I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a journalist from the Guardian who was interested in finding out what I’d like to see in the parties’ General Election manifestos. You can read the finished article here.
In the end, the journalist decided not to include my suggestions, which I’ve reproduced, for the sake of a slightly more diverse debate, here:
I’d like to see two things from the general election manifestos:
1. Practical strategies for improving behaviour in schools. I think we need to be radical on this because the problem is so much worse than most parents realise, and because the effects of disruptive behaviour are so damaging: not only are disruptive pupils stealing learning time from their peers but their behaviour is also one of the main drivers of young teachers leaving the profession. I would force schools to have an ‘open-doors’ policy to allow potential or current parents the chance to visit classrooms throughout the school year. With reasonable notice, and the appropriate safeguards, I think this would shine a light on the ambient low-level disruption that is widespread in schools and force a much more candid public conversation on the problem and the ways to solve it.
2. I would also like to see Ofsted force schools to enter more of their pupils for the EBacc. I’d like to see 90% of pupils achieve the EBacc by 2022. I believe that the EBacc goes a long way to ensuring that all pupils, regardless of their background, get a traditional liberal education right up until the age of 16. Partly, there are good practical reasons for this: we need more of our pupils to reach the age of 16 fluent in maths, science and foreign languages. This will be increasingly pressing in a post-Brexit Britain where our pupils will have to compete with the best from across the world. But, mainly, because I believe all, or almost all, pupils in the UK should have access to those core academic subjects. I think we still have a situation where many schools in the UK say that French or history just aren’t for some types of pupils, and I think that is hugely unfair.