A week ago the Headteachers’ Roundtable (remember those heads who had got together on twitter) published their manifesto. They seem a sensible set of priorities, including: the importance of the proposed new College of Teaching; a National Baccalaureate; an Intelligent Inspection Framework; and harmonising freedoms across academies and maintained schools.
With a year until the next election there have already been a number of articles outlining different people’s views as to what policies they would like to see introduced. What would be your top six? Here are my personal priority areas:
- Consistent long-term education strategy. Ensuring there is long-term coherent, consistent and inclusive strategy, developed after extensive consultation, and tracked independently of politicians (cf. the Office for Budget Responsibility). Having spent some time exploring the research from PISA this seems to me the most important lesson from other more successful countries – and one desperately needed here.
- Developing excellent teachers. This has to be a priority as the higher the quality, status and morale of teachers, the more likely you are to have a high performing education system. The detail here would include entry to the profession, continuing professional development and a single, strong united professional association – strong enough to resist political meddling (see also the first point above).
- Early years. All the research highlights the importance of tackling disadvantage pre-school; this includes providing support for families.
- Many paths to success. We all have different interests, skills and abilities, and whatever the precise curriculum and qualifications students should be able to follow different routes to success – all incorporating theory and practice, and all of high quality with progression to work or further and higher education.
- Ensuring as equal access as possible. Again PISA’s conclusions from across all countries include: students with a disadvantaged background will generally do well if put in a school where most students are well off; selection tends to reinforce inequalities; too much differentiation by ability lowers overall system performance. In the UK 77% of the between schools differences in student performance is explained by differences in socio-economic background, the second highest of any country (OECD average 55%).
- And, of course, empowering and engaging students. Which is where Learn to lead comes in! We will never get the best out of our education system while most young people feel ‘done to’ all the time. All students should be supported from an early age to work together to sort out for themselves the things they wish to change.