CBI calls for overhaul of school system to deliver for all

Published on Monday, 19 November 2012 09:20
Posted by Scott Buckler

The CBI is calling for a radical shake up of schools from nursery to sixth form to ensure all young people achieve their potential

In a new report, the CBI warns the education system fosters a cult of the average; too often failing to stretch the most able or support those that need most help.

This is because much of the 35 years of education reform has focused on narrow measures of performance, such as exams and league tables, which has allowed too many young people to fall behind.

'Businesses have traditionally focused on education at 14 plus, but it's clear we need to tackle problems earlier, instead of applying a sticking plaster later on.'- John Cridland

Despite spending more on education than many of our competitors, the UK has slipped down international league tables. In England alone, half of the poorest children fail to achieve the expected levels in reading, writing and maths at 11, and don't catch up in secondary school - even though the bar is lower than for many of our competitors.[1]

First steps: a new approach for our schools outlines measures to address this conveyor belt of low performance. They include: giving more freedom to teachers; moving the focus from league tables to delivering a more rounded education; a shift from GCSEs to make 18 the focus of secondary education; and introducing vocational A-levels with the same standing as traditional A-levels.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:

"Getting the next generation on the escalator to achieve their potential is one of the most exciting challenges we face.

"Businesses have traditionally focused on education at 14 plus, but it's clear we need to tackle problems earlier, instead of applying a sticking plaster later on.

"We have some great teachers and average grades are rising, but we've been kidding ourselves about overall standards. By teaching to the test, too many young people's individual needs are not being met, and they are being failed by the system.

"Government reforms are heading in the right direction, but are not sufficient on their own and must go further and faster. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want."

Between 2000 and 2009, the UK slipped from 4th to 16th in science, from 8th to 28th in maths and from 7th to 25th in reading in international league tables.

Raising educational attainment to the levels of the best in Europe could boost GDP by more than £8 trillion over the lifetime of a child born today, the equivalent of one percentage point a year on growth. Few other changes could make such a powerful difference to the long-term health of our economy.

The report looks at pre-school, primary and secondary school and has consulted businesses, teachers, school leaders and academics.

Source: ©CBI


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