15 April 2008
The advantage of lowering the school leaving age to 14
We have argued here at The Exile for quite some time that the British school leaving age should be reduced to 14. We've also considered the main reason why this is unlikely to happen, which is because the education racket is about providing jobs for over-ambitious and under-talented lower-middle-class types with their polytechnic degrees.
The Labour MP Frank Field has now joined the sensible side of this debate and has argued that the school leaving age should be reduced to 14. He argues that half of Britain's children are turfed out of school at the age of 16 with less than the five GCSEs that the government regards as an absolute minimum. He goes on to point out that over 30,000 children gain no qualifications whatsoever. Having met some of these drop-outs, Field was "struck by just how intelligent some of this group are". He then argues that:
A school-leaving certificate testing basic English, maths and IT skills should be instituted. Many of this disenfranchised group would get down to some work if they knew that passing at 14 would free them from school and allow them to work. This group would then have the money that would be wasted on their non-attendance at school put aside as a training endowment. The education budget for a 14 to 18-year-old is £22,000. This sizeable sum could then be spent by the young people themselves on the training that they choose to advance their careers once they realised that being out of work is a tougher proposition than they once thought. But having control over their own budget would also help drive up training standards.This idea is excellent and should be adopted by any government that wants to improve British educational standards.
The problem is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who make an unproductive living in the teaching and ancillary trades. We are talking about the educational social workers, the administrators and other assorted riff-raff. Overcoming their natural desire to avoid the cold blast of economic reality by keeping their snouts firmly planted in the public trough is going to be difficult, but not impossible.
It's not impossible because this is one issue that, along with opposition to the social work industry, can be almost guaranteed to get working class support. As a class we tend not to have much of an interest in school education, and teachers are barely above social workers in the level of public opprobrium that they attract.
As socialists we believe in a collectivised economy that is run, basically, by and for the producers' of wealth. It makes perfect sense for us to get involved in a campaign that will have working class support behind it, and which aims at hitting the unproductive consumers of wealth: the local government employed lower middle class.