The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants all children to have a chance to play an instrument, join a sports team and visit the seaside by the time they’re 10.
In his Fabian Society essay The Road Ahead, published today, Starmer said the country must “help young people from all backgrounds develop their potential”.
He said a Labour government would focus “not simply on grades and qualifications, but the so-called ‘soft skills’ that help develop and round young people”.
Give children experiences by the time they’re 10
By the time they are 10, all children should also have the chance to visit the countryside or city, go to cultural institutions, ride a bike and “learn how to debate their ideas”.
The essay does not propose any specific policy initiatives, and Labour frontbenchers have since Starmer’s election to the leadership remained tight-lipped about what will be in the party’s next manifesto for schools.
In a section on the “best start in life for every child”, Starmer warned that changes to education over the past decade had “left us lagging other parts of the world”, with young
people’s life chances “severely impacted”.
He said it was his “simple belief” that “every parent, no matter where they live, should be able to send their child to a high-quality school that prepares them for the future”.
‘Modernising education’ so children ready for ‘work and life’
“I want every child to leave school ready for work and ready for life. That means modernising education. The future workforce will need to adapt to change throughout their working lives.”
He said the education system should be “working with employers” to make education and training “ready for a world of work that will look very different”. That “cannot mean a narrow focus on university”, he warned.
“Higher education is vital to transforming the prospects of so many young people but to be fit for the future we are going to need skills, education and training at every stage of our lives.”
Large classes ‘a disgrace’
Starmer also warned that one of the “key drivers” of people choosing to send their children to independent schools was the smaller class sizes.
He said it was a “disgrace that secondary school class sizes are now at their highest for 20 years“.
He also said he wanted to make vocational routes “far more exciting, accessible and rewarding options – designing a system for those young people that is just as ambitious as they are”.
“Everywhere you look today, potential is being wasted. We can do so much to change this. Let’s give parents and young people the opportunities they deserve and the chance at the best start in life.”