The TES is reporting calls from Sir Richard Branson for young people to be given a gap year to travel the world once they have completed their education at 16.
In what he described as his most outspoken criticism of the UK’s education system, the founder of Virgin said schools were not preparing young people for the wider world. He called for teenagers to be given greater experience in the “university of life” before making decisions about whether to go on to higher education.
Sir Richard made his comments at a Virgin Disruptors event, which considered the future of education. He also dismissed the idea of learning French in schools as a “waste of time”, as “nobody actually learns French in a classroom”…
The businessman added that young people should only have to learn basic arithmetic, unless they had plans to become a “rocket scientist, because you don’t need to learn much more”…
But Sir Richard’s main message was that teenagers should be encouraged to take a gap year at 16 to better prepare them for life after school…
“At 16, let the kids go and travel for a year. And, if they want to go to university, let them, but make sure those three-year courses are not all three-year courses. Some courses you can do in 18 months, some courses you can do in nine months. Why saddle everyone with three years of debt?…”
Lots of suggestions here from Sir Richard – and I think he is so right on shorter year degree courses – but what of the idea of a gap year at 16?
I reckon it would be an even better idea if it was made the norm at 18 for those wanting to go into higher education (and perhaps Sir Richard has his ages mixed up as he talks about the gap before students decide to go on to higher education): it would stop the made scramble for places at the same time as doing A-levels and remove all the issues with pre-result offers. In addition it would give young people space to pause, learn and reflect before cracking on with more formal education.
How about a scheme where 18 year olds do a year of voluntary work – at home or abroad – where they get board, lodging and work experience in return for doing something useful?
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