Jump to content

The Independent


Recommended Posts

Admin Note: Interview started pre-budget.
National Education Service Q&A With Public Services Secretary, Dorothy Dean

Ms Dean. Thanks for taking time to speak to us. For those not watching rolling news smirks, can you give me a brief introduction to the National Education Service the Government is creating?

Absolutely, and thank you for the opportunity to expand upon the policy. What we’re starting in a service akin to the NHS, but for education. We want to ensure that Britain has a cradle to grave system, ensuring that education is free at the point of use for all. This isn’t just a vision - it’s an obtainable, measurable goal that will be fully realised under the leadership of myself and our fabulous Shadow Chancellor. This Budget is just the start of what we have planned for education reform, and our plan will safeguard future learners for generations to come.

What difference does this from having education under local authorities or acadamies?

I think the NES is more than just a re-organisation of where responsibility lies. Academies and free schools - the two pillars of the Tory education crisis - aren’t about increasing standards or ensuring that everyone has cradle to grave, free at the point of use education. We’re prioritising that.

What effect do you hope reducing the class sizes to be a maximum of 30 in primary education will have?

Primary education is one of the foundational building blocks when it comes to a young person’s development. Not only do we teach children the very basics they’ll need throughout the rest of their education and their adult lives, but it’s a key time for identifying areas in which young people need specialist support, whether that’s because they’re exceptionally gifted and require more challenging work or perhaps there are areas in which they struggle and require early years interventions. Suffice to say, failure to invest in primary education has allowed young people to slip through these nets, and has allowed people to progress undetected through education without the correct support networks they require to flourish. Smaller class sizes allow for far higher teacher and student one-to-one time, and will allow for the system to discover which young people require extra support and which are progressing as expected. The Tories allowed class sizes to balloon to a point of unsuitability, and we’re beginning to reverse those tides.

Class sizes growing might have been out of necessity when populations are rising in towns and cities across the country. What will the impact be on individual schools? Will a child be able to find a place at a school close to where they live?

Class sizes have grown throughout history where investment hasn’t been high enough in schools, when teacher recruitment hasn’t been prioritised, and when new schools haven’t been built to meet demand. The Tories spent nearly a decade diverting resources away from schools that needed them and funnelling them into their free schools vanity project. We are reversing that trend. The NES will also democratise the process when it comes to local authorities and the allocation of school places. Mark my words: once the NES is realised, every child will have a place in a good school that is close to where they live.

Another aspect of the the NES making headlines is the creation of the Further Education colleges. What do you hope can be achieved by these specialist facilities?

Well, for nearly a decade we’ve heard the Tories wax lyrical about being the party that invests in the future of Britain, but they’ve never proved it. The Tories have got words, and Labour has actions. We’re investing in FE colleges because over the last seven years we’ve seen them ruthlessly cut and, just as across other public services, we’ve seen top-down reorganisations that haven’t actually increased service quality as they’ve often been coupled with devastating, swinging cuts. Investment in FE colleges - new courses, new teachers, new facilities - will mean that young people who feel that they are not suited to academia will be able to carve a path in life that is suited to their own goals, and not foisted onto them by a system which deprioritises manual skills to the point of neglect.

Do you see these facilities supporting pivots into more digital sectors such at IT, Software etc.?

Absolutely - we envision a system that can constantly evolve and change with the demand. Investment in the FE sector will allow for these new courses, and will ensure that our workforce is not only filled with well-trained, fulfilled workers, but will also be able to compete on the international stage when it comes to emerging technologies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...