The Education Act has been causing a furore in Parliament this week, held up by debates around school retention and starting ages.
But perhaps what we need is not hours of debate, but a fresh and new approach to education as a whole.
For too long the education system has been a one-track option that works for some, but not all.
Although Steiner, homeschooling and other alternative education options are often poo-pooed, they do at least provide an alternative view of education and an open-mindedness missing from the mainstream system.
A more open approach to reviewing the education system could perhaps draw on some of the more innovative systems being used around the world.
Finland, one of the highest performing education systems globally, doesn’t start children in school until the age of seven.
An entire revamp of the Finnish education system four decades ago has proven a resounding success.
They have shorter days, keep work fun and relevant and homework and standardized testing is kept to a minimum until well into the teenage years.
Would it not be sensible to look at some of the most effective education models around the world and see why it is they work?
I wonder if the decision makers have considered perhaps school drop out rates are not due to when children start school, but might be because the education system is not relevant to those within it?
That keeping children in school longer would be better achieved by motivating them through learning rather than slapping a prescribed rule on them. Or at least done in conjunction with.
A focus on testing in the school system has not lead to true education, where enquiry and curiosity drive learning. A focus on box-ticking means education has become shallow and, quite frankly, boring.
I recall being told many times at school, not to ask questions, as they weren’t in the syllabus. Is it any wonder children and young people disengage?
Reforming the education system needs a holistic approach that looks at it in context.
It is hardly surprising young people reaching year 10 or 11 begin to feel a sense of futility in continued education. After all, what is the point training for jobs that more than likely do not exist?
Perhaps by addressing some of these issues (as the government is working on) and providing some ray of hope for young people, they will see a future for themselves that is worth working for.
Academic performance and school retention rates, do not happen in isolation. They are part of a broader picture, influenced by social and economic issues, as well as each individual.
A revamp of the system should acknowledge this, and instead of providing more regulation, offer alternatives that cater for people of different circumstance, learning style and which is relevant and engaging.
Similarly the debate around improving education performance should also look at the entire picture of why and how people do or do not engage in school.
If there was more of a focus on fostering curiosity and enquiry in the classroom, rather than on achieving test grades, perhaps then we could begin to expect an increase in engagement and outcomes.
After all, if we as adults don’t engage in things that have no relevance, meaning or interest, then how can we expect children and young people to?