The Covid Pandemic – an opportunity to re-configure the education system in England – – moving away from short termism in education policy.
Our society will not recover from the strains imposed by Covid with our existing reliance on short-term thinking and constant change in how we plan and deliver education policy. Currently all education planning and policy development in England is tied to the 5-year electoral cycle and many short term quick-fixes. There have been 15 Secretaries of State for Education in the past 30 years – an average tenure being under two years. The Education Select Committee have talked about too many initiatives and the lack of any long-term strategy as negative hallmarks of the current system. Covid has highlighted the fault lines in how we organise our approach to education planning. Covid has, however, also shown how the education profession, the wider community and parents have faced challenges together and have accepted the need for innovative, shared and progressive solutions. The willingness to embrace change in the face of the pandemic creates an opportunity for a new approach to developing education policy, rebuilding trust and looking and thinking long-term. We need to identify and agree some underpinning foundations for what the education system needs to deliver, and we need to create an architecture which work across Departments and beyond party politics to co-construct a long-term education policy informed by engagement with those who use and benefit from the state’s investment in education. 150 years since the 1870 Education Act, three decades on from the 1988 Education Reform Act, and in the wake of two great disruptors of Covid and Brexit, there is an opportunity to shape a commonly agreed approach that delivers a long-term plan for education.