On Monday, the Liberal Democrats published their plans to invest more in education, and yesterday I argued they missed the chance to set out a vision which was more responsive to the long lasting economic downturn we face.
So, how could they have responded?
Well, there are three responses.
One is essentially ‘more of the same’ like we saw yesterday. Admittedly, Nick Clegg did propose some changes, notably around school accountability and investing in reducing class sizes for 5-7 year olds, which brought the focus on inputs rather than outcomes. But that hardly amounts to the vision we need.
We need a new, third, alternative – one which addresses our society’s need for a new generation of citizens who, individually and collectively, are capable of meeting the major social challenges we face, including those thrown up by our economic circumstances, not to mention sustainability, shifting demographics, and so on.
The question becomes, ‘what are the institutions like which can foster a new citizenship in this country?’.
1. If we are to equip people to be active citizens, we must take account of their need to be knowledgable, their competence (not least to keep learning throughout life), and their networks and relationships that create the possibility of impact and change.
2. We should explore the idea of schools far better connected and embedded in their local areas. One promising piece of work is the RSA’s Manchester Curriculum – a pilot running this summer of an area based curriculum developed around on Opening Minds.
There will be further news on the RSA site and here about the progress of the Manchester Curriculum soon.