TORY EDUCATION MANIFESTO
David Cameron launched the education section of the Conservatives election manifesto last week.
Teachers and Teaching
The Tories will raise the entry requirement for taxpayer-funded primary school teacher training from a C grade in English and Maths GCSE to a B, and graduates will need at least a 2:2 in their degree in order to qualify for state-funded training. Schools – especially struggling ones – must be able to attract the best teachers and subject specialists, so they will give all Headteachers the power to pay good teachers more. By redirecting the current teacher training budget, they will pay the student loan repayments for top maths and science graduates for as long as they remain teachers, expand Teach First and introduce two new programmes – Teach Now and Troops to Teachers – to get experienced, high-quality people into the profession.
Discipline, behaviour and exclusions
On discipline they will make it easier for teachers to use reasonable force to deal with violent incidents and remove disruptive pupils from the classroom without fear of legal action, and give teachers the strongest possible protection from false accusations. They will ‘will legislate so that teachers can ban any items that cause disruption in the classroom.’ They believe head teachers are best placed to raise standards of behaviour, which is why they will stop heads being overruled by bureaucrats over exclusions. They will reinforce powers of discipline by strengthening home school behaviour contracts.
Curriculum and quality assurance
They will reform the National Curriculum so that it is more challenging and based on evidence about what knowledge can be mastered by children at different ages. They will ensure the primary curriculum is organized around subjects like Maths, Science and History and will encourage setting so those who are struggling get extra help. They will free schools from regulatory restrictions so that they can offer workplace training that engages young people. They will promote the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics and ensure teachers are properly trained to teach using this method. And provide parents with the reassurance they need that their child is making progress, we will establish a simple reading test at the age of six.
Exams and testing
Key Stage 2 tests will be overhauled and exams will be made more robust and rigorous by giving universities and subject academics more power over examinations. They will ensure that the exam system is measured against the most rigorous systems in the world. And so that every pupil has the opportunity to test themselves against the highest standards, all state schools the freedom to offer the same high quality international exams that private schools offer. School league tables will be reformed so that schools can demonstrate they are stretching the most able and raising the attainment of the less able. They will publish all performance data currently kept secret by the DCSF so that web-based applications can create many new and different sorts of league tables. A free online database of exam papers and marking schemes will be set up
They will establish technical Academies (Baker schools) across England, starting in at least the twelve biggest cities, and fund 400,000 new apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, college and other training places over two years. They will break down barriers to entry to the supply market so that any good education provider can set up a new Academy school – free, non-selective, high-quality state schools that are open to all. These new Academies will be run by charities, parent and teacher groups, trusts, voluntary groups and co-operatives. Their schools revolution will create a new generation of good small schools with high standards of discipline. They give every existing school the chance to achieve Academy status, with ‘outstanding’ schools pre-approved, and extend the Academy programme to primary schools. And they will make sure Academies have the vital freedoms that help make them so successful in the first place. A pupil premium – weighting school funding towards children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be introduced
SEN and Inclusion
They say that because the most vulnerable children deserve the very highest quality of care, they will ‘call a moratorium on the ideologically-driven closure of special schools and end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools.’
They believe that people have been far too ready to excuse failure in schools. So they will ensure that Ofsted adopts a more rigorous and targeted inspection regime, reporting on performance only in the core areas related to teaching and learning: the quality of teaching, the effectiveness of leadership, pupils’ behaviour and safety and pupils’ achievement. There will be more unannounced inspections, and failing schools will be inspected more often – with the best schools visited less frequently. And any school that is in special measures for more than a year will be taken over immediately by a successful Academy provider.
There has been some adverse comment in the media along the lines that having a good degree and therefore the knowledge base doesn’t necessarily make you a good teacher. Many good teachers do not have good degrees. But the message from the Tories seems to be a good degree of course doesn’t make you a good teacher but a prerequisite for good teaching is a sound knowledge base, and the best education systems in the world happen to recruit the best graduates.If its works for them then it will probably work for us.