What’s the purpose of schools?

What’s the purpose of schools?


My wife is going to the ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders) conference later this month and been asked what question she would like to ask the keynote speakers:

Friday 20 March

  • Tristram Hunt MP
  • David Laws MP
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw HMCI

Saturday 21 March

  • Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

She was interested to find out what I would ask. I think it’s really interesting to try to ask something that would get them to reveal what they think the purpose of schools and education is and to try to get them to show up some clear policy differences.

These are the first things that came to my mind. What would you ask?

  1. What plans do you have that will increase stability for pupils and schools to allow them to focus on their core function, learning and teaching, rather than being distracted by the constantly moving goal posts of curriculum, assessment, inspection, school structures and funding formulas?
  2. Without using a cliché, a political sound bite or educational jargon can you say one concrete thing that your policies will do that will help a child to enjoy learning?
  3. In fact, can you say anything without using a cliché, a political sound bite or educational jargon?
  4. How will your policies ensure that Citizenship is well-taught in all schools? (Could do background on votes at 16, Prevent, etc. – evidence suggests this has to be as discrete subject with well-trained, specialist teachers.)
  5. If you had to make a choice, would you prefer to raise a child’s attainment or raise their love of learning?
  6. What role should the future economy of a country play in how it structures its schools?
  7. What role should the well-being of pupils play in how schools are structured?
  8. Can you say why attainment is important without reference to economics?
  9. Can you say why attainment is important without reference to future prospects (in which attainment may realistically only play a minor role)?
  10. Do you believe there should be more secondary moderns?
  11. When everyone has to stay in education until 18 why have high-stakes exams at 16?

Obviously these questions reveal a lot about my own views on education and frustration with how our current crop of politicians view it and talk about it.

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