Investing in the future of younger generations is crucial, with education playing perhaps the most significant role in this future. What are the long term benefits of a strong education system, and what kind of opportunities can be created? Moreover, how are changes to the UK education system under the current Conservative Government shifting what it means to create a brighter future for new generations?
In terms of using education to develop a future, a strong schools system is crucial to helping people find opportunities during the recession. With younger generations increasingly having to pay the price for older generations’ credit and consumer spending, the prospect of low employment rates and high debt are making it difficult to justify spending a lot on an education that won’t deliver a stable financial future. Cuts to benefits, and inflation in tuition fees for university are making it harder to commit to a long term education.
Economists frequently view education as the building block for a future society of productive, hard working employees – with the right teachers and a clearly developed curriculum, students are able to build up the key skills that they need for the work place, while also taking advantage of an education by merit to move themselves out of the financial status of their parents. On a broader scale, educational programs around the world promote the basic value and rights to a general education.
One of the problems facing the development of this future in the UK is the series of changes being made to the education system under Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Conservative Government. Pressure is being placed on the education system to deregulate and invite competition through academies and more independent schools, with cuts being made to public and state services. Tougher exams and higher compulsory limits for leaving schools are promoting a higher standard of academic achievement, but are also coming as part of the downgrading of vocational courses, and the removal of ring fenced funds for many state school projects.
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Bodies like the Association of Teachers and Lecturers are warning of a worsening divide between independent and fees paying schools, and state schools that cannot compete on the same level with performance related pay and more academic subjects, which require more tuition. Cuts to Sure Start programmes for under five education similarly means that, with real term cuts of 13 per cent to public spending on education, the generation starting school this year and the next will potentially have less opportunities than those before them.
Ultimately, it’s not difficult to agree that a sound education is crucial for children to be able to improve their situation and find stable employment; however, if there aren’t jobs being created, and if the cost and the financial obstacles to getting the highest quality education are going to be high, then barriers will remain between those that can afford to invest, and those that cannot. As some recent studies of the importance of class to children with parents with a university education show, these problems are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Alice Aires is a secondary school teacher. She found her current post via London teacher agency GSL Education, and enjoys inspiring young minds, and the challenges her job presents. In her spare time Alice can be found blogging about her experiences and what they have taught her.