Education: fragility and fragmentation

If there is anything that the events of the past nine weeks have brought home to me is just how fragile some of the things we take for granted are.

In April we had a coherent education system, with flexibility for school leaders, a rich curriculum and hope for those currently learning and teaching in schools where the biggest obstacles to learning are the buckets littering the hallways to catch the water dripping through the ceilings.

We now have a situation where up to 1000 schools will be doing their own thing, semi-derelict schools will not be rebuilt because some of the money for this will be going to fund free schools  that anyone can set up if they want to, £100m has been cut from technology funding and the curriculum will be changed so that rather than learning  the skills we need our children to have to compete in the 21st century we will go back to ensuring they can recite the names of the kings and queens of England.

Whatever the lessons for the future (and there are too many to cover in one blog post) we need to ask ourselves how good a job did we do if the education system can be so easily dismantled? If it can be so easily deconstructed, and there are those working within it who are eager to assist with this, then is what was there really what was needed?

Now, I don’t agree with the changes that are being made at the moment. This is not to say that I don’t agree with some parts of the changes. So of them are interesting and have had some success elsewhere in the world. What concerns me more than the individual changes is firstly the speed of the change and secondly that very few of the changes have an evidence base that leads one to feel that they are anything more than an experiment.

In 14 months time my daughter will be going to secondary school. At the moment it is impossible to say which schools will be in the area, what model they will operate on and who will be running them. Nine weeks ago I knew, now I don’t. It cannot be right that something so fundamental to our future society (however that society may wish to be arranged) can be so fragile. And this is not a party political argument. In five years time I would certainly not advocate that changes be made to the system overnight to make it how I want it to be.

Education requires stability. Not fragility.