The news that a number of leading Conservative politicians have called for a U-turn on the policies pursued by former education secretary Michael Gove, including the limiting of council control over academies, may or may not come as a surprise. Maybe it’s unusual to see members of a political party turn against policies they once supported, but it’s also testament to how tricky the politics of education can be – even a small change made in Whitehall can have massive repercussions across the country, the effects of which might take years to be fully realised.
Of course, the growth in importance of academies is not the only change Britain’s education system is going through, nor is it necessarily the biggest – the introduction of Progress 8, for example, will fundamentally alter the way secondary students are assessed, and institutions held accountable. Out with the old ‘five good GCSEs’ – students are now assessed on progress made across eight subjects; the trusty A* to G grading system? It’s numerical now – 1 to 9. Let’s not even get started on the calculation process, the intricacies of which will be the subject of a future blog.
The effects a change of this magnitude may produce are almost impossible to accurately predict, and as such difficult to adequately prepare for. Consider, for example, the fact that Progress 8 won’t be fully implemented until 2021, when the first cohort of students to have been assessed solely on its basis leaves secondary education. That’s a five year implementation process, but who is to say we won’t see a change in government and policy before it’s even over? There is a lot to be uncertain about, and uncertainty should ideally have no place when education is concerned.
It’s into this gap that good edtech should step: identifying an issue and providing a forward-thinking solution, fit for both educators and students. All too often players in the edtech industry have been driven by a desire to prove they are leading technologically rather than educationally, government policy being a mostly unglamorous concern. Twenty years of experience has shown SAM Learning that this approach benefits nobody, least of all those learning; an awareness of what happens in Westminster and Whitehall must be at the very heart of what we do in order to do it well.
Want to know more about Progress 8 and how SAM will help your school prepare for it?