Matthew Burns

HEADMASTER’S BLOG – VOTE WINNING CERTS

‘Longer school days, shorter holidays and 45-hour weeks could be the perfect manifesto to win the Tories the next election’ (Independent, 30.1.14) Former policy advisor Paul Kirby proposes an extreme version of the extended school day as a simple vote winner for the Tories.

Yes, I agree that all schools should be open until 6.00pm, teachers should be required to provide extra-curricular activities and pupils required to participate. We all see that some pupils thrive in a different environment and that this can be transformational. But 45 hours classroom teaching for 45 weeks per year? Unlikely.

However controversial the idea and attention grabbing the headline, it is a statement buried in the article that is far more interesting, “the role schools play in our national life is far too important to leave to teachers”. The statement follows a trend of dismissing the judgment of professionals; the judiciary, armed services and the medical profession have all come in for a bashing. Teachers are regular targets. There is of course the faintly amusing irony that our political masters have shown their own considerable ineptitude, yet still run the country.

So what would be a vote winner for me? Here are four simple certs:

1.      A party with no spin doctors or Special Policy Advisors,

2.      A party that separates education from party politics,

3.      A party that champions plain English,

4.      A party that acknowledges the unintended consequences of target driven policies,

I’m looking forward to the election already!

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