SEA’s General Election Briefing

Vote2It is widely agreed that the coalition government has done huge damage to this country’s educational provision. But too often we see the lazy view presented that “they’re all the same” and that nothing new is being offered. SEA believes that there is a real and important difference between the parties and this briefing is designed to provide some key data that illustrates that.

It concentrates on the mainstream school system – there is of course much more that could be said about early years, inclusion and further and higher education. It contains examples of statements illustrating where the government is going wrong, what informed educational experts think should be our priorities and some key examples of Labour’s important and positive commitments. Continue reading

The Transforming Power of Music Education

The Geordie Symphony School

The Geordie Symphony School

Anyone with doubts about the tranformative power of music could not have have come across the work of the Venezuelan Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra or the South African Soweto Youth Orchestra. It is enough to listen and watch a little of the music made by young people, many of whom come from deprived backgrounds to see that this could not happen without serious personal engagement on the part of the young musicians. Continue reading

What’s Next for Education?

Tim Brighouse chaired the meeting

Tim Brighouse chaired the meeting

Sheila Doré reports from the New Visions Conference at the Institute of Education

(There are audio files of the main speeches at the end of this report)

This conference was well attended by the great and the good in Education.

The event was chaired by Tim Brighouse who was also the first speaker. He gave a brief history of Education 1944- 2015. He suggested that we are now in an optimistic phase in which the marketisation of education has been seen to fail and in which a new and exciting evaluation and reorganisation of education can now be conducted.

The key features of this new phase would include the reform of OFSTED, exams replaced by teacher assessment, fair admissions, the creation of a College of Teaching and a government education policy based on the advice of those with relevant expertise and the relevant research.

He suggested that, “Optimism was being rekindled”. Continue reading

Nicky Morgan discovers ‘accountability’

Nicky Morgan

Brian Lightman, Head of ASCL, told his recent conference of school leaders that education needed an independent, non-political body which could review the curriculum for England’s schools every five years, with the aim of creating more stability and less reliance on the fluctuating interventions of individual education secretaries. Continue reading

Policy Exchange ‘Free Schools’ claims in tatters


In a sharply honed critique of the latest Policy Exchange report, ‘A Rising Tide: The Competitive Benefits of Free Schools’,  Henry Stewart of the Local Schools Network demonstrates how deeply flawed the contradictory claims in the report are. At one point Policy Exchange says, ‘free schools do not just help the performance of their pupils, but pupils in surrounding schools’. This was directly quoted by David Cameron when he made his astonishing announcement that because of their success, he planned to open a further 500 ‘free schools’  should the Tories win the election in May. However the PE report also declares of primary schools ‘Schools closest to Free Schools perform in line with national results at primary.’ Continue reading

Reclaiming Education Bill Takes another Step Forward (includes sound files)

Warwick Mansell made the opening speech for the debate

Warwick Mansell made the opening speech for the debate

The seven organisations which comprise the Reclaiming Education Alliance were out in full support of the ‘Reclaiming Education Bill 2015′ at a meeting in the House of Commons on Wednesday 25th February.

John Edmonds, in the Chair contextualised much of the prior work and activity that had preceded the evolution of the draft bill. As he pointed out, we were now at a critical time for education and the preservation of what remains of a national public service must be our top priority.

The keynote speaker was Guardian columnist Warwick Mansell who delivered a very thoughtful and incisive analysis of the state of education as perceived by the wider public. Continue reading

Time to Act – An Education Bill for the new Parliament

NewEdnBillOver the last year the SEA together with our partners in the Reclaiming Education Alliance has been promoting seven key principles that we think should be at the heart of a new government’s education policies. We believe that they all need to be implemented if we are to build a school system that promotes high standards, fairness and equality across the country. As we approach the election, we have developed our ideas about how the principles can be put into practice. Continue reading