Part II: National Service – A Personal Viewpoint

In my first blog on National Service, I described my late husband’s personal experience, and this has undoubtedly influenced me. There is no way that I will support service in the army or the other services. If a young person wants to join one of the services, there are clear recruitment pathways. A full-time career can be very rewarding, but I do not believe it’s for the press ganged. The regular servicemen are likely to be dismissive.

The second part of the proposal is around community service. My first thoughts are how will this be managed. How much will this scheme cost to administer? I am frequently surprised at the number of services that are funded and/or staffed by volunteers e.g. RNLI, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Air Ambulances. Then there are the food banks, retirement homes, meals on wheels, and so many other options for young people to choose to volunteer. Then there are the opportunities for young people to choose in school, for example, the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This is a long running award that gives young people the opportunity to volunteer, lead, and undertake expeditions. It is not for everyone, but incredible numbers achieve recognition each year.

Schemes like this should be at the heart of a school’s work. The curriculum should provide students with the opportunity to lead, problem-solve, contribute, and build resilience. Students are also able to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical way. There are also the school plays and performances that give chances for students to shine front and back stage. The performing arts are great team building exercises, and bring parents, carers and other relatives into the school. A well-designed curriculum can provide numerous opportunities for students to develop life skills. Food technology would always be in my curriculum – understanding food sources, flavours and tastes, and being able to cook are all essential life skills. I have lost count of the number of chefs, who have said that they did not do well in school but are now leading in their profession.

I do not favour the Conservative party’s proposal for National Service – it goes back to a very different time. A time that some voters yearn for. We have moved on – we live in a global world with huge challenges. Young people can choose their crusade. We need to ensure that our schools are fit for purpose. I would like to see a new government initiate a debate on the purpose of education. We can have schools that provide a strong knowledge base and skills – they are not mutually exclusive. We need to give young people the chance to make their own decisions. I believe in young people. I finish with the inspirational words of Rob Burrow – “Every single day is precious. Don’t waste a moment. In a world full of adversity we must still dare to dream.”

Read Part I: National Service – A Personal Viewpoint

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Part I: National Service – A Personal Viewpoint

4 June 2024

Part I: Parental Choice

7 June 2024

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