Education Crisis

SONY DSCWords by Elizabeth Pollard

(above) 3rd year manifesto in response to my experience at Central Saint Martins, 2013

“Education is irrelevant in a progressive society”
Feedback given to an A Level Geography report, 2014

Britain is in an education crisis. Over the last few years, as I have progressed through the education system, I have become increasingly frustrated and concerned about how we are educating our young minds. When you are young, it is hard to understand, or comprehend, that a teacher, lecturer or tutor would have anything but your best interests at heart. And whilst some do, the entire system is so corrupt, that it is not designed to motivate or stretch someones thirst for knowledge, but rather, control it, until they reach a suitable age that they aren’t that institutions ‘problem’ anymore.

Whether at my less than inspiring secondary school, terrible (and failing) college or oppressive university, I was always told to vouch for my school when the inspectors popped in for the yearly visit. Not once in the breaks between Ofsted inspectors, was I asked if I was happy, if the school was meeting my expectations or, most importantly, was I learning anything? Instead, they sent their annual email, inviting you to ‘big up’ (a term used in this years’ email to Sussex Downs students) your institution. I was, and still am, utterly offended by their proposition, when they spent the entire year neglecting the students.

My younger sister, is now finishing her A levels at Sussex Downs College, and hoping to go to university with a set of straight A’s. But getting there has proved harder than she could ever have anticipated. Whilst at college, she has had only one consistent teacher, the rest of her lessons, filled with supply’s or simply cancelled altogether. Finding external tutoring and with the help of educated family and friends, she’s fought through her A Levels with remarkable results. But what about the rest of her class? It is rare to find a 16 year old who will chase tutors down the corridors for even the most basic feedback. Why does the government think keeping young people in education until they are 18, is the solution to Britain lagging behind the world in academia?

It was at this same college, I met the person who has been one of the biggest influences on where I am in my career today. My A Level graphics tutor, was an exemplary teacher who was concerned with every pupils welfare above and beyond what was expected of her. When other members of staff neglected responsibility or patience for students, she was there to help you through. When I saw her last year, after nearly seven years at the college, she was still denied a full time contract, as college cuts prohibited anyone new to join the staff. This example of poor management, lack of nurture or incentive for staff is exactly why the students are suffering and failing to make the grade.

I don’t even want to get started on university as the politics and corruption within that institution are so profound, I think they are better discussed in the pub, with a glass of wine in hand to calm my nerves.

The staggering list of bad experiences, I have collected from my peers, demonstrates the dire situation Britain’s education system is in. I don’t know and don’t have the solutions, but I really believe we need to start acknowledging the flaws in order to make change. We need to stop encouraging children to mask their bad experiences, and think about the importance of their honesty, in order to move forward.


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