VIEWS – Christians in Education


Christians in Education will be taking a break over Easter. The next VIEWS update will be on Friday 10 April.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

When schools are in trouble, the person to send for is Sir Mike Tomlinson, a sort of Ghostbuster for education.  So it was no surprise that when the so-called Trojan horse scandal broke in Birmingham last year, Nicky Morgan appointed Tomlinson to take charge. The Guardian’s Peter Wilby interviewed him this week about his work in Birmingham. Read more

In the runup to the last general election, when cross-party agreement was essential if any of the remaining draft legislation was to become law, the Conservatives blocked a proposal that would have made personal, social and health education (PSHE) compulsory in schools. And this year, as this election approaches, the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has rejected the same recommendation, this time coming from the cross-party education select committee. Read more

Early years education experts and teachers are calling for plans for new baseline tests for four-year-olds in England’s schools to be scrapped. In an open letter, they warn they will be unreliable, harmful to children’s wellbeing and learning, and disruptive in the crucial early days of Reception. The Department for Education says the tests, to be introduced in September, are the best way to monitor progress. Read more

Bright children who lack grit and resilience are more likely to end up with worse jobs and lower salaries than their classmates with good social and emotional skills, according to a new study. The research, which called for schools to put more focus on improving personal traits, also found that character boosted poorer children’s chances of breaking free of deprivation and going on to get a top job. Read more

Inspecting British values has made life difficult for Ofsted, one of the watchdog’s senior officials has said.  He told a heads’ conference, it had been a tough call serving judgements on schools in mono-cultural areas. It was essential inspectors focused on how schools prepared pupils for life in modern Britain. Most schools were getting their approach right, he said, but a minority were failing to challenge intolerance. Read more

Nicky Morgan has been busy this week, still on the theme of social mobility and financial gain. Speaking at the ASCL conference, she talked about the scandal of ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ of poor children (without reference to the complexity of a social issue which extends well beyond education). Read more Using data from a new report on the earning and employment returns from A levels, she declared in a press release that studying STEM subjects ‘sent girls’ future wages soaring’. Read more David Laws, meanwhile, has talked about the dramatic changes that trips and sports activities funded by the pupil premium have made to pupils’ lives. The measure of value: months of academic progress. School trip = three months added value. The enrichment potential is not measured. Read more

Following the spat between Elton John and the design team Dolce and Gabbana over their description of synthetic babies, many children raised by gay couples have voiced their feelings – views which are rarely either sought or heard. Thanking Dolce and Gabbana for their support of traditional values, they wrote: ‘Every human being has a mother and a father, and to cut either from a child’s life is to rob the child of dignity, humanity, and equality.’ Read more The Tablet carried a very personal view from one person, while The Federalist website carried the searing comment: I ached every day for a Dad… same sex parenting withholds with a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter.’ Read more

Writing in The Times this week, Tristram Hunt complained about the flag waving interpretation of British values that many schools are demonstrating. A blog response in The Spectator suggested that he was wrong, and that we should be talking about and schooling young people in the creed that unites the West as a whole, without over-egging the Britishness of its values. This creed, the writer suggests, is secular humanism. Read more