We need a national debate about a new system

9 March 2020

One of our supporters, Lord Jim Knight, shared his views in a House of Lords debate about why the education system needs to change. Below is his full script and footage. Please read, watch and share.  

We’re working with Jim Knight, IPPR and a host of others to build support for a new commission into the future of education and learning. Get in touch with us to join us! www.big-change.org/contact #Hopes4Ed

“Education is failing working class communities. Many of these places were formed to serve an industrial economy that has moved on. The education system was formed as these places became established and has not moved on since then.

“It is a sift.

“Go to school, work hard, get good grades, if you’re good enough – go to university and get a great career – and if not, get skills and get a job. 

“We’ve been delegating more and ratcheting up accountability to “drive more improvement so more young people from all backgrounds access the higher aspiration university route. 

“And yet, the Sutton Trust tell us that the eight top schools send as many pupils to Oxbridge as three-quarters of all schools.

“Teach First research in 2018 revealed that poorer pupils are more likely to be excluded than to achieve the English Baccalaureate

“The most the current model can do, is work for two thirds of young people.  For working class kids we’d be lucky to get to half, however hard we drive the system.

“How is it for working class communities?

“I recently met the job-sharing headteachers from an all-through school in Portland, Dorset. They asked me tell you:

“We have felt that things have become even harder over the last few years. Students starting school with us have vast gaps in their education.  Not just academically – we support that well and are proud to say we’re in the top 10% of schools in the country for progress, both at Secondary and Primary.

“However, the social and emotional needs of our students is challenging.

“The withdrawal of the support that Sure Start centres used to offer families, has had a vast impact on parenting skills and abilities, there is very little early intervention for families who struggle or need assistance. The threshold for children who are at risk appears to be unknown.

”We leave students to go home on occasions, unsafe, to homes that are not suitable for them and hope we will see them the next day. Social care simply cannot support the need of families like ours.” 

We need a national debate about a new system.  There can be no change in working class communities without one geared to learning, earning and still learning, preparing for a life of constant reskilling. One that prepares people:

  • for a long working life of 60 years
  • Multiple careers
  • Being great at interacting with machines as well as humans but out competing machines at being human
  • One that accepts that analytics will replace qualifications and that universities will have to innovate to deliver life-long learning rather than a debt-loaded rite of passage.
  • More ‘grow your own’ – across a lifetime, someone with a higher apprenticeship has higher average earnings than a graduate from a non-Russell Group university.
  • Less high stakes testing and more trust of teachers
  • Schools grow their own teachers
  • A curriculum that balances knowledge and skills and is designed to untrue a love of learning, and skills in self-directed learning.

This needs cross-party consensus.  What better place to start to forge it than in your Lordships House. Please get in touch with us at Big Change if you’d like to join the discussion about the vision for the future of education www.big-change.org/contact