Politics has failed education

Tony Blair’s three priorities were ‘education, education, education’. But I’m not so sure he or anyone else has managed to achieve even the first one.

I know that’s enormously pessimistic. And I’m sorry if it offends the great many hard-working teachers in schools and colleges that have made strides in terms of exam results. It's the politicians I'm talking about.

Daniel Wainwright

The problem I have is that in 2014 we still don’t seem to have grasped what it is we’re meant to be teaching our kids.

Dudley North MP Ian Austin brought the shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt to his patch. Mr Hunt, incidentally, is the historian and broadcaster turned politician who occasionally gets tipped as a possible replacement for Ed Miliband.

While they were touring the gleaming and impressive Dudley College, talking to some fantastically enthusiastic young people learning everything from art to how to run the hospitality on aeroplanes, they were also speaking about the need to boost skills.

“We’ve lost many of our traditional industrial jobs and I think the biggest question we face is how we bring new, well-paid and secure jobs to the Black Country to replace them,” Mr Austin said.

He’s right, of course, to bring this up.

So is Tristram Hunt when he says young people needed to accept that the days of well-paid, low skilled jobs were over.

“We cannot compete with other countries on low labour costs,” he said. “We have to focus on the skills of young people.”

Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, has already given the stark warning that if we expect to compete with other countries on cost alone, that ‘China will have your lunch and India will have your dinner’.

The problem is this is not a new thing.

Bilston steelworks shut in 1979. People had tried with all their might to save it but the Thatcher government would not intervene in the decision of the British Steel Corporation.

That was the biggest blow the town ever suffered.

But here’s where I start to despair about the situation today.

I stumbled across the one and only article in the Express & Star’s digital archive written by a young Boris Johnson, now the Mayor of London, when he was a trainee reporter sent by The Times to cut his teeth in the real world.

In it, Boris reports on a rising number of vacancies in the Black Country in 1988 and a lack of applicants to fill them.

“To a great extent the bosses are frustrated because the unemployed who come to them for jobs are short of essential skills,” he wrote. “Many skills, such as those required in steel manufacture, have become outdated with the decline of heavy industry.”

In those 26 years we have been had five Prime Ministers, an overhaul of schools to create thousands of academies, the longest recession since the Second World War and we don’t seem to be any further on.

Boris Johnson could have been writing about 2014 as much as about 1988.

But then the political elite are almost all Oxbridge educated and these days the route to Westminster is trod by researchers and special advisers.

About 90 MPs have only ever worked in politics.

We can’t expect them to know what kids need to learn to get a proper job in the real world, when so MPs many have never had one themselves.

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Comments for: "Politics has failed education"


Blair could talk. He fooled all of us who WERE Socialists. I voted for him, just the once. But real education includes how to behave honestly, not just the 3 R's. On this, he himself failed miserably. Nothing he spouts now, or has spouted in the past, will stand up to close scrutiny. But he is a MULTI-MILLIONAIRE.

As we used to say in education : DISCUSS.


"So is Tristram Hunt when he says young people needed to accept that the days of well-paid, low skilled jobs were over."


His own party's open-door mass-immigration policy (in order to rub the right's nose n diversity) made sure of that.


You are very right Charlie.bear, why should an employer pay to train anyone when they can bring well qualified young people from other countries. Uncontrolled immigration is good for the employers but not the employees because whilst we have a large surplus of people compared to jobs wage rates will remain low. This Government and the Blair/Brown government know that a shortage of people for the jobs available would result in the NHS and other Government organisations having to pay their employees more to keep them, the money could only come from higher income tax. No party, not even UKIP will go into an election with that promise in their manifesto so we shall keep getting more and more people coming in.


You are right Charlie.Bear and so is Trisram Hunt. A lot of people chasing a few jobs will reduce pay regardless of your qualifications. The abolishment of state funded Grammar schools in favour of Comprehensive schools was supposed to improve the overall standard of school leavers, in reality it just lowered the overall results. Another failed example of social engineering.


Do you have to put that mans face there? I just think of lies and deceit every time I see him.


Get your facts right Daniel, Its become urban myth Maggie closed Bilston steelworks, she had been in power 4 months the decision was made by good old Jim in 77 and talked about by dear Harold before that , these two incidentally closed twice as many Coal pits than Maggie even had open when she was elected.

As for Blair his party with Brown simply destroyed the UK


Education has over the decades has become a bit of a politcal football. Successive governments have changed, altered, amended the previous governments policies just because they feel they have to. The result has been a mish-mash of failed ideas based more on political dogma than what is required for our young people to become successful once they leave school.

One of the biggest mistakes was made in the 60's when grammar schools were scrapped and combined with secondary modern schools. The idea being that secondary modern schooling would be raised to that of grammar schools. Sadly, with few exceptions, the reverse happened.

It would be better if an independant body was set up to fully analyse the current situation and put forward solutions that all parties would abide by. Unfortunately, our politicians are more concerned with winning the next election and will use education as one the issues to win votes.


Yes Tony and you have failed all those families who have lost loved one's going into a phony war in Iraq, and anyone connected to that war. Go away you plonka !

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