Public Statement on Education Reform
9 Jan 2023
Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced to make maths lessons compulsory for all students up to 18. Aside from stressing the importance of teaching young people the necessary numeracy skills, in his first speech of 2023 the PM equally drew attention to the worry that the UK education curriculum is no longer able to rival some of the best in the world. The PM stated that “in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job,” not teaching children adequate numeracy skills would be letting them down. According to Sunak, updating the education system in order to prepare young people for the online world is therefore vital.
However, the Polis Analysis team believes that the Government is missing a huge opportunity for additional reform to the education curriculum by not doing more to improve the media literacy skills of pupils across the UK and equip them with the skills they need to thrive in the digital space. Previous research conducted by the National Literacy Trust confirms that over half of teachers believe that the current national curriculum does not go far enough in teaching children to harness critical thinking skills in identifying misinformation and fake news. If Sunak indeed aspires for the UK education system to rival the best in the world and to future-proof the next generation, it is crucial that we not only teach children the necessary numeracy skills, but also the media literacy skills that will help them navigate an increasingly data-driven and polarised world.
With the Online Safety Bill expected to be voted on this month in the House of Lords, Polis has called for (online) misinformation to be classified as a form of social harm. We therefore continue to champion a bottom-up approach to tackling the dangers that fake news poses to not just the present world, but the future world of the British students currently in school. Polis is convinced that only if we harness the powers of both greater numeracy and media literacy skills, the PM’s aspirations can prove to be a huge success in positioning the UK not only as having one of the best education systems in the world, but also as one of the greatest democracies with free, healthy, and lively debate informed by fact-based information.
The Polis Analysis Team