Throwing money at education won’t solve decades of underperformance

Throwing money at education won’t solve decades of underperformance

If throwing money at things always made them better then the world would be a very easy place to run.

But sadly, life isn’t that simple and just increasing the education budget will not result in us suddenly climbing up the international performance league tables.

Yet the Labour Party manifesto seems to think that is the sole solution as it has no policies for change.

Jeremy Corbyn proclaims his policies are radical but as far as I can see when it comes to education, it’s the same-old-same-old policies.

An increased budget won’t change the fact we still have an undemanding curriculum in primary schools.

More money won’t get away from the fact that decades of progressive education has failed generations of children.

The idea of improving schools through ‘best practice’ for Labour is simply a euphemism for progressivism and a return to the previous status quo.

They want to launch a commission to look at the curriculum and testing.

But you can bet your bottom dollar the people who will be invited around the table to implement this will be the same people who supplied them with the problem in the first place.

They will be queuing up to talk to Labour politicians because education is so politicised and the progressives will largely support the Labour Party.

My experience of working on the National Curriculum Advisory Committee was one of warfare.

Those with a more traditional approach and perspective were in the minority, but we did win through because the Conservatives were in power.

The present government also knew the advisors who were in the majority and from the progressive wing had won before – and it had been disastrous.

Those same people are waiting in the wings to change it all back again.

Look at Scotland. The SNP brought in the Curriculum for Excellence and it has been an abject failure.

They are now experiencing the same problems England did when it had a progressive National Curriculum, which was low on specifics and big on generalities.

Scotland’s failing education system was all done in the name of taking a more exploratory approach but all it has achieved are children who do not even have a basic grasp of literacy and numeracy.

Labour is also considering the future of SATs and replacing them with continuous assessment.

In my view, this will just weaken the government’s understanding on what schools are doing. It will be a step backwards.

Teachers already carry out continuous assessment every day in the classroom – it’s called teaching. However, these forms of assessment are standardised and provide less accurate and comparative data.

If the Labour party was truly radical and wanted to bridge the attainment gap for children from lower-income families, then they would not shy away from selection and alternative provision to comprehensives.

Grammar schools are an important addition to the mix of school provision and Labour’s plan to oppose them and free schools are short-sighted.

The current system of comprehensives will not address the inequalities as it is educating children based on catchment areas and not ability.

Both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell went to grammar schools so why are they so opposed to something they have benefitted from?

Their plan to simply splash government cash at schools in a bid to close the attainment gap is too simplistic and will not work.

Finally, Jeremy Corbyn says he wants to make schools more democratically accountable and local authorities should have a role.

But the problem with that is councils are run by politicians. Give them back control over schools and inevitably our children become pawns in their game of politics.

Schools should make their own decisions for the most part, within certain national guidelines and curriculum requirements.

So although Labour’s pledge of £25.3 billion in education sounds like a great investment – without radical policies to shake up the system – nothing will ever really change.

We’ll be left with an education system that benefits the few that can afford the high property prices and not the many who are being left behind.