EDUCATION FOR LIFE
Education is a right for all. It is transformative, key to the eradication of poverty and inequalities. It is vital to individual and community empowerment and the core ingredient of sustainable economic development. While Gibraltar rightly places great emphasis on the importance of good schooling for the lives of our children, there remain gaps in access to education in some areas – the early years, adults, those seeking career changes, those requiring new skills to keep up with changes in the workplace and the senior members of our community who wish to continue to learn. There are inequalities in terms of the standards of education received across the school system and inequalities of access to higher and further education based on income. We have a team of highly skilled teaching professionals who express frustration at what appear to be incoherencies in policy approach that hamper their work for the education of their community.
Education comes in many forms, not just in the classroom, and Gibraltar needs urgently to fill in gaps in types of education and training that prepare our young people for the workplace and help each and every person in our community make the most of their potential to achieve personal fulfilment. Importantly, our developing economy in changing times needs highly skilled individuals with the knowledge and understanding to create a new, more prosperous future for Gibraltar, overcoming all the challenges that we will face.
Together Gibraltar’s vision for education is based on fostering in all members of our community a love of learning, a thirst for discovery and enthusiasm for knowledge and skills; a love of learning that lasts throughout their lives. We will develop a comprehensive National Education Plan in consultation with stakeholders, education experts and teaching professionals, health professionals and representatives of parents and students. Through our revitalised education system, our community, young and old alike, will have access to the tools they need to become successful, lead happy lives and make a positive contribution to society.
We will commit to lifelong learning for all.
Our plan for Education for Life is built on three main stages of learning:
Learning in Early Years
Learning in the School years
Learning beyond School
Learning in Early Years
Early years care and education is only partially available to children through the preschool system and yet the rate of physical, cognitive and emotional development is at its height in the first five years of life. Together Gibraltar will create learning environments for all our children that will foster a love of learning for life.
Develop a care and learning strategy for the birth to school years
Set up quality childcare centres and facilities that will offer high standards of care and education for our very young, both in government settings and in partnership with the private sector.
Ensure all childcare and education facilities for the early years meet high standards and are regulated and periodically assessed to ensure the health and safety of our very young.
Develop training schemes for our early years educators to create career opportunities and career progression so that they are empowered to deliver best quality childcare and early education services.
Support families in accessing early learning opportunities for their young children prior to school starts, should they wish.
Ensure that early years and education services dovetail seamlessly into the school system so that children can move through the various stages of education with a minimum of disruption.
Learning in the School Years
Buildings alone do not create good education; these simply facilitate it. At the core of quality education are the teachers, their support assistants, administrators, facilities managers, students and, crucially, the parents and families. Gibraltar’s school curriculum is based on the UK’s curriculum and this facilitates entry to UK universities for our students. However, there are issues related to variations in quality in delivery of education, in appropriateness of subjects to Gibraltar’s individual circumstances and evident gaps in educational opportunities in a rapidly changing world. There is also an urgent need for the provision of childcare outside the routine school hours to support working families.
Together Gibraltar will address areas of weakness:
Adapt the National Curriculum to better meet Gibraltar’s needs as a society.
Ensure appropriate focus is given to STEM (Science, Technology, English & Maths) subjects and equality of access to these.
Celebrate our own unique history and the richness of diverse cultures in our community within the curriculum.
Balance technical and science learning with the learning of creativity, fostering deep thinking and engendering the entrepreneurial spirit that will encourage our young to take bold, brave steps into the world.
Introduce vocational learning and non-academic subjects at earlier stages in the curriculum linked to careers and the needs of Gibraltar’s job market.
Liaise closely with local NGOs supporting the needs of children with a variety of special needs and neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, Asperger’s, autism and so on to create the right framework of educational support for each child.
Ensure that children with special educational needs are supported fully by expanding the team of specialist learning assistants, and providing these with appropriate training and professional career progression
Encourage bilingualism and the learning of Spanish and Arabic at early stages in school life so that children can benefit from our rich, unique, mixed culture and shared history
Develop age-appropriate relationship, sex and life education, including learning of practical skills such as First Aid, signing, personal budget management, citizenship and rights, issues around sexual health and sexual safety, internet safety among many others, so that our children can develop the skills to lead fulfilled lives, empowering them to feel confident, safe and able to have recourse to support as and when they need it.
Ensure that our schools are safe, happy places for learning through good facilities management and building maintenance / refurbishment.
Develop strong working relationships with education professionals, students and parents.
Provide fast access to health and social support services such as counselling services.
Ensuring that every incident of bullying is quickly and effectively addressed.
Create more opportunities for our children to learn, understand and participate in sustainability, to understand their environment and to live in ways that sustain and protect our precious ecosystem. This will include the transformation of The Mount into a fully sustainable nature education centre where children and adults alike will have opportunities to learn, hands on, about our natural environment.
In partnership with schools and the private sector, establish a professional out-of-school childcare system to support working families, including Breakfast Clubs, Holiday Clubs and Play Clubs during times that schools are closed.
Learning Beyond School
Learning is part of our life process and only stops when we stop being. In Gibraltar, some children continue their learning in university and some adults are able to access further education later in life through grant and scholarship systems. However, there are many skills that do not require university learning and there appears to be a mismatch between the skills needed by employers and the skills being acquired by our students. In addition to this, opportunities for life learning at older stages of adulthood are limited. Together Gibraltar will change this to create a strong lifelong learning system accessible to all members of our community.
Develop our careers service so that children in schools and in further education receive more in-depth personal advice to help them choose their preferred life pathway
Work with our further education professionals at the University of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar College to expand and improve the opportunities for varied forms of training including developing vocational courses that help our employers recruit locally trained and skilled individuals. Ensure equality of access to further and higher education by targeting resources carefully so that no-one rejects opportunities through economic difficulties
Develop a system of standardising and assessing educational services to ensure quality delivery throughout the system and that learning opportunities and methods remain relevant and appropriate
Develop outreach opportunities as well as a wide range of learning opportunities for adults either through academic or general interest subjects, for example, providing weekend and evening courses at the schools, provided by trained adult educators.
Work closely with private sector and local employers to develop in-work apprenticeship schemes and internships so that individuals can earn as they learn
Ensure entry to these apprenticeships, further education and training courses is not age-limited to encourage retraining and career changes.