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Lord Adonis: live webchat about education, Friday 21 September, 12noon to 1pm

(80 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 19-Sep-12 13:51:12

Lord Adonis is joining us this Friday, 21 Sept, at noon until 1pm to answer your questions and discuss his latest book Education, Education, Education, Reforming England's Schools.

Tony Blair said his three priorities were Education, Education, Education. Andrew Adonis played a decisive role in turning this slogan into a reform programme. His book describes his quest to transform England's schools, and his ambition to make English education world class.

Andrew Adonis was an architect of education reform under Tony Blair, serving in the No. 10 Policy Unit and then as Minister for Schools from 1998 until 2008. He went on to become Transport Secretary under Gordon Brown.

Join the discussion on Friday 21 September at midday or post a question to Lord Adonis in advance of the webchat here.

Also, don't forget to have a look at Lord Adonis' guest blog over on the Bloggers Network, where he explains why he thinks academies can raise aspiration and achievement in some of our most deprived areas.

Mumsnetters can grab a copy of the book for the special price of £7.99, by clicking here and entering the promo code 'mumsneteducation' in the box on the bottom right. If you'd like Lord Adonis to sign it with a personalised inscription, email holly.smith@bitebackpublishing.com!

dinkystinky Thu 20-Sep-12 09:28:48

Lord Adonis - I am a parent of 2 boys. My eldest goes to our local state primary school, around the corner from our house. It is an enormous school (700 students) from a wide and mixed catchment area in London. Despite this, it is a community school, highly supported by the parents and with superb pastoral care for the children (including place to be and assistance for refugee families). The academics were never great but the kids were happy and the pastoral care, children's sense of worth and identity in their community, was rated "outstanding". It was "satisfactory" according to Ofsted when he started. In the Ofsted inspection last year, it was labelled failing - and put into special measures and as a dierct result the head teacher, deputy head teacher and 25 other teachers have been sacked and the school, teachers, parents and children have been working desperately hard to pull up standards and bring it out of special measures.

The school have now been told by the Department of Education that they want it to turn into an academy which has angered and frustrated us all and thorougly demotivated what is left of the teaching and management body at the school. My child (who loved school from day 1) no

dinkystinky Thu 20-Sep-12 09:35:40

(to continue my above post)

loves school or feels safe and secure there. I am fed up of education being used as a political hot potato and standards and policies being chopped and changed all the time.

How can all of these constant reforms inspire a love of learning, and being taught and self teaching in children?

FatFaced Thu 20-Sep-12 11:09:40

Hi Andrew. If you were in charge of transport now, what would you do? Continue to press ahead with HS2 and fight for a third runway at Heathrow? The news yesterday said that some councils in London will hold their own referendums on airport expansion - what do you think about that?

Asmywhimsytakesme Thu 20-Sep-12 13:38:10

I would like to see a cross party agreement to STOP reforming the education system for at least 5 years.

All this change is highly corrosive to the education that can be delivered - damages staff morale, pupils/parents' understanding of and trust in the system and external perceptions of the qualifications themselves.

Would you support this halt to tinkering?

jennycrofter Thu 20-Sep-12 14:01:49

Do you feel you are more useful as a Lord than a journalist - I'm thinking most specifically in Education, which you were involved with for so long?

Asmywhimsytakesme Thu 20-Sep-12 14:07:59

Ps in case you were wondering I am a parent and former school governor - have never been a teacher.

onesmallkayak Thu 20-Sep-12 14:34:46

When my oldest daughter was 8 she moved from state to private and within 2 terms her writing had changed beyond recognition. Any time I entered her classroom, I saw copious writing on the blackboard which the girls would be asked to copy. Even if their creative brains did not function they still, everyday, got plenty of writing practice and had exercise books full of information they could look back on. My son is now 11 and in danger of entering secondary school with appalling writing skills. He's having a very jolly time in Yr 6 but in his first week he wrote at best 5 sentences. I am told that an Ofsted inspector marks down a teacher who asks pupils to copy from the blackboard. So schools spend vast sums on photocopies, ignore myriad opportunities to get children to write and the chasm grows between state and private education. They say you need 15,000 hours to master a musical instrument. Can't writing skills be taken as seriously? It is no excuse to say that pupils don't think when they copy. If children learn to copy accurately and swiftly from a blackboard, then a few years later they will be able to put their own coherent thoughts on an exam paper and literacy levels would improve. Is this beyond the wit of our education system?

Asmywhimsytakesme Thu 20-Sep-12 16:35:04

Onesmallkyak I find your post very interesting because I would hate my child to go to a school where copying like that is the norm.

Also, in everyday life use of handwriting at work and home is reducing - I am trying to think when I last hand wrote something.

Exams are going to be done on computers soon, aren't they?

Matildarae Thu 20-Sep-12 19:17:57

grin

kashy Thu 20-Sep-12 20:02:17

Dear Lord Adonis,

My daughter is in P2 in a Glasgow city council school, (6 year old), I have 3 older children and therefore know that her learning ability is at the level of an 8 year old child. I can not find a school that can excel her and can never be able to afford private. She is not motivated or challenged at school. I need help to find a school that would suit her and do not know who can help me with this dilemma. Head Teachers are not much help at all ! She has never had any tuition she is naturally bright. Is there any sort of scholarships available for such children. There is plenty of help given to the slow child is there nothing for the clever child ?

Hassled Thu 20-Sep-12 20:15:30

I'd like to ask how Lord Adonis sees the role of School Clusters developing. In some areas Clusters are effectively becoming mini-LAs, with delegated SEN funding and the increased need for strong Cluster governance that goes with that. Does Lord Adonis see this as a good thing? Does he have any concerns?

horsebiscuit Thu 20-Sep-12 22:12:27

What is the difference between Labour and Conservative policy when it comes to academies? What do you think it should be?

FatFaced Thu 20-Sep-12 23:28:12

Sorry, missed it was just about education!

Emandlu Fri 21-Sep-12 07:33:49

How do you think home education should feature in any government policy on education?

strandednomore Fri 21-Sep-12 10:36:27

Hi - I wonder what you think of the grammar school system. In the area where I live, there are a few very good grammar schools, one in particular in our town which has a fantastic reputation and is said to be on par with good private schools. As a result, there is a huge amount of tutoring done to get children into this school - even though some of out local state schools are also pretty good. I am torn - on the one hand, I do like the fact that we, who can't afford private education, have the chance to send our children to a very good school if we are prepared to pay for tutoring. But this system means that many children who should be getting in aren't because their parents can't afford a tutor. And some of those getting in shouldn't because they are just being trained to pass the tests.
How can we get round this? As almost all of our current cabinet are ex-private school, when are we going to see state-educated politicians again?

TheBlackShiksa Fri 21-Sep-12 10:45:06

Do you think Gove's plans to replace GCSE's with O levels are regressive? And do you think that children are doing as badly as Gove says are GCSE's really not fit for purpose or is Gove an elitist, ideologue?

LaughAroundtheTable Fri 21-Sep-12 10:46:35

Lord Adonis: Maths appears to be a struggle for a lot of children in schools. A lot of parents turn to a company called Kumon for assistance. Could a solution be to adapt Kumon into our maths curriculum? It appears to explain maths in a way that children understand.

overthemill Fri 21-Sep-12 10:59:27

Lord Adonis: what's your take on the new proposals for the English Bacc? As aparent (and teacher) I really like the IBacc as a wonderful opportunity for kids at 6th form to be encouraged to study more broadly before they have to specialise at University. Why can't we adopt the Ibacc for 6th form or make our own UK version of it? Would you and your party support such a move?

MrsMicawber Fri 21-Sep-12 11:28:13

Lord Adonis - what do you think about the vol aided sector of faith schools who accept bundles of government funding and then pretty much pick and choose their parent student body? This is a particular problem with Jewish schools in Barnet/NW London where there are not enough school places to go round. The result is influential families receive state aided places leaving young struggling families to make do with ad hoc, inequipped independant schools.

I also question what is being done to police these independant faith schools to ensure that their students graduate with satisfactory skills. I have six nephews in two different faith schools in Hackney who have one hour of secular studies a day. At 14 this will be cut to nothing as they devote their time to religious studies.

MissAnneThrope Fri 21-Sep-12 11:34:27

Hello Lord Adonis

I'm not sure that the link between the academy system and increased attainment is proven by any means. The DfE released stats earlier this year which appeared to show that - when you compare schools with a sociographically similar intake, non-academies perform at least as well as academies. So while academies below the 35% benchmark (for five GCSEs including English and maths) improved by 8% last year, the results of non-academies below the benchmark grew by exactly the same figure.

I'm also very suspicious of the claim that academies are independent state schools, when they're entirely dependent for their funding on central govt, who can terminate their contracts with ease. This seems rather to be a move towards centralisation, and away from local democratic accountability.

Could you comment on these points?

LindsayWagner Fri 21-Sep-12 11:39:37

Thanks for coming on Lord Adonis.

What do you say to those who allege that academies are 'selection by the back door?', and that the main reason that academies are doing well is because pushy middle class parents are making sure they get their children into one?

cm22v077 Fri 21-Sep-12 11:39:51

What's a typical day for a Lord?!

LindsayWagner Fri 21-Sep-12 11:42:34

And - if I can have one more - do you agree with the argument that the education system in this country will never be equitable until private schooling is abolished? Why has Labour never adopted this as policy?

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Sep-12 11:45:24

Hello there - just popping in to let you know that Lord Adonis has written a guest blog for us about academies, over on the Bloggers Network.

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