Give us an education supremo to lend policies authority, argues ASCL chief

18th September 2009 at 01:00
A new role akin to a chief education officer should be created to reduce the frequency and number of education policies, a union leader has said

Writing in The TES this week, Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), has called for the position to be established to allow education to be discussed more "rationally" in the political arena.

Similar Whitehall departments, such as the Department of Health, utilise a chief medical officer who provides impartial advice to the Government on how and where policy is needed, he argues.

"If education is to be a major political battleground this year, the least we can ask of the politicians is that it is an evidence-based debate," Dr Dunford said. "We can't keep education out of politics, but we can appeal for politics to be more rational in the way it discusses education.

"Health has the authoritative voice of the chief medical officer, agriculture has the chief veterinary officer, science has the chief scientific officer, and all these areas have a calmer, more evidence-based policy debate than education.

"Perhaps the electorate needs a similarly objective chief education officer to guide it through the policy swamp and be the professional voice in policy making."

Professor Sir Liam Donaldson is the current chief medical officer, a position that holds a civil-service grade of permanent secretary, and involves him acting as the "bridge" between the medical profession and the Government.

The chief medical officer's role also includes providing national leadership to the medical profession while preparing and explaining health policies of the day.

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