Who should determine education policy in this country?

Tim Brooking's picture
 4
The education of our children is vital to the socio-economic success of our country. One would therefore assume that such an important and influential system would be organised and planned strategically by experienced and knowledgeable people.
If that is agreed, then why do we as a society leave it in the hands of career politicians who seem mainly to be hoping to be remembered for implementing their own view of what should happen in state schools, whilst simultaneously sending their children to private schools and thence, top universities? To risk so much on the whim of one individual, and some would say, a privileged one at that, just does not make sense.
I understand that there are enormously diverse opinions held by the populace as a whole, but to base an opinion on just having been a pupil yourself ( and quite often not even at a state school), is not a particularly strong, let alone professional, basis from which to run our country's education system, let alone change it!
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Tue, 22/02/2011 - 14:43

This is a fascinating and complex issue. Of course, we need schools to be accountable: to our politicians (who we elect), to our parents, to our pupils, to our communities. By removing LA control from schools, politicians at a local level have no influence over policy now, though there is a case that they should to a degree, particularly over admissions where they should speak for all people. The Academies and Free Schools means that many parents are being written out of the picture and unaccountable private companies are running the show, together with politicians in Whitehall. The curriculum appears to be an endless political football, with absurdities like Biblical Hebrew having greater importance than Music, PE, RE and so forth simply because Gove thinks this.Too much power in too few hands. It needs to change.

Shane Rae's picture
Wed, 23/02/2011 - 12:57

Personally, I think that the structure for policy making is not that broken-I just think the wrong guy has the portfolio. Gove's attitude is identical to that of a spirited Oxbridge University student who, in their gap year decided to abandon the comfort of their parent's Costwold manor to head to a camp on the fringe of some economic crisis somewhere warm, and is now an absolute authority on poverty and its causes, evils and solutions (I've seen things you couldn't comprehend, man!)

If you don't have a background in education, despite being surrounded by the best advisers, how do you know if any of the advice is valid?

It's like appointing a dentist as Chancellor, because 'he's made a bit of money in his time, eh? '

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 23/02/2011 - 13:03

Evidence from Finland shows that their education reforms were based on consensus gained following measured debate. Finland stresses that their system did not arise from high-profile iniatives taken by particular Governments or individuals.

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/44/46581035.pdf

This is not what has happened in the UK. Every new Government has imposed changes on the education system during their tenures of office. The last Government imposed Academies and curriculum changes; it enforced arbitrary targets; it changed OFSTED rules; it fiddled with the exam system. This Government wants to go even further and is pushing through its reforms by creating the false impression that the entire UK education system is failing. This impression is boosted by the Government's use of figures from the OECD that have been discounted by that organisation, while at the same time ignoring figures which show that English pupils are the top-performing in Maths and Science (TIMSS 2007).

Shane Rae's picture
Wed, 23/02/2011 - 13:35

The Finnish model also has 'an expectation of high levels of parental involvement in learning'.-Could Do Better-T.Oates

This Gove-commissioned paper goes on to say 'Family learning and early literacy are essential elements of Finnish society.'

This is THE key element in every system Gove is holding up as examples of success. It is utterly absent from any of his plans.

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