Some stability please

Another year and another Secretary of State for Education emerges from the reshuffle. When schools do not thrive often the high turnover of staff is blamed. But what about high staff turnover in this top political job? Since the early 1990Æs when I began teaching there have been 13 Secretaries of State. That gives them a life expectancy of around 2 years. During that same period of time there need only have been three appointments, with those changes forced by the will of the ballot box, not the whim of the reshuffle. Some teachers might argue you need to beware what you wish for û for reference, those three would have been Ken Clarke, David Blunkett and Michael Gove.

My point is not a political one. It is one about the stability of vision and purpose that the children in our schools and the teachers working in those schools deserve. This is true of education more than almost any other branch of Government. An education takes 14 years between reception and A levels. For those young people taking exams in 2018 they began that journey in 2004. They have seen 8 Secretaries of State. They need only have seen two. In 2004, as they began reception, the ænewÆ curriculum 2000 reforms had just stabilised. Those reforms have come and gone, as have many others besides.

The system clearly canÆt be entirely stable. There must be change and adaptation, to circumstance and new and better ideas. My plea is that the value of every change is measured against the enormous value attached to stability for those already in the system. And a good start in that quest would be for the benefits of any change in Secretary of State to be measured against the value of stability and consistency for those children in our schools.


About Philip Britton

Philip Britton is the Head of Foundation of Bolton School. He was brought up on Tyneside, took a first in physics at Oxford and did teacher training at Cambridge. He worked as physics teacher, Head of Physics and Deputy Head at Leeds Grammar School before moving to Bolton in 2008. In 2010 he was awarded an MBE for services to physics and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics where he has been much involved in physics education, encouraging teachers to encourage the next generation of physicists. Follow at X: @Philip_Britton | View X/Twitter archive | Listen at: Exploring Bolton School | Social Mobility, Leadership & Future School Thinking | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton | Strategic School Leadership with Philip Britton