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NEWS > News from Solihull Alumni > 'Question Time' The Future of British Education

'Question Time' The Future of British Education

Solihull discusses the Future of British Education

On Monday 26 February Solihull School hosted a topical ‘Question Time’ discussion on the future of British education.

Led by British journalist and Old Silhillian Michael Buerk, the distinguished panel of special guests at the education-themed event included Baroness Barran MBE Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for the School System and Student Finance); Omar Deria, Executive Headteacher of The Petchey Academy in Hackney; Dr Nigel Fancourt Associate Professor of Education and Values Department of Education University of Oxford; Baroness Morris of Yardley, Former Secretary of State for Education; Lord Storey CBE Education spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and Alex Heslop, Director of Digital Product Platform, Jaguar Land Rover.

Charles Fillingham, Executive Headmaster at Solihull opened the evening by welcoming an audience of over 350 guests to the school’s Bushell Hall including Deputy Lieutenant Sir Christopher Ham CBE, the Mayor of Solihull Councillor Diana Holl-Allen MBE, Headteachers, teachers, parents, former students and current pupils.

Mr Fillingham said: “Michael Buerk is a consummate professional who makes it look easy. The panel covered a lot of ground and highlighted issues of funding and equity.

“The biggest round of applause of the evening was when Lord Storey emphasised the power of an inspirational teacher. Teachers really are inspirational.

“Our guests were so knowledgeable – the event could have carried on for hours!”

Mr Deria told the audience that children in disadvantaged areas need aspiration and that teachers in challenging schools need to know that it is possible to have good behaviour for learning.

Baroness Barran (Conservative) defended the government’s record on education and said that spending per pupil is as high as it has ever been. Baroness Morris (Labour) countered that early years’ intervention work schemes had closed and said that a new Labour government would be prepared to take difficult decisions to increase funding for state education.

Dr Nigel Fancourt from Oxford University’s Department of Education offered a global perspective by saying that recruitment targets for new teachers are being missed worldwide. He added that we should not focus only on the difficulties, because most parents are, in fact, happy with their child’s school.

Ofsted in its current form received considerable criticism, but the new Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Martyn Oliver, has the opportunity to make improvements. The concept of accountability for schools and for teachers was universally supported by the panel.

Employers face problems finding British employees who are skilled in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) said Alex Heslop. He said that Jaguar Land Rover has been forced to look abroad to fill the skills gaps and that the company, which has its roots it the West Midlands, has launched partnerships with schools, including Solihull School, to encourage the next generation.

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