Sunday, 10 February 2019

Education`s Ugly Sisters

What is indeed clear, as Fiona Millar says, is that education "is rapidly becoming a Cinderella service", but it is equally obvious who take the roles of the Ugly Sisters (State education is becoming a Cinderella service for both Conservatives and Labour, 22/01/19). With the prime minister only interested in extending grammar schools, and the leader of the opposition, judging by PMQs, not willing to enter any debate on the subject, this particular pantomime seems set to run for a while!
 It`s not as though the current system is working well, with increasing concerns, both about the  stress and anxiety levels faced by both pupils and teachers, caused particularly by the government`s obsession with exams, and about the integrity of the examinations themselves. Then there`s the underfunding and problems caused by the teacher recruitment crisis, as well as the matter of university admissions, all subjects in need of urgent discussion. Ofsted seemingly has seen the error of some of its ways, but as Dr Richard House pointed out, the need remains for a "supportive inspectorate" (Letters, 22/01/19).
  The frequent changes of leadership and priority at the DfE, with the position of secretary of state seen merely as a stepping stone in  political careers rather than an opportunity to make a difference, leave responsibility for stopping education`s "drift to bankruptcy" at Corbyn`s door. Policy statements from him are needed, whether they be about teacher workload, ending the charitable status of private schools, or even the necessity of making university entrance reliant on A-level examination and BTEC grades only. 
English education has seen its fair share of pantomime villains; it could do with a fairy godfather promising fairness for all schoolchildren!

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