By John Dickens
The coalition government’s educational reform was criticised by the former Minister of State for Schools Lord Jim Knight, at a Labour Fringe Meeting yesterday.
Speaking at the Manchester Town Hall event he did however admit shortcomings in the current educational system but called for a different approach to find a solution.
The coalition government is implementing its education policy including moving schools from the control of local authority and national government.
The Academies Act was passed through Parliament in July which allows the creation of ‘Free Schools’.
They are non-selective, state-funded schools independent of local authorities.
But Lord Knight dismissed these reforms and called for a different approach to improve the educational system.
“More reforms about schools are an error the new government is making,” said Lord Knight.
“The experience of school is not enjoyable enough.
“Children aren’t learning through play enough and not embracing learning by doing this.
“While we are training pupils well I’m, not sure that we are properly stimulating and developing their learning.”
Brian Lightman, the Association of School and College Leaders General Secretary, gained an extensive insight into the education system travelling round the UK and other countries.
Mr Lightman, also a former head teacher at St Cyres School in Penarth Wales, said 21st century learning must provide a balance of knowledge and skills.
He also expressed grave concerns that students are addicted to grades.
“We need a different person coming out of our colleges and schools, somebody more versatile,” he said.
“I’m worried by the separation of knowledge and skills. A good education provides a balance of both of these in an integrated way.
“It’s essential for us to be flexible to meet the needs of students. We need to provide all students with a curriculum that contains academic and vocational aspects.”
However, Association of Colleges Chief Executive Martin Doel, whilst harbouring concerns about the current curriculum, explained colleges have found a successful formula to deliver.
“Ambition, support and independence exemplify a good education and colleges exemplify each of those,” he said.
“To make a good education you have to understand what outcome it is you are seeking. It’s about realising potential and individual potential.
“The key is to break down large groups and, in colleges, the curriculum is more personalized.”
While the coalition government continue to introduce its education policy, Lord Knight urged more focus on engaging more children in learning.
“Fundamentally we need to review our education system based on a dynamic, globalized labour market so we can create something that is engaging for every child whether or not they like academic learning.”