Monday, August 10, 2009

10 Challenges to Improve Education

Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove uses a Q&A session in today's Independent to set out what he clals the 10 big challenges for improving state schools. They are - I think all of them - to be absolutely welcomed and each needs a Conservative solution too (though some I think would just need the wave of a Ministerial pen). I hope that teaching colleagues and unions would back this too.

I would emphasise 10 main changes. First, recruiting and retaining the highest quality individuals into the teaching profession.
Second, getting Ofqual, the standards watchdog, to fix our exams so they are directly comparable to the world's best. I want our 16 and 17-year-olds to sit exams which are as testing, and as attractive to colleges and employers, as those on offer in Singapore and Taiwan.
Third, allowing state school students to sit truly stretching international exams, such as the IGCSE, which currently only private school students have access to.
Fourth, ensuring Ofsted focuses on the quality of teaching rather than the zeal with which a school complies with irrelevant bureaucratic diktats.
Fifth, reforming the national curriculum to strip out unnecessary accretions and concentrate on providing a stretching academic programme for all pupils to the age of 16.
Sixth, giving teachers new powers to keep order in class, including protection from violence and intimidation.
Seventh, liberating the weakest schools from local authority control and handing these schools over to organisations with a proven track record of excellence.
Eighth, allowing the very best schools to benefit from academy status, and freedoms, providing they use those freedoms to help other, under-performing, schools.
Ninth, encouraging new providers into the state system, as they have in Sweden, by allowing parents to transfer the money the state currently spends on their child's education to the sort of school they really want.
And tenth, reforming pupil funding to ensure more resources are spent on the very poorest – to help reverse the widening gap in our education system between the fortunate and the forgotten.

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