Brexit has been taking a lot of everybody's attention. It's a brilliant political story, because everyone can find something they feel proves their opinion absolutely right. An unending festival of personal confirmation. It takes away our focus, though, from the other big story of the past few months. Education.
Right now, this very minute, there is a consultation running. It asks how the government can support more grammar schools, force private schools and universities to help out local schools and make sure that faith schools are inclusive. They want your opinions. But. Well. I was disappointed when I saw it. It is pretty leading. As a nonpartisan weekly briefing, I don't have an opinion about whether grammar schools are a good thing or not. It just seems a shame not to ask people's opinions.
What we want from education is such a huge question, I don't know where to start. What's more important, to have a well-rounded, confident, artistic young person, or a young person with excellent Maths and English skills? Of course, it's possible to achieve both, but if you had to choose which would you go for? Given the constraints on a timetable, what subjects should be taught? Art? Science? Politics? Economics? Personal finance? Drama? Social Media? Public Speaking? Maths? Music? Religious Studies? Philosophy? Latin? You get the idea. It's tricky.
So. What are we, here at Simple Politics, going to do about it?
First of all, we've made the government's consultation really easy to answer. To do this, we teamed up with the lovely people from represent.me. We've also added a couple of questions of our own. We think they're interesting. All responses will be submitted to the government. Have your say by clicking here.
Secondly, we're going to follow the Education Bill that will come out of this consultation very closely - helping you keep right up to date with the debate as it goes on.
Thirdly, in the new year, we're going to announce a series of debates about Education. They're going to be amazing.
Here's our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week.
Digital Economy Bill
This will bring in a ‘universal service obligation’ for internet access. So every person would have the legal right to broadband which is at least 10Mbps, in the same way people have the right to a phone line and postal services. Most MPs are supportive of this but implementing it is more difficult in rural and hard to reach areas.
Commonwealth Development Corporation Bill
This is new from the Department for International Development. It would increase the amount of money the Secretary of State can allocate to the Commonwealth Development Corporation - a government-owned investment company that predominantly operates in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This will reform private pensions, to ensure that multi-employer schemes are properly regulated and caps early exit fees, which penalise those who access them early. It creates two new bodies for money advice, one for pensions guidance and another for general financial guidance.