Sunday, 13 October 2013

All Things Politics - w/e 11 October 2013

Top stories this week:

- Al-Madinah Free School concerns over health & safety and access to the same facilities.

- Andy Burnham v Jeremy Hunt -- NHS Mid Staffs

- Reshuffle of the Government bench and Labour's front bench

- IMF growth prediction up


Only want to focus on one story this week, mainly because education is very important to me.

Michael Gove's free school policy came under scrutiny this week as the Al-Madinah free school had been closed amid concerns over the health and safety of the students. Allegedly they had not followed proper protocol in ensuring the staff were fully vetted. More concerning for me, was the reports coming from the staff and students were females members of staff were asked to 'cover up' more at school and the female students were told to sit at the back of the classroom and that the girls would have to go to lunch once the boys had finished. There was also reports which suggested male themed literature was promoted to ensure the boys enjoyed their lessons but no emphasis or resources were spent on ensuring the girls had the same opportunities.

As someone who likes the idea of free schools - yes it doesn't sound like this school has kept to its contract with the Government and local authority to ensure they give a high level of education for their students. But, we should remember all the other free schools which have succeeded through the freedom that free schools are allowed. A lot of free schools up and down the country are led my parents and teachers who have a passion to ensure each child has a high level of education but also as many opportunities to develop skills and find out who they are through extra-curriculum activities.

The free schools idea is about giving power to the local residents - the local teachers, parents, and the community to work together and provide a good education for all the childrens in that area. Most free schools do not abide by catchment areas which means if a parent is willing to travel then they are able to choose the best school for their child rather than being restricted to schools close to home.

By allowing teachers, parents and the community lead the school, it allows the teachers to have the link with the community that sometimes lack in other school. It allows teachers to have the freedom of pushing each child in that school and when they have a different approach to a lesson - they have the freedom to pursue it to ensure they work the the best of their ability to help each child in their classroom.

We will all remember Tony Blair's promise that his main priority would be 'Education, Education, Education' but over the year of the Labour government, what did we see? I grew up through this time so can honestly say, there wasn't an improvement in the education standards of the school. What did change was the infrastructure. Lots of schools received funding for new buildings which helped in terms of space, more classrooms and areas in the school - but did that make a difference to the standards of education to the students. Personally I would say it didn't. Plus reading the reports which shows, statistically, that over the last 13 years of the Labour Government (http://skills.oecd.org/documents/OECD_Skills_Outlook_2013.pdf), the standard of literacy and numeracy has declined in the UK.

Michael Gove's idea of ensuring our exam system and curriculum hold up to the same level all over the world is a good idea but ideas are only good if they are enforced at ground level. If each teacher in every classroom across the country commits to ensure each child is pushed to the  best of their ability and doesn't alienate groups of children because of the community they come from or the level of income at home -- I think we could really improve the standards of education for the children in this country.