UNIVERSITY TECHNICAL COLLEGES-CUT THEM SOME SLACK

University Technical Colleges have not had a particularly good press of late.

Some UTCs have found it hard to recruit and retain young people. A handful have  had to  close. Others have had too  variable performance,against accepted benchmarks receiving  poor Ofsted ratings. Indeed, when judged against a range of criteria such as student recruitment, attainment outcomes, and closures / conversions to different school types, it is clear that the introduction of UTCs has been, lets say,   challenging.  But  its important to get these challenges in their proper perspective. Arguably they are not operating on a level playing field,  as  Lord Baker,   their strongest advocate,  has pointed out.  UTCs recruit students from age 14, which works against the grain of the current system   and  the government, frankly  could have done more to help them establish themselves and to create an enabling environment in which they might have more easily  thrived.

As far as performance is concerned, analysis from NFER suggests that (at least some) of the poor performance of UTCs, in the headline accountability measures, may be because the academic measures do not recognise the composition or breadth of curriculum offered by most UTCs. In addition, UTCs are only responsible for two of the five years that students spend in secondary education, but are being held to account for all five years, which doesn’t seem entirely fair.

The Principal of Silverstone UTC, Neil Patterson, recently blogged that Silverstone gets its pupils from 80 to 90 different schools: ‘We work hard to ensure school leaders know what we do.   They are best placed to advise their students on whether UTC Silverstone offers the right education setting.’ But, he adds, ‘Sadly this approach doesn’t always work. All too often parents of students looking to join us describe the pressure their children are put under to stay at their current school, without consideration for their child’s abilities, interests or career ambitions.’ This is a common complaint. If a child moves, then the school loses the funding that goes with that child. So,  schools have a vested interest in persuading that child to stay put. Whether or not that  is in the childs interests.

Patterson continues ‘On the other side of the coin, parents of disruptive students often tell us that their child’s previous school advised them to apply to the UTC. These children faced permanent exclusion at their previous school. Those schools tell parents that we are better suited to their children because we are “hands on”. This concerns me a great deal because the reality is that most of their KS4 study is still the same, and while engineering might be an applied subject, there is not the level of “hands on” activity that most students are led to believe by school leaders who haven’t taken the time to find out about the UTC’

We also know that Careers guidance in some  schools can be patchy and variable in quality and that there may well be  what’s called ‘cognitive biases’  at play, when it comes to teachers (often unqualified for guidance work )  spelling out options that are open for girls, (ie STEM subjects and vocational  subjects  are sometimes ignored as viable  options )so rather too  often children are not getting access to good  independent advice, guidance and  information- whether that is  related to UTCs, or other vocational and technical options.

Despite this as it happens,  Silverstone is doing OK. UTC Silverstone has seen an increase in applications from 98 to 197 from just March to May this year

The government seems to have realized that it could have done more to ease the introduction of UTCs Earlier this year, the government made it a legal requirement that all local authorities should write to the parents of Year 9 children to tell them about their local UTC.  Letters went out for the first time in Spring 2017.  In addition, the government has legislated to entitle UTCs to go into local schools from September 2017 to explain to the students the type of education that UTCs offer. This may lead to a further significant increase in the rate of applications at KS4.

A new  delivery model will always need time to bed in, as the academies programme has shown,  more generally. So, it’s probably too early to judge UTCs. There is,  rightly,  pressure on them to raise their game   and to to deliver, across the piece, better results, and to attract and retain more students. But they have had significant challenges to address, and recent changes should help them . Lets hope so because our vocational and technical offers for pupils lag far behind those  on offer from our continental competitors.

Advertisements

NEW CAREER MANAGEMENT QUALITY ALLIANCE ESTABLISHED-TO PUSH FOR INCLUSIVE CAREERS STRATEGY

Careers Guidance-A New Alliance to work with the Government  

A new careers strategy was first proposed by the Government back in December 2015, in response to the universal view from education and business that, in many areas, access to careers advice for young people was patchy and inadequate and ‘was on life support’ (CBI 2013)

Four major organisations in the career development space have now  come together to create a new alliance: The Career Management Quality Alliance (CMQA) which is  keen to help expedite this  new,  long delayed Careers Strategy.

Chair of the Alliance and President of the Career Development Institute, Virginia Isaac, said “We want to be helpful to Government. To move things along, we have gathered the views of key education and careers bodies in the country and produced a position statement ‘A Careers Strategy that Works for Everyone’. If this thinking can be incorporated into government policy there will be a good chance of breaking through the current log-jam and making good some of the acute erosion of career guidance in recent times”.

The Career Management Quality Alliance comprises:

The Career Development Institute (CDI): the UK-wide professional body for everyone working in career education, career information, advice and guidance and career coaching.

www.thecdi.net

Careers England: the trade association for employer organisations and traders involved in the

provision of products and services promoting career education and guidance in England.

www.careersengland.org.uk

Assessment Services Ltd: the assessment body for the matrix standard, the Government owned quality standard for organisations providing information, advice and guidance

services. www.assessmentservices.com

The Quality in Careers Consortium: which oversees the Quality in Careers Standard, the national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in schools, colleges and work-based learning. www.qualityincareers.org.uk

The  Career Management Quality Alliance wants the governments long awaited Careers Strategy   to be published  soon after Parliaments return from  its Summer Recess, “ to prevent further erosion of services and to enable us to work together to build a system that enables every citizen to contribute effectively to the economy and to have a successful and fulfilling career”

A statement from the Alliance, issued on 2 August,  sets out the key elements,   in the form of twelve points, that it proposes should be included in a  Careers strategy . The Alliance says it is ready to work with the Government to agree the final strategy and to support its effective implementation.

  1. The strategy must set out a vision that support for career management should be available to everyone throughout life, and it should pay equal attention to services for young people and for adults.
  2. The focus should be on both enabling individuals to develop the skills and qualities needed to plan and manage their own careers (commonly referred to as ‘career management and employability skills’) and providing access to personal career guidance at times when it is needed.
  3. Schools and colleges should be encouraged to adopt the eight Gatsby benchmarks of good careers practice and to appoint a careers leader with responsibility for the provision of careers support.
  4. The statutory duty to provide careers education in the curriculum should be reinstated and raised to age 18. It should be supported by a recommended national framework of career management and employability skills.
  5. All schools and colleges should be strongly recommended to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard and incentivised to do so through development funding linked to a commitment to achieving the Standard.
  6. To meet the statutory duty to secure access to impartial careers guidance, schools and colleges should be required to use the services only of careers advisers with a professional qualification in career guidance and, where they commission services from an external organisation, they should ensure that the organisation is accredited to the matrix Standard.
  7. A network of Career Development Co-ordinators should be established across the country, to work with the Enterprise Co-ordinators in the LEPs (whose work focuses on the twoGatsby benchmarks that relate to engaging with employers), to support schools and college with their careers programmes.
  1. The specification for the National Careers Service should be revised to ensure that its services reach all adults and that it provides support for developing career management and employability skills as well as information, advice and guidance. Its services should also be extended to young people who are NEET, home educated or not in school or college for any other reason.
  2. All careers advisers working in the National Careers Service must hold, or be working towards, an appropriate professional qualification.
  3. All organisations providing career management and employability services, through theNational Careers Service and other publicly funded support, must be accredited to the matrix Standard.
  1. Private sector organisations and traders providing career management services that are not publicly-funded, should be encouraged to use professionally qualified staff and to work towards the matrix Standard.
  2. The Government should investigate how changes to the tax system and development loans could encourage both individuals and employers to invest in career management support

DIALOGIC TEACHING-WHATS THAT?

“Dialogic teaching is distinct from the question-answer-tell routines of so-called ‘interactive’ teaching, aiming to be more consistently searching and more genuinely reciprocal and cumulative” says Professor Robin Alexander .  According to Alexander it  requires:

interactions which encourage students to think, and to think in different ways

questions which invite much more than simple recall

answers which are justified, followed up and built upon rather than merely received

feedback which informs and leads thinking forward as well as encourages

contributions which are extended rather than fragmented

exchanges which chain together into coherent and deepening lines of enquiry

discussion and argumentation which probe and challenge rather than unquestioningly accept

professional engagement with subject matter which liberates classroom discourse from the safe and conventional

classroom organisation, climate and relationships which make all this possible

It  is claimed that it helps the teacher more precisely to diagnose students’ needs, frame their learning tasks and assess their progress.

The proposition is that by  engaging in genuine dialogue with others, individuals can operate at a higher level of thinking than would be possible on their own.  So ‘dialogic teaching’, emphasises dialogue through which pupils learn to reason, discuss, argue, and explain in order to develop their higher order thinking as well as their articulacy.( so, think,  Socractic Dialogue!)

The Education Endowment Foundation has recently completed an evaluation of a Dialogic Teaching intervention. The aim of the intervention was to raise levels of engagement and attainment across English, maths, and science in primary schools by improving the quality of teacher and pupil talk in the classroom. The intervention was developed and delivered by a team from the Cambridge Primary Review Trust (CPRT) and the University of York. Year 5 teachers in 38 schools, and a teacher mentor from each school, received resources and training from the delivery team, and then implemented the intervention over the course of the autumn and spring terms in the 2015/2016 school year. Following the intervention, pupils were tested in English, mathematics, and science. This efficacy trial compared the 38 schools (2,492 pupils) in which the intervention took place with 38 control schools (2,466 pupils). During the intervention, the evaluation team also carried out a survey and interviews with a sample of teachers, mentors, and heads, plus case-study visits to three intervention schools

Key conclusions

  1. Children in Dialogic Teaching schools made two additional months’ progress in English and science, and one additional month’s progress in maths, compared to children in control schools, on average. The three padlock security rating means we are moderately confident that this difference was due to the intervention and not to other factors.
  2. Children eligible for free school meals (FSM) made two additional months’ progress in English, science, and maths compared to FSM children in control schools. The smaller number of FSM pupils in the trial limits the security of this result.
  3. The intervention was highly regarded by headteachers, mentors, and teachers who thought that the Dialogic Teaching approach had positive effects on pupil confidence and engagement.
  4. The majority of participating teachers felt that it would take longer than two terms to fully embed a Dialogic Teaching approach in their classrooms. It could therefore be valuable to test the impact of the intervention over a longer period.
  5. This intervention requires teachers to change classroom talk across the curriculum, supported by training, handbooks, video, and regular review meetings with mentors. Future research could aim to differentiate the effects of these different elements.

EEF Dialogic Teaching Evaluation report and executive summary

July 2017- Independent evaluators: Professor Tim Jay, Ben Willis, Dr Peter Thomas, Dr Roberta Taylor, Dr Nick Moore, Professor Cathy Burnett, Professor Guy Merchant, Anna Stevens

Link

Careers Guidance , CEC and Money Trees -New Insights

Dr Deirdre Hughes is one of a small group of academics   regarded as an expert on careers education and guidance. She has just published a  new paper ’’Careers work in England’s schools: politics, practices and prospect’  . Her verdict on the guidance landscape is that ‘The present system of support for careers work in England’s schools is chaotic and congested.’  Her particular concerns also extend to ‘ the disparities that exist and social inequalities that arise when young people have restricted access to independent and impartial careers guidance’.

The Government has long promised a Careers Strategy, aimed at addressing our dysfunctional system so the dots are joined and  better outcomes follow .   This ,we are told, is due out this autumn.  The point about our  current system is that there is plenty of excellent careers advice out there,  from professional advisers, through  individuals , companies , hubs  and partnerships,  but its just that access to it is fragmented and inconsistent,  across the country. And has been for many years.

The Careers and Enterprise  Company (CEC)  set up with taxpayers money, by Nicky  Morgan, nearly three years ago,  aims  to  provide  greater coherence,  across piece , acting  as an enabler and facilitator, knocking heads together. Its impact though on improving access for young people to good professional guidance has been  less than obvious. .

So what is the Careers and Enterprise Company up to? Well it’s a good question.

The first point to make about the CEC is that it was supposed to be self-funded. That was  the intention when it was established . But this is clearly not the case. The taxpayer is still footing its bills.  It now looks and behaves like a new quango.  Government has pleaded poverty when it comes to Careers Guidance. No ring- fenced money was available for schools to support guidance, all money on careers had to come from (autonomous)school budgets . In short there was no magic money tree for Careers.   So within this austere context  its somewhat bemusing  to witness the gradual expansion of the CEC   which  has  no problem in accessing new funds and with no deadline  set  for it to be self-sustaining.  Austere times,  indeed!

Secondly, almost all its work is about promoting enterprise, and creating links and engagement between employers and schools,  while championing good work experience too.  Good though this may be, it hardly amounts to careers education or guidance.

Ministers have been highly supportive of the so- called eight ‘Gatsby’ benchmarks which   are supposed to inform good careers guidance  across the piece.  However, confusingly, the CEC just champions, randomly  as it happens, two or three of these  eight, mutually supporting  benchmarks. In effect   it is prioritising some, to the exclusion of others.  They will claim there is nothing random about their approach, its based on evidence. Maybe,  but  all the other benchmarks are evidence based too.

It also seems to misunderstand the difference between inputs and outputs. Its fine at measuring the former, not so good at measuring the latter.   Indeed, Ministers championed the success of the CEC within its first year of operation, but had no benchmarks against which to measure its success.   Counting the number of transactions or interactions conducted by any organisation  tells you nothing about the impact  its  having or the value its adding.

There is a broader danger here too. And that is that the new Careers Strategy will be all about providing a justification for the existence and continuing role of the CEC, rather than getting back to first principles to mend a broken system that fails far too many young people. What the CEC is involved with, and experimenting with, may be part of the solution,  but it can only be part of it,  if it  continues to ignore the other benchmarks and does nothing to ensure that there is easier access to independent professional careers advice and guidance in schools and colleges.  While there is some excellent work going on in schools and among providers to provide high quality guidance, far too many young people don’t have access to this  On this  the CEC seems to have  adopted a Trappist’s silence.

CECs Flaws  

Hughes  identifies  at least three fundamental design flaws to the CEC:

 

Firstly, the Careers and Enterprise Company is a ‘market player’ competing withother national and local careers providers and relies primarily (though not exclusively) on enterprise and mentoring volunteers from business, supported by government funds.

Secondly, whilst it has fully adopted a set of universally agreed benchmarks for ‘good careers guidance’ – welcomed by those working in the careers sector – and supported a new tool for schools’ self-assessment against the benchmarks – it has so far failed to make any serious attempt to achieve a stable careers programme in schools (benchmark 1); embrace or acknowledge the need for better use of labour market intelligence /information (LMI) (benchmark 2). This is clearly illustrated in its first published research report ‘Moments of Choice’ (CEC, 2016d). The company remains silent on linking curriculum learning with careers (benchmark 4) and young people’s access to personal guidance (benchmark 8).

And thirdly, it has chosen to prioritise use of scarce public funds to aid further experimentation rather than directly supporting impartial and independent careers guidance for young people to be made available in all schools in England’.

Hughes concludes that all schools and colleges require leadership and practical support if they are to develop effective careers work  And If,   as she calls it,  the English careers experiment (CEC) continues in its present form, greater fairness, transparency and accountability are required between private and public sector arrangements.

She says ‘ An important and, as yet unresolved issue is whether the role of government is to pump-prime a new player in the careers market (one which is neither fully independent or fully-private ownership) – and for this to be self-sustaining within a set timeframe – or whether government’s role is alternatively to guarantee access to careers provision and ensure quality by bringing coherence to an unregulated marketplace.’

She adds that ‘there is a growing and justifiable demand for Treasury funds to be directed into regions for more targeted delivery of CIAG in schools and local communities.  A renewed strategic focus combined with the economies of scale that can be achieved through an all-age national careers service merits further attention. you randomly bolt on initiatives, mix careers and enterprise nomenclature, for example, enterprise co-ordinators reliant on employers and volunteers for careers work in schools, and overlook the added-value contribution of career development professionals’ work, this complicates understanding.’

How do we mend a dysfunctional system , albeit one  that  includes  areas of  real excellence,  to ensure all young people have easy access to good independent professional guidance at  crucial stages in their lives  and ensure that the barriers that prevent this are removed? Can we  better harness and direct the  excellence already  in the system  and build  on  it?  The  answer clearly is not to keep calm and just  carry on,  relying on the CEC and its experimentation.  There are clearly resources available. Cant we use them better to secure the outcomes  and returns we need ?

Note

The Industry Apprentice Council, set up by Semta, has  just delivered a survey which suggests that many apprentices feel they  received poor careers advice and that there is a gender bias in much careers guidance . Many in the sector, however, believe that much of the outstanding work that is being delivered  by  professional  advisers, with young people, on the ground ,often in difficult circumstances and with  limited resources , is not being given   sufficient recognition in terms of its quality and its  impact on outcomes. The reality on the ground is that professional advisers are  at the forefront in highlighting apprenticeships aswell as  other non-traditional pathways   into employment that are increasing in scope.  Nor has there been much recognition of significant improvements in quality assurance throughout the sector and the increased professionalism of the sector and improving  status . If schools conduct careers education and afford access to qualified independent professional guidance experts that is the best way to ensure they are equipped to  make informed career  decisions.

WHAT NOW FOR EDUCATION POLICY?

What  now for education policy?

With no Education Bill in the Queens speech, what will be keeping Ministers busy?

The minority government  and reshuffle that never was  means that Theresa May now has little freedom of movement. So what might this mean for education policy? It seems rash in this climate to make firm predictions, but here goes.

Funding

We know that May had planned no real terms increase in per capita funding for schools. If pre-election policies stick, there will be a decrease of around 3-6% over this parliament unless the government really is wedded to less austerity, as implied by our new environment secretary Michael Gove. The increase in pupil numbers will place pressure on schools both primary and secondary. Some further marginal cost savings and efficiencies might be squeezed out of schools but for many, probably most, there is no wriggle room left. Also, bear in mind inflation is close to 3% and rising. If more funding is not available and Greening wants more there will be two consequences.

Firstly, the curriculum offer will be narrowed, as teachers and assistants are lost, pastoral support reduced and some school days shortened. Secondly, more schools will be tempted to join chains to afford some protection against cuts, although there may be limited capacity and few incentives for those running chains for this to happen at scale. My guess is there will have to be some adjustment in schools funding, to ease the burden, but it will not be as much as headteachers want and feel they need.

As for the free schools and academies programme, the programme remains the main delivery mechanism for much needed additional school places, regardless of the government’s stance on grammars and increased selection, which has been   radically scaled back  , will probably be    dropped altogether. Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 backbench committee, has suggested that there might be pilots on increased selection but that seems the best that the pro-selection lobby can expect. But even that in the current climate is a big ask

And, as far as the much vaunted new school funding formula is concerned, this will be placed, yet again, on the backburner. Clearly a new fairer formula is needed as the current system is unfair but as any new formula will create winners and losers, a minority government just cannot afford to upset even a minority of its backbenchers. Schools Minister Nick Gibb suggests that a new Formula will still be introduced, but this is unlikely as things stand .

Teacher recruitment and retention remains a big challenge. Getting enough leaders identified, trained, supported and deployed where they are most needed, is becoming a major priority and that will be Nick Gibb’s responsibility. Efforts to date have proved disjointed and piecemeal. There is currently no sustained pipeline of good heads, although there is some funding available  and a  new leadership college may be  in the wings. So, watch this space.

On the skills front there will be efforts to improve the quality and scope of apprenticeships as well as promoting higher degree apprenticeships and alternative routes into employment, beyond traditional degrees. Disappointingly, for the guidance sector, junior minister Robert Halfon was sacked. One of his main tasks had been to present a new careers strategy, which would be welcomed by all parties and employers particularly if informed by  all the so called ‘Gatsby benchmarks’, but this may be delayed further.

Mental health  is now seen as an issue from the Primary phase right through to Higher Education. The issue now is resources and  capacity within the system to address the challenge of identifying early  those with issues and getting them professional support before its too late.

Higher education

In higher education (HE), the new Higher Education and Research Act will be implemented, whether universities like it or not, they will be in a more competitive and accountable environment. The new Teaching Excellence Framework has  clearly embarrassed one or two leading universities, strong on research but poor on  teaching quality,  who  have  been  found to be wanting.  The TEF will be reviewed, and its metrics fine- tuned,  but,  make no mistake,  its here to stay.  With increasing numbers of students feeling they don’t get value for  money for their courses, and destination measures being published, as well as future earnings, the age of increased accountability in the HE sector is upon us. Vice Chancellors will be hard pressed to justify their inflated pay packets, under increased scrutiny.

May’s hard-nosed attitude to international students and tightening up visas will undoubtedly come under renewed attack and she is likely to have to concede some  ground under pressure from businesses, the research community and vice-chancellors, as UK universities slip down international league tables and Indian students, among others, no longer feel welcomed.

Brexit brings its own worries for the sector around access to  research funding, and in   attracting and retaining  both staff and students,. But there are also new opportunities for   collaboration, and for  transnational  partnerships around research,  enterprise , teaching and learning, and expect more satellite campuses abroad. .

Labour’s popular offer of no more tuition fees, which helped secure the support of the young vote, means that university funding will be back on the agenda. Expect think tanks to focus  in on this issue over the coming months.The interest rate that students now have to pay on their loans  is widely regarded as unacceptable.

The findings of the Sainsbury Review, which proposed the creation of T-levels and 15 technical routes for vocational and technical education, had been met with wide support both inside and outside the skills sector. While there are still crucial details about the implementation of the reforms, notably the content and progression routes around the proposed “transition year”, the spirit and substance of the reforms have been broadly welcomed. Institutes of technology should be up and running in this parliament, employer-led, with a STEM focus and operating on a hub and spoke model.

Schools

As far as the private sector is concerned, stagnant incomes, falling output and rising inflation could mean a tougher time for private schools. Demand from domestic consumers will probably remain at best, flat. But it’s always been a resilient sector that has weathered many other storms and will continue to attract international students and open satellite schools abroad to support its income streams. The biggest worry is obviously the prospect of a future Corbyn-led government that would threaten a school’s charity status and tax breaks. The higher education reforms mean more opportunities for private, alternative providers to enter the sector, and more two year degrees are in the pipeline, offering more choice to all students, and less debt. This could be attractive to the private sector but don’t expect a mad rush. It will be incremental.

The University of Buckingham, which was the first fully fledged private, non-profit university to be established 40 years ago, is expanding, and has seen an increased number of applications this year, so the private sector is not all gloom and doom. More competition, choice, new market entrants, better accountability and information for students is all good. Vice chancellors are even now scouring the horizon for new opportunities outside Europe and the UK education brand remains a strong card to play, in spite of sharper global competition.

But with all this, there is a huge caveat attached. Minority governments rarely last long. And don’t have a great back story. May, as leader, is much diminished, with limited freedom to act. There is likely to be a leadership contest within months. If the DUP arrangement doesn’t hold, and there is no guarantee that it will, we will have another general election and possibly by the end of the year. But the world still turns and there are still new opportunities out there

ELECTION JITTERS FOR TORIES

Having begun the election campaign with a lead of over 20% the Tories now realize they have a fight on their hands. The gap, according to the polls has narrowed to around 3-15%. Some recent modelling suggests that the Tories might actually lose seats and their overall majority in Parliament. Of course, we know polls can be unreliable, and , most recently, that’s exactly what they have been, but two things are clear. Corbyn has fought a much better campaign than expected. His, and his teams obvious gaffes ,and  some might say, dodgy records , don’t seem to be having the negative impact they would have had in past campaigns And the Tories strategy to focus on Theresa Mays leadership and turn this into a presidential style campaign promoting Brand May , could have backfired. The Evening Standard on Tuesday (edited, of course, by George Osborne , who was sacked by May) said the Tory campaign had “meandered from an abortive attempt to launch a personality cult around Mrs May to the self-inflicted wound of the most disastrous manifesto in recent history”. A bit harsh, probably, but reflecting genuine disquiet in Tory ranks. Mays decision not to debate with Corbyn directly looks now to have been a tactical error, although Amber Rudd’s performance as a proxy was good enough. Mays record as Home Secretary over her six year tenure was frankly mixed (Immigration, Police Prisons etc)and she has had to defend that record. Setting targets for immigration and consistently failing to meet them is not very clever. Corbyn doesn’t have to defend a record in government as he has none. Nor has he really managed anything much. How he  currently runs his own office should give electors some concerns, and indeed, insights into what Corbyn would look like as Prime Minister. He is not bad at the poetry of campaigning, but untested in the prose of governing. The Prime Minister gave a speech this week attempting to realign her campaign on Brexit. Significantly, she appeared in front of re-branded posters which carried the word “Conservatives”, more prominently instead of the previously used slogan “Theresa May’s Team”.
If the Tories don’t win a significant majority, ie over 50 . Mays authority will be diminished and Corbyn will claim a partial victory and stay on as Labour leader. He may well stay on as Leader anyway, of course. Much can change over this next week. But this election is, for sure ,turning up a few surprises.

CMRE THINK TANK – INCREASED SELECTION IS NOT A VIABLE STRATEGY FOR THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

 

Centre Right think tank, CMRE, says increased selection is not a viable strategy for the education system as a whole

This is what Gabriel Sahlgren the Director of Research at the CMRE think tank said  about selection   in  an opinion  piece  in the Daily Telegraph on 8 May.

‘Conservatives have proposed academic selection. In this model, children would compete for places based on their performance. Parents wouldn’t just choose schools – but schools would choose pupils, too. This is not a viable strategy for the education system as a whole. Indeed, research suggests that between-school selection doesn’t raise performance overall, but often decreases equality. Rather than promoting a more cohesive country, selection may therefore merely divide us further.

Most importantly, academic selection decreases parental choice and risks the competitive incentives in the system; it induces schools to focus more on picking pupils than on improving their performance.’

I  suggest  it  would be helpful, and appropriate ,  before any future government decides  to increase selection in the schools system, for it to set out clearly the evidence base that informs this policy decision.  At present, as far as I am aware ,there is no think tank,   no reputable academic or research organisation or institution , nor  any organisation promoting social mobility which  either backs the policy of increased selection or has provided evidence that such a policy  will  do any of the following: improve performance across the system, raise the performance overall of disadvantaged pupils, narrow the performance gap between disadvantaged and mainstream pupils ,increase social mobility, improve equity,  or significantly help ‘ordinary families’ educationally, all of which appear to be  priorities on the current  education  agenda.  If evidence informed policy and practice  has any meaning, then this should be a minimum requirement, before any government wastes scarce resources, political energy and capital on introducing and driving through any such policy in the face of   available evidence and expert opinion