Visions for the future
So what did each of the experts envision for the future? Sir David Normington highlighted the need to prioritise vocational and technical education, improving parity of esteem and ensuring everyone finds the right opportunities. He also highlighted the need to invest in 0-5-year-olds, calling the dismantling of Sure Start “one of the most shameful things” as it was a “near perfect” policy. Finally, he wants every family to access high-performing secondary education in their area, eliminating the need to move home or enter private education.
Meanwhile, Lord Bichard drove home the issue of equality and inclusion. He insisted that “we should have policy that is proofed against discrimination to aid social mobility and equality,” including equality at a governance level, not just for students. Like Sir David Normington, he envisioned a future where further education is no longer pitted against higher education.
However, Jonathan Slater summarised the overall thinking well, as well as hopes for the future, concluding that:
“An obsession with academic excellence is why England is one of the least productive countries in the OECD. And at some point, there will be a politician brave enough to say that. Hopefully they will be the Prime Minister.”