Britain’s economy will not prosper unless its ‘mediocre’ education system is overhauled, a report says today. Failing schools and poorly performing teachers lead to a ‘waste of human resources on a grand scale,’ causing long-term damage to the UK. Local councils which do not let failing schools close must see their wings clipped, and the system for assessing teachers must be revamped, it argues. This is from the Daily Mail…
Written by a Nobel Prize-winning economist as well as former members of the Bank of England, the report from the London School of Economics calls for radical change to get the UK growing again.
It says ‘short-termist’ banks that refuse to lend to small businesses are suffocating innovation.
It also blames ‘years of inadequate investment’ and ‘political procrastination’ over the UK’s ageing transport and energy infrastructure for holding back growth.
The symposium has spent the last year looking at ways to help the UK’s moribund economy, which is now teetering on the edge of a triple-dip recession, grow in the long term.
The report says: ‘After years of inadequate investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation, there are longstanding structural weaknesses in the economy, all rooted in a failure to achieve stable planning, strategic vision and a political consensus on the right policy framework to support growth.’
The potential of thousands of children from poorer backgrounds are being squandered by underperforming schools, it says.
‘Our failure to provide adequate education to children from disadvantaged backgrounds constitutes a waste of human resources on a grand scale.
‘It holds back economic opportunities and is detrimental to growth,’ the report states.
Co-author Professor Tim Besley, a former member of the Bank of England’s influential rate-setting body, said: ‘Rarely are skills thought of as a growth issue. But catching up with Australia or Finland would lead to very significant increase in income for the UK.’
He suggested doubling teachers’ probation periods from two to four years, and assessing them more on the job rather than intensely at the start of their career.
‘We need to focus more on how schools are dealing with disadvantaged children – such as those on free school meals. That is where the big gains in growth will come from,’ he added.
It should be easier for underperforming schools to shrink in size, meaning fewer children join them each year, the report also says.
It wants local councils to allow failing schools to shrink and successful schools to take on more pupils.
Vocational skills are ‘particularly poorly developed’ and should be made more available through more apprenticeships, it adds.