Renewing education policy

I haven’t posted anything for the last year, mainly due to being extremely busy with local politics. The IndyRef came and went, then there was the small matter of the General Election. Now these two major political events are behind us I have been reflecting on some of the hustings and debates I witnessed. In particular I have been considering education policy, especially from a Green perspective.

During the various election campaigns I was surprised how little education was considered on a national level. Anything that was discussed seemed to be fairly simplistic in nature and nothing really innovative was proposed. Meanwhile on a local level, here in Dundee, the closure of a local secondary school has been headline news (http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/2015/06/22/decision-day-for-menzieshill-high-school-closure/). This is very much a practical issue but proving highly controversial. Around Scotland there is some discussion about national testing, a new Masters qualifications for headteachers (although already in post will be exempt – more details here http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Headteachers-to-have-new-qualification-163f.aspx) and lots of criticism of Curriculum for Excellence. I won’t spend time discussing this here but very briefly CfE seems to mirror much that happens in Scottish education, with great ideas in principle which are not that well executed.

So what would I do? Personally I believe there are two key points that I would like to see addressed with education policy. Firstly I think the idea of sustainability in the widest sense should be incorporated into education policy. Quick fixes and easy wins in education are often tried but nearly always fail. Therefore a long term view must be taken. The second element would be around organic renewability (how very Green). Usually in education nothing much changes for several years (or decades) then a complete overhaul takes place. Or a fantastic initiative is suddenly dropped in from a great height. And so gradual, ongoing development is required – informed by evidence of course. From experience this is something that occurs rarely – but some of the best operating schools I have seen seem to manage effortlessly. These two elements may seem slightly contradictory but it may be possible to manage both – especially with careful planning.

Underpinning these two elements would be the idea that education goes well beyond schools, colleges and universities. This would be something that we would need to address at a societal level and would start with the way in which we all view learning. Everyone has the opportunity to learn, and to be an educator, regardless of age, background or position in society – but this is rarely acknowledged. Therefore, this would require a fundamental change in the way we view teaching and learning. And this may require us to completely rethink education policy too – moving away from the ‘old school’ way of doing things.

An ‘old school’ teacher – from my youth (From: https://grangehillgold.wordpress.com/author/mikeysilv/page/5/)

So this brings me to a request… If you have any interest in education, as a teacher, parent or carer, student or pupil or member of society (as education affects us all) then please get in touch. I would like to hear people’s views, and I will try to reflect these as I work with fellow Scottish Green Party members to revisit our education policy over the next few months. And feel free to pass this on or share with others – the wider the consultation the more innovative we could be.

Scottish Green Party education policy –¬†https://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/policy/education/

The Green Party of England and Wales education policy – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ed.html

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