On Monday while MPs in the House of Commons were arguing about whether to hold election no 3 in four and a half years, their colleagues in the House of Lords took part in a debate under the title “Vocational Education and Training – Question for Short Debate” Lord Baker of Dorking participated and explained how poor our STEM educational provision has been over the last decade thanks primarily to one man. Ken Baker who was the Secretary of State for Education and Science from May 1986 – July 1989 referred to the incompetent delivery by Michael Gove who is currently Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster but from May 2010 – July 2014 was the Secretary of State for Education. His successors have been Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Damian Hinds and finally Gavin Williamson although apart from Nicky who was in post for 2 years, all have served for 18months or less. The other Minister who features in this theme is Nick Gibb who has been Schools Minister since 2010 apart from 3 years when David Laws took over in 2012. The words from Baker included the following:
“The Gove curriculum, imposed 10 years ago, is wrecking the British education system and does not respond to the needs of the British economy. EBacc is a total and utter disaster. Mr Gove’s successors never tried to challenge it; they could not say “boo” to a goose. I do not understand why the Labour and Liberal parties do not put this in their manifestos. Put some lead in your pencil and say you will abolish EBacc, for heaven’s sake, because it will absolutely destroy technical education below 16. If you do that, you will not get apprentices at 16. Who is going to employ apprentices who have only done academic subjects? No one.”
Over the last 7 years as I have been blogging on a daily basis I have written a number of pieces about the challenge for technical education and apprenticeships and I could not agree more with all that Baker has said. However prior to this he outlined what the current position is which I found hard to believe but it explains why we are in such a mess. In my view this helps to explain why we need to remove the Conservative Party from Government in our nation but more importantly how we need a major reform of our democratic processes.
“I have been in the House for 23 years and I can barely remember any debate on technical and vocational education. It is important, because the skills gap is large and growing. It is so large that the Government have stopped publishing it—and they have abolished the body that published it. It is very difficult to find out what the skills gap is so, as the chairman of Edge, I set up a group of 20 people to assess the skills gap in various industries. My noble friend Lord Bridgeman referred to this. The gap in engineering is 203,000; there was no A-level in engineering this year. In digital technology it is 600,000; there were just 10,000 A-levels in computing, compared to 120,000 in maths. There should be as many computing A-levels as maths ones. In hospitality, there are 100,000 vacancies; there were only five A-levels in travel and tourism.“