The General Election in the UK is now less than 100 days away.
I am bracing myself for the onslaught of education policies. Free Schools are bound to get a huge amount of attention. Ofsted will get hauled over the coals. The words ‘standards, ‘quality’, ‘competition’, ‘choice’ and ‘teaching unions’ will be over-used. And yet, are the general public really able to tell the difference between one party and another. Are the policies all starting to blend together? Do politicians argue over the issues that are of interest to most voters or just to a small group of educationalists? If you are a parent who cares about the education of your child, will you know who to vote for?
Here are three ideas that I would like to see the politicians discussing during the election campaign:
Why, when there is a warehouse-full of evidence that ability grouping in schools is hugely damaging, academically and socially, does it continue? Why do politicians of all political parties feel so confident that they should make ability grouping mandatory? What evidence do they have and why are they not publishing this?
Why do none of the political parties advocate for the closing of private schools, or at the very least, the removal of charitable status from all of them? Most politicians argue for the importance of social mobility and the entitlement of all children to a high quality education, and yet they are content to support a private education system that means some parents can always choose to opt out.
Why are all the parties obsessed with grades and academic achievement in traditional subjects rather than considering the development of the whole child? Would it be possible for a politician to argue for the importance of developing self-esteem, confidence, happiness and a pleasure in learning? Could we consider that creativity and play is as important as academic grades?
I will be watching with interest. If any of the parties, large or small, engage with any of these issues, I might even consider voting for them.