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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.

Missyqueen Fri 21-Sep-12 11:52:56

Hi,
My daughter just graduated from LSE with a politics degree. She's always been a fan of your work and used your research in her dissertation.

I would like to know are there opportunities for young graduates to shadow you or intern. If so how do they go about doing so?

PlainBellySneetch Fri 21-Sep-12 11:55:37

Lord Adonis, why was it necessary to remove schools from local authority control?

I still don't follow how the conclusion was reached that the perceived failures of the comprehensive system were linked to local authority control. It seems so me that the failure was systemic, and that blame lies within the political and educational establishments. All that has been achieved now is that schools are no longer democratically accountable to the communities which they exist to serve, and that a huge chunk of the UK's public spending has been centralized.

lockitt Fri 21-Sep-12 11:58:26

Hello Lord Adonis,

My question is related to the recruitment process and opportunities for career changes and getting into teaching. Unfortunately I realised half way through my degree that I wanted to be a teacher but after leaving uni with debts, that it was too difficult for me to retrain and complete a PGCE.

I also felt that the whole process was complicated and fragmented with no clear path and too many confusing websites to visit to try and find education authorities & schools for each of the different routes

Do you think that academies could be more flexible and have a clearer route in order to attract and help experienced professionals get into teaching?

MrsMicawber Fri 21-Sep-12 11:59:14

Katemumsnet are those chocolate digestives you are arranging on a plate? Just put the whole packet out.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Sep-12 12:05:28

Lord Adonis is in the building and will be posting momentarily.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:06:16

dinkystinky

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

I'm sorry to hear about your concerns but the whole point of having an independent schools inspectorate is that it should make independent judgements. The worst thing would be for politicians to start substituting their opinions for those of professional inspectors. If you think OfSTED is wrong in labelling the school 'failing', then you should take this up with OfSTED itself. If, however, the school is indeed failing to offer a decent standard of education, then radical change is clearly needed. It is never easy carrying through such change but the experience of academies is that they almost always lead to significant improvements in results which, of course, is what parents and students want to see.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:08:24

Great to be with MumsNet in their beautiful open plan office in a converted warehouse in Kentish Town. This is home from home for me, my dad lives half a mile away and as a student I spent all my holidays working in nearby Kentish Town unemployment Benefit Office as a Counter Clerk. Alas, that was in the early 1980s when unemployment was also sky-high like now. But Kentish Town hasn't changed much since then - except that the unemployment benefit office has now been converted into luxury flats!

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:11:06

FatFaced

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?

Yes, I would certainly press ahead with HS2 which is a hugely important national infrastructure project to join up our major cities and provide green transport capacity for the next century. I'm glad an independent review has been set up into London's airports since this is the only way we can generate political consensus. It is obviously mad to have borough by borough referendums on this issue. What are you supposed to do when half the boroughs vote for an expansion to Heathrow and half the boroughs vote against? Boris needs to get real.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:12:40

Asmywhimsytakesme

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?

There is obviously good reform and bad reform. I support stopping bad reform but not just for 5 years but in perpetuity. But good reforms, like those set out in my book to make teaching the top profession in the country, can't happen soon enough. I hope you agree when you've read the book!

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:14:08

jennycrofter

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?

I've never thought of the House of Lords as particularly useful! Lloyd George once described it as '500 men chosen at random from among the ranks of the unemployed'! However, as a platform for a reformer, like me, it has provided opportunities which simply aren't available as a journalist - as much as I love the journalists' profession.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:16:21

onesmallkayak

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?

I completely agree with you that primary schools need to teach writing in a systematic and serious way. However, this isn't a division between state and private schools but between good and bad schools. Good schools take this really seriously and that includes most state schools. We need them all to do so. I'm very concerned at what you say about your son writing only five sentences in one week. I can't conceive why the school permits this.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:16:52

Matildarae

grin

grin

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:18:09

kashy

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 ?

I'm really sorry to hear about your situation. Can I suggest you go to your local MP's surgery and tell him/her about this? Say that I suggested that you do so. I would hope they would be able to help you in terms of school choice.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:19:09

Hassled

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?

I love your username - I feel hassled much of the time too! Clusters may have a useful role provided all the schools are participating by choice not because they are forced to do so. The critical test is that the schools are willing participants.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:21:30

horsebiscuit

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

As you may know, when I launched the academies policy it was focussed on replacing failing comprehensive schools with all ability academies offering a much higher standard of comprehensive education. That is still Labour's key priority unlike the Coalition which simply wants a very large number of academies to boast about - most of them schools converting with no big change in their governance - which to my mind is a much less important priority. I'm particularly concerned that many schools are simply converting to academy status in order to pocket £25,000 of government money.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:23:36

Emandlu

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

In a free society parents should have the right to educate their children at home as is the case in England. The problem area concerns children who are being kept at home but not being educated - which, for example, has been a particular issue in the traveller community. Local Authorities rightly seek to ensure that children being home educated are indeed being educated but this can often involve very difficult conversations with parents and very difficult judgements about what constitutes an acceptable standard of education.

Frakiosaurus Fri 21-Sep-12 12:24:19

<rushes on late>

How do you think the education system can give young people life skills such as managing money, basic employment rights, creating and sustaining relationships etc?

dinkystinky Fri 21-Sep-12 12:24:50

Thank you for answering my question Lord Adonis. A follow up, if I may - once a school becomes an academy, how accountable does the school and the sponsor remain to the parents and pupils (the real stakeholders in the school)?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:26:42

strandednomore

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?

I'm glad to say that Ed Miliband was educated in a state comprehensive. Indeed it was only a mile or two from where I am now sitting and he lives around the corner! So a future Labour government would be led by a state educated Prime Minister. On grammar schools, as you know, Labour wants to see excellent all ability schools nationwide. However, where grammar schools still exist obviously the 11+ also continues and parents will, of course, seek to do what they can to help their children get through it. I wouldn't dream of criticising parents for doing the best thing by their children in these circumstances. All the very best as you make difficult decisions about the future education of your children.

nowit Fri 21-Sep-12 12:26:55

Hello Andrew,

what is your opinion on Gove's new EBacc plans?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:29:20

TheBlackShiksa

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?

It is vital that we don't return to the old O level and CSE system which divided teenagers into sheep and goats and wrote off most of them. Michael Gove's EBacc proposal is hard to fathom. He claims it's a fundamental change yet the only change he's announced so far is an end to modules in certain subjects and a move towards a single exam board per subject. However, everyone knows that the right-wing of the Conservative party likes the old O level and CSE system, so it's vital that all parents continue to keep up the pressure against any return to this. I promise you I will continue to do so.

BlimeyRiley Fri 21-Sep-12 12:29:41

Hi Andrew - nice to e-meet you! My question is what are the plans for the future education curriculum and how should they be delivered to an ever increasing diverse society? Or how can education preserve English heritage and allow the new generation to explore their full potential?

aliceb4 Fri 21-Sep-12 12:30:03

Hi Lord Adonis,
How do you think Ed Milliband is doing? Labour seem to be getting more popular but everyone still has doubts about Ed - do you think he needs to take a few more risks to raise his profile? Seems to me that he's relying on the government's unpopularity to give him victory by default?
ps were you a David or an Ed supporter?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:31:54

overthemill

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?

I've just said a lot about the EBacc. However, like you, I like the IB and I'm glad to say that schools have a choice to offer the IB. I particularly like the IB Diploma as an alternative to A levels since it includes more subjects and a 10,000 word project based on original research which is a great training for university. In my book, I propose the creation of what I call an ABacc which has a lot in common with the IB. However, this is not Labour Party policy since we are still consulting on policy options. If you like the idea, do write to Stephen Twigg stephen.twigg.mp@parliament.co.ukin the House of Commons to say so.

BlimeyRiley Fri 21-Sep-12 12:32:25

Also - what is your favourite biscuit?

Themumsnot Fri 21-Sep-12 12:36:22

You say
I'm particularly concerned that many schools are simply converting to academy status in order to pocket £25,000 of government money.

I think that is way too simplistic. The funding issue is very complex and the huge regional inequalities and the inconsistent and simply unfair way that many local authorities have dealt with schools mean that many schools feel that taking finances under their own control has been a lifeline in terms of being able to spend their allocated money in the best interests of pupils. lMy question is do you think funding reform is necessary and how should it work?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:38:45

MrsMicawber

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.

I know there are really strong feelings on the issue of faith schools. I know that many parents would like to see them abolished. However, there are lots of parents for whom an education in a faith culture is absolutely central to their concept of how to bring up their children. So there is no easy way forward which commands general consensus. Please let me make two points. First, in countries where the state does not fund faith schools, there are usually huge numbers of faith schools in the private sector, like the Catholic parochial school in the United States. In my view, it is better for such schools to be directly regulated and inspected by the state, because they then provide more safeguards for parents, but I know some people take a different view. Secondly, if there are going to be faith schools then the faith communities which promote them should rightly be allowed to give preference to members of their faith community. This is a very sensitive subject and, as you know, there have been legal cases about the criteria for admission to JFS in North London. A key change made by the last Labour government was to require faith schools to fill all their places and not to keep places empty because there are insufficient applicants of the faith of the school in question. I also sought to encourage faith promoters to take a large proportion of pupils from the local community, irrespective of faith background. The Church of England is moving in this direction and most of its academies are now largely or wholly community based in their admissions with no faith requirements. But other faith promoters have been less willing to follow suit.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:39:33

BlimeyRiley

Also - what is your favourite biscuit?

Jaffa Cakes (if you'll allow me to call that a biscuit)!!

Hamsterswheel Fri 21-Sep-12 12:39:39

Lord Adonis - How far do you think Tony Blair achieved his plans to reform education? Do you look back now and see things he/you should have done differently?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:40:15

aliceb4

Hi Lord Adonis,
How do you think Ed Milliband is doing? Labour seem to be getting more popular but everyone still has doubts about Ed - do you think he needs to take a few more risks to raise his profile? Seems to me that he's relying on the government's unpopularity to give him victory by default?
ps were you a David or an Ed supporter?

Ed Miliband is doing great. Just look at that 15% poll lead in yesterday's papers.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:42:01

Since answering about my favourite biscuit. The wonderful staff at MumsNet have presented me with a packet of very superior Spanish jaffa cakes. Something about 'premium 70% chocolate' but I can't read the rest. Languages not being my strong point!

MrsMicawber Fri 21-Sep-12 12:42:34

Lord Adonis - thank you for replying. However, I am talking about vol aided state schools discriminating between Jewish parents for Jewish places, choosing to give places to children of likely donors - not choosing Jewish students over none Jewish students.

Please also respond to my point about the lack of a secular education in many private faith schools, particularly in Hackney and Haringey, particlularly within the Ultra Orthodox sector.

champagnesupernova Fri 21-Sep-12 12:43:53

My DS is just starting his education journey -he has been in reception for a fortnight.
What would be your advice for me to ensure that he gets the best out of it, given it looks like the next few years are going to be full of change ?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:44:29

BlimeyRiley

Hi Andrew - nice to e-meet you! My question is what are the plans for the future education curriculum and how should they be delivered to an ever increasing diverse society? Or how can education preserve English heritage and allow the new generation to explore their full potential?

Nice to e-meet you too. That's a big question you've asked, which is why I wrote a whole book trying to answer it! But I agree with you, what we need is to preserve the best of the past while embracing the best of the future. I'm a historian so I love studying the past and I'm really proud of the fact that Britain does such a good job preserving its heritage. The National Trust is one of the best heritage organisations in the world - not just those stately homes but the brilliant job it does maintaining so much of Britain's coastline and wild places. I'm glad that so many children get to see these on school trips which is a great way for them to learn about the past.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:46:28

MrsMicawber

Lord Adonis - thank you for replying. However, I am talking about vol aided state schools discriminating between Jewish parents for Jewish places, choosing to give places to children of likely donors - not choosing Jewish students over none Jewish students.

Please also respond to my point about the lack of a secular education in many private faith schools, particularly in Hackney and Haringey, particlularly within the Ultra Orthodox sector.

I'm really concerned about what you have just said. It is absolutely against the law for a state school - including a voluntary aided school - to give preference to parents on the basis of financial contributions. Indeed, they are not allowed to make financial contributions of any kind a condition of entry. If you have reason to think that this is happening at a school, then you should write to your MP and to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove immediately.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:47:38

Hamsterswheel

Lord Adonis - How far do you think Tony Blair achieved his plans to reform education? Do you look back now and see things he/you should have done differently?

I think almost everyone accepts that education in England is better now than it was 15 years ago. But could we have done more? Yes, of course. We all look back on the past and think about how much more we could have done if we could have our time again but at least we moved decisively in the right direction for the country.

Asmywhimsytakesme Fri 21-Sep-12 12:47:44

Thank you for answering my question and I may well read the book smile

Ex Kentish Town myself too!

I do think teaching needs to become a top profession, but I still think even good fiddling can be damaging because it implies the education system is irretrievably broken and leads to instability.

Themumsnot Fri 21-Sep-12 12:48:36

Ahem!

strangerwithmyface Fri 21-Sep-12 12:48:57

With the growing ubiquity of breakfast clubs and after school clubs are schools being used as a babysitting service for a society that has no time to raise its children?

Also, you've said you want to make teaching the foremost profession in the country. Do you think the best and brightest graduates are put off teaching by the negative narrative around teachers? We're told we are slipping behind other countries when it comes to education because of poor schools and poor teaching with little mention made of poor / constantly shifting educational policy and problems in the home lives of UK school children that can't be fixed by teaching alone.

Asmywhimsytakesme Fri 21-Sep-12 12:49:02

Another question, do you think children in the uk start school too early? Mine will be 4.2 when he starts confused

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:49:37

Frakiosaurus

<rushes on late>

How do you think the education system can give young people life skills such as managing money, basic employment rights, creating and sustaining relationships etc?

There is a subject in schools called PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), which covers all these areas. But it's not always well done. For example, too many school leavers don't have much idea about how to manage money or even how to open a bank account. There is no excuse for schools not to be teaching these basic skills.

MrsMicawber Fri 21-Sep-12 12:51:37

Thank you for your suggestions LA. I am still hoping for a response on the second point I raised <greedy>

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:53:03

cm22v077

What's a typical day for a Lord?!

You probably think that we get up in the morning and don the ermine robes and coronets as a prelude to dining on quail's eggs and champagne. But, alas, I suspect my day is pretty similar to yours. I get up, have a very rushed breakfast, see that the kids get off to school in one piece (preferably with their homework and sports kit) and then fight my way into the overcrowded tube to get into my office.

The rest of the day isn't much more exciting either! Although the chamber of the House of Lords itself is immensely beautiful with lots of elaborate carvings, paintings and statues. It's like being in the V & A and is straight out of the middle ages. It has a hugely calming influence!

Frakiosaurus Fri 21-Sep-12 12:55:09

If you have time to respond - do you think PHSE is sufficient up teach those skills or should they be integrated across the curriculum?

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:55:22

strangerwithmyface

With the growing ubiquity of breakfast clubs and after school clubs are schools being used as a babysitting service for a society that has no time to raise its children?

Also, you've said you want to make teaching the foremost profession in the country. Do you think the best and brightest graduates are put off teaching by the negative narrative around teachers? We're told we are slipping behind other countries when it comes to education because of poor schools and poor teaching with little mention made of poor / constantly shifting educational policy and problems in the home lives of UK school children that can't be fixed by teaching alone.

This is really difficult one. How do you get the balance right between work and home? The reason why all those breakfast clubs and after school clubs are there is because working parents can't suddenly leave work at 3.30 or arrive late in the mornings. But equally schools can't be expected to take on a large part of the parents' role beyond the school day. I think this is made easier by the fact that children often enjoy breakfast clubs and after school activities and don't see it simply as childminding.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:56:02

Frakiosaurus

If you have time to respond - do you think PHSE is sufficient up teach those skills or should they be integrated across the curriculum?

Yes I do think they should be integrated across the curriculum. For example, financial skills should be taught as part of maths.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 12:59:45

Missyqueen

Hi,
My daughter just graduated from LSE with a politics degree. She's always been a fan of your work and used your research in her dissertation.

I would like to know are there opportunities for young graduates to shadow you or intern. If so how do they go about doing so?

Congratulations to your daughter on graduating from the LSE, one of England's best universities. She is clearly a very wise person if she's a fan of mine wink! As it happens, I'm sitting here with my brilliant new (paid) intern, Adam - he is typing this with some embarrassment blush - and he also graduated this year. Alas, I can only take one intern at a time but why not contact other MPs or Lords who you like the idea of helping and see if they've got any opportunities. MumsNet tell me they also take on interns - even better, they pay them! Good luck! p.s. What was your daughter's dissertation on? If she'd like me to read it, I'd be glad to do so.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 13:02:53

strangerwithmyface

With the growing ubiquity of breakfast clubs and after school clubs are schools being used as a babysitting service for a society that has no time to raise its children?

Also, you've said you want to make teaching the foremost profession in the country. Do you think the best and brightest graduates are put off teaching by the negative narrative around teachers? We're told we are slipping behind other countries when it comes to education because of poor schools and poor teaching with little mention made of poor / constantly shifting educational policy and problems in the home lives of UK school children that can't be fixed by teaching alone.

I think the image of teaching is steadily improving which is great. There are far more applicants for teacher training places than there were 20 years ago and the quality of teaching in schools is going up and up. But I'm sure we both agree there is more that could be done to raise the popularity of teaching further still. In my book I set out some proposals for this including paying new maths and science teachers higher starting salaries, because these are particularly hard subjects in which to recruit given the competition for graduates in these areas. Teach First is also great and I'd like to see that expand too.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 13:04:17

LindsayWagner

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?

Academies are not allowed to select unfairly by the back door or the front door. They are required to have all ability admissions. If you've got any evidence that the rules are being broken then let me know!

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 13:07:51

LindsayWagner

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?

If we were starting form scratch, I obviously wouldn't want to see a separate system of private schools. But abolishing private schools is completely incompatible with a free society so we have to do our best to build partnerships between private and state schools. I have a whole chapter about this in my book, including the proposal that successful private school should sponsor academies in the state sector so that they become state-private federations and don't just educate children who can afford expensive fees. My office, in Westminster is around the corner from Westminster School which calls itself a charity but does little more than educate boys whose parents can afford to pay £31,500 per year. It is high time Westminster School, and other schools like it, took seriously their responsibilities to wider society including supporting local state schools in more than tokenistic ways. I have said this fairly bluntly to the headmaster... sad

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 13:10:38

Themumsnot

You say
I'm particularly concerned that many schools are simply converting to academy status in order to pocket £25,000 of government money.

I think that is way too simplistic. The funding issue is very complex and the huge regional inequalities and the inconsistent and simply unfair way that many local authorities have dealt with schools mean that many schools feel that taking finances under their own control has been a lifeline in terms of being able to spend their allocated money in the best interests of pupils. lMy question is do you think funding reform is necessary and how should it work?

I'm slightly worried that any answer I give to this you will also think simplistic given the huge complexity of the school funding system! However, I take your point to be that some schools are converting to become academies so that they have more control over their financial management and can get better value for money from their state funding. If that's what you mean then I entirely agree that this is a benefit in becoming an academy. As for wider reform, I support the pupil premium to give additional funds to schools based on deprivation and I'm confident that a future Labour government with maintain this.

AndrewAdonis Fri 21-Sep-12 13:15:25

Asmywhimsytakesme

Another question, do you think children in the uk start school too early? Mine will be 4.2 when he starts confused

It is entirely up to parents whether or not their children start school before the age of 5. Which is as it should be. In my experience, most parents of four year olds are keen for their children to start school but, of course, some take a different view and that's entirely a matter for them. It is often said that the Scandinavians start school much later but, in practice, the children's centres that their 4, 5 and 6 year olds attend do much the same job as our nursery primary schools. And on that note, after an hour and a quarter - in which I have really enjoyed answering your questions and engaging in a bit of debate - it's time to hop back onto the Northern Line and head back to Westminster. Thank you very much for all your questions and comments and thanks too to the brilliant MumsNet team who will now be flooded with applicants for internships! grin

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Sep-12 14:00:51

Thanks so much, Lord Adonis <mouth too full of Jaffa cakes to have said thank you properly at the time blush>

jennycrofter Fri 21-Sep-12 15:47:44

What a nice chap. Any Jaffa Cakes left?

strandednomore Fri 21-Sep-12 16:56:11

Thank you Lord Adonis for the chat and answering my question, unfortunately I couldn't stay for the whole time because I had a double school run with my youngest just starting school and therefore only on half days.....

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