Get angry, headteachers. No party seems to care about education

It says much about the party conference season that the most arresting education news of last month was the headteacher march on Downing Street over school funding. The 2,000 or so heads were unfairly criticised for being “relentlessly reasonable”, a tactic that was probably wise from their point of view, especially as many acknowledged the personal conflict involved in taking protest action on a school day. The Guardian reports.

The secretary of state, by contrast, chose to ignore totally any real world problems in his address to the Conservative party rank and file, preferring to reproduce a series of platitudes about world-class education (a phrase that should have been outlawed a decade ago), choice, diversity and character education that could have been delivered at any time in the past five years.

Meanwhile, Labour’s policies continue to underwhelm. It is now more than three years since the concept of a National Education Service was unveiled. In spite of a lengthy public consultation over the summer, we don’t know much more about how it would work in practice.

The conference speech by the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, revealed a few titbits: under Labour there will be no new academies or free schools, the 7,000-plus that exist will be brought under some sort of “mainstream” democratic local control with a common rulebook and their admissions returned to local authorities.

It fell to the LibDem education spokesperson, Layla Moran, to touch on the many elephants in the room: Ofsted, the impact of league tables, the curriculum and grammar schools. Again the language was coded but she appeared to suggest that the Liberal Democrats might abolish the 11-plus. Or, then again, did she?

It is interesting to speculate about what lies behind this excessive caution and lack of imagination on all sides. There was barely a mention of the quality of education children and young people receive. One possibility is that none of the main parties is interested in schools, at least not in the way previous political leaders were.

Whatever one may feel about the reforming zeal of the Blair or Gove years, education policy was high profile, and at times innovative, rather than defensive or reactive, which is the best that can be said for the current offer.

Read the full article Get angry, headteachers. No party seems to care about education

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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  1. Anonymous

    Politicians should not be interested in education. That’s the job of parents.

    Headteachers who take a day off school to play politics shouldn’t be in education either.

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