Sunday, March 13, 2011

Labour's schools review group

I am delighted and honoured to have accepted Andy Burnham's invitation to join Labour's schools policy review group. I will join a group of advisers, headteachers, teachers and parents who will work with the Shadow Education Team to help them explore what families want from good local schools, and specifically:

  • What knowledge and skills do the next generation need to be successful in the modern world?
  • How can we continue to improve standards in English, Maths and Science, but also provide a balanced curriculum which meets the needs of all children?
  • What influence and control do parents want over local schools and their own child’s education?
  • How can we create the most professional and highest quality teaching workforce in the world?

I am due to attend the first meeting in the next few weeks. What are your answers to the questions above? What do you want from your local school? What needs to be done to raise standards for all pupils even further? If you would like to contribute your ideas please either post a response or email me at mike-ion@hotmail.co.uk

4 comments:

Julian said...

> What knowledge and skills do the next generation need to be successful in the modern world?

It seems quite risky for the government to be too specific about guessing what knowledge and skills children are going to need in twenty or more years time. The knowledge taught in schools should not be geared towards future employment, but as a means for teaching the children how to learn. If they learn how to learn, they can then update their knowledge as needed. e.g. Schools teach spreadsheets using Excel. That's good if it creates a facility with working on a screen, but it isn't likely that the children will need to know Excel itself in ten years time. So, teach them things that will challenge and interest them for the subject's own sake, not for what it might be useful for in future.

> How can we continue to improve standards in English, Maths and Science, but also provide a balanced curriculum which meets the needs of all children?

Standards in English, Maths and Science have gone down, not up, since I took my O and A levels. I know, because my daughters are now going through their equivalent exams. Don't start by pretending otherwise. The thing that would make a big difference would be for league tables and testing to be severely cut back or eliminated. When schools are measured by their position in a league table, they aim to get all their pupils just good enough. i.e. They can concentrate on those just below the grade boundaries and leave the rest. There needs to be external monitoring or inspection but the teachers should be allowed to set their own goals for where the children should be.

> What influence and control do parents want over local schools and their own child’s education?

If schools are good, parents are usually happy to let them get on with it. Schools should be open about what they are doing and ensure the parents are kept informed.

> How can we create the most professional and highest quality teaching workforce in the world?

Listen to those who have experience of what needs to be done, even if they seem to have the opposite political view (e.g. Katherine Birbalsingh). Have an open debate about teaching methods and do not anathematise any ideas, particularly for political reasons. In particular, accept that many "professional and highest quality" teachers work in private schools. What is it about the independent sector that enabled them to become good? Accept that the state sector needs to succeed by being a better choice than independent education, not by pointlessly arguing that if only those children of rich parents went to state schools, all would be well.

Anonymous said...

"What is it about the independent sector that enabled them to become good?"
Not sure if this is a fair comment. Think its more about the the teachers and the leadership in any school that enables a school to become 'good'. Its about expecting consistently high standards from individual children, regardless of their background. Know its cliche, but it's about being able to build good relationships with even the most difficult of children. It's about enjoying teaching and learning and making learning fun and relevant every single day.

johnfconnor said...

Ensure that Sir Ken Robinson and Mick Waters are eoither part of your review group or are at least called to give evidence to it. It is a disgrace that neither of them are involved in the current review, but hardly surprising. They would be telling Gove things he doesn't want to hear.

Anonymous said...

What will you do to safeguard the place of Religious Studies in the curriculum? Will Labour campaign against/reverse the Tory policy to exclude RE from the humanities section of the EBac?