Schoolzone blog: British values - the Queen helps define them

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27 May 2015

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The Queen, on behalf of the new government, that is.

In case you're still wondering what defines the British values, which schools are now supposed to be instilling in our school children, today's Queen's speech gives some good indications.

First, the proposed British Bill of Rights: there is no legislation suggested yet, meaning that the right to family life is maintained for the next year at least: the Conservative government is keen to replace the Human Rights Act, because it's based on international human rights legislation - one of the most hateful ingredients of which (according to Tories) is the right to family life.

Next, education (and its strange bill-fellow, adoption in this bill): fairly bland really - more of the same, coasting schools will be hurried through the forced academisation process. We've been hearing about the need to improve coasting schools for years - presumably the definition keeps changing. Or, Nicky Morgan, read this article in the Guardian, and assumed there was a typo. Anyway, the message seems to be that when organisations suffer from a "prolonged period of mediocre performance", the leadership needs to be changed. Other political parties appear to have followed this strategy themselves recently- and found it tough to magic up new leaders, as will schools.

It's clear that the government puts the reasons for both failure and success squarely on the shoulders of heads (if you'll pardon the expression). But no extra cash, no encouragement for aspirant headteachers nor realistic help for struggling schools.

For parents, there is a promise of a doubling of free childcare for three and four year olds to 30 hours per week, though it doesn't look as is there is enough funding for it (like teachers' pay rises in recent years), so paid-for hours are going to cost more, or nurseries will close, reducing availability. And while parents may have some extra support to get the youngest offspring out of the house, those at the other end may be moving back in, as automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds will be scrapped.

There's quite a lot in this speech: presumably the Conservatives had been putting a lot on the back burner while the Lib Dems were sharing power, and now they're all being put on the front burner.

Probably we should be relieved that Morgan hasn't adopted the same bull in a china shop approach as Gove, but there were some interesting education policies in the Tory manifesto, which haven't found their way into any of the speech, though of course the least popular one is at the top of the bill.

Ho hum.


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