Opportunity and Self-Reliance
Have we succeeded in dispensing completely with discrimination of any kind and opted to live in a truly liberal society where everyone is treated equally? Astonishingly, we have not.
We have well-intended but short-sighted authoritarian elements of high society that seek not to remove barriers to opportunity, but to simply move them from in front of one group of people to in front of another.
For example, both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have all-women shortlists when selecting election candidates, and the Conservative Party have recently announced their ambition for 50% of their parliamentary candidates to be women.
Nobody worth his or her salt is arguing against equality of opportunity for everybody in the 21st century. This is not a matter of equality of opportunity, but a misguided pursuit for equality of result. This inevitably means that individuals will fail not because of lesser merit, but merely because of having the wrong biological property such as skin colour or gender.
A truly liberal society is one where factors such as gender, race, culture and lifestyle are made as irrelevant as possible for succeeding in life. But by actively favouring group identity over individual merit, we are simply swapping one injustice for another. It is a regressive course that risks new social tensions and it has to stop.
We must judge individuals on merit – not group identity
An online job advertisement from the BBC seeking a trainee journalist, but accepting applications from non-white individuals only. This of course means that a potentially life-changing opportunity is denied to a young person simply because they have the wrong skin colour.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
American Civil Rights Leader
Let’s restore grammar schools and give poorer kids equal opportunity
In 1964 we had around 1,300 grammar schools throughout the country, today however we have around only 164.
It is currently unlawful to open entirely new grammar schools in England, but the Conservative Party’s 2017 manifesto pledged to lift the ban. However because they lost their parliamentary majority as a result of that election, the Government subsequently confirmed that the ban would remain.
Our current education system negatively effects children from the poorest families the most, denying them equal access to the best schools, and a redressing of the balance is long-overdue.
Advocates of the comprehensive system argue vehemently against grammar schools and their “elitist” academic selection.
However with respect to many good schools in the country, academic selection is taking place today – not by ability, but by money. Only families with the finance to move into those areas and afford the much higher house prices can do so, thus children from poorer backgrounds with strong academic abilities often miss out.
For the wealth of parents, or lack of, to be such an overriding factor for unlocking the potential of children is a serious social injustice.
Children with wildly divergent strengths, weaknesses and interests will excel in different ways, and so education should be tailored to the child as much as possible. We not only argue for a substantial increase in the number of grammar schools, but for independence from local authorities and expanding the range of types of school. This means more grammar schools for the academically gifted, schools more appropriate for those that are not, and technical schools specialising in sport, music, technology or mechanical engineering for example.
Academic selection is not “elitist”, it is a necessary process by which education can be more properly tailored to the individual child. Not only will a more modern education system with greater choice enhance equality of opportunity, but given the optimisation of resources and more personalised education, it will also enhance the overall standard of education for everybody.
In defence of grammar schools in a House of Lords debate in 1976…
If I were a High Tory instead of a Fabian Socialist—a Tory of a type that now scarcely exists even in cartoons, one who really believes in privilege and keeping the lower orders down – one of the first things I should do would be to get rid of grammar schools.
Lord James of Rusholme (1909-1992)
British Educationalist and Member of the House of Lords
It is to the shame of governments of both colours that according to the OECD, 1/4 of adults in England aged 16-65 lack basic literacy skills or numeracy skills or both.
Question – “You are paid £9/hour and receive a 5% pay rise. What is your new rate of pay?“.
This question should be one that every adult can answer, either in their head, with a paper and pencil, or with a calculator. However in a June 2017 survey conducted by YouGov, 23% of respondents answered incorrectly or ‘don’t know’.
Being able to resolve these sorts of everyday questions is essential for any individual. Furthermore it is often the absence of basic numeracy, or literacy, that leads to a lack of confidence about taking on more responsibility and progressing forward in a career.
The independent charity National Numeracy reports that 49% of the working-age population in England have the numeracy level that we expect of primary school children. Moreover, the cost to each of these 17 million adults as a result of low numeracy is estimated at £460 per year.
We need a greater distinction in our education system between numeracy and mathematics. Everyday use of numbers to make good decisions is necessary for all, algebra and trigonometry are not.
Regarding adults, government along with employers must do more to support the millions who currently struggle with literacy and numeracy. Such a commitment would not only boost individual prospects but also the UK economy as a whole.
We cannot unlock opportunity with low levels of literacy and numeracy
Too many teenagers in England lack basic skills
Percentage of 16-19 years olds with literacy and numeracy below level 2 (good GCSE pass)
We are a group of grassroots activists working within our own personal resources seeking to make a positive difference for our local communities and our country.
With politics so detached from the people, we are pro-Brexit and want a better deal for the people. We value in particular national self-government, the empowerment of citizens and individual freedom and opportunity.
Promoted by Gerald O'Brien, the Party Chairman, on behalf of the Foundation Party both at 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ.