Rishi Sunak believes that students should continue to study core subjects like math and English until they reach the age of 18.
In a three-point plan to transform education, the Tory leadership candidate pledged to phase out university degrees that do not improve students’ ‘earning potential,’ establish a Russell Group of world-class technical colleges, and implement a British Baccalaureate to prevent 16-year-olds from dropping math and English.
It comes just a week after his rival Liz Truss campaigned as the “education prime minister,” promising to replace failing academies with new free schools.
She also promised that students with top A level grades would receive an automatic invitation to an interview at Oxford or Cambridge, raising concerns about whether the academic calendar would need to be adjusted.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, the former chancellor criticised the current curriculum’s ‘overly narrow specialisation,’ claiming that it does not prepare young people for the ‘economy of tomorrow.’
Mr Sunak also talked about his favourite karaoke song, Ice Ice Baby, a 1990s club anthem by Vanilla Ice, and how he spends Christmas watching rom coms like Love Actually, The Holiday, and Notting Hill.
Furthermore, the former cabinet minister admitted that his wife, Akshata Murty, is “very messy,” while he is “incredibly tidy.”
‘We are nearly unique in the Western world, for an advanced economy and all high-performing education systems, in allowing people to drop math and stop studying their native language at the age of 16,’ he told the newspaper.
‘In Germany, France, and Asia, children study math until they are 18 years old, and I believe it will hold us back in the modern economy if our children do not have those skills.’
Following a private education at Winchester College, where he was head boy, and an Oxford degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, Mr Sunak pursued an MBA at Stanford University in California.
According to Mr Sunak, his plans represent a “significant step toward parity of esteem between vocational and academic education.”
Mr Sunak, if elected as the next Prime Minister, would strengthen technical institution networks and their links with industry, as well as give them the authority to award degrees, according to his campaign.
The former chancellor would evaluate university degrees based on drop-out rates, graduate job placement rates, and salary thresholds, with exceptions for nursing and other courses with high social value.
Mr Sunak’s campaign said he would also expedite the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, which is currently in the House of Lords, in an apparent attempt to appeal to the right.
The government claims the Bill is necessary to combat growing intolerance in universities, but opponents claim it addresses a non-existent problem and may protect hate speech.
Mr Sunak also promised to improve teacher professional development, commit to the Government’s plans to open 75 new free schools announced in June, and give school trusts a two-year “accountability holiday” after taking on underperforming schools.
He would also work to increase the use of artificial intelligence and digital technology in classrooms, as well as to reduce the workloads of teachers.
‘A good education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to making people’s lives better,’ Mr Sunak said.
‘These proposals represent a significant step toward equalising the value of vocational and academic education. And they will be tougher on university degrees that leave students in debt while not improving their earning potential.
‘I will also take bold, practical steps to build on the previous decade’s successful Conservative education reforms by leveraging technology and improving the quality of teaching in underperforming areas.’
‘Every child deserves a world-class education, and if elected, I will make it my mission from the start to ensure that they get one.’