How should educators respond to the election?
A special IoI Education Forum debate.
The school system has changed immensely since the last election. Academies are now backed by all parties - despite concerns over their lack of local accountability. Does anyone really believe in comprehensive schools anymore? The current Conservative education secretary, Nicky Morgan, proposes that her party, if elected, will expect every pupil by the age of 11 to know their times tables off by heart, to perform long division and complex multiplication and to be able to read a novel. Is that the way forward for education? Or just Gradgrind 2015?
By contrast, Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, argues: ‘The surest way to raise standards in every lesson, in every school, is to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom. That begins with an end to David Cameron’s unqualified teachers policy.’ Party leader Ed Miliband has also stated that his party will lead ‘a revolution in vocational education, so that as many young people leave school to do an apprenticeship as currently go to university’. Surely, the teaching profession will back these ideas? On the other hand, Cameron himself has recently shifted the education discussion towards ‘wilful neglect’. Does he just not get teachers or is he on to the next big thing, neo-safeguarding?
Meanwhile, Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats says that his party is ‘the party of education’, but not much more than that. In his favour, the Pupil Premium measure from the last election has been effective. After all, it’s on all school websites, so it must be working,,,
With policy detail lacking on all sides, a space has emerged for the NUT to advance its manifesto. The unions claim the current system stifles creativity, leads to ‘teaching to the test’ and does not promote sustainable improvements in education. But didn’t they say that at the last election - and do the unions really matter anymore?
With the above ideas yet to be costed and tested out, this IoI Education Forum Election Special asks just how should educators respond to the election? Back some, all or none of the above ideas? Or do we need to rethink the meaning of education and politics to really make a difference? Are the above ideas and proposals actually about education at all? If not, what is?
professor of education, University of Derby, author of The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education
senior teacher, Sir William Perkins School, co-ordinator of TEDxSWPS
principal of East London Science School, author of What is Science Education For?
deputy head teacher and convenor, IoI Education Forum
Dr Shirley Lawes
PGCE-Teacher Trainer and author, MFL; Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques