Securing the NHS for now and the future

The Pirate Party will require that any legislative, administrative or other changes to the NHS do not have a negative impact on the NHS's primary principles: that it meet the needs of everyone; that it be free at the point of delivery; and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

Changes to the NHS should be based upon evidence, not ideology. Changes should come from within the health establishment and the NHS wherever possible, with evolutionary change driven by a continuous, democratic and open discussion within the service.

Eliminate school rankings by GCSE or SAT results

Schools must aim to educate, not to simply pass exams. The number of examinations that young people sit should be reduced, and schools should be judged on a broad range of indicators. Moreover, the examinations that young people sit should be appropriate to their aims and future development. Schools should not push students toward particular subjects or qualifications for any reason other than the students' wishes and abilities. The public ranking of schools by GCSE or SAT results should be discontinued.

Have a national curriculum that says 'What' but not 'How'

Schools should have the freedom to choose the teaching methods and materials they feel are most effective to ensure that their students are well equipped once they have completed their education. Decisions about what is taught and how should be as local as possible in all instances, and limitations on local decision making should be kept to a minimum.

Teach entrepreneurial skills in schools

Schools should prepare children for life after education. With the support of school governors and parents, schools should have the option of providing entrepreneurial skills as part of their curriculum.

In our current economic system it is important that children to learn about competition, taking risks and strategy.  

'Set up a business' experience

We will trial a programme where 16-year-olds are encouraged to set up a small business as part of a work experience programme during or at the end of their final year of school. The programme would aim to actually establish viable businesses and provide the skills and experience required to run a small business.

Switch to a percentile-based grading system

We will assess the effectiveness of a percentile based grading system to avoid grade inflation, to minimise the impact of arbitrary changes to grading criteria, and to ensure that exam results remain comparable in the long term.

Reduce the school leaving age

We will investigate making education after the age of 14 voluntary. An initial trial where any 14-year-old who can pass a GCSE in Maths and English should be permitted to pursue a job or apprenticeship offer, with the option of returning to school if they lose their placement or would prefer to return to education.

This would allow young people who want to start working early or specialise as apprentices to remove themselves from classes, freeing up time and resources for those who would prefer to continue in education.  

Make publicly funded academic research available to all 

We believe that it is vital that the results of academic research produced in universities that receive public money should be available to all, in accordance with the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

We support the existing government policy that all academic research funded or partially funded by the taxpayer via the UK Research Councils is published under a CC-BY license.

We will ensure that the policy is enforced, and encourage the research councils to set up central subject-specific repositories similar to the UKPubMed database for deposit of manuscripts.

Let all schools access a national media library

The BBC, National Archives and other appropriate groups should be asked to establish a national media library for educational establishments. A large catalogue of material for students and teachers to make use of would diversify and increase the quality of media material available in education and would save money by centralising administration and technical costs.

Abolish requirement for collective worship in schools

As it stands, the law requires all schools to hold an act of collective worship every day. Even in schools that aren’t ‘faith’ schools, this must be ‘broadly Christian’ in character. In a society which is increasingly diverse, this is an affront to the rights of young people to express their beliefs freely. Although there is the opportunity to opt out, this is reliant on parental permission and is not respected by all schools.