Forum Report: Wed 28 Jun 2006: Education & Inspection Bill

Panel Session – Education & Inspection Bill

Last night the Shadow Ministers for Education, Nick Gibb MP, and Vocational Education, John Hayes MP, joined the CWO Forum Panel Session to discuss the Education & Inspection Bill. The Panel is part of a series enabling women with an interest in politics, or a particular issue, to talk directly to the Conservative Frontbench in Parliament responsible for the Bills.

Nick Gibb MP said that whilst the Conservative Party was generally supportive of the Bill there were still issues of concern which will be raised in Committee. He said “There has been an obsession with the structure of the education system which has led to a huge waste of human potential.”

He highlighted the widening gap in standards between independent schools and State schools with standards in State schools slipping further and further down the scale, and blamed much of the slippage to the attachment to the old ideologies, for example, hanging on to mixed ability classes when it has become clear that “setting” by ability brings better results. .

Nick Gibb said “There is a need for a simplified curriculum. For example, for a subject as obvious as teaching a child to read, progress is measured against about 12 different strands such as listening and drama. The Conservatives want the curriculum guidelines focus on reading outcomes and allow teachers to use their skill and judgement in attaining those outcomes.”

John Hayes MP joined the debate saying “Many schools are just coasting or worse, and they are not adding value – even some schools in so-called ‘good’ areas. We need factual information that has not been falsified in order to see what works and what isn’t so good. Of course, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue adding value and we need to recognise that there will be different levels of added value at different stages. There should be no distortion of the data and anyone found doing so should be sacked.

Every culture in history reveres its educators. I think we should too. Educators are important to our lives and civilisation. We need to highlight and praise their successes.”

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