2020 Liberal Vision

From Iain Donaldson, a Manchester Liberal Democrat Learn more

How it really is – Education, Education, Education

by Iain Donaldson on 26 October, 2014

Education teaches you how to read a book whereas edification teaches you how to use the information that is contained in the book. Only the edified appreciate the importance of education and learning from an early age to lifting people out of ignorance, poverty and conformity. Indeed in many ways it is edification, not education, that is the opposite of ignorance.

There is an old Chinese saying “Give a man a fish you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”

The Labour and Conservative philosophies are born of a different era, they are industrial philosophies for an industrial age that is long gone, and they are both founded in the management of the masses rather than in the edification of the individual. Our society has long since grown beyond the corporate ideologies of both of the old parties and towards a more individualistic approach.

Individualism is best represented by the Liberal Democrats, and can be seen emerging for the first time in the work that this coalition Government is doing to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, get the opportunity of a decent education and a decent start in life that will enable them to lift themselves out of the poverty and ignorance that have so long bedevilled our nation.

This is the first Government in my lifetime that is taking a long term approach to tackling poverty, by using the education system not just to educate but to edify.

The Education budget as a whole has increased substantially thanks to the Liberal Democrats in Government, and that means that the next generation will benefit from being better educated and better able to tackle the problems facing our country and our planet than this. They will be able to lift themselves out of poverty and into work, rather than having to depend on an every expanding state.

  • It is the Liberal Democrats in this coalition who have ring fenced the education budget to protect it from public service cuts, and introduced the Pupil Premium enabling schools to provide extra tuition and care as and when needed for some of our society’s poorest children.
  • It is the Liberal Democrats in Government who have ensured that Head teachers are receiving the funding to run booster lessons in the first year of secondary school aimed at 11 and 12-year-olds who failed to reach the appropriate level at the end of primary education. This “catch-up premium” stops pupils becoming frustrated in the classroom, leading to bad behaviour. The consequences for a pupil being left behind in the basics when they start secondary school can last for the rest of their education.
  • It is the Liberal Democrats in Government that have secured 15 hours nursery education for two year olds giving them the best possible start in life, and have introduced free school meals enabling every child to get the nutrition they need to be able to concentrate on their class work.
  • It is the Liberal Democrats in Government that have introduced measures through which more than one-in-five pupils will receive small-group tuition and one-to-one help during lunchtimes and after school as part of a Government drive to boost English and maths results.
  • It is the Liberal Democrats in Government that have sponsored the creation of over a million apprenticeships, giving young people who do not go into University Education the opportunity to gain skills and get into work, and it is the Liberal Democrats in Government who have restored the principle of a University Education free at the point of delivery, and provided bursaries for students from the poorest 29% of families, extended loans and other support to mature students and thereby for the first time in half a century secured an increase in the number of students attending University from those poorest backgrounds.

The commitment of this Government to education is Liberal Democrat, and the funding that has come to our Education system that in turn fosters edification may well secure its place in history as one of the great reforming governments if all time.

This is the most Liberal government in my lifetime, and yes I want the next government to be even more Liberal. If this government can achieve so much then how much more will be achieved by a Liberal government unfettered by the lust, greed and pride of the Tories; or the envy, gluttony, anger and sloth of the Labour Party?

It is time that people woke up to the real successes of the Liberal Democrats, in government on our side, working for us to build a stronger economy and a fairer society to deliver opportunity for all.