Saturday, 25 February 2012

All our educational eggs in one basket

Great day at St Paul's CE Junior School yesterday. I was privileged to be invited as a judge for the annual poetry competition and I have to say it was a hard task. The standard was very high and each pupil had done a fantastic job of learning their poem. They all used amazing expression and showed great maturity in standing up in front of an audience and reciting-in some case quite hard and long poems. I really enjoyed myself and I thought the children were brilliant. Take a look on the link to see the prizewinners.

Today we visited Leeds Trinity University to take a look at the journalism course. It was very impressive and I wouldn't mind going myself. It looks very modern, professional and a fantastic opportunity to get a good grounding in the skills required to be a journalist. Naturally, the cost implication is quite significant and it made me reflect on my own university education...which because I went in 1975...was free! In fact many of the politicians who insisted upon student loans, fees and the rest, also received a free education. To say that cost will not prevent young people from accessing uni is a fallacy -the conversation I had with my daughter and boyfriend was discussing how much debt she would exit uni with after 3 years. The consensus was that the idea of a large debt was not attractive-however, to enable her to enter the highly competitive arena of journalism, a degree and NCTJ Diploma would give her an advantage. We talked it through and I believe that while debt is never a good option, in this case it needs to be regarded as an investment in a career. Hopefully, it will pay off -and as the politicians declare-will ensure a higher salary. However, it does not always work out that eldest son-a journalist is still paying off a student loan from 8 years ago-he is fully employed, but on appraisal could be earning a similar wage had he become a manager in a supermarket or similar, without going to uni. My second son who had dreamed of becoming an archaeologist from 9 years old, lived the dream for a time, but earned less than an office worker without 3 years study-he has now gone into industry and is earning double his previous salary. So all this leaves me rather confused and ambivalent. I earned well as a teacher and could see progression in my career and I had trained, gone to University and even progressed to Masters level-yet it did not prevent me from being made redundant last year and has proved very problematic to acquire anything like the remuneration I previously had. 

I believe strongly in education and think anyone with the ability should be able to access this. But I do not believe it is for everyone and it is not always the golden key to riches and security as we are led to believe. Choice is important, but so are options and  believe that other training options and apprenticeships are often undersold and regarded as second best! Yet surely these are the areas we should be building on-lets not put all our educational eggs in the same basket and let's begin to value skills as well as academic performance-we need the craftsmen, engineers, tradesmen and innovators to stimulate our economy-we should be trying to recoup the losses made over the years and become a creative and productive society again. We led the industrial revolution-particularly in this town-Barrow-in-Furness-purpose built by industrialists and innovators; lets do it again and learn from our past mistakes-we have the expertise and the people needing work...or are we all destined to offer our services free of charge on part time work experience schemes? I hope not!

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