The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. We are publishing their replies during the run-up to the election.
The new government should take a new approach to primary education that sees this stage as a unique time in children’s lives. This will require them to look again at the purposes of primary education.
The current statutory assessment system is not fit for assessing children’s learning and needs radical change. The government should:
- Move to national sampling.
- Abolish the current SPAG test and phonics screening test and replace with more appropriate measures.
When it comes to the National Curriculum, the government should:
- Start a longer than usual period of time to review the national curriculum.
- Develop a genuinely innovative and evidence-based curriculum for birth to age 18.
- Rewrite the curriculum for literacy and ensure that the teaching of reading and writing is based on the abundant research evidence that we have.
- Abolish the current focus and overly-detailed attention to grammar teaching.
Gender and sexuality
The new government should prioritise a whole school approach to gender and sexual equality for young people. The most effective way to do this is to prioritise high quality sexuality education that covers gender and sexual relationships amongst young people and tackles the interrelated issues of sexism and homophobia. A focus on helping young people, especially boys, to better understand issues of sexual consent and to develop respectful relationships is critically important.
Schools require the right attitudes and infrastructure (gender neutral toilets) to protect gender diversity and the right educational tools for understanding different gender expression and identity. Giving young people the opportunity to become engaged in activism around gender and sexual equality and diversity – especially through social media connections and campaigning – has proven very successful in some schools who run feminism groups and LGBTQ+ groups. The gay-straight alliance model in North America has proven very effective in helping staff and students understand gender and sexual equality, gender related violence and how to tackle these issues. Here in the UK the Gender and Education Association runs the Gender Equality Leadership in Schools programme (GELS) bringing together key stakeholders working with schools to challenge discrimination and promote students’ gender and sexual rights.
The top priorities for post-16 and lifelong education are:
- To redress the 20% funding imbalance between per capita spending on 16-18 yr olds (approx £4000) and 11-16 yr olds (approx £5000);
- To continue to develop technical and professional education (T levels) as a viable, high status option to match the more established academic option;
- To emphasise quality and relevance in in apprenticeship growth to protect apprentices as well as employers. In particular to protect the 20% off the job training requirement for apprentices;
- In anticipation of Brexit to prioritise skills development at the technician level above upper secondary and below full degree (levels 4 & 5), through the work of the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education;
- To introduce technology-enabled individual learning accounts, in order to enable re-skilling in an ageing population and redress the decline of part-time learning.
Photo from League of Women Voters via Creative Commons