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Department for Education Confuses Tactics With Strategy.

Opinion / September 8, 2010

The educational strategy of any government must involve a 10 year planning process to coincide with the school learning journey of a child. Yet the Secretary of state for education has an average tenure of only 18 months.

The educational learning journey of a child, starting primary school at five years, to finishing secondary school at 15 years is designed to prepare the child for adult life.  The outcome of their education will steer the individual towards further education, and or meet the needs of industry and commerce, collectively supporting the overall economy.  The mission critical nature of the investment through the department of education has struggled over the years but how much of this is due continuous changes at the helm where the secretary of state at the Department of Education on average is replaced every 18 months.  A change in government induces further chaotic disruption.  A cynical view shows the four year tenancy of a government comprises tactically of two years cancelling previous government policies, followed by a year of strategic policy planning, then two more years introducing tactical vote winning programs in support of the next election.

The educational cycle continuously moves from feast to famine.  Decisions needed to fundamentally change the educational schooling programme are crammed into the one year mid cycle. In the meantime the needs of Industry and commerce have moved on. The world has become truly global with regards to employment. A strategic review of educational needs matched to the future needs of UK plc is urgently required. In the meantime we have a bunch of students desperately seeking a university place, yet we are turning them away through inadequate preparation in secondary school and a fee structure that is constantly escalating.  A measure of this need can be summarised by our position on the world league table of graduating student numbers as a proportion of total eligible students. The UK used to lie in third position yet have slipped to 15th over the last 13 years. In comparison OECD countries have doubled their achievement between 1995 and 2008, from 20% to 40%.

Figures in (63%) show percentage of graduates

1 – Finland (63%)

2 – Iceland (57%)

2 – Slovakia (57%)

4 – Poland (50%)

5 – New Zealand (48%)

6 – Denmark (47%)

7 – Ireland (46%)

8 – Portugal (45%)

9 – Netherlands (41%)

9 – Norway (41%)

11 – Sweden (40%)

12 – United States (37%)

13 – Czech Republic (36%)

13 – Israel (36%)

15 – United Kingdom (35%)

The current financial problems of the UK are both severe and uncharacteristic. Let us hope the government see the growing strategic importance of the educational programme and invest in its security and needs. Funding must be sacrosanct and exempt from the current euphoria of tactical cuts. Something else has to give,


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