1. An important focus of the recent SEA meeting in Birmingham was the enquiry launched by the Education Select Committee on the aims and purpose of education. This enquiry represents a significant challenge to the narrow vision for education that has been promoted by Gove and Morgan. There is the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a national debate and a new consensus about what kind of future we want for our young people.
SEA members were clear that education is not just a private commodity designed to enable individuals to benefit in a competitive economy. Crucially education has a social purpose – it’s a vital part of how we build a cohesive society in which every member is able to make an active contribution. Nor is education just about academic knowledge – that has its place but needs to be accompanied by the development of skills and personal qualities and attitudes.
SEA members were clear that delivering an educational entitlement to all young people requires systems and structures. It also requires the opportunity to come back to education throughout life, especially for those for whom schooling has not been a success.
SEA will be making a submission to the Select Committee enquiry and this will be available to all members.
2. SEA was also delighted to welcome Ian Austin MP, chair of the Labour backbench committee and member of the select committee. He explained that he wanted to enhance the role of the backbench committee and wanted it to have better links with the wider party including SEA. He set out six priority areas for the committee’s work:
• Raising standards with particular reference to inequality
• Pressures on teachers and the growing teacher shortage
• Promoting social mobility
• The status and quality of vocational education
• Child care and sure start
• The funding of post 16 education and the future of FE.