In an unprecedented move, the new UK government has announced that the Minister for Education will be the scouse comedian, John Bishop.
This announcement has come as a shock to the entire education community with political commentators also questioning the appointment. Although no one can question the comedian’s ability to make people laugh, there are significant misgivings about his inexperience and lack of relevant credentials to take the UK’s education system to another level where it may compete with innovative countries such as Finland, Hong Kong and Canada.
Every day teachers witness the difference that supportive parenting makes to a child’s education. A parental unit with mom and dad at home nurturing their development and investing time in their upbringing is clearly the preferred model. However, society very rarely follows preferred models and many teachers are faced with the challenge of single parent families and parents who have difficulty leading their own lives in a considerate and responsible manner.
If parents do not invest time in their children and teach them important life skills and encourage them to take responsibility for their future, is it important that somebody else steps into this role on their behalf?
The day before getting herself into a sticky situation over comments made on Twitter, the Shadow Health Secretary, Dianne Abbot, was discussing the latest obesity figures that suggest more than one in five primary children in London are obese by the time they leave primary school (21.9%), which is higher than anywhere else in the country: the national average is 19%.
Only 3% of children in Knowsley, Merseyside, achieve grade A to Cs in the five core subjects of English, maths, a science, a language and history or geography. However, in Buckinghamshire 33% hit the target.
Unfortunately, the key message of this news story is not about “closing the gap” between pupils’ attainment from schools in different socio economic areas: instead one tabloid chose to lead with the headline:
“Labour’s Exam Grade Betrayal”
Before Christmas, we were informed that the overhaul of the national curriculum has been delayed and will not be implemented until 2014. This delay will mean that the national curriculum will only be compulsory for a minority of secondary schools due to the projected number that would have converted into academies by this time.
I feel that this decision is probably a wise one, if only to remove any possible future excuse that there was insufficient time to complete the task within the original timeframe. Michael Gove gave the following reason for the delay:
“…The longer timescale will allow for further debate with everyone interested in creating a genuinely world-class education system…”