Education Foundation Report
Leading thinkers and practitioners give their visions for education
The Education Foundation claims to be the UK’s first independent, cross party, education think tank. It aims to, rather immodestly, ‘lead, shape and deliver change and reform in the British education system ‘. It is headed by Andy Fordham and Ty Goddard and has just published its first report.
Launched last summer with the endorsement of Joel Klein who drove through New York’s school reforms, before joining News International (great timing), the report consists of a number of essays from an eclectic mix of education reformers, thinkers and practitioners. The preamble to the report says ‘Our first step as a solutions-focused education think tank was to gather a group of thirty-five leading thinkers: an inspiring, influential mix of teachers, policymakers and other practitioners. We asked them three simple but far reaching questions: what’s important?; what works?; and what next?’
Professor Simon Baron Cohen writes of the importance of empathy in education and its teaching as an extra layer to enrich our schools and relationships in and around them. Rachel de Souza focuses on the need for a flexible, progressive and forward-thinking education system, ever open to new ideas and better ways of working. Lord Lucas of Crudwell and Dingwall sees harnessing the potential of parents in driving forward the education system. Professor James Tooley warns of the real limitations of the state in delivering education policy and practice. Dr Anthony Seldon wants our schools and universities to move from a factory model to a world class system. Dr Elizabeth Sidwell wants to create a seamless integrated system involving schools, Further and Higher education. Jan Hodges says learning by doing should be valued equally with academic learning and high quality technical, practical and vocational learning should be an integral and valued part of every young person’s education, and so on. There are some very interesting contributions here and it is well worth looking at. Identifying a common thread though, to focus reform energies and efforts, and indeed the future work of the Foundation, which, at its launch, wanted to identify what schools are for in this century, will be something of a challenge. We seem to have lots of visions here, some over- lapping, others not. Still the overarching message that we need more high quality evidence to inform policy and practice is sound.
If we want to transform our education system its not just about structures ,important though they may be. We have to change what happens at the sharp end in the classroom, and accept that education is so much more than passing tests and exams. For far too many that simple message has yet to get across.
The Journey to Education Reform