As universities become ever more competitive globally, not just in the USA but now in Asia, they attract the best scholars, students and greater levels of funding. However, UK universities are being held back by the burdens of government policy. Unless this changes, they could lose their historic global lead. In particular they need freedom: from burdensome regulation in research so scholars and scientists can follow judgement and ‘hunches’; to play to their diverse strengths; and for a satisfactory balance to be struck on funding.
That’s the message from Martin Rees, one of the UK’s most distinguished scientists who also led two of our most prestigious institutions as President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Last month Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, announced major reform of the exam system, with GCSEs being replaced with a new English Baccalaureate. In our blog, Sheila Lawlor, David Abulafia and Jonathan Clark welcomed the changes.
One of the changes that was announced was the scrapping of modular examinations. Politeia called for this change in Comparing Standards: Academic and Vocation, 16-19 year olds.
One of the reccommendations made by the Politeia Education Commission was that 'the trend to modular examinations and the use of coursework... should be entirely reversed. Qualifications should be gained entirely by externally set and marked examinations taken at the end of the course.'
With his new reforms, Michael Gove is reversing the trend towards modules and coursework.
By Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Martin Vickers MP, Zac Goldsmith MP, James Morris MP, Jason McCartney MP, John Stevenson MP, Craig Whittaker MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Simon Reevell MP, David Mowat MP.
If the UK is to recover and flourish, then the state must do less and individuals must have the freedom and responsibility to do more. That’s the message from a group of ten new MPs who explain how this can be done for Politeia in Freedom, Responsibility and the State: Curbing Over-Mighty Government.
From the very system of government to whether the UK will have enough energy to keep the lights on, this country suffers from too much of the wrong government. Its failings have led to malaise which inspires contempt for those who govern; damages our justice system, leaves young people unemployed and untrained to pay their way through life, and hinders our businesses. The authors* show how by trusting people more and government less, by allowing greater freedom under law, change for the better can occur.
In Lessons from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum Robert Tombs argues that the school history curriculum as it currently stands fails pupils. In his pamphlet, he analyses the problems and proposes a new approach.
In the online appendices, three historian, Professor Tombs, Professor David Abulafia and Professor Jonathan Clark, each offer examplary curricular for history, to demonstrate how the principles in Lessons from History could be put into practice.
England’s school history is in a sorry state. Not only has it become a ‘minority’ subject at GCSE; but even among those who do choose it, too many leave school without a grasp of the sweep of their country’s past. So argue Robert Tombs and his co-authors in Lessons from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum.
The system fails to teach a broad range of British, or for that matter, European, history. The same few topics tend to be repeated over and over again. GCSE history demands too much specialization, with little attention paid to chronology or the context of change over time.
Pupils know little, and understand less, of the background to fundamental concepts. The exam system fails pupils by placing too much emphasis on ‘skills’ over knowledge, and a convoluted and erratic mark scheme often leaves candidates and teachers demoralised.