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The life sciences sector makes an important contribution to the health and wealth of the UK. Its pharmaceutical and healthcare products drive better health outcomes for patients, support improvements in the NHS and provide high-quality jobs. The sector employs more than 222,000 people across the UK. It spends £4bn on R&D, and also attracts high levels of inward investment.

We see significant advantages for the life sciences sector in the UK remaining part of the EU. This would enable the sector to continue to operate within an established and harmonised regulatory approval system, ensuring that UK patients benefit from medicines more quickly, and that medicines researched and manufactured in the UK are available across the EU sooner.

Continued UK membership would also benefit scientific activity and R&D jobs.UK researchers and small businesses will continue to benefit from access to EU funding and from collaborations with cutting-edge science across the continent. This would help the UK to continue to attract investment for the R&D activities that would help to discover and develop the next generation of treatments for cancer, respiratory disease, and Alzheimer’s, and to continue pioneering work in new vaccines and antibiotics.

The Sciences sector also benefits from EU advocacy on international trade issues to ensure fair trade for UK companies. The UK’s life sciences sector is second to none.

Leaving the EU would bring added complexity and uncertainty, which is bad for business and research. Remaining in a reformed and more competitive EU would offer stability and predictability as a platform for even greater success. Staying in would be better for the health and wealth of the UK.

Barbara Ellen’s piece characterising concerned parents of Sats-tested primary age children as “uber-worthy hippies” was lazy and condescending (“Time children learned a life lesson at school”, last week). Parents are right to be concerned: in the current national curriculum for England, English takes up 67 pages for primary-age children, maths 45, and science 32. Art and design has fewer than two. Computing, two. Music, two. PE, two and a bit. In fact, no other subject has more than four pages. Barbara Ellen asserts that school should be a “holistic” experience; how is this to occur given the (arbitrary) subject weightings in the curriculum?

Why not simply abolish the curriculum? This could be done overnight at zero cost. It would also remove the necessity some parents feel to disengage with a high-pressure, test-driven model of education they perceive as damaging for their children.



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