the NHS that will make it better and stronger and ready to deal with the needs of the twenty first century or we can oppose the reforms and leave ourselves with an outdated antiquated heavily bureaucratic system that’s not fit for purpose. I myself only see one viable option and that is to back the reforms 100%.