Keith Morrow, headteacher at The Elms Junior School and Nursery, says that one of the main reasons he moved from being a head in the state to the independent sector eight years ago was the volume of “political silliness” coming out of Whitehall and County Hall, and “having to deal with initiatives that were centrally driven, or worse, informed by an ideology not focused on the needs of pupils in my school”.
Morrow insists that he is “totally frustrated” at politicians getting involved in the minutiae of the curriculum, including how to teach reading, introducing lessons of a prescribed length, the constantly moving goalposts of SATS and public exams etc.
As The Elms, the junior school to Trent College, prepares to welcome prospective pupils and parents to its whole school open morning on Wednesday 13 May, Morrow believes whoever is in power after 7 May could bring much-needed stability to the education system by taking major policy decisions out of the hands of the politicians.
He said: “We are currently in that pre-election period when I spend a lot of time shouting at the TV or radio, listening to a politician talking nonsense about education.
“Politicians just can’t keep their hands off education. It’s no wonder teachers and heads just want to be left alone to focus on the needs of the pupils and improving teaching and learning.
“I’d like to see the establishment of a Royal Commission on Education to look at the big issues, consult professionals and make informed decisions based on the experience of successful schools and the best research available. Let schools decide how they are best run and trust parents to choose schools right for their children.”
Morrow also called for the end of the “political dogma and artificial divide” between the independent and state sectors, and reiterated how independent schools can provide answers to school place shortages and the growing population.
He added: “Why is it politically acceptable to spend billions on free schools and shiny new state academies when in many independent schools outside London there are spare places?
“Governments need to think about intelligent ways, either through vouchers or the tax system, to enable more children to benefit from an independent education. Parties of all colours accept nursery vouchers can be used in independent schools and private nurseries to help address the shortage of childcare places and give parents a choice. Why is it when the child turns six this choice is politically so unacceptable? I don’t expect to be reading any of this in any political manifesto soon, but it’s nice to dream!”