Party conference season is upon us and each political party is setting out its stall in how they think education should be run.
Whether we agree with it or not, education is a political issue.
With over 300 Labour stalls and 100 NUT stalls popping up to protest against May’s proposal to have more grammar schools, and lots of social media noise, the widespread opposition was evident. It does seem strange to pursue an issue that has united such opposition. There is a much deeper debate we should all be having about the type of education we want our children to experience, in our schools and universities and through the curriculum we offer.
#EducationNotSegregation: no to grammar schools
In case you have missed the grammar school debate, this blog summarises some of the best tweets, both for and against, the grammar school protests happening on Saturday. It also provides links to various articles discussing the grammar school issue and argues, “Education not segregation isn’t “lefty drivel”. Neither is it “banal” or “facile”.
“Education is a right not a privilege” is as true now as when it was first said. Unfortunately, it’s privilege that seems to earn the right to a highly academically focused education – be that through moving house or paying exorbitant termly fees or hiring a tutor.”
Pause for thought on rural schools
As someone who went to a tiny village school, which had sixty pupils at its peak, this article on rural schools caught my eye. This really interested me, “..it may offer one more reason why a school shouldn’t become an academy if in doing so it loses this protection against a review against closure.” John also highlights how a national funding formula could make these small rural schools no longer viable and force them to close. He argues that government policy should also look at the untended consequences of introducing the new funding formula.
“In am not sure whether Kielder First School in Northumberland is still one of the smallest primary schools in England, but with just 15 pupils according to Edubase it probably remains one of the most expensive on a per pupil basis and shows the challenge facing those wanting to introduce a National Funding Formula. Without a significant block grant element to such a formula, an element Mr Gove once wanted to abolish, such schools as this would close because they would not be financially viable…North Yorkshire, with 227 rural primary schools in the DfE’s list would be hit even more if their schools were affected by a National Funding Formula that didn’t somehow take account of their importance of our rural primary schools for many small isolated communities.”
Good for the Soul
This blog made me smile. Of course there are some people that think schools are only about obtaining grades or making pupils economic units ready for the world of work. These people are the same people who don’t think personal and social education is important and argue against statutory sex and relationship education. This blog argues that education is about personal development and sometimes the only reason motivation you need to learn something is that it is ‘Good for the Soul.’
“‘Good for the soul’ is an extremely important aspect of what learning is – and one that I think has been almost entirely forgotten by educators.
Thanks to the daily pressures of the job, I (nearly) include myself in that, for all that I genuinely subscribe to the sentiment…
Whatever the technical debates about this policy or that, education remains for some people fundamentally a matter of individual personal development of the most intimate, profound, reflective sort. I think it is the same experience of something completely intrinsic, intellectual, even spiritual in nature that perhaps drives enquiring minds, to a far greater extent than those obsessed with the mundane ticking of boxes ever realise. It is precisely this kind of matter that has become almost entirely lost on present-day managers, policy makers and maybe even teachers.”
There are times when I feel like I’ve stepped into a satirical comedy. The proposal to rank universities into Gold, Silver and Bronze had passed me by and I wonder if May spent too much of her time watching the Olympics. Perhaps she misses all the medal ceremonies.
“The proposal to classify English universities as Gold, Silver or Bronze is a stroke of genius. So obvious, one wonders why we’re not already doing it…Look at any university and you know straight away whether it’s top, middle or bottom.
The Gold universities are full of Gold students with Gold grades in Gold-standard qualifications in Gold subjects being taught by Gold academics on Gold courses. There’s really no need to pore over statistics on retention, employment rates and student satisfaction when it can all be summed up in a single word…In education as in life, there’s a top, a middle and a bottom…There are top universities just as there are top people and we can’t all be Gold can we? We’d have nothing to aim for without a nice simple ranking where we all know our place.”