State education is a Cinderella service and both the Tories and Labour are to blame

Here is a little fantasy to mull over as 2019 gets under way. Imagine that someone in power outlined a plan to work with the public, parents, teachers, heads and governors to establish common values for the education system. The Guardian reports.

The architects of the plan would provide extra cash to implement any changes required by this shared endeavour, aimed at securing continuous improvement while reducing inequality, supporting staff and addressing workload issues. Unrealistic?

Except this is not a dream. Earlier this month a 10-year plan was published for the National Health Service based on exactly these principles. It received a cautious welcome, though with inevitable and genuine concern about adequate resourcing.

What is clear from the glaring contrast between the visions for these two key public sectors is that education is rapidly becoming a Cinderella service. Far from being energised by a long-term strategic vision, it is drifting towards bankruptcy, chronic staff shortages and serious concern about the ability to maintain standards.

What little resource is left at the Department for Education is presumably dealing with the fallout from his predecessors’ reforms. But as far as funding cuts are concerned, the music stopped on his watch. It was only after being pressed by the education select committee last week that Hinds acknowledged similar long-term funding for schools might be a good idea.

Labour’s National Education Service, still in barely skeleton form four years after it was announced, would provide an obvious starting point to compare to the government’s long-term planning for the NHS.

But if the National Education Service is to match the NHS in the public’s hearts and imaginations, work needs to start now. Hard questions need answering. How to resolve the chaotic part-academy, part-maintained school hybrid and lack of adequate school sponsors caused by Michael Gove’s frantic shake-up? How to mitigate the impact of a competitive high-stakes accountability on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable – the correlation between exclusion and knife crime alone should be a red warning light. Perhaps most pressingly, how to develop high-status vocational education in the light of any post-Brexit needs.

Read the full article  State education is a Cinderella service and both the Tories and Labour are to blame

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

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