Where is Education in the Election?
As the election enters its final stages, it is worrying that education has played a minor part in the campaign. While all parties have sometimes extensive educational statements, but the state of schooling has not been controversial. Few debates have even touched on education to any great extent.
editorial before Easter commented on this, and there has been little change since then. We do not have to agree with all the paper is saying to feel concerned that it is making this case. The main points are set out below, and the full statement can be found here
If the editorial is wrong and there is a live debate, where can it be found? If the editorial is correct, how in the last few days of the campaign can we boost education up the political agenda?
(the editorial is used with permission of the Independent)
Editorial 2nd April 2015
For our education system to flourish, school staff need a huge increase in support.
“In all the sound and fury that this election campaign has produced so far, it is astonishing and rather sinister how little has been said about our creaking state education system. Labour will have something to say today about pre-school education, and there is a lively argument under way about tuition fees for university students, but the political leaders have so far avoided wading into questions affecting the future of more than eight million children now in state primary or seondary schools.
“This is a political choice. The Conservatives prefer to fight a campaign on the economy. Labour's strongest card in the NHS. Nobody would deny the importance of the health of the population and the health of the economy, but it could be said that education trumps them both. There is ample evidence that people who have been let down by the school system are more likely to suffer ill health later in life than those who have enjoyed a good education. And... it is blindingly obvious that the nation's long term economic health depends on our schools turning out a generation that is literate, numerate, and able to think creatively.
“In the past fifteen years, successive governments have done a decent job.... of investing in new buildings, thus ensuring that the physical environment in which children were expected to learn has markedly improved. But raising the standards of the teaching that takes place in these new buildings is a more complicated problem.
“It is, for instance, immensly important that the morale of state school teachers is protected, but there are disturbing signs that the profession is not as rewarding as it should be; the worst problems, unsuprisingly, are concentrated in the failing schools, which are almost invariably in the areas of greatest social need.... Another problem, which is undoubtedly one of the causes of high turnover, is that teachers are not the respected figures in the community that they once were. The spread of social media has dramatised this problem, as is demonstrated by our report today about online abuse directed at teachers.
“One school of thought implies that state school teachers have brought these problems on themselves through industrial militancy and the adoption of strange and ineffectual theories about how to teach, and that they would inspire more respect if they adopted the disciplined competitive ethos of the private schools. But this overlooks the inbuilt advantages that private schools enjoy.
“These issues are not easily resolved There are not many ways to improve teaching without... higher annual costs in salaries and equipment. That is not an easy subject for politicians to argue over when there is so much emphasis on getting public spending under control, but on it hinges the future well being of the nation.”
Food for thought.