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Education In Close Season Until Next Parliament

News / August 19, 2013

The next general election is now 18 months away in 2015. Round about now the cabinet focuses on how to win. Ministers are charged with vote winning exercises rather than long-term strategies. We wait to see if the educational minister will be playing some positive educational games with our schooling process during this era.

Come September there will be some grinding of gears as secondary schools return to start the run-up to the curriculum changes scheduled for introduction in 2014. Although these major changes are a year away some further updates in the primary school curriculum are being implemented this year. Although planned to improve the standard of education there are bound to be some teething problems. Teaching resources, like the majority of people regard change as abhorrent. But these changes are essential. Existing standards in education has slipped badly over the last decade.

During a period of rapid technological growth which has seen the introduction of the World Wide Web, social networks, tablet computers and smartphones our education prowess has stood by the wayside in comparison. We’ve lost the initiative to synchronise students with the real world. Instead we have been congratulatory on exam results that have ultimately been proven suspect.

The analysis of what went wrong could itself last decades. Many changes effected through educational initiatives have been seen as transitory. A common reaction by teaching resources to harsh initiatives launched by the Secretary of State for education is to wait six months and it will inevitably be replaced. Whether the change is reason, cost or hostile reaction by teaching unions this wait-and-see technique has been proven many times.

We can’t place all the blame on the department of education initiatives. Teachers have become either battle scarred or canny in the unending quest to achieve targets. A factor progressively being unearthed by OFSTED has led the head of OFSTED Sir Michael Wilshaw to knock over fences with a firm and often disliked hand. The outcome is bewildering, schools previously classed as outstanding have been downgraded to satisfactory. The benchmark for many schools previously classed as a quality schools has been decimated. The whole school grading system is perhaps operating on one level above reality. Not something parents and children expect all deserve.

Behind the scenes there are various entities that could make a difference. But any review to formulate this level of change needs to be strategic whereas the government, in education matters, thinks tactically. What is required is an educational secretary thoroughly experienced in the role at the onset of a new government. This is the year of courageous and considered proposals. They may cause upset but will be governed by an incumbent educational secretary keen to induce substantial change to the curriculum and provide the ideal teaching resources to effect the plan.

If we do nothing we will continue to slide down the educational league tables with the consequential impact on our children’s prowess. Further, we run the risk that the education initiatives will not be controlled by the Department of Education, instead passing to commercial operations. The curriculum could emerge through the likes of Apple, Microsoft and social networks. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable. The problem is we don’t seem to have a reliable alternative.


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