LibLink: Julian Astle – Education is the route to really “taking back control”

Julian Astle — one time adviser to Paddy Ashdown and more recently a senior Lib Dem policy advisor in the coalition — has just taken up an appointment as Director of Creative Learning and Development at the RSA.

Julian’s been writing over on the RSA blog about the real lessons from the referendum:

The moment Britain leaves the European Single Market will be the economic equivalent of stepping off a travellator onto terra firma – a decelerating jolt, followed by the realisation that you now have to move a lot faster simply to travel at the same pace.

So how, without the propulsion that free access to a market of 500 million consumers provides, can we maintain – or even increase – the speed at which our economy grows?

The answer – and the challenge awaiting the next Prime Minister – is to reorient the whole of government to the task of making Britain the most productive, most inventive, most enterprising country on earth. Just as the designer William Morris urged us to put nothing in our homes that we didn’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful, so the task facing Ministers is to put nothing in their plans that doesn’t help deliver that overarching goal. This will require a process of decluttering that allows for even less sentiment than Morris was prepared to permit.

Education, though, should be the primary focus of governments looking to overcome the challenges posed by Brexit, argues Julian:

Of all the challenges we face, however, none is so great as ensuring that our education system equips our young people not only with the knowledge needed to pass exams, but with the understanding, the skills and the character attributes they will need to prosper in the world of work and in society more generally. With a good deal of manual labour having already moved abroad or become automated, and with new intelligent technologies forcing us to rethink what it is that humans, and only humans, can do, so we are going to have to think more expansively about the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of learning. Yes the ability to retain and retrieve information matters, but so too, increasingly, does the ability to think critically and creatively, to collaborate, to take the initiative and to develop the ‘can-do’ entrepreneurial mentality needed to navigate the more fluid, unpredictable and competitive world of 21st Century work.

And it is this last point that seems to me be to be the real lesson of Brexit. Because ultimately, it is through education, not through border controls, that our young people will develop the sense of agency – the belief in their ability to make a positive difference – that is the precondition for “taking back control” of their own, and their country’s, destiny.

You can read the full piece here.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.

One Comment

  • David Evershed 8th Jul '16 - 12:28pm

    Julian Astle sets out the challenge very well.

    Increased productivity is the route to increased wealth.

    UK productivity is far behind countries like the USA and France and our productivity stopped improving some years ago. The UK’s GDP has been increased through increased population but GDP per head has been stagnant for some years.

    Better education and better apprenticeships will help improve productivity but political parties need to consider how else productivity can be improved. In particular there is scope for better productivity in public services, such as the better utilisation of computer systems to make staff more effective.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Michael BG
    Peter Davies, Replacing the Income Tax Personal Allowance and NI threshold with a UBI of the same value means that anyone earning more than £12,570 will not...
  • Michael BG
    Jenny Barnes, The UK economy declined by 0.1% in March 2022. I don’t think this is an ‘economy running hot’. The UK unemployment rate is 3.7% as you sa...
  • Joe Bourke
    Peter, increased work allowances are a common call by both the JRF ...
  • Lorenzo Cherin
    This is good from Ed , but this is very little. Ofgem need to be overhauled. The lift of this cap makes no sense. If the wholsale price has changed, tough, t...
  • Charles Smith
    The decision by Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership is historic for many reasons. For Sweden, it means ending two centuries of military non-alignment. A...