MANIFESTO OF A BENEVOLENT DICTATOR

EDUCATION

In my dictatorial opinion, education would have a higher priority than health, because the more educated people are, the greater likelihood of them protecting their health.  Clearly this is not always the case.  But the individual’s chances of many diseases is not random, but lifestyle.  Education is there for a purpose to fit children and young people for a fulfilling life in modern society, but also as long and as healthy one as possible.

So what is a fulfilling life in modern society?  It is not endlessly lounging around doing nothing by choice.  It is not getting into drugs which damage your health and bankrupt your budget and possible drive you to crime.  It is not about getting a university degree which society does not value.  Free education to 18 but not beyond to university.  The individual must decide they are prepared to work and that there is a good chance the benefits of income will pay off the costs.  A true life decision.

It is a choice to be made by the individual that they want to work on in education themselves.  It is not a soft option nor a guarantee of future riches.  Sitting around in uni, can some not even spell the full word? - university, for 3 years is not a right, it is to develop individual’s talents in some subject that society as a whole is prepared to pay for.

The move to make students loans have to be paid back was correct and I hoped that students would research the earnings potential that might result from success in their chosen courses.  However the safety nets put place have negated this effect.  All this now achieves is generous funding of many universities and inflated salaries of their Vice Chancellors, with my Alma Mata leading the way.

Business, Commerce and Society want people who have employable skills.  To this end the move back into favour of apprenticeships is generally good.  Too often is seems we get graduates in subjects such as media and other arts subjects, where there is a limited number of potential posts and they are not employable in society and so they move into teaching young people which tends to perpetuate the problem.  I believe that these are disenchanted adults and that they have developed into politicised teaching cadre, aided I understand by similarly biased textbooks.  It is Business and Commerce that generate the wealth which pays for all the nice Education and Health and Social Services that we all value when we need them.

Education has to have a purpose.  In the younger years it is to enable the children to read, write, be numerate and fit in to the society of their peers and family.  In the teenage years to give them a deeper knowledge of their chosen subjects and understand society and to chose the early path of the life.  This does not have to be a degree.

Throughout this process the student cannot be shielded from competition in exams, on the sports field or elsewhere.  Life is competition, for jobs, for partners and for our nation in the competitive world.

So Government must provide a good standard of primary, junior and senior education in all schools and FE colleges up to the age of 18.  This seems to be pretty well monitored by OFSTED.  As indicated above education after 18 must be a deliberate choice and available, but not free.

There will always be less good schools and good schools and thus competition by concerned parents to get the best for their kids.  Government must ensure that the poor school is above a minimum standard.  If schools in an area need to be raised above that standard then it has to be a local effort.  Good teachers, involved parents and extra cash from local funds. 

There has to be a formula to the per capita funding and I am unable to argue it in detail.  But if x is enough in one area it should be enough in another.  There can special issues around London Weighting, for example.  It is local government’s job to make their area as attractive as possible to work in and to live in.  It is easier now for them to do so now the heavy, dirty industries have largely disappeared from our landscapes.  My central theme will always be that Central Government pays for an adequate minimum standard.  If an area wishes to better that they are free to do so if their local electorate is prepared to fund it through local taxation.

I do not favour Faith schools.  Educating only Catholics, Protestants or Muslims together in their own segregated school is not fitting them for the real world where all these faiths and none need to work and live together, I would phase them out.

The teaching unions are a powerful voice.  They have lost some of the public’s respect by strike actions, because this gives working parents problems to resolve, but their views must be heard but in return they must accept that the product (the children) they turn out have to be employable in today’s society.  Employable means that they have at least basic societal skills and better, able to add value in a job or vocation.

Although I believe that Central Government should withdraw from Sport, Culture and Art, this should not be so in schools.  Every child should be able to play in a team, compete and enjoy a range of culture and art.