Do we want an “Education-Lite” Election?


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10 Downing Street: Open to educational reform or not open enough?

What would an ‘Education Lite’ election campaign look like?

No, really, it’s a serious question. Now that we know what the date of the general election is, and politicians are starting up their ‘campaigning engines’, there are senior education figures who are making their voices heard first – or at least at the same time. So what are they saying?

One is suggesting a little less involvement by politicians in education generally would be good. The idea seems to be, wouldn’t it be better if the professionals were left to get on with their jobs? There has been enough innovation recently, the argument goes, so shouldn’t he and his colleagues be given breathing space to make all these new things work?

Well that’s alright as far as it goes. It’s certainly true that all parts of the education system have changed a lot in the last few years and it makes sense in many ways to see if all these changes work. There’s a new national curriculum and colleges are dealing with many more full time students. So why not let’s see how it all goes?

Well, fine. But don’t we need some politicians, at governor and county council level, for instance? One of the criticisms of Academies is that they are not accountable at local level in the traditional way. And yet, scanning the education news like I do, I get the distinct impression that quite a lot of interested parties are sensing a lull in the general flow of initiatives to explain an idea or to articulate an ambition which they might not normally express. Some of these are quite interesting and come from different sectors; H.E. students are saying they would like greater involvement in the running of their institutions ( not a new idea ); school headteachers are seeking more help for mental health issues in their schools – an issue that has had some media coverage recently. One person wants an Independent Standards Authority, perhaps to supplement or replace Ofsted. Another wants schools to do more self assessment. And to counter poverty, Someone else wants to improve employability training. Apparently employers still say that over 30% of young people lack work habits and 50% lack good communications skills – all presumably jobs for schools. And open learning should increase, too.

However, despite all this, there is a strong suggestion that maybe the big changes have already happened. A lack of political involvement won’t change that. What do you think? Surely, considering all these issues being raised and discussed, politics should not, or even cannot, take too much of a back-step from education. Be careful what you wish for.

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My last job was as a tutor for OOL. I taught on courses providing professional training for school support staff, as well as A level English Literature and English Literature GCSE. Prior to that, I worked in schools, colleges, adult education and the Arts, including a period as a local authority inspector. I'm going to make myself busy trying to keep you up to date with different aspects of education news – and also to keep you interested.

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