Monster Green Alliance – Education

Updated 11 July 2018

The Monster Green Alliance Government has surprised many people with its policies. Assembled after the most surprising General Election in British history, the partnership government of the Monster Raving Loony Party and the Greens has embarrassed the former political parties with its principled approach to political issues. Its common sense and populist measures have delighted the public.

MONSTER GREEN ALLIANCE – EDUCATION POLICY

In the Queens Speech, delivered by Prince Charles because of the indisposition of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Monster Green Alliance announced that it would reduce the school leaving age to 14 years, provided pupils could pass a School Leaving Test.

Students who stay on after passing the test will receive weekly payments provided attendance and behaviour are satisfactory.

Today the Education Minister Alice Brown gave more detail.

Speaking to a special session of the joint National Executives of the teaching unions, she said:

There are millions of children who are happy and successful at school. The children who are happy and successful at school receive nurturing and support, and their teachers and schools should be commended. I commend you.  I respect you hugely.

There are many good things going on in every school. When the teachers have the time and emotional energy and a willing supportive atmosphere from the students, the teachers can do more. It builds a virtuous spiral.

Your task is made much more difficult when there are children in the school who really do not want to be there.

It is well known that many school students do not want to be at school. Those children present huge difficulties. Some vote with their feet and truant. There are many whom a teacher might wish would truant, because when they are at school they are unruly and disinterested, and spoil it for the other youngsters.

We all know there are hundreds of thousands of students who just do not see the point of being at school.

Often the pace of schooling is slow, because of the huge effort that has to go into the containment of bored and unruly teenagers. This slow pace bores and frustrates yet more teenagers. There are also children who are not engaging with school because of social issues at home, or because they find school too difficult. They do not want to be there.

The effort of containment, and the fact that the children have no choice, pervades the school atmosphere. The alienated child has little incentive to behave, because the worse that will happen to them is suspension or exclusion – which is what they want.

The policy we inherited was to raise the school leaving age to 18, which will come into effect in a few years time for children who are in the high schools now. The pupils who normally leave at 16, or often in practice before 16, will be corralled within the education system until they are 18. Does anyone seriously regard that as other than a recipe for boredom disruption and violence? The fact is that a lot of 15 year olds truant. At 16 and 17 they are even more likely to truant. Raising the school leaving age to 18 simply will not work as intended.

Everyone agrees that that children should receive a good education. All people should receive a good education. So how do we do it?

Change The Mind Set

First, we change the mind set. A child who wants to be at school is very different from a child who does not want to be at school. Volunteers learn faster and better and are easier to teach than conscripts. They behave better. You can do more with them. Again it is a virtuous spiral.

A child who wants to be out of school knows he or she needs to pass a test and then they can leave at 14. They will buckle down and pass it.

The children who really cannot pass the test will identify themselves through that failure.

I believe many of them will cooperate with small group teaching to pass the exam and get out.

Some who pass the exam may surprise themselves with how well they do – and that may change their perspective on education.

After the age of 14 we will have the children who want to be at school. They will be receiving a wage.

We will have the children for whom the small wage we pay is sufficient to make them wish to cooperate and to engage with school. We will not have the disruptive unhappy children who have made life at school a pain for themselves and for everyone else.

I am not abandoning the children who leave school at 14. They are children, and they need much more help and intervention. I will come to them again in a few minutes.

For the children who are in school, who always wanted to be in school or who are induced to engage at school by the small wage, life will be better. The disruptive element have largely gone, so the school is a happier and livelier place.

School is better for the teachers and for the other staff. It is better for everyone.

Curriculum Changes

Every new government makes changes to the curriculum. I have listened carefully to the pleas that I should not make changes because life for teachers is difficult and you are still adjusting to the last set of changes.

I am making numerous changes because unfortunately life does not stand still.

Not all children are academic. They are not stupid at all, they are just not engaged by school studies. They can blossom, but not in the classrooms as currently organised.

Post 14, so starting in Year 10, there will be some courses which are equivalent to GCSEs but which are not GCSEs. I am going to ask Local Education Authorities to decide how they should be delivered, and to report to me by Christmas. Whether they are delivered by local technical colleges, or by consortiums of schools, is for local decision.

They must be delivered for students entering Year 10 in September 2011. The only entry requirement is to have passed the School Leaving Test.

One is a pre apprenticeship course, for people who intend to enter a craft apprenticeship. This involves hands on experience with the tools used, and an introduction to the skills and techniques used in the various crafts.

The exposure to a range of tools and techniques will help them make more informed decisions about what careers they decide to follow.

Maths English IT and “Personal Skills” are all to be taught.

One frequent concern of employers is that they often take on youngsters who may be able to do the job, but who cannot talk to the customers. The youngsters are shy, tongue tied or brusque. Their telephone skills are excruciating. With a customer who perhaps queries the bill they become aggressive, or just wilt. The underlying problem is a lack of confidence and a lack of communication skills. The “Personal Skills” course will resolve that before the youngsters leave Year 11.

Youngsters who leave school at 14 have passed a test and have a qualification to show. They are not yet ready for apprenticeships, so I hope they will take the pre apprenticeship courses which of course entitle students to the student wage.

I am leaving the door open for these students. At any time before age 30 anyone can come back into education. If they are young they will have the student wage. Otherwise they will have full social security while studying – subject to attendance and satisfactory engagement. If they have households and families and responsibilities and now realise they need education – the door is open. They will attend Colleges rather than schools, and will very likely go direct into further vocational education – but they can study academic subjects if they wish.

The other option I am bringing in is intensive language courses. This country has a huge resource that many other countries do not have. We would be fools not to use it. We have millions of people in this country who have a language other than English.

I am asking the Open University to reconfigure their repertoire of language courses so people can learn more or less any language they wish – and obtain a qualification in it.

I am asking local techs and schools to offer languages as core subjects in themselves and not as optional extras.

Chinese Japanese Russian Arabic Spanish Portuguese French and German are the leading languages in the world, after English.

I think people who can offer English and two or three other languages will be enormously useful in industry and commerce and banking and accountancy and law.

I envisage some students who do well on the pre apprenticeship or language strands will want to move into normal academic subjects at 16, and some school students at 16 will move to apprenticeships.

I wanted to make First Aid a compulsory subject, but I have been persuaded against that, using my own argument of volunteers or conscripts. I have been assured that if we provide First Aid classes on the weekly NHS television program this will generate an interest in First Aid so that millions of people will voluntarily obtain a First Aid qualification. I have settled for that.

Everyone is needed

As part of our policy that “everyone is needed” we are bringing into the schools many thousands of people who can contribute. This extends from home helps and nursery to High School and A levels or the other equivalent courses.

Those people will be encouraged to study for qualifications themselves, on day release.

Higher Education is really needed. Our society needs graduates in large numbers.

We are giving priority for University places to those who have served their country, with appropriate financial support.

We have heard the pleas for large amounts of money to fund science courses, because the standard fee is not high enough to pay the real expenses of such courses. If we want scientists and engineers to lead our country into the rest of this century, we have to pay towards their education.

But where is the money to come from?

I give notice today that some courses which are not successful, and some institutions which are not successful, are in danger of extinction. If the students do not want to study these subjects, and do not want to attend these institutions, some pruning is inevitable.

Where I am persuaded that I am in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water, – and I can be so persuaded, – I will order the transfer of a department or part of a department to a nearby institution that is willing to take it on.

A big issue is retraining and qualification for something new. I think anyone who has worked for 10 years and will have 10 years of working life left at the end of his or her course should have the opportunity to qualify in something new. I am instructing the Open University to lead this process, building on their expertise in Distance Learning.

Some subjects are “hands on”, and in some cases the answer is to use the existing facilities in Colleges Techs and Universities all over the country, some of which stand unused for 15 -20 weeks a year.

It has been suggested to me that some Colleges and Universities will object to their facilities being conscripted.

I object to using public money to use facilities that are already funded by public money. I also object to these facilities being unused for much of the year.

Starting in September 2011, Colleges and Institutions that cannot show their facilities are used 45 weeks a year by themselves or by other publicly funded bodies will have their funding cut. If I cannot engage their hearts and minds I will engage their pockets and ensure public shaming.

To end on a positive note, we are embarking on a system of Education suited to the needs of our country. I welcome your help and I welcome the assistance of everyone who will be engaged in this endeavour.

Conclusion

I applaud the University of the Third Age, and in principle I agree to a “Tech of the Third Age” for those who require FE rather than HE in retirement.

I said earlier on that the 14 year olds who leave school are children, and that I would come back to them.

There are no social security payments for children under 16 because the parents keep them.

At 16 they will be brought into the Everyone is Needed program.

At 14 and 15 they will need the opportunity to re-enter education without waiting until the following September, so I ask Local Authorities to arrange entry points each term so leavers can come back. Again that will be organised locally and I am not prescriptive.

There are problems with my proposals. For you, I think you agree in principle with everything I propose. You are asked to work with your local authorities and colleges to make the proposals work.

My problem is how to pay for all of this. Education is investment, and we will invest in the future of our society and our economy.