Lessons to be learned from education reform

by Patrick McPartlin

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has today outlined his plans for education reform in England, with strong emphasis placed on what the BBC are calling a return to ‘traditional education values.’ A revamp of teacher training and more emphasis placed on language skills in exams, along with the reintroduction of uniforms and the prefect and house system is expected to feature prominently in Gove’s White Paper.

A deputy head teacher at a Scottish secondary school, which recently reintroduced blazers and ties as part of its mandatory uniform, and makes use of the prefect and house system has seen mainly positives from the move. “Contrary to expectation, school uniform, prefects and house systems are not about uniformity as much as they are about a sense of belonging and pride. We explain why uniform needs to be smart and formal – to present the school in a good light to people in the wider community and the employment market, a short cut to people forming a good initial impression of the school.”

Michael Gove wants uniforms reintroduced. (Photo courtesy of The Daily Mail)

Despite the positive experiences of returning to traditional educational values in Scotland, the opposition have questioned the suitability of the reform, warning that it could increase the risk of the education system favouring academic students over others, with Gove’s counterpart Andy Burnham telling him “You will need to work hard to explain how your plan won’t create a new generation of failing schools.” There are worries that struggling schools will suffer, whilst top-performing schools will continue to flourish. Leaders of a number of teachers’ unions have also voiced their concerns about Gove’s proposals, focusing on the potentially negative effects on England’s teaching staff.

Gove’s outlines for education reform come in the wake of Glasgow City Council announcing that around a third of their £90million budget cuts will be in education. In keeping with the fears that some students will suffer as a result of educational reform in England, the projected cuts in Glasgow are expected to affect support staff for pupils with learning difficulties, along with several other services being withdrawn, in a move that has left Glasgow residents reeling. 3500 teaching jobs have already been axed in Scotland, with the possibility of even more.

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