Education Education Education – Scottish Election 2007

So much of this election has been focusing on a very large topic, the potential for Scottish Independence. I am not for independence, I am for more national identity, I am for the Scottish Parliament and devolution.

I think there are greater issues in this election and more fundamental and direct impacts to the Scottish people.

Education is a big thing in my head. It is as much a cultural issue as much as a provision of the services and it is not only about nursery, school and university.

Education is an issue about engaging people with subject and not forcing them down predefined routes. Not everyone is academically orientated, I wasn’t I really struggled with study, so we have to find ways to teach people to learn first rather than getting them to learn from the word go! There should also be options for both following the bog standard high school path. Yes, everyone does need a command of the English language and maths, but we do not all need to know Shakespeare or integration and differentiation! We should all have access to it and it should be explained what it can do for us if we do study it, but at the same time everyone should have the access to basics like letter writing, reading, budgeting and working out what the APR of a loan or credit card means to them!

Education should start early. Every child should have a nursery place at 3, yet publicly funded educational crèches should be available and encouraged. We cannot underestimate how much we “set ourselves” in those first few critical years of life, yet education (free as much as possible) should be available throughout out our whole lives.

I do feel that at 16/17/18 it is far to early to make life determining decisions on what career path we wish to take. At those ages we should be given the opportunities to go an explore various options that us.

Six month opportunities; four over 2 years; paid.

These should have a proper structure to them to provide a good insight to a profession and it should be mandatory for firms to provide places; worked out on employee base, industry and skill sets. Obviously there would not be a placement as a surgeon, but a medical themed placement may encourage future nurses and doctors. Class room assistants may well do the same for teachers.

However there will be people who know what they want and can go straight in to Further or Higher Education. This should be funded for all, irrespective of when you go and should get 1.5 attempts, therefore you can complete a qualification and them, as people do, go back and retrain in later life and only have to pay, at most, half the cost of the second qualification.

The current student debt compared to Scottish graduate income needs to be addressed.

We also have to look at the cultural issues of education. In may areas doing well at school is seen as something of the ‘higher social classes’. Kids doing well at school are seen as geeks, swots and snobs. These attitudes are not just from the other kids but from their parents and their cultural background. I am no sociologist but we need to look at these factors and realise that one size education doesn’t fit all.

Language is another growing issue within the UK as a whole. Most EU countries have a population with growing proficiency in at least one other language. In the UK we do not now have a mandatory language class. Why not? Well I think it is taught wrong and has failed. We need to introduce language as ‘fun and interesting’ thing to learn. A 6 month conversational french/german/spanish course to whet the appetite of those wanting more, but still to give those not wanting more a basic level. No writing or complicated structure. Make it easier and include a school trip at the end to the country! Again the education system has to pick up most of the tab for this.

We need an education structure that delivers the best it can for Scotland, not just the best it can for those who can afford it.

This education structure should not discriminate of any grounds, least of all age! We need to encourage life long learning. More adult learning centres, within schools and without.

More practical skills along with the academic.

More availability for after hours activities for those at schools, including later evening thing that are fun. Chess clubs may suit the minority, but car mechanics, cycling and running clubs, book clubs all need to be available and free. We need to engage students from schools, ALL students, and see what they would be interested in doing in the evenings. Youth clubs with pool halls…..

What I am saying is that “An Education Act to bring in sweeping changes to the current system.” : “Make Scotland’s education ‘the best in the world by 2020’.” : “Open 250 new and refurbished schools and bring in 1,000 new teachers to cut class sizes.” all say good things, but are the treating a local symptom of the malaise that is covering Scottish education, or are they really looking at route causes and effects of the illness of the system and the subsequent issues that it leaves on Scottish society.

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