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School cuts: From within the classroom

Voices

A sixth former argues that the current school cuts will fail future school students – and society will pay the price.

 

Photo: MIKI Yoshihito/ Flikr CC

Politicians, adults and too frequently our own parents confuse the voices of young people as the voices of the naive. I admit as a young person I am biased, but that does not make me wrong or naive.

As I approach the end of my time in the education system, I find myself reflecting more and more on the achievements I’ve made through my years in primary school, secondary school and sixth form. While I absolutely appreciate the importance of English and Maths and the other primary subjects, what strike me as the most memorable moments do not come from within these subject areas.

This action by the government can only serve to breed ignorance and fail young people.

Instead, I remember the pride and sense of camaraderie I felt after achieving my first round of applause for a piece of theatre I devised in Drama, and being able to go into school to tell classmates about a sports victory myself and other students had achieved the day before.

I remember hours I spent learning the life lessons that I carry with me to this day from my studies of theology for GCSE. I will always remember the time when I was 14 that my schooling meant that I could order a meal for my family and myself when we visited Barcelona.

These achievements are not momentous. They are the little things which have formed the person that I have become. The hours students spend at school are not hours studying alone – what education should be is learning lessons that we will apply throughout our lives.

We, as a society, are moving into the most turbulent of times and the only way to ensure that our young people are prepared to face the difficult circumstances that will come is to ensure they are educated in a sufficient manner. Now is the time when we should be extending students’ curriculum and not restricting it.

Yet the current government cuts are causing seven out of ten schools in the south west to restrict their curriculum, with an emphasis on core subjects and not creativity. This action by the government can only serve to breed ignorance and fail young people.

The government boast about the highest ever funding for education. The politicians are lying to us. While education funding may be at its highest point in history, so are pupil numbers and so is the cost of running schools.

When politicians arrogantly claim they are raising funding for education, they leave out how by 2020 funding will be 8% lower per student, how already 14% of teachers say that their school is suffering redundancies and how seven out of ten schools in the south west are being forced to offer a restricted curriculum.

What education should be about is learning lessons that we will apply throughout our lives.

There are countless students who thrive off the extremely enriching subjects which are under threat from these cuts.

There are sixth form students who continue their education under the promise of a qualification in subjects that they are actively interested in. These students will be left behind if these cuts are allowed to take place.

There are GCSE students who only feel a sense of achievement when they’re allowed to study subjects which fall outside the parameters of basic education. These students will be left behind if these cuts are allowed to take place.

There are students in primary school who succeed on the back of direct support from teachers and teaching support staff. These students will be left behind if these cuts are allowed to take place.

I want to ask the government if they have considered these cuts with the following questions: Who will monitor the corridors when numbers of teachers are slashed? With classes close to 40, how will a teacher notice a student struggling, academically, mentally or physically? How will a young person become an individual if they don’t have the option to pursue their interests?

But when I grow angry at an age of austerity, which provides little hope for young people, so little hope for their parents and so little hope for their educators, I remember that we as a nation chose this.

You may not have voted for the restriction of education, the decay of the NHS and the degradation of a supportive benefit system, but that has been the result of electing Tories. In 2015, the nation chose a Conservative government. This is not a partisan issue – this is an issue for all British people. But we can never forget – we never will forget – which party has done such damage to the tenants of individuality, kindness and compassion, which Britain should be based upon.

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