Democracy, Education and the BIG threat!

John Mountford's picture
In the LSN campaign to highlight the threat to the educational opportunities of ordinary young people, one of the greatest challenge faced is making sure that our views are fairly represented in an impartial media. Many commentators here are highlighting this repeatedly. But the message doesn't seem to be getting through.

This contact today, from 38Degrees is confirmation, were it really needed, of why ordinary people are being let down by institutions wielding power and influencing policy against the public interest.

As in banking today, so in education tomorrow with the threat of BIG business being set up to run our schools for profit unless we campaign more directly for a change to the governance of education.
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Andy V's picture
Thu, 19/02/2015 - 17:35

Perhaps LSN members might like to propose appropriate campaigns via 38 Degrees e.g. the flimsy nature of BBC reporting and interviewing, the Education funding gap, waste of taxpayers funding through the weakness of academy and free school financial accountability, lack of accountability for breaches of safeguarding.

Within the education arena there must surely be one campaign that 38 Degrees could be persuaded of in turn generate some real heat beneath the cosy party ideologues?

John Mountford's picture
Thu, 19/02/2015 - 18:32

I have tried in the past to engage with 38D over education but, didn't get a reply. That isn't to say, Andy, it shouldn't be something to pursue. Maybe others here will agree and get behind this.

I have just finished reading a pamphlet sent to me and edited by Trevor Fisher - Schools at Risk 2, Exam Reform - Unresolved Issues (Spring 2014) It left me seething as I caught up on the history of the unremitting 'reform' of the secondary exam system. As a primary practitioner I admit that it has been something I have hitherto not taken sufficient interest in. The authors identify the disastrous catalogue of errors, the squandered resources, lost professional time, the cost to students and the arrogance of politicians in believing they alone have the knowledge, skill and expertise to create an examinations system fit for the future. Just one quotation will suffice to illustrate my point in calling for the removal of education governance from political control.

"According to Ed Balls, when Secretary of State for Education, the new 14 - 19 Diploma 'could become the qualification of choice for young people' (DCSF Press Release, 23:10:2007) without reference to the earlier proposed but rejected Tomlinson 14 to 19 Diploma. Millions of pounds was spent on the development of Balls' Diploma and millions of young people were persuaded to take it rather than other routes through the 14 - 19 jungle of qualifications."
Professor Richard Pring, Oxford University.

Well, Ed, it "could" have become right for young people and our society, but it didn't because our present system sees a rapid turnover of to the post of SoS and also denies the need for detailed, considered, open consultation over matters of great significance. In short, it's flawed!

What the disclosures by Peter Oborne signaled for me was that there may be other people of principle in the media who will not be dictated to by management or proprietors even though the price they pay for doing otherwise is huge.

Maybe there is an opportunity here to invite the media, through an open letter, finally to offer to the public more honest, transparent reporting about the real standing of our schools, here and internationally, in an attempt to expose the true extent of playing political football with education.

As Trevor so aptly tells us, "Rarely in the history of English education have so many changes been made by so few people with so little real debate."

It can no longer be about whether there is need to change the governance of education. Rather, we must question, in the 'highest place', how long must our democracy be denied this crucial reform.

Andy V's picture
Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:42

I'm not sure whether you were or maybe still are a member of ASCL but I found the following to be of interest; particularly Laws' closing comments that conveys the potential for a loosening of "political interference in education":

"Schools Minister David Laws said: “The ASCL ‘blueprint’ is a timely and intelligent contribution to a crucial debate. It argues that sustainable improvement will come from school leaders and teaching professionals stepping up and taking a strong lead, with government playing an important supporting role.

“This is something I am firmly committed to. This is why we have recently announced our intention to support one of the core elements of the blueprint: a profession-led, fully independent College of Teaching.

“The blueprint also calls for an independent body to be given responsibility for areas including curriculum and qualifications. I agree. Which is why my party’s manifesto will contain a plan to establish an Education Standards Authority to reduce political interference in education.” "

That said, I'm not holding my breath!

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