'We need an education secretary who prioritises the needs of children over politics'

14th March 2018 at 16:19
Damian Hinds' promise to halt curriculum and exams reform may sound good, but what we really need is a root-and-branch review of the education system by the people in the heart of it – the teachers

So the education secretary, Damian Hinds, has promised a moratorium on all new curriculum and exams reforms for the length of this Parliament.

At first glance, it's all very laudable, but haven't we heard this kind of thing before? And, more to the point, is this really a good idea?

Calling a halt to all new reforms, as Mr Hinds has promised, should be brilliant news, but, in truth, I can only take it seriously if it is linked with a root-and-branch review of what we do now, conducted not by politicians but by the people at the very heart of the system.

It is, after all, a racing certainty that the political classes will continue to view school improvement as a technical rather than moral issue. Schools will continue to be viewed as some kind of magic bullet that can change all of society. Politicians will continue to view grades and tests as the only way of defining a "good education". Research will continue to be "cherry-picked" to suit political priorities.

'Fundamental flaws that need to be tackled'

Essentially, Damian Hinds will continue to be a politician, with little education experience, who will once again "play" with the education system (there’s quite a lot that doesn’t come under the exams and curriculum label). He will be informed by his own school experience (oh dear) and the entrenched view of so much of the (non-Tes) media (oh dear).

Sadly, he will be constantly worried about losing his job (like so many heads), leading to short-termism, and he won't talk to enough teachers and educationalists who actually know where change is really needed.

Rather than promising to sit on his hands, we need Mr Hinds to realise that there are fundamental flaws in the current system and, as such, no reform is not necessarily better than good reform.

We need Damian Hinds to be an education secretary who recognises that instead of following the party line he should actually put the needs of the pupils and teachers in this country first.

Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were 'outstanding' across all categories

To read more of Colin's articles, visit his back catalogue

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