Education 'fails to deliver skills for global success'

school exam England's secondary school curriculum needs a "radical long-term overhaul", the advisory group says

Related Stories

England's education system is failing to meet the country's long-term economic needs and requires a radical overhaul, a report warns.

A group of academics and business leaders says a new cross-party body should set long-term educational goals protected from the electoral cycle.

They also want more emphasis on team working and problem-solving, and a baccalaureate system at A-level.

But the Department for Education said it was equipping pupils for the future.

"The secondary curriculum must support the economic strategy of the country" is the opening sentence of the first of 13 recommendations made in the report.

It calls for a new independent body to oversee the development of the curriculum in England, made up of teachers, employers, academics and representatives from the political parties.

It says the body would provide "consistency" and be able to take a strategic view rather than just concentrating on the electoral cycle.

The group points out that, on average, education secretaries have remained in post for two years over the past 25-year period.

'Emotional empathy'

The report, Making Education Work, follows a six-month review of England's education system by an independent advisory group, made up of prominent business leaders and chaired by an academic, Prof Sir Roy Anderson.

Start Quote

Over the last 25 years and longer there have been multiple initiatives from different secretaries of state which have not achieved the necessary improvement in educational standards”

End Quote Sir Michael Rake BT chairman and CBI president

Among its wide-ranging conclusions is a recommendation for a broader curriculum at A-level, which should be gradually changed to a European-style baccalaureate system to include the study of English, maths and the Extended Project qualification.

The group wants more emphasis on "team working, emotional maturity, empathy and other interpersonal skills", which it says are "as important as proficiency in English and mathematics in ensuring young people's employment prospects".

Sir Roy Anderson emphasised the need for a long-term view, saying: "Successful businesses have clear objectives and goals which they pursue consistently over time, yet changes in government make it difficult to achieve this for education".

"This new independent advisory group on the curriculum will build on the current government's efforts to bring in a more diverse range of experts and experience into the education system, and create a long-term vision for us to work together towards the interests of young people," he added.

'Apolitical approach'

Sir Michael Rake, the chairman of BT who is also CBI president, is a member of the group.

He believes the current system has failed to meet the country's economic needs.

"Over the last 25 years and longer there have been multiple initiatives from different secretaries of state which have not achieved the necessary improvement in educational standards," he said.

"It is therefore time to establish a cross-party apolitical approach to education to move on from our narrow outdated focus with A-levels, and to improve on the other competencies necessary for success, including the fundamental need to improve the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, which are at an unacceptably low level."

But the Department for Education said its "new curriculum" had been developed after "extensive consultation with a wide range of experts".

"Alongside wider reform to GCSEs, A-levels and vocational qualifications this will mean young people leave school with the skills and qualifications they need to secure a job, apprenticeship or university place," a spokesperson added.

"As this week's results show, our plan to fix the education system is working and helping ensure all our children have a secure and prosperous future."

The DfE also points out that its new Tech Level qualifications have been endorsed by leading international companies, and lead to recognised professions including engineering, accounting, IT and construction.

The Association of School and College Leaders, which represents head teachers, gave the report an enthusiastic welcome.

The association's general secretary, Brian Lightman, said it had been calling for a similar approach for some time.

"Countries that do consistently well in international comparisons, like Singapore, have a long-term plan for their education service that rises above political considerations and is not driven by the electoral cycle," he said, "and there is no reason why England should not be able to do the same."

It was also welcomed by Mary Bousted from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

"Teachers have long despaired of politicians trying to make their mark by turning the curriculum 180-degrees every few years," she said.

She also welcomed the report's stress on the importance of empathy and emotional maturity.

"Education should not just be about turning out effective employees, but also about developing young people to have caring relationships and to be questioning citizens."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    The root of this problem is more a cultural issue than an educational one. How well do you think an average English child would cope in a Chinese school?

    You could have the best schools in the world, but if the kids aren't interested, they will still leave school without a clue.

    Good parenting alone should be enough for children to be proficient in literacy and numeracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    402.Sally the Rothbardian
    So you somehow think people becomre better decision makers when they have kids. I don't think many share your view.
    When it comes to family planning, we haven't got the best track record, especially those who need help with their kids.
    Your idea might work for private sch parents, not state schs.
    You seem to reject anything I say, so why bother reply..

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    "There's nothing to stop parents choosing a private education as long as they can afford it."
    Agreed :D

    But, taxing them to fund the very provider which they're seeking to escape makes that far harder for them :(

    Demand the state system compete for parental choice to justify its income. If it's as successful as its droves of unionised staff claim, I'm sure it'll succeed ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    138. therealist
    These 'crazy' ideas you blame educationalist for, are actually from politicians meddling in something they probably need more of!
    People like Gove, who actually thinks he's so clever he wrote a book about how much he knows about teaching! It's a very small paparback and shows he knows nothing, having been trained as a journalist and we all know what they are like!

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Education 'fails to deliver skills for global success'

    !!!!! Guess it'll need to be privatised !!!!

    OR we could just replicate the education that made our rulers so able, for all ? Nah, didn't think so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    Far too many people making for too much money out of introducing "initiatives" - heads, teachers , advisers, " consultants" - all swarming up the greasy pole, jumping on and off bandwagons and in the process dismantling a system which worked well. My parents left grammar schools in 1916; both were more literate and numerate than today's "graduates".

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    I don't share your low opinion of parents, which includes your own (and even yourself if you are one).

    In answer to your question; the education system doesn't work (hence this article's existence). Coercion never works. I don't' appreciate your approach, and won't respond to you anymore, apologies.
    Have a nice afternoon, and check out the link @358 :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    The realist is right: the biggest problem is that of too many pupils at the lower end of the ability range lacking basic literacy and numeracy, and thus getting little benefit from their secondary schooling. This can only be solved with a modernisation of English spelling. Its irregularities cause too much functional illiteracy and limit the overall attainment of too many pupils.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Assuming you mean by grammar, diagramming sentences, nouns, adverb, all that stuff: I never could get the point of it, but over the years have been complemented on my clarity, easy to follow, written instructions. On the other hand, know a person who aced grammar but wrote instructions that were confusing and made the reader extremely nervous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    We have so many kids leaving school who lack the basic skills of reading, writing and basic maths. This is a sad indictment of our society and educational establishments. You don't need vast resources to teach the basics, just paper, pens and a teacher who puts the effort in with a class of a managable size. Rocket science it is not, unless it's a science class, than it might be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    the problem as I see it is Michael Gove

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    This problem has been evident for some time and those countries who get it right are well-known. Traditionally, our education system was designed to provide managers of our far flung Empire and polished diplomats of the classical kind. Trade, (making and selling things) was looked down upon. Wealth was in land and estates instead of selling things, and we are still fighting to escape this era.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    "independent body to oversee the development of the curriculum in England, made up of teachers, employers, academics and representatives from the political parties."

    OK apart from the political parties members IMHO.

    Also - anybody else think it's ironic and pathetic the head of Ofsted doesn't like criticism? If you can't take it don't give it out!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    137.Sally the Rothbardian
    "Parents aren't idiots, incapable of deciding for themselves who a good educator is. Parents should be able to "opt out" of state schools, and be free to choose to reward those educators who actually deliver"

    There's nothing to stop parents choosing a private education as long as they can afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    368. Yoda
    Please stop talking total nonsense!
    I have been a school governor for 26 years and involved in schools in many areas and in all that time I have never met any Marxist teachers!
    There are many political leanings, but the vast majority of teachers put the children first, they want to give them the best grounding possible, but people like Blair ignored them, hence falling standards now!

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    386.Sally the Rothbardian
    are you serious? That comment you made was a reply to my previous comment listing China as an example...
    You might have the truth on your side, but you certainly don't act like it. Most developing countries don't have extensive private sch, due to lack of demand, but education reforms made a lot of them better than us.
    Why change something that works?

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    The CEO of Lego said something about business which applies equally well to schools.

    "blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help."

    Rather that constantly running down schools for not hitting targets, perhaps politicians could free up teachers time to 'teach', instead of doing admin. Then spend some money on developing decent resources to help them improve their lessons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    The race to the bottom continues...Gove teaches kids to learn by rote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    There are so many smart kids out their and so many stupid adults with preconceived ideas based on political bias about what our kids really need. Teachers included.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    Learning requires effort, yet we give our children the wrong messages on this. We pay others (mainly immigrants) to wash our cars, make our sandwiches, cook our meals (takeaways) and clean up after us rather than put in the effort ourselves. Unfortunately you can't pay someone else to learn for you.


Page 6 of 26


More Education & Family stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.