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The National Debate on Education - Response of the Policy Group of the Scottish Branch of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

1. The Institute.
1.1 The Institute of Logistics and Transport is the professional body for those working in passenger and freight, in the broad Logistics and Transport Industry. The Industry includes all transport - road, air, sea and rail and logistics operations which embrace the total supply chain with the many activities related to getting the raw product through the process of manufacturing and finally to the end user. There are many other activities closely associated with the Industry e.g. consultancy, land use planning, transportation, infrastructure, traffic regulation, recruitment and training and academic enquiry.

1.2 These many disciplines are reflected in the Institute's Membership of circa 23000 individual Members across the UK (circa 1250 in Scotland) and in our International organisation - The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Members come from all walks of life and range from students and trainees through middle and senior managers to chief executives and chairmen of large organisations. The Institute is also strongly represented in local government.

1.2 The free and sustainable movement of passengers and freight, so fundamental to our island economy, is therefore a high priority for our members and their organisations.

2. The Principal Issues.
2.1 Over several years, the Industry has become increasingly concerned at the advancing skills shortages across the Logistics and Transport area and the apparent lack of knowledge of the sector by our school children. This extends across the perceived nature of the Industry, the variety of occupations and careers available, the implications for the economy of an efficient transport system and issues such as congestion and the environment. We believe these matters to be fundamental to achieving a thriving economy and a satisfying and healthy way of life and align well with the stated aims of Government. Two estimates give figures of 47000 job vacancies in the road haulage industry and some 1800 additional staff being required in Transportation Planning over the next three years.

2.2 The Institute does a good deal to interest youngsters and college and university level students in the Industry via promoting the Industry at careers fairs and exhibitions. In addition, through various awards (in Scotland we award an annual University Scholarship) and competitions - especially our national schools' competition - we invest much personal and financial effort in explaining what the industry has to offer to potential employees. With Industry we also publish a Careers Guide and have produced a Careers Video.

2.3 However, in Scotland, we have even greater difficulty than our peers in England and Wales, since there the National Curriculum is better geared to forging harder links to our Industry via the mandatory teaching of certain key issues. In Scotland our more flexible approach will mean that some schools put more emphasis on certain areas than others and may almost totally exclude some matters which we would consider of high importance.

Here, materials for our schools' competition (which has been running for eleven years) have been circulated to over 400 schools and this has been followed up with further supporting effort eg in some cases by visits to schools, yet the level of interest has been extremely small with a mere handful of children participating.

3. A New Approach.
3.1 In the Executive's promotional materials relating to the Education Debate, we would agree with many of the points made under "Starter Topics for Discussion" i.e.

(a) THE WHY OF EDUCATION - education (et al) is concerned with preparing youngsters for a creative and productive working life and to be citizens of a changing world.
(b) THE WHAT OF EDUCATION - a concern for what information young people should be able to show potential employers.
(c) HOW - by (et al) developing specific skills in information and communications technology.
(d) WHO - ensuring the abilities of all young people are teased out, to give them the best start in life.

3.2 All of these, we would argue, are underpinned by the primary issues which the Logistics and Transport Industry is about. Children, from an early age need to learn about and to have an awareness and concern for their environment, for sustainable ways of travel and to know about the skills needed for participating and contributing to the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. We believe that these issues go beyond the requirement of "National Guidelines" and that there should be clearly defined curricular segments relating to them in teaching practice.

3.3 The need to give priority to teaching our children about these issues in a very direct way, is well illustrated in the recently published Executive's Survey - Statistical Bulletin Trn/2002/4 which found that adult attitudes are often firmly set against transport alternatives to the car - "45% of those travelling to work by car could use public transport with almost a third preferring to use the car". Clearly, the aim should be towards influencing the behavioural attitudes of the young, towards engendering a different way of viewing their local "world", compared to that held by (some of) their elders.

4. The Way Forward.
We propose that:

4.1 All younger school children by - at least mid primary stage - have a basic knowledge of the issues of sustainable travel linked to health and the environment, information on how as consumers of products, products make their way along the supply chain from raw material to eg supermarket shelves and the implications for all involved. Organisations such as the Institute could well be asked to develop appropriate materials.

The first signatory on the national guidance "How to run a Safer Routes to School project" issued to every school in Scotland was Sam Galbraith the former Scottish Education Minister. Sustainable community transport planning however is not yet viewed by many local authority education departments as of high importance compared to other educational objectives. The guidance was developed by a member of the ILT and further detailed assistance similarly needs to draw from best practice in the transport and education fields.

4.2 All primary school children have "hands on" experience of some sort of travel project - be it getting to school, visiting a relevant travel related company or having a talk given by a professional in the transport or logistics field. We commend the good work done on projects such as "20's Plenty" and Home Zones but there is a need to bring other issues closer to individual children. The community planning approach to solving problems referred to above helps children to learn about transport in the context of their environment and helps engage all relevant stakeholders. It has actually been found that head teachers and teachers spend far too much time on coping with transport problems around the school gate and that a more proactive approach helps save scarce staff time.

4.3 All primary school children should know about the relative safety of different means of travel e.g. the horrendous road casualty levels, the issues of increasing congestion and related emissions and alternative options. Statistics provide facts which even many adults are unaware of i.e. fatalities on average per 100m passenger journeys show air travel to be the most unsafe means of travel with 55 fatalities, cars 4.5 and trains the safest of all at 2.7! *

Older students could learn a good deal about statistics and logical reasoning from studying these issues and be influenced in selecting travel options. An interesting and constructive approach could also impact vandalism of street furniture, bus shelters and reduce trespass on the rail system, with its consequent dangers.

4.4 All senior school children should require to complete a more advanced project on a logistics and/or transport related subject embedded within one of the fundamental teaching subjects e.g. geography, business studies, environmental studies etc. Recent research for the Scottish School Travel Advisory Group has shown that children who take responsibility for their own school travel develop a wide range of skills more effectively.

4.5 All senior schools should have a link with an organisation operating within the logistics or transport area and which is prepared to show schools round their activities, give a presentation at school, advise on appropriate projects, be prepared to advise youngsters on careers in the Industry etc. Youngsters would therefore learn that Logistics and Transport, as well as being about manual skills such as driving buses and repairing trucks, offers highly skilled professional opportunities.

4.6 Specific effort should be made to have information available in all senior schools, on organisations in the sector who can help with careers information, qualifications and general advice. It is our view that this needs a very high profile, since every aspect of our lives is touched by the broad logistics and transport industry. Senior school students also need to be aware of the nature of jobs in the Industry and of the potential rewards.

5. Conclusion.
5.1 The Institute welcomes the opportunity to be involved in the National Debate on Education and sees this as a positive means of looking at areas vital to the future of our young people and to our country. It is of concern that the principal channel - EDUCATION - inherent in developing the attitudes and thinking of our young people, does not currently specifically prioritise issues associated with the logistics and transport sector, given their all embracing nature.

5.2 We would be happy to discuss with the Education Department all/any of these issues towards taking them forward to achieving the aims of Government, the Industry and the Institute.

* The Tombstone Imperative - The Truth about Air Safety - Andrew Weir 1999

 

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