Skip to main content

PM: The right education for everyone? We will see who can sink or swim.




It seems that she was part of a Government that embarked on a flight that got too close to the sun and now has crashed into the sea while we all look on passively.
 In her speech today at Derby College, Theresa May called for a comprehensive review and reforming of the tertiary education system in Great Britain. It was telling that she referred to Great Britain throughout and not to the UK.  She should be reminded that she leads the government of the United Kingdom that includes  Northern Ireland;  yet also acknowledge that tertiary education policy is devolved in that jurisdiction along with Scotland and Wales. She might as well have referred to England in relation to the review. Putting that aside, it seems that there is to be change on a relatively short time line. The panel is to be led by Philip Augar and five others labelled ‘experts. Experts in what is not evident at first but their experience in their chosen vocations is more evident. Notably absent will be staff and student representation. One can only hope that they talk with those that have risen from low income backgrounds and have a different perspective on the journey that they took in life as well as those stuck in the debt trap that government has set for them at present.  The PM states:

Through education, we can become (AGAIN) a country where everyone, from every background, gains the skills they need to get a good job and live a happy and fulfilled life.”

I have added the word 'AGAIN'  as that is what should have been inserted at the start.The speech makes a staggering admission early on:To achieve that, we must have an education system at all levels which serves the needs of every child.”

And if we consider the experience which many young people have of our system as it is, it is clear that we do not have such a system today.

That is surely because a Conservative government raised fees to the current level and then added the burden of loans for maintenance for those less well off. To top this further they ensured that maintenance loans were insufficient to live off despite warnings. This led to students relying more on parents and family and for many, failing that, part-time jobs. It seems that she was part of a Government that embarked on a flight that got too close to the sun and now has crashed into the sea while we all look on passively.

We have not quite gone full circle since the days of Robbins and the Education Act of 1962 but the announcement of this review seems to echo the same  aims of the distant past and a time when most of the review panel were in Higher Education themselves with grants and no fees.

The review intends to focus on four key questions. 
1.    How we ensure that tertiary education is accessible to everyone, from every                background
2.     How our funding system provides value for money, both for students and taxpayer
3.     How we incentivise choice and competition right across the sector
4.     And finally, how we deliver the skills that we need as a country”.
Further “This is a review which, for the first time, looks at the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, so we can create a system which is truly joined-up.”
This a bold aim for such a short timescale and risks creating massive uncertainty and confusion. Some students might be forgiven for deferring their studies in the next year or so to see what happens.

The terms of reference seeks:
A system that is accessible to all”. It states, “How we can ensure that people from disadvantaged backgrounds have equal opportunities to progress to and succeed in all forms of post-18 education and training.   How disadvantaged students and learners receive maintenance support, both from Government and from universities and colleges”.  

One only hopes that the review panel understand what this really means.

The full speech is at:
The terms of reference of the review are at:

and 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Qfqual builds a concrete wall: UPDATED

UPDATE 8th August 2020 Things are moving fast today with severe criticism mounting about Ofqual and SQA, and urgent action is needed. TEFS has laid out ten points that should be considered to reverse out of the crumbling mess. Fairness should replace 'maintaining standards' as the primary objective. The government must cease trying to defend a system that acts as a barrier to the less advantaged. Since posting yesterday, things have been moving fast. Today the Guardian put the examinations issue in large print on its front page with ‘Nearly 40% of A-level result predictions to be downgraded in England’ . This conclusion came about after some great detective work by former medical statistician, Huy Duong, who analysed the data available and reconciled this with the Ofqual announcement that there could have been a 12% inflation in higher grades. It seems that Ofqual have been caught red handed and "Duong’s findings were privately confirmed to the Guardian by ex

Ofqual and the finger of blame

This week confirmed beyond any doubt that Ofqual is pointing the finger of blame for the public examinations chaos this summer firmly at the government and its ministers. The positions of Schools Minister, Nick Gibb and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson must be on the line. When Williamson is confronted by the Education Committee next week, like Momus he may find his mask has slipped and cannot lay blame anywhere else. He might be meeting his Nemesis and find he is expelled from his lofty position.  Called to account.  On Wednesday morning, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, Education Permanent Secretary, Susan Acland-Hood, and Director for Qualifications, Michelle Dyson, will be called to account by the Education Committee. With the redoubtable Robert Halfon in the chair, they will face a hard time. This is because Halfon and his colleagues will be armed with more documentary evidence from Ofqual and others that look bad for both ministers. All of the correspo

Bring back Augar and put students first to offer hope: UPDATE Augar speaks out

UPDATE: Augar Speaks out Today, Friday 8th May 2020, Philip Augar broke cover and commented on the financial crisis in our universities in the Financial Times. With ' The time is ripe to reform UK university finance' he acknowledged that "Covid-19-related disruption may now mean that such a fee cut would be too destabilising" .  He is looking to a new post-COVID-19 world and he must be listened to. The likelihood of the government's response to his report last year diverging far from its recommendations looms. Augar has offered alternative options for funding Universities in his article for the Financial Times today (8th May 2020). His input is welcome at this time and the government should be bringing him into the fold again. TEFS has argued for a comprehensive review of university finances that goes well beyond simply looking at students and fees with: "Therefore, a working group involving students (such as NUS), staff (such as UCU) universi