14-19 Bringing down the barriers
Lifelong education is vital to both our society and the economy. For any system of 14-19 education to be successful it must meet the needs and aspirations of all young people.
Lifelong education is vital to both our society and the economy. It is central to the personal development and health of young people. Indeed, education plays a central role in the elimination of poverty. Globally many economies are developing exponentially. China and India, for example, are developing rapidly into major manufacturing powers. This is both a challenge to and an opportunity for our country.
It is vital therefore, that all the stakeholders in education develop and implement an effective policy for securing high quality 14-19 education arrangements. For any system of 14-19 education to be successful it must meet the needs and aspirations of all young people. In order that such arrangements guarantee equality of access to high quality education they must be provided within a publicly funded comprehensive education service.
The NUT supported the broad approach of the Tomlinson Report on 14-19 Education. The Union believes that Tomlinson outlined an opportunity which, while it has been missed for the moment, could yet be taken up by this Government or future governments. It is essential, however, that all those involved in, or who have an interest in education, evaluate the Government’s post 14-19 arrangements and seek to ensure that those arrangements do not have the affect of disadvantaging any group of young people.
‘Bringing Down the Barriers to 14-19 Education’ sets out a range of proposals which the NUT believes will benefit young people in schools and colleges and to which the Government in
England must give serious consideration. If adopted, these proposals would be supportive of an economy that was well placed to
respond to the challenges and opportunities of the early 21st century. The NUT’s proposals do not apply to Wales where the Welsh Assembly Government is developing its own 14-19 arrangements
including a Welsh baccalaureate. The NUT fully supports such an approach.
‘Bringing Down the Barriers’ emphasises that 14-19 reform cannot be bought on the cheap. One of the strengths of the Tomlinson Report was that it recognised that if effective 14-19 reform is to go ahead it requires an audit of training and staffing needs and also an audit of facilities. Like Tomlinson, the NUT believes that such an audit would necessarily mean a major commitment by the Government to increase investment in 14-19 education.
I believe that developments in 14-19 education can be taken forward only through the establishment of a social consensus for progressive change. The road to equality can be travelled only when it is understood that the success of this country depends on its young people receiving the highest possible quality of education and on their continuing enthusiasm for learning throughout their adult lives. The gender stereotyping and the academic and vocational divisions that impinge on the education of young people must be well and truly consigned to history.
General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers