Monday, 19 November 2012



A manifesto from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was published today Monday, 19 November 2012 details of which are here:

The manifesto outlines ideas for a radical re-shaping of the current education curriculum in order to produce better more rounded students and to ensure that those at the top of the system and those at the bottom are given every opportunity to make the most of their talents and skills to ensure they have the best start to their adult life.

The Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, says that education today has become a conveyor belt of exam results and this does little for the young adults when they enter the world of the jobs market and that business leaders are worried that Britain is falling behind the rest of the world in the race to rebuild the economy and make Britain economical strong once again on the world stage.

Reading the articles from the Guardian and the BBC reveals some good ideas to move the education system onto another level but as with any manifesto it is not without its flaws.

Mr Cridland mentions producing young adults who were rounded and grounded but does not go beyond this to state what the CBI’s vision of a rounded and grounded person is. The manifesto suggest moving the goal posts for students with regards to taking exams and choosing subjects, when the leaving age is raised from 16 to 18 in 2015 with the emphasis on GCSE at age 18. But if this is done when will students take their A levels and what of the knock-on effect for universities? Would universities have a very small intake of students for two years whilst the school system re-organised itself or would universities have to lower their entrance requirements to ensure a steady flow of students?

The manifesto appears to concentrate on achieving good English and maths results which is a good thing but is this to be achieved at the expense of other subjects? And the manifesto appears to call for more emphasis to be put on life skills for students to enable them to be better prepared for life and work after school. Again no detail is given on what the CBI thinks is life skills but the danger here is that if some students don’t master these life skills at an early age they may very well be put off for life from mastering them and feel outcast from society because they have been taught that they don’t have the necessary skills to survive in society.

And once again how the universities would cope with an influx of students who have qualifications in various life skills but not many in academic subjects, would cope is brought into question. Will the universities need to change their entrance requirements to accommodate a new generation of students with different qualifications?

But the biggest question for me is just who will benefit from a generation of students who have excellent maths and English and have all the necessary skills for life? A quote from John Cridland on the BBC article reveals much:

 "Qualifications are important, but we also need people who have self-discipline and serve customers well. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want."

John Cridland (BBC 2012)

This to me clearly indicates that what the CBI are actually after is an education system that suits them and produces a different type of conveyor belt adults who from an early age are socialised to be a part of a system that wants people who will not question what their bosses say nor answer them back but will do what is asked of and required of them with the minimum of guidance.

They will have the necessary life skills to cope with whatever life throws at them and this will, in theory minimise the amount of time they take off work and will increase their productivity for their employers.

In essence what the CBI are wanting is a conveyor belt of young adults who are ready to serve the bosses and leaders of businesses unquestionably and who will devote all their time and energy to ensuring that these businesses make the most profits for their owners. In other words what the CBI want is a conveyor belt of robot workers who will make as much profit as possible for the owners of business.

Saturday, 10 November 2012



As children one of the first people we are taught to trust implicitly is our doctor or GP. My own personal experience and quite possibly the same experience as millions of others is that your doctor is a professional person beyond reproach and is accorded due reverence by everybody because of the hard training and invaluable skills they have. We rely on them for so much in our lives and put so much trust and faith in them that in some ways they can assume an almost mythical status whatever our status or position in life.

But the problem here is that we can forget that they are only human beings as we are and therefore are prone to the same flaws as we are. Over the years many doctors have been exposed as such Harold Shipman and Hawley Crippen to name but two. Yet this two people who committed horrific acts have done nothing to tarnish the reputation of doctors in the same way that the reputation of bankers has been tarnished because of the economic meltdown of a few years ago.

So while we put doctors on a pedestal from which there is virtually no chance of them being knocked off, we also tend to forget that they are only human. When one of them is exposed for being something else they are a rotten apple in amongst an orchard of perfection. The reliance we have on them to keep us going both physically and mentally is immense and for this reason we put so much faith and trust in them.

However what happens when you feel that your trust and faith has been broken? What happens when the one person you have put all your faith and trust in over many, many years lets you down, even if it’s only in your eyes?

Do you lose all trust and faith in doctors and the medical system? Do you believe that you have come across one rotten egg and they are not all bad? Or do you try and put it all behind you and hope that your trust and faith in doctors will eventually be restored in time?

Of course there is no definitive answer to this question as there are too many personal and complex factors involved and each and every loss of trust and faith is different for each individual.

But maybe if we lower our expectations of doctors we won’t feel as let down when our trust and faith is broken. And then maybe our childhood expectations of doctors that have been instilled since an early age won’t end up being just shattered dreams.