Now we are 14

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Rob Wye goes in search of the best route to education but gets lost in the Hundred Acre Wood

Christopher Robin was now very grown up. He had been made Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Lifelong Learning and an MP - a very HEFELLuMP indeed! And he felt very, very important.

But as minister he had been asked to sort out the mess that was the Hundred Acre Wood, known to many as the 14-19 jungle, or by some, the Graveyard of Lost Potential. With hundreds of pathways, and so many confusing twists and turns, it was all too much to cope with. Rabbit's young friends and relations were forever getting lost - and, indeed, almost half of those who entered the wood never got out again.

So Christopher Robin had called together all his friends and advisers and asked for their views on what he should do to make it easier for his young friends to find their way through the Hundred Acre Wood. "Well," said Rabbit, with a certain manic conviction, "what we need to do is to bulldoze One Big Academic Pathway through the wood, which we will then force everyone to follow."

"Oh no! That won't work at all," said Eeyore. "I may be wrong, and I usually am, but I know that we are all very different. Some of us don't have academic brains and need a practical approach. So one route for all can't be the answer. What we need are personalated pathways through the forest if we are to find our own Gloomy Place to live."

"But if we're going to find our own personalated pathways, surely we need better maps and guidance," squeaked Piglet. "Remember how we all got lost when we went on that expotition to find the NVQ pole? And I'm sure if only Tigger had had his own special personalated pathway, he wouldn't have ended up with that ASBO - his anti-social bouncing order."

"If you ask me," said Owl, "all people really need is basic Squirrels. As you all know, I am learned. I can read and write. I have a diploma." And he held up a piece of paper saying "Skils 4 Lif Strataji".

"Strewth, no, dear," said Kanga as she swigged her Foster's special strengthening medicine. "What we need to do is learn from the Australian model. We need to allow people to leap much higher than that - to jump straight up to level 3 or even go on to university to get really valued skills."

"Pooh," squeaked Piglet, "do you remember when we built that Special New Academy in Eeyore's Gloomy Place and then found it had all been built from bits of Eeyore's old tumbledown college after all?"

"Mmm... yes," said Pooh. "That was a decidedly bad thing, but we swore we would never speak about it again!"

"Oh yes, sorry," said Piglet. And there was an awkward silence.

So Pooh hummed a little tune:

"Isn't it funny

How a principal likes money

Buzz buzz buzz

I wonder why he does?"

"And," went on Pooh, "while I may be a bear of little brain, I think that what we all need to make sure is that everyone can choose a little smackerel of whatever suits them, wherever and whenever it suits them. What do you think, Christopher Robin?"

"Well," said Christopher Robin, "I think... I think it's all too hard for a HEFELLuMP like me and I think we should all go and play poohsticks."

And they did.

Rob Wye is the LSC's director of strategy and communication

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