In the UK, the Tories have slashed NHS funding, public housing and social care, policing, libraries, arts – even school dinners – on the grounds it was unaffordable. But it was comfortable spending £142 million per year subsidising the defence force (including the promotion of arms exports), and another £18 billion in corporate tax cuts for the private sector, and £120bn building a bloody great bridge to France.
The economic and social impact of rapid technological progress including artificial intelligence, automation, intelligent robots and self-driving cars will be a key theme for this week’s meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. Graham Brown-Martin asks how our global education systems can respond to what the WEF calls the “fourth industrial revolution”.
Out of all the arguments and excuses that people manufacture to justify the financialisation of society, the most difficult one to accept is that creating a market in education is the only way it can be funded. This view becomes even harder to justify when it is promoted by a generation of people who benefited from free further education. As many of that generation are now drawing their triple-lock pensions, a younger generation of students are being lumbered with eye-watering amounts of debt, which begs a very simple question: why have British politicians turned the classroom into an asset class?
The days of the job for life, gold watch and a long and comfortable retirement are long gone. Ironically, today’s Western curriculum, which has barely changed for a century, continues to prepare pupils for a standardized world. How does a stagnating education system reinvent itself to equip students to solve new problems and prepare them for a workplace that doesn’t yet exist? Ross Ashcroft is joined by the chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, Professor Dame Alison Peacock, and educator and writer Graham Brown-Martin.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that only 10 out of 32 Oxford University Colleges awarded a place to a black British pupil with A-Levels in 2015. Over six-years, Oriel College offered only one place to a black student. One of Oxford’s only black students, Otis Clarke, says though it has the best of intentions, Oxford still does not possess the cultural nuance to foster true diversity across its student body. If its colleges are not institutions of “social apartheid” Oxford must be fully committed to social progress for such a culture to flourish.