Education 'fails to deliver skills for global success'

Andy V's picture
by Andy V
At long last a lobby group at an appropriate level of influence appears to have started the crucial debate needed to wrest Education away from party politics and party ideologues. Education is far too important to continue languishing as a political football and used as vehicle to drive on hidden ideologically based agendas.

“England's education system is failing to meet the country's long-term economic needs and requires a radical overhaul, a report warns."

"A group of academics and business leaders says a new cross-party body should set long-term educational goals protected from the electoral cycle."

"They also want more emphasis on team working and problem-solving, and a baccalaureate system at A-level.”

Is this the tipping point moment for which many have been waiting and yearning?

How could LSN get involved and support this initial impetus that could lead to the necessary wresting of education away from the general election seesaw and destabilizing effects of party political ideologies?

Goodness knows one might see a radically changed approach to inspections, league tables, and (be still my urging heart) the remodelling of the portfolio of the Secretary of State for Education for all political hues and complexions?
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Kevin Gill's picture
Mon, 27/01/2014 - 17:50

But the problem is that you can only remove education from 'party politics' when there is national agreement across political parties and groups within society about what we want from education. If you can get that (like Finland managed to decades ago) then all is good. But in our society the powerful interest groups represented by Gove (in fact all the political establishment), are desperste to retain and further enhance the inequalities in the system because it suits the minority they serve. They see the state sector as nothing more than a means of producing obedient underlings -and preferably making a profit out of it in the process.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 27/01/2014 - 19:35

Apologies, I seem to have omitted the web link:

If this group of influential parties can raise a sufficient head of steam and get people behind them then there is a chance for change.

John Mountford's picture
Mon, 27/01/2014 - 22:45

Having not yet read the report itself, I can only hope it acknowledges what I have been saying here and elsewhere for some time now ( ).

There is no place for different governments to dabble in education UNLESS they do so in the context of a national framework binding them to reforms over extended time frames in support of a national vision and in the light of clear, agreed objectives for education.

I will reserve judgement until I have read the report in full but my expectation is that, if the BBC press release is a fair summary (see Andy's link), already the focus for the proposed reform seems inappropriately pitched. The headline says it all. I can but hope the whole enterprise will not hinge on "ensuring young people's employment prospects" in a bid to tackle the "fact(?)" that, "the current system has failed to meet the country's economic needs."

As important as it is that we succeed as a nation in a highly competitive global business/industrial/economic culture, this should not be the starting point in our quest to introduce ongoing reform of education. Education cannot be just about economic life after compulsory schooling ends. Unless we finally tackle the reality that we are more than what we do for a living, as crucial as this might be to us individually, and focus as well on cultivating a broad range of skills, attitudes and dispositions to match high academic aspirations for all, too many will find it increasingly difficult to find their own path through life, employed or otherwise. The stakes are higher than most commentators realise and I agree with Mary Bousted of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, "Education should not just be about turning out effective employees, but also about developing young people to have caring relationships and to be questioning citizens."

Maybe this last point is why this is not going to be an easy triumph of common sense over dogma to turn our education system into an appropriate twentyfirst century vehicle for change. After all, what politician really, truly wants "questioning citizens" to interact with at election time?

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/01/2014 - 08:38

Andy - the link has been embedded in the thread. It's highlighted in blue.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 28/01/2014 - 08:45

Kevin - you're right about Finland. But it took decades for that country to build a consensus. I don't see much appetite for consensus building among politicians or most of the media about education. Instead we're fed a constant diet of misrepresentation and misinformation. (re Finland)

However, if there's enough bottom-up pressure from parents, teachers, employers and pupils to discuss what education is really for (ie not an exam factory for processing obedient workers) then such a consensus might appear.

Unfortunately, where the USA leads, England will surely follow. And the multi-million dollar global educational firms are circling.

Kevin Gill's picture
Wed, 29/01/2014 - 12:51

Yes, i agree with you. But that was my point - we can't have a 'non-political' education policy because there is not likely to be a consensus. The battle for 'real education' has to be won, and it IS political, there's no getting away from it.

John Mountford's picture
Wed, 29/01/2014 - 18:14

We have to get to a position where politicians are made to recognise how wasteful and inappropriate the present system of national governance of education is (in terms of human resources and economically). You are correct that this will be a 'battle for real education' and that we cannot get away from it being political. What we have to remind ourselves of is the fact that politics means of and for the people.

Janet makes the point very well that 'bottom-up pressure', from the stakeholders she mentions, is our only real hope. With the recent overturn of amendments to the so-called 'gagging bill' in The House of Lords it is clear our political leaders are out of touch with the mood of ordinary people to a degree not witnessed before. I have been quietly trying to gather support for reform to the governance of education ( ) and am aware that many more individuals and groups are growing tired of the indifference show by our parliamentarians to the wishes of people with a real interest in the future of education for our young people.

Others have suggested a move to civil disobedience but that would not be my way. Consistent pressure, aimed at establishing a consensus among stakeholders is the breast way forward, even though it will take time to convince most politicians that the old way is no longer defensible in a modern democracy. I repeat my invitation to others to join me in this campaign.

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