Daniel Thomas

Feb 7, 2021

4 min read

Education is being failed.

The first time I can remember developing a political opinion of my very own was when I was sat on the rightmost table of the second row of room 147 of my secondary school. I was in Year 11 and struggling my way through a maths class.

I can’t remember what we were learning about, just that it was something to do with shapes, and that I wasn’t very good at it. Being the cynical and unfocused15 year old that I was, I started to wonder “When will I ever need this at any point in my life?”

So started an early semblance of my ongoing support for a curriculum for life, that we should teach kids things that would genuinely help them in later life, rather than learning the quadratic formula. Not by any stretch of the imagination would maths be replaced, areas such as compound and simple interest which were on the syllabus have a very real practical usage, and I found the unit more engaging because of it.

When speaking of supposedly “pointless” subjects, Religious Studies is one subject that gets bounded about a lot.

What would my ideal curriculum for life look like? Key player is PSHE.

During my school years, I had one lesson of “personal development” for an hour every two weeks. This is nowhere near enough. 2 hours a week minimum sounds good to me. Secondly, the content. I can’t quite remember what we did in those personal development lessons, but I remember one being dedicated entirely to chocolate. LGBT+ education, in addition to adequate sexual health education is an absolute must. So many LGBT+ children, especially trans people, would feel more aware and more validated about their identities if they were taught it by teachers rather than on some strange corner of the internet (Also, as an asexual person, would be quite handy to know that my orientation existed before the age of 17)

Might just be me being politically involved that’s making me think this, but whack political education in there too. Nothing too in depth, but how parliament works, how to vote and contact your MP, and a brief outline of what the parties stand for,

In addition to creation of that afore mentioned new subject, I think reform to existing ones is better — Take RE, teaching traditions and practices of world religions is good, but I only was taught about a couple, that would be good to be expanded upon. A larger focus on ethics & morality would also be good to see.

The next, history, was a subject that never interested me, History. I never saw the point in learning about dead monarchs. I might’ve just been a geography preferring cynic, but from what I’ve been told by friends who did history, the topics get more obsolete to the average British kid if I took it any further. Russian Revolutions and the American mid west may be fun for some, but I’d never need knowledge of it. For me, replace them with BAME, LGBT+ and local history any day of the week.

Throughout my education experience, one notable teacher, whom I had for four years across my GCSEs and A Levels, would often talk of her distain for former education secretary Michael Gove, who I could tell even then had ruined the education system big time.

I’d kill to see her takes on Gavin Williamson. That man will probably be my villain origin story. I’d like to think it was incompetence rather than malice, but its surely impossible to be that awful at your job without meaning to cause shit.

I worked at a solid C throughout my Geography A Level, pushing for an A in my human side of the mock, but Gavin’s lovely little algorithm decided to brand me with a D Grade. It was fixed by one of his classic U turns as the government feared an army of mums were coming for their poll numbers, so for a few weeks his incompetency went to the back of my mind.

Then I went to uni. Online teaching has made up the bulk of my learning, and our mate Gav is doing sweet fuck all about reducing tuition fees because of it, leaving first year students to try and convince moneybags vice chancellors to budge.

And yet somehow it gets worse, trying to get rid of free school meals on three separate occasions, and when finally submitting to the demands of Marcus Rashford and most of the nation, the apparent £30 of food looked closer to about £8, with some families being presented with a quarter of a red pepper to feed their growing kids. Bon Appetit. It was at that point where it finally dawned it was ignorance rather than malice.

I left my uni accommodation in Preston in early December, thinking I’d be back by January time. Its the 7th of February now, and I’ve still got at least another month at home in Carlisle, not helped by uni students getting no mentions what so ever in government press conferences about potential school reopenings.

TLDR: Students and teachers at all levels are being failed, our education system is broken, and our education secretary is either too evil. too incompetent, or an awful mixture of the two, to do anything about it.