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ELECTION 2021: Teach kids 'freedom of thought and life skills', urges Duncan

By Kyle Ritchie

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When I entered the teaching profession, I believed that the education system should be geared around the best interests of the learners, says Freedom Alliance candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast Jason Duncan.

Jason Duncan, Freedom Alliance's candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.
Jason Duncan, Freedom Alliance's candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

I’m entering politics with the same belief.

The government saw schools as an easy target. A group of leading epidemiologists, public health, and paediatric infectious disease experts agree, publishing an article in the British Medical Journal entitled "Keeping schools open should be the UK’s top priority".

They cited insufficient evidence that school closures helped tackle Covid-19, and a study of 12 million UK adults that found no difference in the risk of death in households with or without children.

They found that the government failed to sufficiently consider the impact school closures on pupils’ mental and physical health, future prosperity and life expectancy, and risk of abuse and neglect.

Online learning is a poor substitute and harms the already disadvantaged, for example those without access to reliable broadband.

Only this month an Oxford study concluded the children had learned "little or nothing" during school closures.

They have been denied the right – and it is a right, not a privilege – to quality learning.

In-person learning should return in full immediately, and we should never again sacrifice the interests of young and disadvantaged learners so cheaply.

There are wider issues in education, and I call for urgent reforms of the Curriculum for Excellence in full consultation with front line staff.

It is inflexible, setting struggling learners up to fail by preventing teachers from moving them onto a more achievable qualification.

It also creates an environment where pupils are taught what to think and not how to think, encouraging ideologies instead of ideas.

I would campaign for a system that promotes freedom of thought and key life skills. We should do more to encourage young people to grow into well-rounded adults.

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