Recent OECD figures rated English teenagers as the worst of 23 developed nations in literacy, and 22nd of 23 in numeracy. Many of the advantages we have economically in the United Kingdom relate to English as a global language, and our high-tech economy. If we are to be a 21st-century global leader in an increasingly-crowded field, we need to strive to be the best.
Before I was elected to the European Parliament, I taught Mathematics. I believe that at every level, the way we educate our young people and future leaders requires a radical overhaul. Teaching must become less a tick-box exercise and much more about conveying a passion for the subject. Mathematics contains so much beauty, and we must convey that to children rather than sterile instruction which leads children to describe Maths as ‘boring’. We need a quality education to be provided, in a disciplined learning environment, and for that education to be valued and supported by all parents. We need to cater better for special educational needs than we do. But sometimes society also forgets about the A* students; should we not also be doing more to ensure that they reach their potential if we want future generations to stand out?
At every level improvement is required; a good first step would be admitting that there is a problem. If children do not pick up key skills in Maths and English at school, then it could impact them in countless ways for the rest of their lives. We must do better for a generation which will already be burdened by unprecedented levels of national debt and reduced public services.
Jonathan Arnott MEP