Submitted By: Angela
Many reports and essays have been written about the Labour Party reforms in England, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, to help improve education. It is true that he implemented many valuable programs in the 1990s which helped reform teacher training, teacher pay, student literacy, and numeracy learning. But that does not mean that educational reform has not continued past his time. In the UK, education is a primary concern of students, parents, politicians, and the general public, and changes are being made daily to help improve it.
One of the most recent changes occurring in the UK’s education system has to do with special needs children. There are plans to have education, health, and social services staff plan and work together to better help meet the needs of each child. Parents are being given more control over special education budgets, with more choice in the services that will be provided.
Exams have been changed a great deal in the last decade as well. In 2009, SATs for fourteen year olds was removed, as was a science exam for eleven year olds. Many changes have been made to the A-level exams, starting in 2000 when they were broken down into six-unit modules, half of which were written at age 17. In order to tackle claims that these same A-level exams are suffering from grade inflation, certain core subjects are becoming compulsory and the format may change to multiple choice to make sure students are tested more widely on knowledge.
Science and math in the UK is a problem, as fewer and fewer students are showing an interest in these subjects. As such, reforms have been made to tackle this problem. Targets have been set to increase participation in these subjects and a change to inquiry-based education (versus teacher-led education) has been supported since 2006. The program “Chemistry for our Future” is another initiative which intends to help increase students’ interest in the sciences.
In 2000 the TDA (Training and Development Agency) set out to tackle teacher recruitment, as a lack of teachers in the UK was a problem. A new national advertising campaign was funded, after a careful study of how and why people became teachers. (ie. What were the motivations and the barriers to starting in this field?) Financial support was given for people training to be teachers and an effort was made to increase the status of teaching as a profession. More routes into the teacher profession were made available, and also made more known.
Of course, educational reforms in the UK are not at an end. In fact, according to Education Secretary Michael Grove, the pace of school reform needs to increase. The focus of future school improvements should be on technology and challenging students to their full potential. Grove states that there are good teachers and a good overall education system, but as the world changes more reforms will have to be made.