The ground-breaking Education Act 1944, among much else, established a Central Advisory Council for Education for England (and another for Wales). This had the duty to advise the Minister of Education (this was before the department had risen to the status of having a secretary of state) ‘upon such matters connected with educational theory or practice as they think fit, and upon any questions referred to them by him’. Some of its carefully researched reports led to much national heart-searching and had significant impact on the education system, for example the Crowther Report of 1959 “15-18”, the Newsom Report of 1963 “Half Our Future”, and the Plowden Report of 1967 “Children and Their Primary Schools”. In 1986 the Thatcher government disbanded the Council as part of its drive for government control over the education system.
It is time to create a similar council as an independent, authoritative, research-based source of professional advice to schools, parents, governing bodies, networks, local authorities, Parliament and the public at large, on education. If, as proposed here, schools become free of government control over curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, it is essential that there be a significant body of this ilk, independent of government, but adequately funded by government, which has non-mandatory oversight of education.
This body would be responsible for issuing well-researched, carefully consulted, guidance on curriculum and pedagogic matters, for example on the currently worrying aspects of mathematical education and on school issues like the development of school collegiality. Unlike today, such documents would not be subject to the pressure of party politics or the personal ambitions of ministers.
In the proposals put forward on this website this National Education Council would gather evidence from research, from school governing bodies via local authorities, and from monitoring standards of pupil attainment through a sampling procedure, and report bi-annually to Parliament. Thus the whole nation - government, general public, local authorities, schools, teachers, governors, and parents – would be informed on significant issues in educational practice and on the relation of education to society.
These are the two points on the CHARTER FOR EDUCATIONAL ADVANCE suggested by this website relevant to this proposed Council. (Click on Charter on the navigation bar).
For further discussion of this proposed Council click on Accountability on the navigation bar.
This page was modified on 28 February 2010 by replacing 'Central Advisory Council' by 'National Education Council'. It was last changed on 11 November 2015