Posts tagged Ed Balls

Perpetual state of supervision

I first heard about this thanks to an entry in Reason’s March 2008 Brickbats column.

TEENAGERS who refuse to work, attend training or go to school are to be issued with on the spot fines under government proposals. Any who still fail to comply would then be taken to court where they could face further penalties.

The measures are designed to enforce a new law which will be outlined in this week’s Queen’s speech. It will say that all teenagers must remain in education, training or employment until they are 18.

The change will be phased in by raising the age to 17 in 2013 and to 18 in 2015. Details of the new age of participation will be outlined by Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, in a television interview today and in a speech tomorrow.

The new law will effectively outlaw Neets, teenagers and young people who are not in education, employment or training. In a speech to the Fabian Society tomorrow, Balls will put the proportion of Neets at about 10% of 16 to 18-year-olds.

On today’s Sunday Programme on GMTV, he will argue that the change is the biggest educational reform in the last 50 years.

To provide places for the teenagers, Balls will announce the creation of an extra 90,000 apprenticeships by 2013 for 16 to 18-year-olds to add to the current 150,000. There will also be 44,000 new places at further education colleges.

Tomorrow he will also issue a pamphlet detailing how the changes will be put into practice: These new rights must be matched by new responsibilities … young people are responsible for their participation and this can be enforced if necessary.

If someone drops out of education or training, their local authority will try to find them a place.

According to Balls’s department, if they refuse to attend, they will be given a formal warning, in which the local authority will clearly explain their duty to participate and the consequences of not doing so.

The next step will be to issue a formal notice, followed by a fixed penalty ticket. The Neet could then be taken to a youth court and fined, but the sanction will not go as far as imposing a custodial sentence.

— Jack Grimston, The Times (2007-11-04): Teenagers who refuse to work face on the spot fines

What sort of lessons do you suppose this educational reform will be teaching British teenagers, if the Labour government goes through with this plan to use police force, on the spot, against any youth who attempts to exist, even temporarily, outside of the direct supervision of more powerful adults—parents, teachers, bosses, crafts masters, etc.? What sort of a life, and what sort of a livelihood, and what sort of a society, do you suppose that those lessons will be preparing them for?