Picking up the Pieces after 2015

John Bolt's picture
With less than two years before the next General Election, there is understandably a lot of attention being given to what a different government might do. The one thing we do need to learn from Michael Gove and the Tories is the need to be ready for government, ready to hit the ground running to make the changes that will be so badly needed in 2015.

The recent initiatives promoted on LSN, by Compass and the NUT and by ASCL are evidence of the widely felt need to build a new framework for state schooling, going beyond merely criticism of what the government is doing.

It is for this reason that a number of organisations have come together to join this debate and to set out the principles that they believe will need to underpin “a better future for our schools”. The resulting document identifies ten areas where the government can clearly be shown to be failing. It then sets out key directions that could to be followed after 2015.

Underpinning our approach is the belief that that all aspects of the school system are connected and all contribute to the core aim of raising standards for all. So no part can be ignored – standards and structures both matter. The government appears wedded to the fragmentation of many aspects of the school system while enforcing rigid centralisation in others. We’ve given our campaign the title “Picking up the Pieces” because we believe that a new government will need to restore coherence as well as redefining the proper role of the many stakeholders in education.

Amongst the key messages we’ve identified are the need to:
• listen to the stakeholders who tell us that skills, qualities and values are as important as knowledge;
• stop the centralisation of power in Whitehall and restore it both to teachers and to local communities;
• stop wasting energy and resources in conflicts over how and by whom schools are governed;
• promote collaboration rather than competition;
• value every kind of achievement not just the narrowly academic;
• reassert the values of public service and prevent schooling being turned into a privatised business run for profit;

The full document can be found here.  We recognise that this is only the beginning of a process. There is much to do to develop these proposals into detailed action plans that can be implemented.

But the first stage is to develop a consensus about the direction of travel. Our hope is that this initiative will contribute to that process and that the debate around it will help to clarify what a new government should be aiming to achieve.

To this end, we are holding a launch meeting at the House of Commons on Wednesday 12th June from 6.30 to 8.30. It is open to anyone with an interest in debating and developing such a programme. Amongst the speakers will be Fiona Millar, Melissa Benn and Kevin Brennan MP (Shadow Schools Minister).

This document has been developed and is endorsed by the Campaign for State Education, the Socialist Educational Association and Information for School and College Governors. It will be published in the summer edition of the journal Forum.

If you want to come to the House of Commons meeting on 12th June, please let us know by writing to launch@pickingupthepieces.org.uk
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