Given that the nature of education has changed because of the ubiquity of the internet, the political influences within the state education system and the range of specialist subjects available, that have grown in number over the last thirty years the way in which we deliver education needs to change.
There are only two subjects or topics that are of universal benefit and these are English and Maths. (note that this applies to the UK specifically. Localism in other countries can modify to their own needs).
One of the mistakes (aside from the success of their political agenda) Labour made with education was opening up subjects that had previously been 'hobbies'. While it's wonderful that children can take subjects that they enjoy - Singing, Acting, Media Studies and so on, the 'chances' that they will have a successful career based on those subjects is small. There is simply too much competition because they are subject's we'd all like to be successful in. Unfortunately, only a few of us make the grade required to become successful at them. Simply look at the number of Media graduates working in unskilled jobs to validate this.
For this reason, educational establishments would only have to provide (by law) these two subjects (English and Maths). Once you have these two subjects, all other learning is discretionary. Some people will study hard and specialise, some will read widely and be generalists. Some will not study at all. The latter cannot be made to study as the education system has found out in the last 15 years and to try and force study is a waste of resources not to mention very stressful for teachers with targets to meets.
Wards will be able to open Educational Establishments in competition or collaboration with other wards. EE's will have to provide a high standard of English and Maths tuition, however, throwing open all other subjects to those who can provide them.
This means that a surgeon with an interest in helping mould the next generation of surgeons and doctors might want to run a biology class. He would then apply to run a course using the exam board of his choice (or indeed starting his/her own exam board if he thinks that's required), select the students that apply, set the course fees (paying a rental to the EE for the use of premises, advertising and administration) and be able to make a profit. The price set will vary based on the number of pupils applying for that course. If he turns out to be fairly useless as a teacher the number of students will drop and the course will be uneconomical to run. If he's successful then he might take on a partner to run another course using his teaching style and methods.
In this way, the link between investment in education and potential wealth generation is re-established.
Operating this way opens up some interesting avenues for development because now consumers are paying for their futures directly incentivising the pupil to work harder at completion but also removes the discrimination by age. If I decide at 40 I want to be a surgeon then there is nothing stopping me from joining this class. If my genius son at 12 wants to take the course, he can also.
This method completely breaks the monopoly of the state school system while ensuring all children get the two most important subjects to equip them with everything they need for future learning.
It also allows pupils to have a change of heart. If someone has done a year of a dance studio and realised they're actually not that good, there is no reason they can't start on a new career path, at whatever stage of their education or age they are at.
Furthermore, new opportunities are opened up. Professional courses become available to school children, including project management, IT and networking skills provided by vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco become available and a 12-year-old who completes these courses can be earning (at the time of writing) 30-40k per year by the time they're 14.
Additionally, education provision at a local level places education and jobs in the same area matching supply and demand. If a coal mine requires engineers then it will sponsor courses at Education Establishments locally. Should someone from outside the area want to follow this course then a range of provisions will be available from boarding and sponsorship.
Only the left will decry this concept as it creates higher-skilled youth at an earlier age. They will scream about child abuse but if a child at 14 can earn this kind of money why on earth shouldn't they? Again it's about having the individual make their own choices about their future and providing a system that allows maximum flexibility with the sole aim of wealth creation instead of ensuring a person has poor education, irrelevant to the local job market and with little opportunity to change direction or progress further through study and experience. One must not forget the number of unemployed media studies students created by Labours ideas of education.
It seems reasonable that the focus of Education required by the state should be to empower the child with the drive, resilience and tools to take education as a serious and enjoyable alternative.
This system also allows for the flexibility in job skills that companies and businesses require, the state will only provide English (Including Latin) and Mathematics, but to a very high level, between the ages of two and fourteen. Funded by a voucher system where parents can choose the best fit for their children.
Obviously, in the ideal ward that Education Establishment would be their own, but having the means to fund other wards through vouchers is how competition is increased and thus the quality of local provision has to improve to keep up.
One aspect of education that is missing from many schools today is teaching pupils ‘how’ to learn with respect to the taking of notes, reading ahead of the lectures and preparing questions, writing formal reports and essays. These are essential skills for lifelong learning and preparation for work and so will be persistently encouraged while learning all other subjects.
The rest of the time would be down to parental and pupil choice as per the model of modes of education. If a person believes their three-year-old daughter has what it takes to be a dancer they can choose a route of learning to suit. If that child then turns out not to be the protégé that was once hoped for the child can start another career path learning tree. Incidentally, there is no reason she would have to give up on the dancing either. This ability to re-train almost on demand, at any stage of life will provide an excellent foundation for a knowledge-based science and technology-based sector of the economy.