Leadership programme

Who will get your vote on education? Let us measure what we value

Dr Kulvarn Atwal

Headteacher

Highlands Primary School & Uphall Primary School

In election year 2024, this is one of a series of fortnightly blogs – running through the year – in which we invite colleagues from across the country to answer the question: Who will get your vote on education?

Roy Blatchford is serving as convenor and editor of the series. If you are interested in writing, please contact [email protected]

As an experienced educator, I firmly believe in the power of an education system to transform society. However, the needs of young people are often at the back of the queue when it comes to deciding upon who gets our votes. Is education truly valued in our country? Money is spent on it and decisions are made about it. Agreed. But are these decisions made in the best interests of the students?

Everyone has an opinion on what a good school should look like. Schools are unique, in that almost every person has their own experience of attending a school themselves. This influences their opinions and decision making. This leads to a culture of replication rather than innovation.

My vote goes to those who recognise the opportunity to innovate. Who won’t just look to implement short term solutions, but have a long term vision for education in our country. Those who are prepared to think beyond a five year plan and re-election, and can think bigger, better and brighter. By doing so, we can consider the implementation of a ten or twenty year plan. For us to create this society, we need to consider a vote for education as our number one priority.

Redefining Education: Unleashing the Power of Learning

My vote will go to those who both recognise this and commit to unleashing the power of education by reconsidering the purpose of education and transforming the curriculum, models of assessment and the accountability framework for our schools.

Therefore, we need to develop a curriculum that equips our children with both the skills and knowledge to succeed in life, rather than a curriculum that encourages schools to become exam factories. A curriculum that prioritises our students’ personal, social and emotional development as well as academic. One which actively encourages collaborative learning and creative and critical thinking. This curriculum needs to be aligned to an assessment system that is able to effectively measure what we value in education, rather than value that which is easily measurable.

Surely we can move beyond an assessment system that can only measure what children have learned and understood through the sitting of high stakes written tests? An assessment system that told 41% of 11 year-olds last year that they had failed to reach the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. There has to be a focus on children and young people’s wellbeing in schools.

Creating an Accountable Framework that Empowers School Leaders for Success

The accountability framework in England, in comparison to the most successful countries in Europe, places England as an outlier. A framework characterised by high stakes judgements and low trust. No other accountability framework within these top performing countries is as high stakes and judgemental. Particularly in its impact on leaders and the extent to which this pressure is then transferred to all within the learning community.

A school is only as successful as it is well led. Any accountability framework needs to incorporate opportunities for the empowerment and improvement of our school leaders. This pressure throughout the system causes many practitioners to leave. Ultimately, this does not benefit our students to have such a recruitment and retention crisis within the profession. My vote goes to those who genuinely value and support our teachers, leaders and wider staff team. This is the best way to support our students.

Dr Kulvarn Atwal, Executive Head Teacher and Author

Big Education

Leadership Programme

Applications are now open for headteachers and senior leaders working across education. The programme gives you the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and equip you with powerful strategies to bring about the changes you believe in.

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applications are now open for headteachers and senior leaders working across education. The programme gives leaders the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and equip you with powerful strategies to bring about the changes you believe in.

Who Will Get Your Vote in Education?

In election year 2024, this is one of a series of fortnightly blogs – running through the year – in which we invite colleagues from across the country to answer the question: Who will get your vote on education?

Roy Blatchford is serving as convenor and editor of the series. If you are interested in writing, please contact [email protected]

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