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Fix education to solve productivity puzzle

David Trodden, member of the LSCA Business board, asks why the UK is struggling to improve its levels of productivity, suggesting that a starting point to finding a solution lies in our education system.

David Trodden

March 2020

The UK workforce is failing to improve its productivity. What is the cause of this?

A significant factor is the low level of English and Mathematics ability among our workers. The problem for the future is that our younger generation is as weak as our older generation and so this poorly educated workforce problem is going to last for a long time in the UK.

At the same time, we have a long tail of poorly performing businesses in the UK. These again could be due to the poorly educated workers.

Where is our education failing? Being based in the higher education sector I would and am pointing the finger at our primary, junior and secondary schools.

What is wrong with this education? It is focused on performance and league tables as opposed to ensuring a good education for all. Middle class families drive up the prices of houses in the catchment of good schools. We are all guilty of this, of wanting our children to be educated in the best schools in our area.

What is the solution?

All of the schools at primary, junior and secondary level need to attain a good level of education. The push to be top of the league is the problem. We are over assessing from too young an age. We have too many schools achieving too low a standard.

We have a duty to help and support all schools which are not able to achieve the appropriate levels. Instead we all move to be closer to the better schools leaving it to someone else to fix.

It is all of our duty to ensure that all of our schools have the necessary resources and support from the local community to provide excellent education for all, not just for the mobile middle class.

David Trodden is a tutor in accounting at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a member of the London Society of Chartered Accountants’ Business Board committee.

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