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 Education for all (home)

12 challenges and principles

Arising from the evidence of the Reviews are twelve challenges to those who are responsible for policy and who thereby shape practice. To meet those challenges, we suggest, section by section, the following principles for consideration in future policy-formulation.

Part I: What is Education for?
1. Challenge: Lessons from history are important. Very often, ‘we have been here before’.
  Principle: Ministers, political advisers, civil servants and educational professionals should acquaint themselves with recent history of education in order to build cumulatively on worthwhile successes and to avoid repeating mistakes.
2. Challenge:  Aims of education are often spelt out solely in terms of economic utility and relevance.

Principle:  Policy and frameworks of entitlement should reflect the broad aims of educating persons, such as: 

  • understanding of the physical, social and economic worlds,
  • practical capabilities,
  • economic utility,
  • moral seriousness,
  • sense of community, collaboration and justice,
  • sense of fulfilment
  • motivation to continue learning even to ‘the fourth age’.
3. Challenge:  In responding to national priorities and in promoting ‘education for all’, policy must also reflect the diversity of social and economic conditions which affect learning.
  Principle:  In pursuing educational aims, the system of education should recognise the significance of particular economic, social and personal circumstances, and thus enable flexible adaptation of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to meet specific needs.
4. Challenge: Too easily the capacities of people to learn are seen, from early years to old age, to be strictly limited by nature.
  Principle: ‘Biology is not destiny’. Still more and better investment in the early years is crucial, but the brain remains adaptable from experiences and learning opportunities throughout life.
Part II:  What are the consequences of such aims for learning and teaching?
5. Challenge: Formal education is dominated by narrowly conceived forms of academic learning, thus undermining other capabilities of importance to our society, economy and citizens.
  Principle:  A wider vision of education should respect and reward the practical as well as the academic, informal and experiential as well as formal learning, and should draw upon the wide range of expertise within the community.
6. Challenge:  The school curriculum has become overloaded and dysfunctional, and fails to meet the needs of many young people.
  Principle:  A curriculum entitlement framework should be designed to introduce young people to subjects and the broad domains of knowledge, to practical capabilities and skills, to a sense of achievement, to the ‘big issues’ which confront society and to the knowledge and dispositions for active citizenship, yet be flexible enough for teachers to adapt appropriately.
7. Challenge: Teachers’ pedagogical expertise and professionalism are essential to educational quality from early years to adult learning, but this is not consistently understood or provided for in our culture, policy and provision.
  Principle: Teachers’ expertise in the enhancement of learning should be supported and challenged by provision for continuing professional development in all phases of education and by a single system of qualified teacher status.
8. Challenge:  The ‘high stakes’ testing regime serves incompatible purposes and narrows what is to be learnt.
  Principle: The different purposes of assessment (i.e. supporting different kinds of learning, holding the system accountable and certifying achievements) require different and appropriate modes of assessment, and maintenance of appropriate balance between them.
Part III: What sort of system would achieve these aims?
9. Challenge: Learner circumstances are diverse and wide-ranging, so that no one school or college has the resources or expertise to meet the needs and aspirations of all young people within it.
  Principle: Local collaborative and democratic learning partnerships (embracing schools, further education colleges, universities, employers, independent training providers, and voluntary bodies) should be established to promote continuity in provision for lifelong learning.
10. Challenge: There are too many different funding streams, often for the same work, creating unfair and often inefficient distribution of resources.
  Principle: Funding should be directed to locally developed partnerships, with regional oversight by local authorities which will be in a position to understand the educational and training needs of the different phases and communities.
11. Challenge: The present system of qualifications is highly complex in terms of progression routes, levels and equivalences, and little understood by employers, young people themselves hand higher education.
  Principle: Qualifications should reflect the aims of learning, including the practical, informal and experiential, and should provide a framework which is enabling, clear and stable.
12. Challenge: There has emerged a highly centralised and detrimental control over education and training.
  Principle: The Government should ensure necessary resources, teacher supply, legal frameworks, curricular entitlement and overall accountability, but place responsibility for detailed provision with institutions, partnerships and authorities in particular localities.




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