06 September 2007

Time to Inspire

The Conservatives' latest idea for healing Britain's broken society is a "universal scheme" to give every 16-year-old the chance "to mix with others away from home, give them a challenging mission to fulfil and enable them to be stretched in an environment they would never, otherwise, have encountered."

National Service - Have you chosen your job - If not do it to-dayIn an attempt to recapture the virtues of National Service, preparing young people for adult life, delivering the values of personal growth and service to others, and bringing Britain together in one shared, classless, patriotic mission, David Cameron is proposing a new sort of National Citizen Service, designed for the 21st Century. The six week programme would include an act of substantial community service, time away on a residential course, and a real challenge such as a week of basic training with the military or preparing a presentation to the board of a new social enterprise.

The only trouble is, if the programme is voluntary, then it sounds little different from what teenagers are already able to access through established platforms such as the Scout movement and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. If we are truly to "unlock the full potential of the next generation" then surely such scheme will have to be truly universal — that is, compulsory. Otherwise, the same self-motivated and parentally-supported youngsters will participate as already benefit from what is currently on offer — and the same anti-social yobs will continue being a nuisance in our communities.


Anonymous said...

Has Cameron not heard of the V scheme, launched a year and a half ago to inspire a new generation of 16 – 25 year olds to get involved in volunteering and community action?

John said...

Anonymous, I confess I had not heard of the V scheme. Can you tell us more? How many young 16-25s have been involved and for how long at a time?

Lucy M said...

I think your reservations are valid, but I also think its very easy to create a fair system that overcomes these.

Why don't we, for instance, make three months' military service obligatory for all 16-year-olds with the proviso that they can substitute three months' "citizen service" so long as it fulfils certain criteria. That would mean that everybody benefits from the scheme but there are reasonable options for anybody who objects strongly to army life.

Anonymous said...

National Service had little to do with preparing people for adult life, it was about military training and the defence of the nation. Any modern day government's desire to put it's youth through a government approved training scheme will have little to do with military service and a lot to do with social manipulation. The key area in which children learn good self-discipline and socail behaviour is the family and the local community. If government wants to have better behaved youth and adults it should support these structures - 6 weeks at age 16 is far too little far too late.

Anonymous said...

This whole idea is like taking aspirin, it is a vain attempt that does not deal with the pain, the real problem. The nation needs to get back to the solid principals of family, and of right and wrong.
A family is a small nation, get the family right and by that I mean a natural family of a mother a father, and children.
The nation needs to return to Biblical principals and with our leaders leading the way. Labour has been a moral disgrace, will our leader be any different? God's word states that 'Righteousness exauleth a nation.' (Proverbs 14 34)

Jonathan Pemberton said...

I walk through the park regularly during the working day and tend to see school children from about 3/4 upwards playing games under teacher supervision. What is so worrying is that the only schools which tend to use these enlarged green spaces are private schools. Why are no state school children encouraged to play games in the national parks? If inner London children from the private sector can benefit from team sports using these free facilities why cant the state sector.? Surely rather than come up with new schemes we should use what God has provided. Young children should be encouraged to play together and to exercise. If schools fail to use what is provided who are we to complain?