In two articles published on this website yesterday, the editors of UKIP Daily invited debate on policy issues in order to present a coherent UKIP plan. Here are some thoughts on education.

Current UKIP policy is to re-establish grammar schools. This sounds like a good idea but the chance of it happening is rather remote. Instead of trying to reverse the comprehensive system, alienating the majority of teachers and Unions, it would be better to have a policy that is more realistic and a vote winner.

To make the changes, votes will be needed first. A return to 11+ and a perceived two tier education system is more likely to lose votes and sympathy from traditional Labour/Liberal voters.  UKIP’s policies need to maintain that strong thread of common sense and avoid radical and threatening changes. Anyway, the importance of providing pupils an appropriate and quality education should be paramount

It is suggested that the best way forward is to have policies that encourage a grammar school ethos within the comprehensive system. This is quite simple to do through the use of effective and more imaginative “streaming”. Streaming pupils according to their abilities brings the advantages of developing pupils as they develop. It brings pupils of similar ability together. Rather than just having the 11+ as a defining moment, there are further chances for pupils to move within the system.  In this way the individual pupil will have greater opportunity to get more out of their education and be better equipped for the world of work.

Consignment to a system of education at the age of 11 is not acceptable. The flexibility of streaming is that it can be done by subject or groups of subjects. The benefits of properly controlled streaming are axiomatic. Furthermore, embedding this modus operandi is more likely to gain favour from the teaching establishment. Look to Scotland; they seem to manage a comprehensive education system that produces highly educated and successful people.

The creation of a learning ethos in schools and colleges depends on the instillation of good attitude and discipline. If more time and effort were applied to these aspects then perhaps the debate would be different.   Creating and maintaining good attitude and discipline should be at the centre of any school. It may be old fashioned, but teachers, parents and governing bodies all have a role to play in ensuring that these characteristics are core values. It’s already achieved in independent and the remaining grammar schools.  Learning the good praxis from these schools is not rocket science.

Many local authorities operate a system of two levels of secondary school: a pupil will attend one school up to GCSE and then have to transfer to another school (often miles away) to study “A” Levels.  This is daft. All schools should be able to teach up to “A” level standard. What does this say about the quality of teaching at the GCSE secondary schools? It means that the teachers in these schools can coast and/or have no incentive to further their own abilities as teachers. The pupils are the losers.

So often, schools finish at 15.30. School used to finish at 16.00. That’s 2.5 hours of lost education to every pupil per week. After school finishes, a programme of extra- curricular activities should be available.  If teachers are not prepared to run these activities then let parents and other organisations get more involved. Too often the health and safety, politically correct and “jobsworths” get in the way of decent people wanting to make a difference for their community. School facilities are too often under-utilised.

To sum up: there is a need to have a grammar school ethos with sensible processes that permit pupils to progress at various age points. This does not mean separate schools. Better attitudes and discipline must be central for both pupils and teachers. Single schools should offer education all the way to “A” level. Bring back a 4 “O” clock finish with proper extra-curricular activities being available.

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