Election 2015: if you were education secretary for a day, what would you do?

The Key

On 24 April, findings from The Key’s State of Education report revealed that school leaders’ preferences for policies do not follow party political lines. And the policies they do support are those that remove political control from education.

So in today’s post, we’re putting the future of the education sector firmly into the hands of those who work in our schools.

We want to know:

What would you do if you were education secretary for the day?

What would you do if you were education secretary for the day?

If you were education secretary for a day, what would you do?

Shout out your thoughts in the comments box below. To get you started, here’s a few ideas from some of the school leaders we know.

Andrew Warren, Director of Britannia Teaching School Alliance

quote-startIt would be a long day as there would be much I would do! Before breakfast I’d try to reintroduce a nationally-recognised assessment system to ensure expectations are the same, bring back levels in assessment and reform inspection. Then I would ask the question “what will learners need to be like in the next 20 years and what is the best way to get them there?”

Mark Keary, headteacher at Bethnal Green Academy

quote-startI would make sure that we had the debate about goals of education that included communities, businesses, universities, etc. We would agree what we want education to achieve in the next ten years, and develop accompanying targets and strategies. Politicians would then back off and let schools get on with it. We need national consensus to avoid short-termism.

Matthew Lantos and Greg Foley, headteacher and former finance manager at Preston Manor School

quote-start

We would re-nationalise education. And clarify the basic things that are expected of schools by Ofsted, but give schools autonomy over how these expectations are managed in their own contexts. Then we’d go about creating a meaningful dialogue between the government and school leaders/teachers. We’d insist that ideas were tested before being delivered nationally and hold-fast on a three to five year period of stability. Change does not necessarily mean improvement.*

*Matthew and Greg conceded that they might need a second day to get all of this done.

Zafar Ali, chair of governors at IRQA Primary School

quote-startI would ask all secondary schools to develop a curriculum to address low voter turnout by the young. Schools would ensure that pupils understand and are able to engage in the democratic process both locally and nationally. The mandatory module would look at what democracy is and how we value it; the history of the universal franchise; how local government is elected; how young people can engage in the democratic process; how they can use the media tools available to share their concerns/ask questions/put forward ideas; explain how the general election process works.

The module wouldn’t involve any matters that could politicise the classroom – it’s just about process, access, engagement and expression. I could write so much more about this. It’d be such a valuable tool in promoting British values.

Justin Philcox, headteacher of Fosse Way School (a teaching school and special school)

quote-startI’d resign with immediate effect! Why? To de-politicise education. The profession would be accountable to the Royal College of Teaching, instead.


With the general election just two days away, there isn’t much time left to catch up on what your vote might mean for the education sector. For a snappy manifestos roundup, take a look at this blog post. Members of our school leader service can find out more in our election 2015 series, here

Comments 2

  1. Andrew Lifford (@AndyLifford) 5th May 2015

    An intriguing offer not to be missed, although I’m not sure about the unwanted press attention! I would probably set a long-term vision for education in this country, focus on the fundamentals of English and maths as well as giving teachers more autonomy to teach. My ambition would be to make our education system world class to be able to compete with skilled workforces elsewhere in the world. Above all else, education should be enjoyable for those doing the teaching and for pupils in the classroom. We need to make young people yearn for knowledge and develop a life-long love for learning.

  2. Kristina Lewis 6th May 2015

    If I were Education Secretary for the day I’d work bloody hard to get rid of the culture of criticising teachers, often for nothing more than cheap headlines. I’d scrap Performance Related Pay and ensure that every teacher working in our schools has Qualified Teacher Status. I’d channel a huge proportion of my energy into early years education and bring back the Sure Start schemes. If you really want to have an impact on a large number of poor children, your investment has to be in the quality of early year’s provision.

    I might need longer than a day …

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