We donít need your education

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The curriculum is too long, overly prescriptive, constrains teachers and stifles innovation. The admissions system is a mess - a fact evidenced by extraordinary levels of social segregation between schools. Shifts in culture, power and finance: a way forward for education, a new report published today by the 2020 Public Services Trust, identifies these problems, and calls for future education and schooling to be address them by becoming more localised and more personalised.

A more personalised and localised approach to education would boost the personal commitment of learners and the collective engagement of learners, parents and communities. Forms of accountability and governance should be designed with this in mind. The national public interest in education focuses on higher attainment and greater social justice and these objectives are also important locally. But these goals must be delivered as far as possible in ways which are simple, transparent and which empower local people to reconcile what is best for them and their children and what is best for the community as a whole.

The report is based on an in-depth discursive event organised by the 2020 PST with stakeholders in Peterborough to explore how its Commission's principles could unlock the potential of our education system:

  • A shift in culture - this shift is likely to involve deeper pupil engagement in deciding what and how they learn, and more parental and community involvement in creating an education-driven culture. It means that teachers cannot have sole responsibility for delivering results for students, but rather that teachers offer good quality instruction, and students and parents engage to extract the most value they can from it.


  • A shift in power - a more local approach to public services, with power devolved down to citizens and local areas as much as possible. In the context of education, this shift points towards more freedom at the level of the teacher. Students, parents and teachers in our deliberative research thought it was important for teachers to be able to play to their strengths and areas of expertise, and to make learning as relevant to their students as possible.


  • A shift in finance - the Commission advocates a new approach to funding public services, which involves far greater clarity about where money is raised and where it is spent, and harnessing new resources and using funding to further the purposes of services. Our deliberative research showed that fair distribution is a priority concern for many parents, students and professionals.  There is interest in models that could reward and reinforce parental involvement in schooling; yet there is caution about models which inadvertently stigmatise disadvantaged children.

Education is a cornerstone of modern society. Providing a good education for children and young people may be important for reducing national inequalities, ensuring the workforce is skilled, enabling the country to compete in a globalised economy and creating good citizens. However, as this research shows, for individuals, the most important purpose of education is to give children and young people the skills and confidence to write their own life story.

2020 Commissioner, Matthew Taylor said:

"If power over education, and schooling in particular, is to be devolved we will need to find local ways of reconciling the needs of different individuals and institutions within a system which is efficient, effective and fair. Forums that allow area-based citizen deliberation are important not simply to helping us think through the future shape of the more devolved and diverse local education system. They might also be vital to the ongoing task of generating the awareness, insight and collective commitment necessary to make such a system work for the every learner and the whole community."

2020 Commissioner Julian Astle said:

"If the government did less, but did it better, improvement would follow. It should define the core educational offering in a slimmed down curriculum that gives teachers the space they need to teach and should design a school accountability system that doesn't distort the teaching process. It should guarantee fair access to schools through a consistently applied admission system and also put in place a transparent system of deprivation funding.  Get this right, and the government can probably leave the rest to schools and parents."

Lionel Christolomme, Managing Director of Bouygues UK said:

"We are delighted to have sponsored this important piece of research.  As a leading construction and services group involved in the delivery of schools, it is important that we understand the ongoing debate concerning education policy and its impact on the schools we design, in order to anticipate the government's requirements."


For more information please contact Ashish Prashar on 07775 501 839

Notes to Editors

  • Shifts in culture, power and finance: a way forward for education - What do students, parents and professionals want from the education system?  Do the Commission's ideas on reforming public services suggest a better way forward?  This report sets out the findings from a deliberative event in Peterborough in June 2010.  Contributions from Matthew Taylor and Julian Astle reflect on the themes that emerged.  They find an overly prescriptive system which undervalues teachers and needs to engage parents more fully. Download the report
  • Deliberation about the future of education in Peterborough - as previously described, the purpose of the deliberative research was to explore three issues: the purpose(s) of education; the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to education in Peterborough; and four scenarios illustrating possible futures for education in the city. The deliberative event lasted three hours. Participants spent most of the time in small groups of between five and seven involved in moderator-led discussions. The findings of the deliberative research are presented here.
  • The report was kindly supported by Bouygues UK.  Bouygues UK is a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction - a world-leading construction and services group. The company provides a fully integrated design, build, finance and operate service across a broad range of sectors with a particular focus on education, healthcare, housing and commercial as well as urban regeneration and property development. www.bouygues-uk.com
  • The 2020 Public Services Trust is a registered charity (no. 1124095), based at the RSA. It is not aligned with any political party and operates with independence and impartiality. The Trust exists to stimulate deeper understanding of the challenges facing public services in the medium term. Through research, inquiry and discourse, it aims to develop rigorous and practical solutions, capable of sustaining support across all political parties.  For more information about the Trust please visit www.2020publicservicestrust.org

  • The Trust launched the Commission on 2020 Public Services in December 2008, to recommend the characteristics of a new public services settlement appropriate for the future needs and aspirations of citizens, and the best practical arrangements for its implementation.

  • Commission members span a wide breadth of political opinion, experience and expertise from academia, business, the voluntary sector, and the public policy and political world.  Sir Andrew Foster is the Chair, and members range from the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP and Bridget Rosewell to Lord Victor Adebowale and Matthew Taylor.  The full list of members can be found here.

  • The Commission's work has been supported by a range of public, private and third sector organisations.  A full list of partners can be found here.

  • The Commission's final report will be published on the 14 September 2010 in the run-up to the publication of the coalition government's spending review.

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries please contact:

Ashish Prashar
Stakeholder & Communications Manager
+44 (0)7775 501 839

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