The Politics in Education Summit on Monday 2nd November – and why you need to be there

Janet Downs's picture
Posted on behalf of the organisers of The Politics in Education Summit. 'I' and 'We' in this post refer to the organisers and not me.

"Delivering a fit for purpose education system is one of an elected Government’s key responsibilities and privileges, but in recent years the way that education is delivered, structured and assessed has seen unprecedented reforms and shifting priorities, many of these in line with a changing incumbent Government’s philosophy. The speed and breadth of these changes has highlighted how powerful an individual Government can be (and never more so with the current Education and Adoption Bill proposals) and raises questions over whether there is sufficient controls to ensure that education reform is based on evidence rather than political ideology."

"I came to this topic from a background of organising Summits which put evidence centre-stage and was fascinated to see how differently evidence is treated in the education system and the extent to which political ideology can take centre-stage in education reform – from creating a potential bias in interpreting evidence to underpinning an entire ideological model of how schools should be structured and governed. In researching this event I found an overwhelming lack of consensus on everything to do with the education system – from pedagogy to the curriculum, from the accountability systems to the very purpose of education itself. This lack of consensus revolves around the fact that education is very much values-based and therefore, by its nature, Political. Does this mean that it’s just inevitable or actually right that political ideology plays a role in the governance of the system? Can ideology actually help heal? Or does it worsen transformation? Does it drive change or just create divisiveness? If education is the bedrock of our society, is it appropriate that it is subject to the cyclical pressures of changing Governments and changing Secretaries of State, surely making implementing a clear and strategic long-term vision for education virtually impossible? Would it not be more effective and productive to have a clearly defined purpose and manifesto that is agreed by all parties and remains a constant despite changing Governments? If we were to design an effective education system from scratch – isn’t that what we’d do?"

"We wanted to create an event that made space to explore the impact of Government in education and question the value of creating additional safeguards which might help reduce ongoing cyclical change and disruption in the system. There isn’t another event like this - we’re questioning the status quo and exploring alternatives to shine a spotlight on critical issues that affect every part of the education system, and we need you to participate and contribute to ensure your perspectives are heard by policymakers and influencers."

"We’ve brought together an incredible line-up of expert educationalists to debate the role and question the influence of key stakeholders, including Governors, Teachers and Industry. We will consider how evidence is used in reform and examine the role of the Unions, the new College of Teaching and the role of Governing Boards. We will also explore whether the creation of an Independent Education Body might help reduce cyclical disruption and create an evidential base from which to achieve greater consensus. In other sectors, such as Health, there is a designated professional body which sits aside from Government and is largely responsible for healthcare decisions – should this, could this even, be replicated in Education?"

"Ultimately, this event questions who or what protects education from bad ideas and explores ways in which education policymaking might be better improved. The Summit will be recorded, transcribed and circulated to policymakers. It includes four separate 40 minute open Q&A debates with the audience to ensure a wide range of perspectives are heard. We’re keen to make sure all stakeholder groups are well represented in the audience. Make sure you get your voice heard, join us by registering at"
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Trevor Fisher's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 09:28

I think you need to spell out who the organisers are Janet. I know, but most people don't. What this is focusing on is an increasing unease at the School Revolution, which is clearly out of control. People should read the soss briefing. What will happen on MOnday is not going to have any influence, but it is important to note that people who previously have seen the process as benign now are having doubts.

but they cannot stop or influence the gadarene rush

trevor fisher.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 09:33

Trevor - the organisers are Smooth Events with media partners 'Schools Week'.

Leah K Stewart's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 11:24

Great to see this in here! Our own Henry Stewart is speaking in the Big Debate at 4.20pm "Is our education system broken? Does it need fixing?"

Like many of us in the LSN, the organiser of this, Heidi Williams, found herself a fresh stakeholder in Education. I'm personally a huge fan of the way she's applying her unique professional experience to bring us this #PoliticsInEducation Summit. Hopefully Heidi won't mind me sharing this (below) here; it's the in-progress draft for the welcome page for the event booklet.

"This September, I became a stakeholder in the education system – my 4 year old son started school. In the process of researching our options to gain a better understanding of what ofsted reports actually mean, and whether they mattered, it became apparent that the data-driven part of my research represented only a tiny part of the whole story.

As an organiser of Summit events which put evidence centre-stage, I was fascinated to see how evidence is treated in education. Is political ideology in education a powerful agent of positive change or a disruptive destabilizer? And what – or who – protects education and its key stakeholders from bad ideas? What are the safeguards?

In recent years the way education has been delivered, structured and assessed has seen unprecedented reforms and shifting priorities. The speed and breadth of these changes highlights how powerful the government can be. Are there sufficient controls over our government's right and privilege to implement education policies?

At today’s Summit we'll explore these questions in more detail, examining the impact of government in education, and questioning what additional safeguards might reduce ongoing change, confusion and disruption in the system.

I'm delighted you’ve taken the time to join us today, to be heard in this debate. Uniquely, this Summit will be recorded, transcribed and circulated to policymakers and policy influencers. There are four separate open debates, so please take the opportunity not only to ask questions, but to express your perspective on these critical issues today.

Thank you for being here and showing your commitment to improving education.

Kind regards.
Heidi Williams"

I've a couple of draws/competitions related to this from here: The ticket prize draw is being announced later today(!) and, if you can't make it, be sure to check out the Schools Improvement Net draw to win a copy of the Summit Transcripts. More info from here:

Trevor - hear what your saying, and I agree. If one Summit changes things for everyone then we've just replaced one kind of top-down power for another, right? This is part of a tide of genuine efforts I'm seeing and connecting with. But, in my view, waiting for the tide to change is no fun if we don't commit to riding any waves; that's why I'm supporting this event and am travelling to be at this Summit.

A Cooper's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 14:12

What a pity that the ticket price of £250 is quite prohibitive and it takes place just as the new term begins.

Leah K Stewart's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 15:00

Hi A Cooper, the comments on my post in Schools Improvement Net might help with this:

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