FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

When a consortium of public-sector and voluntary organisations in the North East bid to host and help run a range of local services from libraries to Jobcentre Plus, it looked the perfect model of what Prime Minister David Cameron came to call The Big Society. Hours of volunteer time and a fair amount of cash were spent by a range of entrepreneurial bodies, including Doncaster College for the Deaf, in drafting the bid.

The effort and expense seemed worth it when the local authority went for the deal that would really bring about joined-up local public services. But then the local elections saw a change in political colours in the May 2010 local elections– and the whole enterprise was ditched. So it is hardly surprising to find a very sour and cynical attitude locally to the whole notion of Big Society.

One leading participant in the bid said at a recent seminar on the future of public services: ‘The things we spent time and money on fell through. By the time the handover was going to take place, the agreement collapsed.’ And so much for the promises of Big Society, he said. ‘Many networks that link schools, colleges and the voluntary sector are being wound up and volunteers are being thrown out. You can’t expect them to climb back on board with new organisations later on. This needs to be addressed.’ (more…)

twittertwitter  The Policy Consortium on Twitter

FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Andrew Morris explores the implications of an experiment in informal science education could have profound implications not only for adult education but also for the school curriculum and pedagogy and for promoting the public understanding of science.

Discussion groups have been meeting in places such as a wine bars every month for a number of years as part of an attempt to introduce adults with no background in science to fundamental scientific ideas. There is no planned syllabus – discussion simply starts from the questions people bring. ‘Why are clouds white?’ Diane asked following her holiday in Greece; ‘Why does light get weaker with distance?’ Anya asked, reflecting on distant stars; ‘Does the brain record true and false memories differently?’ Lucy asked when discussing police testimony.

But, in a radical departure from traditional teaching, these questions are not posed for an expert to answer, but used instead to activate discussion. (more…)

twittertwitter  The Policy Consortium on Twitter

FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

The Wolf Report on vocational education for 14–19 year olds could prove to be one of those rare documents that marks a real turning of the tide – the point at which one educational orthodoxy starts to crumble and another begins to take shape. It is undeniably ambitious in its scope, not just tinkering with the system by which vocational education has been shaped in recent years but proposing to sweep whole swathes of it away: it really is more revolution than reform. It is also rare for such a radical report to be greeted with such acclaim by ministers – Michael Gove describing it as ‘this brilliant report’. It even rated a mention in the 2011 budget speech! In a sense it captures the ‘zeitgeist’ – the current political desire to have a bonfire of quangos, to cut regulation and red tape, and to put an end to central planning. Although clearly Alison Wolf’s own work it was also the report that Michael Gove very much wanted.

Yet despite its clarity, its ambition and its welcome, two big questions remain: will the report have traction outside the Department for Education (DfE) that commissioned it? and will the alternative approach that Wolf outlines win the support of the groups that really matter – students and employers? (more…)

twittertwitter  The Policy Consortium on Twitter

FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail

The Policy Consortium’s responses to the FE Guild Consultation Project, undertaken by the AoC and partner organisations.

The new Guild for Further Education must be a truly representative professional body serving all the nation’s education and training needs and not just a coalition of existing interest groups that are too often seen by politicians and the public as self-serving and in conflict. How this can be achieved in the absurdly short time allotted by ministers is the subject of this Policy Consortium analysis and response to initial steering group consultations. (more…)

twittertwitter  The Policy Consortium on Twitter