Our Terms of Reference
Purpose & Scope
The Education Commission is intended to reset the education debate. It will start not with the present, but with the future perfect. The Commission is expected to:
1. Create an exciting vision for education which transcends party political lines
2. Offer a radical but credible vision of how education should work in future
3. Identify practical steps to get from here to there
The Commission will not focus on the current policy debate or remediating current policy failures.
The scope of the Commission is education in England up to the age of 18. It will be evidence-based, including evidence of best practice from other systems.
Core Questions For The Education Commission
1. How can we equip all young people to thrive in an uncertain world? What more do we need than literacy and numeracy?
2. How can the education system enable equitable outcomes in our diverse country?
3. How can we make teaching a highly respected and valued profession in which teachers and leaders flourish and provide an excellent education?
4. How can we build a system which identifies the best ideas and innovations and enables them to take hold and spread?
5. How can the education system support and encourage a culture of learning throughout life?
The Commission expects to produce two papers. The first paper will produce the radical but credible vision of what a future perfect education system will look like. The second paper will look at how to get from here to there, and will tackle some of the current challenges and priorities in the context of the future perfect vision.
The Commission will aim to produce recommendations which are sustainable in the long term, both in terms of funding levels and the pace of change.
Past Meeting Summaries
20th May 2019
This meeting saw the Commission reviewing the first draft of research from Warwick University on the theme of Schools and Society. The research looked at international data on the role of schools in ensuring educational equity and sought to answer four questions:
- What are the key features of national school systems with regard to the organisation of schooling?
- To what extent are systems of schooling more or less successful at breaking the link between family disadvantage and school outcomes?
- What approaches do nations adopt with regard to how schools are able to select their pupils?
- To what extent do different national models of schooling offer community focused opportunities for collaborative provision with other local services?
This research will be available on the website for the public once finalised.
The Commission members discussed how best to present the data researched by Warwick University; the idea that we should include UK examples as well so as to avoid policy tourism; and the need to further develop the Commission’s narrative to help narrow down the research required.
The Commission decided that they want to hold at least two oral evidence sessions in schools, preferably out of London. Plans for these will be drawn up in the coming weeks. It was also decided that meeting for two hours was no longer enough to cover the range of topics the Commission wants to, so meetings will be extended.
4th March 2019
The vision of the Commission was a key part of the discussion at this meeting – in other words, making clear what the problem is, why it needs to be addressed now, and how we can solve the problem. To answer this the Commission wanted to emphasise three dimensions to the benefits of improving the education system; social benefits, economics benefits and personal benefits.
Emma Smith from Warwick University discussed the research brief that she has developed for the Commission. The use of research was discussed and because the Commission would be looking at global data not just UK data that it would be acknowledged that context is important. But that it was important for gaining insight into the range of choices credibly open to the Commission and help informed choices to be made.
It was agreed that the commission would aim to publish the first report on the ‘future perfect’ education system by September/October, and after this the Commission can take stock ahead of formulating the second paper. The development of a website was discussed, and it was decided that a website would help to generate debate and help with transparency.
11th February 2019
Four main substantive themes were discussed in this meeting: the teaching profession; place-based change; policy formation and assessment. In terms of the teaching profession, it was decided that the profession needs to be properly valued to ensure that teachers want to stay in it, particularly in more disadvantaged areas. Place-based change refers to thinking about policy on a different geographic level, with perhaps the use of regional policy rather than England-wide policy. Assessment is a key issue for the commission – what do we assess, how do we asses it, and when do we assess it?
An integrating vision of the Commission was discussed – ideas discussed were young people needing to be confident in themselves and their ability to solve problems they will come across in life. They need to be aware of the world around them and want to work to improve it. The idea that any child can succeed given the right opportunities regardless of their parents’ background was discussed as vital to the Commission’s vision. Further to this, the idea that certain communities and young people would need more resources than others, and that we should acknowledge that teaching is harder to do in some areas. Overall, the idea of a vision based on citizenship – what kind of citizens we want our young people to become was a good starting point for the Commission.
Warwick University was announced as our research partner and Emma Smith from the Institute for Education was in attendance. It was discussed that Emma would work with the Chair of the Commission to draft a brief for the research that the Commission would require.
The topic of evidence gathering was discussed and it was decided that this was important so that the Commission could hear from people around the country. This would be in the form of written submissions, and also possibly having an evidence gathering session where guests could come in and discuss themes to be decided upon with the Commission. It was decided it was important that one such session happened outside of London to open up the opportunity to present evidence to those outside of the Capital.
3rd December 2018
In the first meeting of the Commission, the members reviewed the terms of reference of the commission. In doing so the independence of the Commission was emphasised as very important. A reference to Artificial Intelligence was removed as it was felt that this narrowed the thinking of the Commission and a focus on ensuring the education system was fit for the future more generally replaced it.
The meeting then discussed the desired outcomes of the Commission, agreeing that a first paper would be produced that outlined a future vision for education, and the idea of a second paper that would identify starting points and initial steps to get there. However, it was decided that a comprehensive delivery plan is not the outcome of the Commission.
Logistical issues were discussed, such as meeting frequency and duration, and the possibility of securing part-time research capacity from a university. It was also agreed that the Chair of the Commission would try to hold calls with the Commission members in the run-up to most meetings to identify key issues so that the meetings could be properly focused.