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Response to evidence given by chief inspector of schools


Responding to evidence given by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, to today’s Education Select Committee hearing on the purpose and quality of education, Maggie Walker, ASDAN CEO, said:

“It was heartening to hear Sir Michael say that teaching resilience and other ‘soft skills’ in schools was important in developing well-rounded and well-educated young people who are ready for adult life and the workplace. We also believe strongly in this ethos.

“Sir Michael also acknowledged that a traditional curriculum encompassing a narrow list of subjects was not suitable for all young people. He said he believed that a good school, with strong leadership, will cater for pupils of all interests and abilities. However, he will also be aware that when the Department for Education makes decisions about which subjects should feature in performance tables, schools will naturally veer towards those at the expense of everything else, including skills and vocationally-based qualifications. Sadly the reality does not always match the policy-making, at the expense of the life chances of our children and young people.

“It was disappointing to hear Sir Michael repeat the Department for Education’s claim that PSHE should not become statutory on the curriculum as it has not been taught well in many schools. It is hard to reconcile this view with some of the very difficult issues facing young people today. If maths was not taught properly in schools, action would be taken to improve teachers’ subject knowledge and classroom practice though training and continuing professional development. It would not be removed from the curriculum. We can see no reason why PSHE should not be similarly treated.”