VIEWS – Christians in Education


Sir Michael Barber, once a chief education adviser to Tony Blair, introduced one of the enduring modern myths about education when he quoted an unnamed South Korean policymaker in 2007, who said: ‘The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.’ This great teacher myth is often presented as a simple equation: great teaching gets great results. It’s a view that is widely held, tremendously appealing and completely wrong. Read more

It was the turn of Paul Nuttall to answer questions this week in The Guardian’s ‘You ask the questions’ series in the run up to the General Election. Mr Nutall is the UKIP education spokesperson. Read his responses

‘Early years’ is the most freighted term in politics, deployed to convey so much. The phrase conjures an image of toddlers, hefting great boulders of public policy intention – like dutiful dwarves in fairytales. At election time, you see it dredged out to convey that a party is ‘family friendly’. But is child rearing too important to leave to the market? Read more

Things have come to a pretty poor pass when, in a country whose history, landscape, literature and laws is so immersed in the Christian faith, we find that Christian believers feel forced to hide their beliefs in the workplace. Expressions of religious opinion or practice are often misunderstood or provoke discomfort, anxiety and even hostility, rather than toleration. Christians need to learn to articulate their belief in sensible and courteous ways, argues George Carey. Read more

The speed of changes to policy is endangering children’s education as pupils and parents struggle to keep up, head teachers are warning as they called for a period of ‘stability and clarity. Each year group is following a new curriculum and as it goes through new exams and new grading systems are being introduced , and new standards are being set. Read more Tony Little. Head of Eton, meanwhile, is calling for parents to stop living their children’s lives for them. Read more

Tony Blair has called for an ‘education for open minds’ in tackling radicalisation among young people. The former UK prime minister said faith schools of all kinds needed to make sure pupils understood the beliefs of other religions. He warned that the London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria also showed the impact of what young people learned from information online. Mr Blair said there was a need to ‘root out’ intolerance. Read more

Writing in The Conversation, Tony Gallagher of Queen’s University, Belfast , argues that banning faith schools is not a quick fix to social segregation. Ethnic segregation existed in schools, largely as a consequence of residential segregation or the admissions policy operated by some schools, although he suggests that the pattern was further exacerbated by government support for single-faith schools. Read more

‘If we leave questioning the models children have been taught until later in life, it could be too late,’ warns Angie Hobbs, Professor of the public understanding of philosophy. ‘That is why we need to start teaching philosophy in primary school.’ By this the professor means that children should be taught from a young age that there are other ways of seeing the world to the one they are exposed to by their family and social circle. Read more