Ben Fogle has said if he was Prime Minister he would reintroduce National Service and scrap exams.
The presenter shared his ideas when he took the theoretical Number 10 hot seat in ITV News’ podcast series, Acting Prime Minster.
He said introducing a form of National Service could give children a sense of national pride and belonging.
“Knife crime is a massive worry for me with children growing up in the city, and I think we need to give youngsters in cities throughout the UK a sense of belonging,” he said.
“I think at 17 everyone has to spend the equivalent of a term working at the NHS, working for the police maybe on the streets, working for the fire brigade, maybe they’re going to work for a charity, maybe they will join the military, but to spend a little bit of time to find out whether that is a tribe they want to belong to,” he added.
“And also just to see what NHS doctors and nurses, A&E staff, police on the beat, firemen, what they have to go through.
“I think it would start to bring respect back to youngsters because that’s what’s lost – respect. Where does respect lie when authority is kind of gone now.”
The adventurer also said the education system needed an overhaul as many children fail exams because, like him, they struggle to retain information.
He said: “So this is another passion of mine, a bug bear of mine, is that when I was a child I failed all my exams, I got an ‘N’ in my A-level geography and to this day it annoys me that we, as a country and our education system still relies on exam results to define success and failure.”
He continued: “I am not very good with names, I’m really not good at remembering information and it meant that I failed all my exams and when you fail consistently, and I did GCSEs, A-Levels AS Levels, everything, it strips you of your confidence, because you suddenly give in to failure and you let failure define you.”
Fogle said 25 years later he is “still trying to rebuild that shattered confidence” and that his exploits, such as climbing mountains and rowing across oceans, “built up a sort of armour around me”.
He said: “It saddens me that there are so many kids out there, exactly like me, who will fail their exams because they simply aren’t wired to retain information and regurgitate it in an exam and they will be handed the same letter of failure that consigns them to a life of failure.”
“I think one of the main things I would do would change the whole model of education – scrap exams – it’s ridiculous,” he said.
Fogle also suggested the NHS was simple to fix by introducing payments for self-inflicted treatments.