All political parties are passionate about education as a vehicle to spreading opportunity and enabling young people to fulfil their potential. From early years through schools and on to colleges and universities, as well as the parallel system of children’s services, politicians compete to offer thoughts and proposals on how education can improve lives and broader society. And of course, the running, funding, structure and content of the education system is also of huge importance to millions of families on a daily basis. What political parties propose to do in education is therefore always near the top of the agenda during any General Election, writes Johanthan Simmons.
As part of our ‘Road to 2015’ series, Policy Exchange is hosting a high profile annual conference on Saturday 7 June to discuss what the political parties should promise on education in the upcoming campaign. What should the future be for Sure Start Children’s Centres? Should parties commit to expanding free schools and Academies, or indeed close the ones that exist? What will 2015 bring for Special Educational Needs, children in care, and the most vulnerable? What will happen to the planned changes to assessment and curriculum in schools? Will political parties commit to further Apprenticeships, and what might FE colleges see from government in the next Parliament? And how do the parties propose to tackle the rising cost and questions of access to universities?
These are big questions, and there will be big names debating them. We are delighted that both the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt, have agreed to give keynote addresses, alongside the Liberal Democrat spokesman on education Lord Mike Storey. We are also delighted that Colorado state Senator Mike Johnston – previous education adviser to President Obama, one of Time magazine’s “Top 40 under 40”, and one of Forbes magazine’s 7 most influential educators, will be flying into London specifically to give a transatlantic perspective on this issue. And alongside these major keynote speakers we will have a number of panel sessions with experienced and expert speakers considering every phase of the debate.
This event will provide a primer for the forthcoming debates not just during the campaign itself, but during all of the next 11 months. It will provide a forum for a range of participants to meet and network with each other – Parliamentarians, Councillors, activists, researchers and policymakers, journalists and commentators, and teachers and lecturers – and will focus on clear ideas and practical policy suggestions that could be promised in the 2015 manifestos.
The event will be held from 9am-6pm at Microsoft London offices, Cardinal Place, 80-100 Victoria Street SW1E 5JL. To apply for a free ticket, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit this website
For those who can’t attend, the event will be livestreamed. You will also be able to watch videoed excerpts and listen to podcasts of the major speeches after the event.
Johanthan Simmons, Policy Exchange