School-led education v the election cycle

28 Jan

Key points from an article in SecEd by General Sectretary Deborah Lawson

Education is part of the solution to poverty and disadvantage and not the silver bullet.”

“Policy-makers’ preoccupation that education alone could break the cycle of poverty both added pressure to the education system and provided a stick with which to beat it when government-set targets were not reached.”

“While education remains at the political mercy of the election cycle…. schools are expected to deliver more and more with diminishing resources…”

Education alone cannot be expected to compensate for the effects of poverty and deprivation. However, schools and teachers do make a significant difference for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds – something that is celebrated far too infrequently, with political and media preferences favouring a deficit model focusing on what the system doesn’t do well rather than building on success.”

“The Education Select Committee inquiry into the purpose of education is welcome. Whether its outcomes can change for the better education’s role as a contributor to the eradication of poverty, and how acceptable its findings will be to stakeholders, remains to be seen. Whatever the findings, it is imperative that any changes reduce, not increase, the burden on schools and teachers.

“Government aspiration for a school-led education system must clearly identify schools’ role and contribution to the poverty agenda, along with the resources, funding, support and time to implement and achieve results.”

“… the Social Market Foundation (SMF)’s Commission on Inequality in Education is welcome – but… the process and timescales from research to policy and implementation are routinely distracted, interrupted and discarded by different governments’ changing political ideology.”

Competing government education policies … do not promote a coherent education system but one that is fragmented, adding to professional disillusionment and contributing to the recruitment and retention crisis.”

“Poverty and education are complex. Complexities include:

  • the inter-dependencies of elements such as teachers’ workload, recruitment and retention;
  • Ofsted and accountability;
  • curriculum and exam reform; and
  • the unfortunate impact of the political cycle and governments’ ideological preferences.”

We need a school-led education system but it cannot truly be so until it is lifted outside of the election cycle – something that requires cross-party agreement.

“Without this, politics will continue to stifle teachers’ and schools’ ability to make a long-lasting contribution to develop a system that is collaborative and has the maturity and flexibility to recognise and make changes for the benefit of pupils and the profession.”

Politics is an evil which is necessary to education but it should not be its ruling force (April 2015)

Tag: Social mobility

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