We must allow the creativity back into our schools

18th April 1997 at 01:00
DR MARTIN STEPHEN High master of Manchester Grammar School

The competition we face over the next 50 years means we won't be able to keep our economic power through manufacturing. But we will be able to pay for my old age pension through technology, research and selling ideas.

My vision is linked to that. We are driving creativity out of schools. That must be reversed, and we must make sure access to university is available for the most able. We are suffering from the hard-edged 1980s utilitarian philosophy.

We have to make the national curriculum less all-controlling. I would suggest 25 per cent should be left to individual choice.

I would look very seriously at making 14 the age of transfer to secondary school. I have never heard a sensible reason for it being 11.

A crucial issue is who designs the courses. The end users should have far more control. A-levels should be retained for those who wish to proceed to higher education but the content should be determined far more by the universities.

Universities are facing a funding crisis. With the almost universal popularity of modular degrees, why don't we educate more students to the first year of degree level at school?

We must also change the way we look at vocational qualifications. There have been no respected vocational qualifications - that is wholly harmful. Industry should itself design courses.

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