Karen Lumley is the Member of Parliament for Redditch County and Chairman of the Vaynor First Academy Trust.
It was Bill Gates who once observed, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” With so much discussion on Britain’s future prominence in the global race, one thing is clear: if Britain is to succeed in an extremely competitive and highly globalised economy it must produce young adults with the skills fit to compete with the rest of the world. As I have seen so pertinently in my own constituency of Redditch, it is headteachers who provide the means for schools to succeed.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to providing real world, transferable skills. What we saw during the ‘exams boom’ in the 13 years of Labour government was a reflection of how Labour not so dissimilarly handled the economy. An over-inflated bubble economy was masking the real shortfalls in how Britain makes its way in the world. And under the last Government, the number of GCSE exams awarded an elite A* doubled from four per cent to 7.5 per cent while A grades increased from 14 per cent to 23 per cent, despite British pupils dropping down international league tables. GCSEs were in part made easier, the importance of those vital core subjects Maths, English and Science were played down, foreign languages so important in a globalised economy were taken off the syllabus and a huge emphasis on 50 per cent of all students going to University was a catastrophic mistake and a fine example of the ludicrous nature of top down government in British schools.