Put some enterprise into education

From what I hear we have an education problem and if you believe David C most children today have behaviour problems. If you look back in history David I think you will find that each generation has a problem with the next, but that is not what I want to write about.

I increasingly despair as I interview kids who have left school but find they cannot spell add or use spell checker on their computers. Schools do not equip our children with the skills they need later on and universities have too few places and are too expensive. Of course we can solve all this by putting our kids into private schools, but somehow this does not seem to be the correct answer.

It has also been shown that for our more disadvantaged children their time at school is their time of stability and security. So why is it then that schools have such long holidays? If David C is right, and it appears the press agrees with him, why not give our children more time in school to help them develop personally as well as skill sets they can use later.

It seems that every time I look up we are celebrating another ‘half term’, or inset day or some other reason not to be at school. The good news is the traffic is down – the bad news is that the children we read about in the paper have all the opportunity they need to enrich themselves with alternative forms of education and amusement.

I took a random school calendar and looked at the time they are open and closed. I found that the school is officially closed 13 weeks a year, not including inset days and probably some bank holidays, or snow days. That is a full 25% of the time. Now there was a time that the children had to have time off to help the family with the harvest, but that time is long gone. There was also a time that teachers were badly paid and compensated with longer holidays. I am not sure this is true anymore either – they certainly get paid a lot better than a lot of people in the private sector and they get a pension!

Schooling is preparing our children for the real world – what a smack in the face when they find the real world gives you 20 days plus bank holidays! Is this real preparation?

So I move on to Universities, those bastions of education which need more money from the tax payers. Remember, these are the institutions which want to charge more and are struggling. They are closed a full 41% of the time. It is no wonder our future employees get so heavily into debt – what can they do during all this free time, except, eh, drink maybe?

Perhaps a little bit of Enterprise Britain is needed here. If you have an asset which is not used 25% or even 41% of the time perhaps it is time to reconsider your asset utilization. How about we look at secondary schools being closed say 8 weeks a year instead of 12 – that is still twice as much holiday as in the real world, and we use those additional 4 weeks a year to actually complete their education.

The universities could cut about half a year off the courses, saving students a vast amount of money and we could put through a lot more students. The problem? How would I know – I am not the academic. Ask David!

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