My five education wishes for 2023

My five education wishes for 2023

Here are my education wishes for 2023 – five things the government should do to improve the system for our children.

And with Nick Gibb the minister responsible there is someone in place who can drive change.


Sort out the muddle on SATs gradings

This will involve having the courage to restore the original grading system for primary schools, which ranged from Level 1 to Level 6.

Each of these levels had A, B or C within them, so for example a child could score anything from 1A to 6C.

This made 18 staging points for literacy and 18 staging points for numeracy.

It enabled primary schools, secondary schools, parents, children and the government to measure performance accurately.

What we currently have is just three staging points for literacy and for numeracy.

A child is ‘working towards’, ‘working at’ or ‘working above’ national expectations.

This is far too vague and tells us virtually nothing about a child’s performance because the grade boundaries are far too broad.

Standards of literacy and numeracy have to be monitored to ensure that children moving up to the secondary system are literate and numerate.


Stop the grade inflation at GCSE and A’ Level

Results should give a true reflection of a student’s performance and the grade boundaries should not be confusing.

In my view, the old system of A to F is fine. There could also be A* and B* or more grades in between the other letter grades if this is necessary.

Grading students from 1-9 with 9 being the highest grade is not intuitive to most people.

Being first is associated with 1 and not 9. It is confusing and should be changed.


Focus on technical and vocational education for students who are not academically gifted

This break between academic and technical/vocational should at 13/14 years as it is in Germany.

Our system focuses far too much on academic education post 14 years when it is not relevant or useful to around 70 per cent of the students.

The value of a technical or vocational route should be as highly regarded as an academic route.

After all, without these people cars won’t get mended, plumbing will leak and houses won’t get built.

In the real world, practical skills are as important as learning Shakespeare.


Reduce the number of people attending universities

Tony Blair’s ‘education, education, education’ speech that also promoted the idea that 50 per cent of students should go to university was plainly wrong.

This target has now been reached under the Conservatives but it has led to degrees that are not worth studying for and to the easing of standards in these institutions.

Many former students are now saddled with huge debts for degrees that they should never have taken.

About half of those at university would be better off working or doing more vocational training.

This would also help ease the problem we have with a candidate shortage in the employment market.



Push the academic harder

For those who are academically gifted, focus on even higher standards in the best higher education institutions.

Our universities are among the best in the world, but the watering down of standards risks making them poorer.

Instead, even higher standards should be demanded of the most gifted.

If these five things were turned into policy and enacted we would have a better education system; it would serve the students better and the country better.

We need to stretch the academically bright and give those with a more practical bent the opportunity to develop skills from the age of 13 or 14.