Further to my recent post about new measures from our Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Foreign readers may be surprised that we have a department for children schools and families (sic). I, on the other hand, am alarmed: even the name indicates the totalitarian intent of the New British state.
Prompted by a clip on TV news, I have now found the full text of Ed Balls’s speech given to the Fabian Society yesterday. Didn’t the resolution to announce new policy to parliament, not outside bodies – in this case a para-Party body – last a long time? It bears close reading:
Our ambition must be that all of our young people will continue in education or training.
That is what our Bill sets out to achieve – new rights for young people to take up opportunities for education and training, and the support they need to take up these opportunities; alongside new responsibilities for all young people – and a new partnership between young people and parents, schools and colleges, local government and employers. ….
But it is important to make clear that this is not a Bill to force young people to stay on at school or college full-time. They will be able to participate in a wide range of different ways through:
* full-time education, for example, at school or college
* work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship
* or one day a week part-time education or training, if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering more than 20 hours a week.
But the Education and Skills Bill is a bill of responsibilities as well as a bill of rights.
Because if young people fail to take up these opportunities, there will be a system of enforcement – very much a last resort – but necessary to strike the right balance between new rights and new responsibilities.
Phew – not necessarily locked up in schools then, but on probation otherwise (as will of course any employers be – they’ll have to have enhanced CRB checks, of course). This is enlightening as to what Mr Brown means when he talks about a Bill of Rights and Duties, “building upon existing rights and freedoms but not diluting them – but also make more explicit the responsibilities that implicitly accompany rights…”. It confirms what many listeners will have guessed: you have the right and freedom to do exactly what the big G tells you to. This is the traditional line of Calvinism and Islam, is it not?
Don’t you love that “our young people”? Völkisch, nicht wahr?
The second building block [after mucking around with exams and the curriculum some more – GH] is advice and guidance – so that young people know and understand what is out there, and can be confident that they can make choices that will work for them.
First, this means local authorities taking clear responsibility for advice and guidance as part of the integrated support they offer to young people – making sure that youth services, Connexions and others who provide personal support to young people come together in a coherent way.
Second, clear new national standards for advice and guidance.
Last week my colleague Beverley Hughes set out clearly what we expect of local authorities as they take responsibility for the services provided by Connexions.
Third, a new local area prospectus available online, already available from this September in every area – setting out the full range of opportunities available, so that young people can see the choices available to them clearly in one place.
So not only will whether you do something state-approved be checked, but what you do will be subject to state advice and monitoring and made from a menu provided by the state. For the uninitiated Connexions is a formerly semi-independent, and notionally voluntary, database surveillance scheme for teenagers set up under the Learning and Skills Act 2000.