Headlines: March 17th, 2010

Education will be an important issue for first time voters when they go to the polls for the forthcoming General Election. Research by the independent education foundation, Edge, has found two fifths of young people between 18 and 22 believe education is more important now than it was at the last election.

Other significant issues for them are employment, the economy and health and social care. More than a third of the young people said they did not think education worked well and that they would make a number of changes if they were given the opportunity. More than three quarters said they would introduce more practical and vocational learning, almost as many wanted increased work-based options, and more than 70 per cent suggested a broader curriculum. First time voters also called on the Government to ensure there were enough university places for the number of people who wanted to go into higher education.

The young voters believed Labour and the Conservatives were neck and neck as far as which had the best education policy. Meanwhile 43 per cent of them did not know if there were significant differences in the main parties’ education policies, which Edge believes suggests that the parties are failing to get their messages across to first-time voters.

The Chairman of Edge, Lord Baker, said: “The time is right for the next Government to make sure the current system helps all young people realise their individual talents. They must be able to recognise the many paths to success that come from a high quality education combining academic, practical and vocational learning.”