To start on a glamorous note: subsidised bus fares for those in full-time education outside London. I turned 16 in the same year my dad turned 60, and just as I had to pay full (and, in Oxford, whopping) bus fares, he got a free bus pass. At 16 you’re now obliged by law to be in full-time education, so it’s not possible to be earning as much as an adult – why should you pay as much? Public transport is a great thing for young people, enabling them to be independent in an environmentally and traffic-friendly way: let’s make it affordable.
Then there’s the shortage of good teachers for subjects like maths, physics and modern languages: I propose that those leaving university with a 2:1 degree or above in ‘shortage subjects’ should get their university fees back if they go on to complete a teaching qualification. TeachFirst is already working wonders at tempting bright graduates into teaching, but more needs to be done to attract graduates in particular subjects. Granted, there’s no way to force newly-qualified teachers to teach their degree subject, but the current problem is with über-employable graduates not being drawn to careers in education in the first place: it’s not as if we currently have loads of Computer Science graduates teaching History.
Finally, and I’m sure much to Rod Liddle’s chagrin, I’m a firm supporter of preliminary screening of all primary school children for dyslexia, with full assessments and support to follow if needed. I found out I was dyslexic when I was 15 – my school recommended I was tested after my GCSE mocks. There’s a reason dyslexia gets called a middle-class condition: my most recent assessment cost £400. My university covered the costs this time, but while I was at school my parents had to come up with the cash themselves. Some people learn in a different way from the majority. It’s profoundly wrong that only some children can afford the privilege of finding out if this includes them, and being helped accordingly.