Post Brexit: What Next For Education in England?


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In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday...
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Post-Brexit, will English education improve in general terms, as well as in international standards?

The government has finally admitted that average per-pupil school funding has fallen in real terms since 2010 – despite years of claims that spending was at record levels.

Will education improve post-Brexit?

Now that the UK has left the EU, only time will tell if things actually improve for our education system. After years of denial, I wonder what the likes of Nick Gibb and Toby Young would now say about the school funding crisis? Would they continue to spin the statistics even though the Department for Education has just published its figures or move towards a new party-line to remain in favour with policymakers around them?

Schools are on their knees…

What do we want from the next Prime Minister? Policy ExchangeFar away from those sitting in ivory towers, the reality is that our schools and our young people have been on their knees as a result of ten years of under-funding. “In 2019-20, the average per-pupil school funding stands at £5,940. That compares to £6,050 in 2010-11 in today’s terms – representing a 1.8 per cent decrease, (TES).”

I suspect this denial was a deliberate decision in order to secure office for another 5 years, and with Brexit (don’t mention Brexit to teachers), it will be more important than ever for employers to be able to recruit from an adequately-skilled workforce, write Policy Exchange in their latest publication:

What do we want from the next Prime Minister?

Don’t worry dear reader, I’m not becoming right-wing. I’ve been curious about Policy Exchange and their dark influence on English education for a number of years. With my ‘research-hat’ on, I’m keen to start looking deeper into education policy to understand how this connects with teacher agency, use of social media and how this influences education policy. As a result, I have taken a closer look at Policy Exchange’s paper to see if I could understand where the new government will be going with policy decisions in the near future and how this may impact on our educational settings.

Ignoring Nick Gibb…

If you can get past the foreword written by Nick Gibb  – “Policy Exchange – the spiritual home of education reform…” – on pages 5 and 6 you can start to tackle how the right-wing ‘think tank’ is independently informing our government. First of all, let’s tackle some Gibb claims:

  1. “Reform in recent years has gone a long way to making our education system truly world-class…” Although the UK has risen up the PISA rankings – if you believe in the assessment and methodology – we are still languishing mid-table. A ‘world-class’ education on a budget…
  2. “Pursuing the drive to improve behaviour, embracing knowledge-rich curricula and enabling teachers to pursue their passion for their own subject, can all raise outcomes and aid teacher recruitment and retention.” The DfE has missed teacher recruitment targets for the seventh year in a row. There also appears to be no behaviour crisis, made clear by a very reputable English research organisation…
  3. The third and final claim is “Education in England is one of the great successes of the past 9 years…with 85% of schools rated as Good or Outstanding.” For quite some time, Damian Hinds (another former Secretary of State) and Nick Gibb continued to claim that 1.9 million more pupils were “studying in good or outstanding schools” until the head of the UK Statistics Authority, said he had “serious concerns about the Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics.” It appears that 85% is now in fashion despite no acknowledgement of more pupils and schools in the system or several Ofsted’s frameworks in place since 2010.

What does Policy Exchange recommend we do?

The least transparent think tank suggests Boris Johnson and the Department for Education implement:

  1. ‘Raise standards in schools through a commitment to improving behaviour in the classroom…’ Nothing wrong with this, however, standards cannot rise significantly without serious investment.
  2. ‘Improve teaching by cutting class sizes in the Foundation Stage; supporting a knowledge-based curriculum; keeping SATs for pupils at the end of Key Stage Two; and with increased monitoring of pupil behaviour.’ I’m not sure why the monitoring of behaviour is a key focus when off-rolling and exclusions is a greater priority…
  3. ‘Incentivise teacher retention and recruitment… and the introduction of in-service sabbaticals…’ I’ve been arguing that we could use teacher-sabbaticals for years…
  4. ‘Increase funding for the Further Education sector…’ We need to increase funding full-stop, but there is no denying that further education has seen the greatest deficits in the system.
  5. ‘Incentivise uptake of vocational qualifications by making T-levels compatible with A-levels.’ If only the EBacc was abolished at secondary school, we’d see perceptions of vocational subjects shift and as a consequence, uptake at T and A-level.
  6. ‘Review university admissions with a focus on unconditional offers. Reduce university tuition fees to £7,500 as recommended in the Augur Review and review the interest rate on repayments.’ I think this area is a minefield, and I suspect market-forces are at play here rather than the needs of British students…

Read the full paper for yourself…

Overall, the recommendations from Policy Exchange are sensible and I suspect these recommendations will be Boris Johnson’s ‘education roadmap’ policies for the forthcoming years.


4 thoughts on “Post Brexit: What Next For Education in England?

  1. We have to remain optimistic about possible change. It’s hard after a decade of cuts and DFE top down ideological interference. But, standing by our own beliefs ethical values is important. My moral compass is still intact. As is yours. Thanks Ross.

  2. Totally agree. But we’ve had five SOS for education in a decade . They’ve all lied. There’s no trust left. The trust I have is in the people that I work with. Otherwise I’d walk away.
    And…. don’t get me started on Teflon man ….. Nick Gibb. Just don’t get me started……

  3. Totally agree with you, the cuts in education sector has impacted huge damage to every schoo budgets across the country. Minsters making changes is another major issue that also has impact

    its extremely difficult to manage and cope and at times most teachers have been bombarded with extra workload. I guess teachers are passionate and care for their pupils, they will continue to deliver as they stand by their own values and morals.

    This what inspired me teach even thought times are hard but can also be rewarding in terms of seeing your pupils achieving the grades through working hard together.

    Thanks you!

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