Monday, July 03, 2006

Education Education Education

The remarks by the new Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Richard Lambert, today, will serve as a warning shot across the bows of the Flagship Education Policy of New Labour.

Richard Lambert has declared that:

“Despite the increases in spending, British skills at all levels remain woefully short of world-class, with a shockingly high proportion of our young people still leaving school without the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed by business.”

There would seem to be a familiar pattern emerging here between failures in public services and the Governments response of throwing more and more money at trying to solve the issues. These issues will not go away with an endless flow of funding. The issues need to be addressed at the managerial level, ensuring that the extra funding is being managed correctly. This is where the Government is failing and, unfortunately, it is the future of our children that is suffering as a result.

A government-commissioned inquiry by former Ofsted chief Sir Mike Tomlinson found that even those who did have good GCSE maths and English often lacked "functional" skills of the sort businesses need. This is an issue of particular relevance to Neath Port Talbot County Borough, where the need for a skilled workforce is essential if industries investing here are to compete with the skilled (and cheaper) workforces of Eastern Europe and Asia. If the industries cannot find the skilled workforce they require then they will relocate.

The Governments response is to order a change in the qualifications to reflect this requirement. However, the first syllabuses are due to be available around the turn of the decade! The burning question must be - How much longer does the Government need? They have had 9 years since 1997 and now they want another 4, at least.

Nobody is denying that the extra funding is helping, because it is helping. However, the issue is that, the extra funding is not being managed to its full potential.

- Richard Northcote 03 July 06

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