Education - past its sell-by?

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2022

On Wednesday 2nd November the Westminster Education Forum Policy Conference will be discussing “the future shape of England’s school system”.

What does that mean? According to the agenda some key things in this arena are:

  • Discussing the process of expanding the MAT (Multi Academy Trust) system
  • Governance
  • Support for under performing schools and improving attainment and outcomes, especially in English and Maths

You can see the agenda here: 

Missing the point

There is no doubt that these are important topics, as are others in this series of events. BUT, these are the people who are influencing our education system and they are effectively talking about tinkering with the container, having not bothered to look inside and see that the contents have gone off. 

These are clearly intelligent people, but they don’t have the collective balls to stand up and admit that they are propagating a system which is profoundly failing its key customers, the young people in schools, colleges and universities. 

The purpose of education

Nick Gibb, when he was Schools Minister provided a decent definition of Education: 

Education is the engine of our economy, it is the foundation of our culture, and it’s an essential preparation for adult life. Delivering on our commitment to social justice requires us to place these 3 objectives at the heart of our education system.” (

I think most would agree that education should be “an essential preparation for adult life”. 

Failure to deliver

Why then, are young people moving from education into adult life having not been taught the fundamental skills to thrive?

For example, as a Career Coach with over 20 years experience, I have yet to work with a young person who has been taught strategies to understand what an ideal job is for them right now, and the related skills that will help them manage their career throughout their adult life, whether that career is working for an organisation or running their own business. 

That’s appalling enough, and when I ask young people they say they also want to know about how tax and mortgages work, how the subjects they are taught at school are going to actually help them in their adult life. They don't know how to identify the skills that they are learning which employers will value? For example, history involves research, communication, analysis, critical thinking and many more highly valuable skills. 

A customer failed

But let’s hear from one of those key customers, a year 10 student, who clearly articulates more of the key points here (don’t skip reading this): Education Insights Through A Year 10 Student's Eyes (

Teachers failed

This is not, by the way, a problem with teachers or other professionals working in the system. The system seems to be equally unsupportive of them …otherwise, why are so many so stressed, working ridiculous hours and, apparently, looking to get out. 

Heads in the sand?

I would love to see the Westminster Forum address the real issues in education some time. The people involved have the influence and perhaps power to make a difference. I wonder if they have the will, though.

For the rest of us, we can stand idly by and take the attitude of “it’s somebody else’s problem, and what could I do about it anyway?” or, you could write a letter or make a call to ask your child’s school, academy trust, college or university how they intend to change to help your child prepare effectively for adult life.

After all, if you do nothing, you’re supporting the problem.

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