I've discussed this with loads of people and we all seem to agree that while learning about English, Maths or Geography is important, there are plenty of things which you actually need to know in the big wide world in order to be able to survive.

Sometimes I think that if schools actually taught stuff that kids can see will have relevence to their lives and that seem real to them, they wouldn't play truant so much and would actually see the benefit of showing up in the mornings rather than hot-footing it down to the local McDonalds / shopping centre to hang around and smoke fags / yell at old people.

It's a bit of a serious point and all, but there are things I really wish someone had bothered to point out to me while I was at school, rather than sending me home for wearing the wrong shade of navy blue or advising me to learn more about Charles V and his Dominions.

Things that I could really have done with being informed about before being left to fend for myself include:

1: Tax. It's a minefield, and you can step on the mines before you even know you're in the bloody field. The Governement is constantly charging you money for all manner of things and half the time you don't even realise you owe them money until you get a scary letter with a three-figure sum on it. Once you have paid your tax, the onus is on you to discover if you have paid too much and to go through the lengthy, complicated and demoralising process of trying to prise the money back out of the Governnement's hands.

2: Utilities. Really obvious stuff like how to set up accounts, and which providers are best - I know it doesn't take long to figure out, but surely it would be useful.

3: How to wire a plug and other basic household tasks. Do you know how many people die each year through faulty wiring? Why does no-one consider it their responsability to prepare kids for the fact that they will have to grow up and do these things for themselves one day?

4: Careers. The one thing they should definitely point out is that you better start thinking about what you want to do with your life, like now. Learning about volcanoes probably ain't gonna keep you in food and clothing for the rest of your life, unless you are actually going to become a volcanologist, but more likely you'll end up working in a bank.

Very earnest I know but I reckon teaching a few more "life skills" wouldn't go amiss.

Well, imagine my surprise, weeks after writing this, to find that a debate has ensued.

Dragoon, your response is your own personal opinion, to which you are perfectly entitled but (and I'm hypothesising here, as I don't know you) I can only imagine it has been informed by your own life experience, as mine has.

Perhaps your parents had the time, knowledge and inclination to teach you everything you needed to know, but it is naïve to assume that all children have this advantage.

At least my suggestions take into account the fact that while not all children have such parents, all are legally required to attend school.

I'd like to answer your points, which you make in a fairly sarcastic tone - assuming that I have somehow overlooked the obvious answer of asking my daddy, or reading a book on a subject to inform me.

My thoughts on Things they should teach in school were written after a discussion with my entire company. None of us, whether young, old, middle-class or wealthy could work out if we had been taxed correctly on a bonus we had earned. The question of things we felt could be included in the curriculum ensued.

I did not write this to complain about my own schooling - I am a perfectly intelligent person who has figured out most things on my own, but I was thinking of others - both people I know who are younger than myself and ask my> opinion because they haven't had as much life experience, and those I don't know. I don't like to see anyone punished because they started out at a disadvantage, and don’t see why people should be left to learn from their mistakes if it can be avoided.

I went to a very academic private school, which I could never have afforded to attend if it had not been for their scholarship scheme.
While my education there was excellent, I believe that much of what I learned came from other sources, including reading books and, shock, horror, watching TV, which despite it's perceived entertainment-only value, can be very instructive. Therefore, I feel I could have relinquished the odd hour of academic lessons in favour of life skills. This does not mean WWII should be ignored.

I too have met ignorant students – at university a girl did not know what Hiroshima was, and another had never heard of the SS. I was aghast and wondered if she had been living under a rock all her life.
You can but teach people and it is up to them to soak up the knowledge.

You say,

"every hour you dedicate to non-academic subjects like this is another hour you lose from learning."

Therefore, you believe that anything non-academic is not "learning". This is absurd. Only academia is valid?

I have known very academic people who are versed in Music, Art and other subjects but have no knowledge of popular culture and cannot relate to others - they have never learned communication skills or been left to fend for themselves in the real world - are they better people than you or I because they are so academic that they can barely exist in a contemporary setting?

I come from a single parent family, and (I know, get the violins out..!) my mother was far too busy trying to earn enough to teach me about things like the taxation system, even if she had herself understood it. Which she did not.

At 16 I got a job to help bring in money, and was taxed at emergency tax levels, as the company made an error in processing my pay - this went on for some time, and it was only by studying the taxation rules that I worked out what to do. I did this myself; I did not ask my parents, so don't patronise me. You seem to think I am a spoiled child moaning about something for no real reason. If you had parents around to teach you everything, it is you who are spoiled. Well, no that’s unfair, you are lucky.

I am not asking for everything to be taught by Big Mother, but, as you point out, the family unit has fallen apart and as adults go to classes on basic maintenance and self-assessment tax, why not cut out the middle man and inform them of a few basic things they'll need for life at a young age.

I am saying EVERYONE needs to know about tax, how to wire a plug* etc, so is it such a bad idea to teach everyone these things.

Oh, and WharfingerI know it's hard to believe but I'm not talking about computers. I was taught pointless computer skills which I did have to re-learn later, and yes it was an utter waste of time - but it seems incredible that you think a soul will be destroyed by learning about tax! In the real world you have to know about such things - it doesn't mean you can't be a creative, literary or cerebral person at the same time.

*Interestingly, it is now a legal requirement for all electrical appliance to be fitted with a plug before sale in Britain, exactly because so many unnecessary deaths and accidents occurred.