Seminar: 'Nice aims, shame that the law's in a mess...'

'Nice aims, shame that the law's in a mess...'

Date: 08 Mar 2017 Venue: Downing College Regent Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ
Time: 16:00 - 18:30
Type: Seminar Fee: Free

The simple past, troubled present and unclear future of central government’s oversight of the education system

In 2010, continuing Labour policy on structural reform, the Coalition government promoted the 'autonomy' of schools - alongside robust reform of the National Curriculum, based on transnational review of high performing systems. At the same time, a review of accountability saw new targets and school criteria, underpinned by wholesale qualifications reform. 

On the one hand, the influence of the State apparently was being rolled back, whilst in others the influence was both strong and evident. This balancing act of action is nothing new - it is the centuries-old stuff of Statescraft. But rebalancing State engagement in education itself requires law and instruments of policy. Free schools and academies must follow tight criteria and new legal provisions. 

Change, reform, and revised policy aim require legal underpinning, policy instruments, and implementation strategy. If a Government has specific aims for education, then the policy instruments should be in place to push at the right points in the system; legislation should be well-framed and drive in the right direction. Notably qualifications and assessment have, to date, carried huge policy load in England. Relying on fragile consent when law is necessary; using the wrong instruments; passing law with no means of effective implementation - these are risks to any framework of aims for education, however well-meant. 

This seminar will explore the current state, in England, of educational aims, instruments and implementation.

Through inviting authoritative voices in education to share their expertise, our seminars aim to inform and stimulate debate on current issues in assessment. As well boosting your CPD, these free events are an opportunity to network and share insights with other professionals from the wider education community.

About the speaker

Jonathan_Simons_seminarJonathan Simons is Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world. He was formerly Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange, where he directed research on all aspects of education including Early Years, schools, skills and HE.

Previously Jonathan worked at Serco Group, where he was Director of Strategy in the company's specialist education practice. Prior to that, he was Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office, and Head of Education in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Outside of work Jonathan is the Chair of Governors and Co-Founder of Greenwich Free School, and a Trustee of REAch4 Multi Academy Trust. He writes a weekly column for the TES newspaper on politics and education policy.


Regent Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ

These larger seminars organised by Cambridge Assessment could become a significant focus of interest for the education and wider community dealing with the most urgent and deep rooted concerns."

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