The education system in the UK is riddled with flaws, injustices and discrepancies. Amid rising pressure and new, harsher examinations, many students are forced to retreat into solitude, becoming devoted to labouring over past papers and revision guides.

From a young age, children are taught to abide by a predefined set of rules which they have no say over and which do not reflect those of the wider world. They are expected to simply assimilate into a system they have no control over and are taught government dictated material for the majority of their childhood.

They are controlled on every part of their individual freedoms — the ability to choose how to dress, how they may wear their hair, even what they may say. By definition, uniform suppresses personality as it creates a landscape of identically dressed, muted children. In this regard, it takes away their liberties and pumps them through the exam machine — but is this really how we want our society to be formed?

Conversely, students are able to choose the subjects they wish to take at GCSE level. However, whilst this allows freedom of choice, it further suffocates those less socially ‘proper’ subjects. Many schools simply do not make it a requirement to partake in a creative subject, leading to many students dropping all creativity at the age of 14. The amount of students opting for this route is at an increasingly alarming rate — 10.5 per cent fewer students took a creative GCSE this year compared to the last. These failures have led to many designers such as Edward Barber accusing the government of being ‘scared of creativity’.

As children develop, the competitive culture that surrounds tests and feedback contributes towards choking creativity. As they grow into young adults they are taught that their worth is dependant on their grade in English, maths or one of their sciences. On a subconscious level, children begin to see talent in the arts as ‘extra-curricular’ and therefore sub par. This culture also leads to a suppression of free thought. The mass-participatory nature of passing a GCSE has become simply a matter of working a fine-tuned algorithm rather than consisting in the intellectual expression of opinion. As teenagers learn to follow a mindless structure, they achieve success in the eyes of society — but have they really learnt anything?

Children are allowed to believe the definition of success is the job they acquire. Provided, of course, the profession they choose is high-paid, intellectual, and follows a socially acceptable career path; they face immense pressure to become doctors, lawyers or engineers. By perpetuating this ideology, we choke out creative industries and create a culture of the dull 9-to-5er, rather than one of artistic and culturally innovative individuals.

However, I do not believe that we are doomed to a future of subservient robots. If as a society we are willing to revolutionise an archaic system, there is a glimmer of hope. We must start by listening to those who spend the formative years of their life on a much greater level. The school council must become a vocalisation of students’ worries rather than a propaganda machine that installs water fountains and new table tennis facilities.

The arts must become precious, celebrated and seen as equal to conventional academia rather than a childish hobby. Children’s diversities and interests must be celebrated. It is not enough to simply hang posters around schools, an effort must be made to start and encourage conversation, before it is too late.

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