2 February 2021
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's question: Do you think the current system of higher education admissions should move to a post-qualification model? What would be the advantages/disadvantages of this?
Greens prioritise wellbeing and equality. As such, we believe education should lead to employment, stable housing and satisfying adulthood. There is an urgent need to refocus employment to meet the critical needs of our time, including implementing the Green New Deal and rebuilding after COVID. To meet targets to reduce carbon and combat climate change, a practical approach in the areas of engineering, construction, sciences, horticulture and farming is essential.
I support the consultation proposals as far as they go. Decision-making on a known outcome would allow students to start the next stage of their development confident in their direction of study before making applications to a final clearing house. A system that reduces stress for people transitioning to further education is to be welcomed.
However, it is telling that this consultation focuses solely on A-levels as an entry to university and further education. This reflects the current system, which ignores those equally intelligent who learn by practical application. The practical education route has been underfunded for 30-plus years, leaving us with a shortage of skilled carpenters, plumbers and engineers. Meanwhile, many people who do have a degree lack practical skills and are unable to find professional employment reflecting their effort in education. Some might have benefited from apprenticeships too.
Focusing solely on the academic career path also disadvantages families where money is tight or where parents don’t have any experience of higher education. We need to increase the emphasis on practical education for 16 to 18-year-olds, allowing them to progress through the system toward Advanced Apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships must offer a living wage.
I believe every child should have the opportunity to develop and flourish in a manner that supports their style of learning. Funding should follow every child and not just the children of the already privileged.
Our response was written by Ceri Galloway. Ceri is a long-time environmental campaigner and food activist, with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Ceri is a Cambridge Green Party committee member who has stood as a local Green candidate in Trumpington since 2004.