Why not code?
Education as giving kids basic skills for business is a fucking awful, drab way to try to bring people up. In this it's also very hard for politicians. They're trying to get to grips with what needs to be taught, and fighting an educational establishment that often has different views entirely. Sometimes self-interested, sometimes genuinely held beliefs. And then both are fighting the teachers on the ground, who all have their own ideas of what to do, and different skills.
Then we add in the voters' opinions. So you Andrew seem to suggest in your article that calculus is basic maths. I venture to disagree. Maths is compulsory up to GCSE. I've never had to use calculus. Or even half the algebra I was taught in maths. So some of the harder stuff can safely be left until A-Level.
We're all forced to learn at least one foreign langauge, even though very few of us will become fluent at it, some will never use what they do pick up, and English is currently the global language of choice. However this exposure is a good thing, and useful for various reasons. Including the grammar that we don't seem to get in actual English lessons. I was forced to do latin, german and french - which have all been useful in their various ways.
Surely education should be doing 2 things. Firslty there's basic life skills. So the 3Rs (that aren't). Literacy and numeracy are obviously vital things to have. I think we'd also benefit from some kind of home economics / cookery as well. And I personally think we ought to have some kind of civics / PSE / whatever it's called this week. But done properly - and actually taken seriously as a subject. I think we really ought to be learning something about politics, basic financial education (what's a mortgage / what's a pension), how society works - oh and media studies (i.e. how not to get misled by the Mail/Guardian/etc). Plus some PE / sport. Maybe some sort of woodwork/metalwork/plumbing?
Next you've got 'tasters'. You don't learn how to do 'proper' history before A-Level. Even then you can probably pass the exams without doing history justice. But if you have a decent teacher, then the only difference between A-Level and degree level is how much research you do for each essay. And how many words it is... But you can still learn about the past, and how are you going to know you want to try it later on, if you don't have a go first.
So that gives you your history, geography, economics, french, biology, chemistry etc. You do them to get a bit of a basis for how the world works, and just for the general value of being educated. But also to see what's available and what you're interested in, so you can then do further study. There is an argument for specialising less - even up to first year of degree, so you keep narrowing your academic choices - but not nearly so much as we do. Until you finally end up specialising as late as the last 2 or 3 years of a degree course. That's an argument I often read, and I'm not sure what I think about it.
This is also where english and maths go. They start as core subjects, but then wander off into areas like literature/drama/criticism or calculus. Which are probably not for everyone, and become areas to specialise in at A-Level or university.
So why not coding? How will you know if you like it, if you've never had a go at it. There's a good argument that computers are now so important that computing/technology ought to get added to the 'core skills' side of education. If not, it should at least be taught to everyone as a 'taster' subject - to attract people into later study. There needs to be some spreadsheets and word-processor stuff, and some how to use the internet. But a bit of how computers work would be nice, and surely that includes some basic idea of what coding is? I don't see why you're so dismissive of this. It's a subject (like languages and science) that education doesn't do well. Because there aren't enough teachers who know it. The BBC had a computer built back in the 80s in order to push the subject. Why not a year of coding now?
While I'm typing out my education wall of text... It would also be far better not to teach everything in isolation. Surely learning about bakery for example is a good skill to have, and involves biology, chemistry and basic numeracy. Or learning about healthy diet / exercise, which is biology and PE - as well as going into economics understanding marketing and society, and how to avoid getting manipulated into eating shit ready meals when you can make something healthy, delicious and nutritious in under ten minutes - if you're pushed for time. We got a tiny bit of the sports science side of PE in sixth form, and it was far more useful and interesting than GCSE geography.
Also we really need to drop this obsession with academic study. Yes, we should be sending peole to university to study english. So an A-Level is a good use of their time for 2 years first. The same is true for history, maths, the sciences etc. But we should also be teaching plumbing and electrics to 16 year-olds. That choice should be available too! Not everyone wants to study in an academic way. We need technical colleges again. I can imagine that computer courses of various types would be taught at those, as well as the more academic, theoretical stuff, that leads on to university courses.