The outgoing director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), David Frost, speaking at a BCC meeting said that school leavers had suffered from an 'educational failure' under Labour.

Reported in the Express Mr Frost, who has over 100,000 companies under his wing, also claimed that firms were spending billions on teaching school leavers the basics because they leave school unprepared for the workplace.

Saying that business has 'relentlessly' bemoaned the lack of skills in school leavers he said that “A system where half of all kids fail to get five decent GCSEs ­simply means that five years later we spend billions offering them remedial training to make them work-ready”.

He then went on to call for the return of the grammar school saying that they had offered more opportunity to children from poorer backgrounds.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, wants schools to focus on core subjects and the Department of Education said that it is overhauling the schools system to match the world's leading economies.

The new English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a move in that direction where, to achieve it, pupils will have to achieve five A*-C grades at GCSE standard in certain key subjects (maths, English, science, a foreign language and a humanity – either geography or history).

But many argue that this is too restrictive and may disadvantage the less academically minded and that many school subjects such as religious education, art and music will suffer as a result.

We do need people fit for the workplace, but we also need people who can engage with society. Bowing too much to pressure from business may mean we end up trying to mass produce factory robots and end up with a full rejects bin on the way.

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