5 Jan 2012
The school day should be extended to prepare pupils for the workplace, stop them joining gangs and give them a “haven” from chaotic homes, Labour has proposed.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg will use a speech to back longer hours in the classroom as he launches a review of how schooling can be made more relevant to the 21st century.
It is to be led by Labour MP Barry Sheerman, a former chair of the Commons education select committee, after business leaders said a third of young people emerged poorly prepared.
Mr Twigg, in a speech to the North of England Education Conference in Leeds, will say too many schools are run like 19th century institutions set up to produce factory workers.
“The workers down tools when they hear the bell ring, and are strictly separated into production lines, focused on building the constituent parts of knowledge – maths, science etc,” he will say.
“At the same time, students are rigidly separated. Taught in batches, not by ability or interest, but by their own date of manufacture.
“While noble in its origins, this 19th century form of industrial education feels distinctly ill at ease with the demands of a modern, globalised economy, which demands collaboration, innovation, entrepreneurship, and an appreciation that developing value comes not from more efficient forms of production, but more skilled ones.”
A recent survey of employers found they considered a third of the workforce left school at 16 “poorly or very poorly prepared for the work place”, he will point out.
Mr Sheerman’s review will take evidence on initiatives such as extended hours from teachers, parents, businesses and universities and examine overseas education systems.
Pupils at schools which had already introduced longer days were “getting a better perspective of the expectations upon them” at work, Mr Twigg will say.