A Liberal Vision for Education: There’s no point reforming our broken system. This is a new education system.
7 December 2011 14 Comments
Mark Pack recently looked at the attitudes towards income inequality between ’87 – ’09. The interesting thing in this data is the fact that almost a consistent 80% of people for over 20 years have said that the gap between the rich and poor is too large. While there has been no change in attitudes since the financial crash there has been a decrease in belief that the government should increase tax or benefits to address the concern.
Mark Pack makes the case for education as a way to improve incomes for those from lower socio-economic families and states that this needs to be made as it can’t just be assumed by default. Mark Pack states that
Instead, it is policies such as providing better educational opportunities for the least well off (pupil premium anyone?) which best fit what the public says it wants
But once people have woken up to the idea of the Pupil Premium, and it is no longer something we can use to show what we will do in power, what is the Lib Dem education policy? I think that we can be congratulated for implementing a good policy which will hopefully make a real difference to people’s lives, most notably in the future. However, the problem with any policy based on an existing system is that it very much depends on how good the existing system is in the first place. So how good is the educational system we have in the UK at the moment?
Well Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, condemned it. Anthony Seldon said that it is collapsing into a form of mass indoctrination. While Ofsted shows that nearly one in every seven schools inspected this year have been judged no better than satisfactory twice in succession and have no more than a satisfactory capacity to improve. At the same time, nearly one in every five colleges inspected this year have received only a satisfactory rating for the third time in a row. I could go on but the point it that we have a system that does not serve the people who it is intended to serve. Many people do not come out with as good a grades as they could get and many don’t even get an education. On top of that if anyone went to a state school like mine will know that they are not nice places to be and can in fact, at times, be very dangerous.
To illustrate the point that this is structural, Labour pumped millions in to the system only to find limited improvement, or even worse in some areas. While we may characterise this as Labour incompetence, and in some cases it was, it was also due to the system being inflexible and incapable of improvement. So how much use is improving a system that doesn’t work?
A Liberal education system is one where the pupils learn the best way they learn. Children learn in very different ways and sticking them all in front of a teacher at the same time to do the same thing is an outdated way of teaching. We have put sticking plasters on the system to try and make it more responsive to the children’s needs but the system remains an outdated. Because of this we are producing children who are brilliant at something, but they don’t know it and never find out. We demonise children for being bored despite living in a technological age and instead of looking at the system we look at the children and say it must be something wrong with them.
We need to start looking at new ways of doing education as part of our new vision for the country. This should be personalised learning. We have the technology and understanding to engage children. We have the expertise to deliver teaching tailored to what they are good at. We can reorganise the curriculum so that there isn’t a focus on academia, which seems to be routinely agreed upon that is not the most effective focus for education. We can do better than what we have.
For a much better talk on the current education system and more on personalised learning watch this (it is very good):
The Lib Dems need to make themselves relevant again. The only way to do this is if we have a idea of what a Liberal Britain would look like and to be honest I am not too sure of what that is right now. Education is a good place to start and personalised learning is a very liberal idea.