Beyond exams, learning builds essential skills
FAMILIES have been preparing for the return to school and I have also been putting some school visit dates in my diary for the new school year. Visiting schools in my constituency is something I appreciate very much and I enjoy the chance to talk to pupils, teachers and other staff, as well as to school governors and parents.
Congratulations to everyone who has enjoyed success in their exams, including A levels and GCSEs this year, together with all those who have supported those pupils, both in the run-up to the exams and then during the wait for the results!
During the year young people are going to be thinking hard about what subjects they want to study and, if asked for my advice, I always say, ‘Don’t forget the basics – English and maths.’These might not be your first choice, your best subject, or they could be ones where you struggle to get by. The thought of developing skills which are attractive to employers may not seem particularly relevant, but these subjects will help the individual with everyday life as well as future employment. These are skills which are needed just to get by, whether it is writing an email, or working out the weekly household budget.
The GCSE results announced this August demonstrated that more pupils than ever before are achieving good GCSEs in English and mathematics. Those GCSEs give people the widest range of options later on in their life.
STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are now attracting larger interest. The number of pupils taking these subjects has risen by more than 78,000 since 2014. Entries for girls in STEM subjects at GCSE have risen by 30,000 since last year, with 14,000 entries for maths.
Nor is it too late if students don’t obtain a pass at C level in these crucial subjects by the time that they are sixteen. Entries in maths for 17 year olds are up by 30 per cent and English by 23 per cent. Congratulations to the students who do persist with subjects that don’t come smoothly to them. It shows real application and determination and my congratulations to all who have passed this year.