Tag Archives: education

What the EU Referendum has taught me

The referendum campaign has reminded or taught us many things about the relationship between us and the public. I am deliberately writing this before the result. There are matters that need a good hard examination. Among them are these:

1.Since tuition fees, we have been all too aware of people’s lack of trust in us; this is now the view held by even more people about all politicians. So when Sadiq Khan rightly points out the untruths in a leaflet, someone who was chosen as an undecided simply said on camera that he is trained to lie.

2.Large numbers of people no longer want to listen not only to us and other politicians, but even to experts; this should worry us greatly.

3. Views are affected by educational experience and level, not just age. I have met less-well-off young people who blame the EU and immigrants for their troubles. (Recent reports about the relative lack of achievement of white boys in our schools from lower backgrounds is worrying for the future.)

4. Education is supposed to broaden people’s outlook, but it needs to do more of this, since good democracy depends on that; narrowly-focussed academic or technical knowledge and skills is not enough.

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What did the EU ever do for us?

 

And so the Brexit campaign tells us how much better things would be if we went it alone.  Well, let me share my own experience as a former Headteacher and bring some perspective and reality into the argument.

Apparently we constantly lose out financially by being in the EU. Not my experience.

My school was a relatively successful rural comprehensive in County Durham. As with many rural schools, we struggled each year to balance our budgets and were certainly not favoured by either central or local government. No Building Schools for the Future, Excellence in Cities or Action Zones funding for us! We were certainly losing out compared to other schools in the area.

With no capital funding available, I turned to Europe and twice successfully bid for funding, to build a Construction Workshop and a Virtual Learning Environment. These were not large sums – €120,000 and €150,000 – but it was money I could not access elsewhere. We ran four Comenius projects and a Youth in Action project with our European partners, averaging €25,000 per project, so bringing in a further €125,000 to the school. And then we also successfully bid for two European Social Fund projects to share our best practice with teachers elsewhere in the EU and this brought in a further €80,000.

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Kirsty Williams on supporting teachers, pupils and students: her vision for Welsh education

Kirsty Williams has been talking to Wales Online about her plans on education secretary. Here are some of the best bits:

On supporting teachers

She used tact and sensitivity, unlike some education secretaries in Whitehall. You are not going to get anything done in schools without getting teachers onside.

“I think there is some excellent practice,” said Ms Williams.

“I think that there are schools and other education institutions that are doing amazing work and children that are having a great education experience, but my concern is that it is not universal.

“There are too many variables between schools – even between schools that find themselves in the same local authority.

“What I want to do is focus on making sure that good practice, that undoubtedly exists within the system in Wales, is shared and adopted by all schools so all of our children, regardless of where they live, have access to the very best education.

“What I have been struck with in recent weeks is that the profession in many areas does not feel valued and I want to raise the status of the teaching profession.

“We are going to be asking a lot of them, it is they that will make the difference to school standards in Wales, not me in an office in Cardiff Bay – so we need to support them to do the job that we expect of them.”

Curriculum reform

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David Laws highlights continuing threat of forced academisation

David Laws is quoted in today’s Independent. The former Schools Minister is discussing a Centre Forum analysis of the Government’s education white paper.

Centre Forum says that the Government’s alleged u-turn will just mean that the process will happen anyway as local authorities are taken out of the picture if it’s not viable to run schools if, for example, a critical mass has converted to academy status.

New analysis of the revised strategy, however, suggests this will have accumulative effect on schools – as more schools are converted, more local authorities will be taken over as a result.

In effect, 100 per cent of schools will still be converted into academies by the year 2020 as planned.

David Laws, Executive Chairman of CentreForum, who published the report, said: “Our initial analysis shows that their proposals for new ‘triggers’ that lead to forced academisation in a local authority will in all likelihood lead to thousands of schools becoming academies as a result.”

The think tank said the analysis was dependent on the Government’s definition of what constitutes as an “underperforming local authority”, however – a concept which has not yet been defined by the department.

“The definitions are vague,” the report noted, “and our own analysis has shown that relatively small changes could have implications for hundreds of schools.”

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Value for Money and Power Education

No action can have a single consequence.

Can the stated purpose of an action distract us from considering its several unstated/understated consequences?

Can unstated consequences be unstated purposes?

Can/does the iceberg profundity of the governmental decision/action to academise all English schools have a single consequence/purpose?

Academisation of our schools involves more than education. It also involves money, property, power, politics, cartel-control, democratic freedom, governance and accountability, to name but some of the areas of our lives it affects/controls, now in the future.

Some questions:

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Nick Clegg chairs meeting on educational inequality in Sheffield

Back in January, the Social Market Foundation, a think tank, established its cross-party Commission on Inequality in Education. It wants to tackle the disparity of attainment and break down barriers it identified relating to where you live, your family’s income and your ethnicity.

Yesterday, Nick chaired a meeting  of the Commission at Sheffield Hallam University.

Nick said:

On launching the commission, our research showed that where young people live now has more impact on their performance at school than used to be the case.

It is not just the relative wealth of parents that holds lots of bright kids back: it is postcode inequality too. What part of the country a child grows up in has a real impact on their life chances.

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Why Liberal Democrats oppose the Cameron government’s education reforms

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society. For our party, a strong education system, freely available to all, is the key to building the society we strive towards.

This year, David Cameron’s government has announced an extensive programme of reform to the British school system, including the much publicised forced conversion of all schools to academy status, the resulting abolition of the Local Education Authorities, the removal of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), the end of parent governors and the extension of the school day.

Currently any opposition to the education reforms are being attacked by Nicky Morgan’s Department for Education as “playing politics with our children’s future”. This comes despite these sweeping reforms having been brought forward with almost no consultation with teachers or with parents. The scale of these reforms were not included within the 2015 Conservative General Election manifesto and therefore there is no clear mandate.

Liberal Democrats are committed to strengthening the democratic process and ensuring that there is a just and representative system of government. The Cameron government appears to be showing a total disregard for our democratic processes. This alone gives our liberal party ample reason to oppose these reforms until they have been subject to proper consultation and discussion.
However, reviewing the basis and impact of the proposals raises further significant concerns.

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  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 28th Jun - 5:42pm
    Also I think to some extent Nicola Sturgeon is using the result as an excuse for the second referendum on Independence that she wanted anyway....
  • User AvatarLeave EU 28th Jun - 5:38pm
    Nigel Farage EU speech. https://www.facebook.com/nigelfarageofficial/videos/1056952377685698/
  • User AvatarAndrewR 28th Jun - 5:37pm
    @David Evershed When the leave campaign said "We want our country back" what exactly do you think that meant? Are you really, genuinely, surprised that...
  • User AvatarMichael BG 28th Jun - 5:34pm
    @ Bill le Breton If we join the EEA (Norway-like) then being in favour of being a full member of the EU would make sense,...
  • User AvatarLiam Birch 28th Jun - 5:30pm
    "We need to be an inclusive party, regardless of...Brexit vote choice" It appears Mr. Farron does not agree. Such a pity.
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 28th Jun - 5:24pm
    Matt, I don't think even the possible break - up of the UK is actually a "new" reason to ask the public to reconsider. It...