Call for education reform - Will Goldsmith

Bedales Senior

In a blog for the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), Acting Head of Bedales Will Goldsmith argues that if government does not act soon on education reform, it risks being overtaken by events.

Another powerful plea has been made for reform to the ways in which we teach and assess young people in English schools. To the exasperation of many, such efforts so far have been swatted away and proponents of reform dismissed as soft-witted zealots out of touch with real world concerns and what parents want.

Will says: “Disingenuous as this mantra may be, it has maintained traction in the face of calls for reform. However, this may be about to change. The State of Education – Time to Talk, published in November 2021 by Sarah Fletcher and HMC, argues amongst other things that the system is fixated with examination results at the expense of encouraging and rewarding curiosity and creativity, and that in so doing we are failing to prepare young people for the 21st century adult world."

He continues: “The recommendations are remarkable for both the scope and depth of the desire for change, and because they draw significantly on responses from educators, parents and students from both maintained and independent schools.”

Meanwhile, others are also looking at this issue. Alongside HMC, awarding body Pearson is looking at what young people learn, how they learn it and how it is assessed, and whether it is fit for the 21st century. Similarly, The Times Education Commission has been set up to examine the future of education, declining social mobility, new technology and the changing nature of work. Both will report in 2022 and will add considerable weight from politics, business and beyond to those voices already being heard.

Will concludes: “I will be most surprised if they do not overwhelmingly support the call for radical reform being made by Rethinking Assessment and HMC. If there were any doubt government has placed itself firmly on the wrong side of this argument, it has surely now gone.”

To read the full article, click here.

Will Goldsmith | HMC