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Does Starmer mean what he says?! (plus debate on inclusion)

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Sunny Clouds:
Ok, so politicians give soundbites, but Starmer is a lawyer so should read what his speechwriters say.


--- Quote ---Over the long term – combined with professional careers advice – this would mean no young person would leave compulsory education without the qualifications needed, the party said.
Sir Keir said: “Every child should leave education ready for work and ready for life."
--- End quote ---
--- Quote ---He also wants a £250m scheme to prevent young people leaving school without qualifications - and has plans for better careers advice and compulsory work placements with local employers.
--- End quote ---
So is he going to get someone to create a full range of "the qualifications needed" that are suitable, for example, for children with, for example, an IQ of 50 or childhood-onset dementia to get?  Or sufficient "compulsory work placements with local employers" (my emphasis) that are suitable, for example, for young people who are quadriplegic or deafblind or psychotic?  Or will children unable to get qualifications for work, or young people unable to do the possible work placements with local employers be prevented from leaving school? 

My bet is that he and his speechwriters haven't so much turned a careful plan into small generalised soundbites, they haven't thought through it.  In particular, I doubt they've asked themselves how they're going to find sufficient local employers willing to go along with this or what they're going to do if they can't.

I'm not arguing that Johnson is any better.
I'm not against the general idea of preparing children better for the workplace, quite the contrary.  But a policy built round all children being expected to get qualifications and all young people being able to work is yet another opportunity for policitians, media and society in general to brand children and young people that can't get qualifications and/or can't work at all or in the context of what work is available and accessible, as in some way socially unacceptable.

>edit to change title of thread since topic has been expanded - KK

When I taught in post compulsory education and training some 25 years ago it was a completely different scene to what it is today. It has always been seen as the poor man of education, and historically training in trades and land based industries (the sector I worked in) has been looked down upon as somehow of lesser value than academic courses.
Well, hasn't that come around to bite the government in the backside? It all started going wrong with Tony Blair who insisted that 50% of the population should go to university, so suddenly all the FE colleges were finding it more profitable to offer degree programmes than their traditional courses. It was a horrendous time for post compulsory education and many students were short changed by poor quality courses inadequately staffed.

The real victims of these changes have been students who worked on practical skills courses, short courses, ones that needed learning support, and specialist departments for those with additional needs requiring specific small group programmes. Agricultural colleges used to be good at providing these sorts of courses, and the teaching staff at the one I worked at were all dedicated and had a great rapport with students . The management were another matter!

Unfortunately there are few what I would define as pure FE colleges left. Many agricultural colleges have closed or merged with other colleges and now offer things like hairdressing and plumbing, at the loss of their dairies and other facilities! They are now just satellite operations.

I'm curious to see how Starmer intends to deal with each and every one of the school leavers post 16. The statement doesn't reveal much and it would be interesting to challenge him on the full scale of the plans. Have they even considered your points Sunny?

Sunny Clouds:
I've also been involved in post-school training.

For many years, back in the past, I was a director of a community charity providing a wide range of local facilities, both educational and non-educational, for all age groups, babies to oldies.  (Not the sort of charity which many people think of when they think of as charities.) 

I did a large part of the number crunching & research for a bid for EU funding for youth training.  We pulled in over £4million that time.  We worked together with a wide range of local businesses.

On the funding issue, when Cameron was doing his stuff about Big Society, he visited us and sent in his researchers or whatever they were.  Oops, embarasment, it hadn't occurred to him that an organisation like ours got most of our funding from official/public sources such as government, local authority, EU.   E.g. his notion of a school that's a charity is Eton.  We had a school providing a type of specialist education on a not-for-profit basis paid for through public funding for pupils that would now be described as SEND.

Ah, yes, Starmer wants to stop schools having charitable status.  That will make schools like that collapse financially.  Don't worry, though, they can become academies, with all the wonderful opportunities those provide for directors to skim off funds for their mates to provide unnecessary products and services whilst the teachers use their own insultingly low pay to buy things like stationery for the pupils.

I think I may perhaps be a tad biased here.

I am entirely in favour of a better education system.  My views on what I know on the national curriculum would be best bleeped out.  But I also have a horror of plans to reform it that aren't based on proper research and consultation.  They don't help.

I agree that the government needs to invest in trade skills and to raise the esteem of those in trades. It's much needed. I don't think the financial encouragement to go to Uni to study things like film studies or sport studies is helpful to them or society.
Even having an HGV license and driving well are qualifications and skills to be valued.

Sunny Clouds:
The thing about subjects like film studies and sports studies is that in reality, if you can make it in either field, there's a chance you'll be better off than being a plumber or whatever.

How far the number of students doing those subjects maps onto the numbers in those lines of work or ones requiring similar skills and knowledge is something else. 

Bear in mind that film and sports aren't just about starring.  They include an awful lot of other trades.  You can coach sports, write about sports (look at the proportion of stories in mainstream media that are sports-based) etc.

It may well be for all I know that too many students are studying those subjects relative to jobs available, and I'm completely with you about skills & qualifications like HGV driving being things we should value as a society.

Sometimes it's how things are done.  For example, when it was recognised that qualifying as a registered nurse was something that should be recognised as a degree-level competency, I think that that was really good.  I was disgusted, though, at enrolled nurses being thrown under a bus.  Now we've got HCAs.  They do valuable work but without the respect and status and title of an enrolled nurse.  We don't even give them the dignity of using a title like 'orderly'.

I don't think there's much gap in our views.  Insofar as I see studying subjects like film and sport as, from the student's perspective, more valuable than, say, driving or plumbing, I am seeing it from the perspective of a student recognising that in terms of pay and the profit to be made on providing the service, our society sees far more value in football than HGV driving.

Mind you, maybe I'm just sour.  I failed my HGV.  A child ran out in front of me and I did a swerve and emergency stop.  I clipped a wing mirror which is an automatic fail, even though there was no actual damage and it was necessary to save the child's life.  The examiner was very apologetic and said he'd seriously considered pretending it hadn't happened, except that there'd be the paperwork for the incident.

It was a short army course so there were no re-takes, so that meant I could only drive HGV off-road where I didn't need a licence.  You wouldn't have wanted to 'bump into' me on Salisbury plain.  Who knows what else I might value more than wing mirrors and licences.  Cute bunny rabbits?  Sergeant majors?


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