It was great to see all the happy faces in the paper last week as Crawley students got their exam results. I can well remember the mixture of feelings I felt on results day, and students and teachers should be applauded for the hard work getting there.
Another side to this year’s results emerged a few days later when the Association of School and College Leaders noticed a pattern in the results. Following the Government’s assessments changes there have been wild swings in results, schools in poorer areas seem to have been hit the hardest with pass rates 12% below expectations in some cases.
An investigation is set to look at this in more detail but one thing is certain, we must not allow the country to go back to a time when a child’s success was determined by the wealth of their parents rather than their own abilities.
Sadly, this is only one effect of a Government determined to roll the clock back on education. Industries are changing increasingly quickly and there are no more ‘jobs for life’. For the next generation and the country to succeed we need to focus on giving children the skills they need to adapt in this fast-moving world.
Yet, rather than building a curriculum fit for the twenty-first century, the Government latched onto the theories of an American literary critic, promoting Victorian-style rote learning more suitable for dinner parties than preparing children for modern industries.
That’s before we even consider the impact of Free Schools, something Crawley has particular insight into. While West Sussex is still paying off the bill for last Free School, the Department of Education is busy setting up another one on Manor Royal, this time without any playing-fields and paying out goodness knows how much to a US company for using their experimental curriculum.
At the last reshuffle, Cameron finally realised the damage Gove was doing to the Conservatives on Education and demoted him but his legacy remains. Education is how we offer young people a better future than the one we inherited and four years of ideological games put that at risk. Let’s hope the next four years don’t see the same mistakes.
Cllr Peter Lamb, Labour Group Leader