CBI: Let's shake up British education

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for a “radical shakeup” of the entire British education system.
In a major new report entitled First Steps, the CBI explains that at present, from nursery to sixth form, the current organisation of education fosters “a cult of average”.
As a result of this, the most able are not stretched to their full potential, while those who need extra support are going without assistance, the CBI discusses in the report.
Expats moving to the UK will be interested to hear that in terms of educational standards, the UK has been slipping down international league tables.
For example, in the first decade of the 21st century, the country dropped from fourth to 16th in science, from eighth to 18th in maths and from seventh to 25th in reading abilities.
The CBI believes this is an unfortunate product of 35 years of insufficient reform which has been focused too narrowly on measures of performance, such as league tables and exams.
“Getting the next generation on the escalator to achieve their potential is one of the most exciting challenges we face,” commented John Cridland, director-general of the CBI.
“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. By teaching to the test, too many young people’s individual needs are not being met, and they are being failed by the system.”
He stated that some of the changes suggested by the government are promising, but that they are not substantial enough on their own.
“As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want,” Mr Cridland continued.
Some of the proposals put forward by the CBI include moving away from league tables and replacing them with Ofsted reports that assess “the broader behaviours and attitudes that young people need to get on in life”.
Additionally, the CBI would like to see more involvement from businesses and community organisations in schools, providing role models, advice and expertise.
“The best teachers we’ve talked to are rebels against the system,” observed Mr Cridland.
“They have had to break out of the straitjacket of the curriculum which has stopped them delivering the sort of education our young people need. We need to liberate all teachers to allow them to teach creative lessons which inspire enquiry and understanding, and cater for all abilities.”
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