After an unfortunate start as Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg has been more inspired with his latest speech, which calls for the creation of an independent office to raise standards in education in England.
Mr Twigg said that an “Office for Educational Improvement” [OEI?] could use objective research evidence about what really works in schools and consider standards in terms of international comparisons.
He called for policy to be based on "evidence, evidence, evidence", with the non-ministerial Office for Educational Improvement acting as a “clearing house” for the most relevant research and spreading good practice. Creating such a politically independent office would allow education policy to be built on the most successful examples, rather than be driven by transient political ambitions, he said.
"Evidence is something that is shockingly undervalued when it comes to education reform
“I do not see this as being just another quango. Rather I want to involve people who have experience of the front line. A head teacher who has experience of getting poorer kids into university, for example.
“Too many of our educational cures are aimed at seeking sympathetic headlines.”
The idea of an Office for Educational Improvement is certainly worthy of very serious consideration if it could help to re-establish the trust and confidence between teachers and politicians that has been lost because of the confrontational and morale-sapping style adopted by Ofsted and the current Secretary of State for Education.
Voice has long maintained that the whole inspection process should be far more supportive and advice-driven and far less judgemental.
How do we allow teachers to be creative and inspirational in a politically-enforced regime that encourages teaching to the test and ticking targets?
Voice favours taking politics out of education as much as possible.
Party politics costs education a great deal. What schools need is stability and long-term planning. What they get is chop and change, with politicians desperately falling over themselves, and frequently making mistakes in the process, to make tomorrow's headlines and their mark before the next general election.
There must be a way of taking the party politics out of education and for politicians of all parties, unions, teaching professionals and educationalists to work together in the best and long-term interests of education.
Perhaps OEI could even replace Ofsted now that would be inspirational.